Western, Southern & Eastern Coasts of Sri Lanka
Western, Southerrn & Eastern coasts of Sri Lanka are studded with world class beaches, all next to one another, each one different from other, for you to revel to your heart's content.
Negombo, Mount Lavinia, Kalutara, Beruwala, Bentota, Induruwa, Kosgoda, Balapitiya, Ambalangoda, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna, Dalawela, Midigama,
Koggala, Weligma, Mirissa, Matara, Polhena, Tangalla, Pallikaduwa, Goyambokka, Rekawa, Hambantota, Tissamaharama, Arugam Bay
Western Coastal Belt (season: October to April)
Beaches north of ColomboNegombo (Negambo): beach & lagoon, 6 km away from Bandaranaike International Airport.
Location: 37km (23 miles) north of Colombo city. Negombo is the closest beach resort to Bandaranaike International Airport.
Negombo is the first site of land you would witness while your aircraft is about to land in the one & only International airport of the island, Bandaranaike International Airport.
You will be slowly descending from the sky, turning over the Indian Ocean, over the long narrow Negombo peninsula, over the Negombo lagoon of prawns & lobsters into a long emerald bay of coconut trees. Concealed within the vast coconut groves are the airport & the luxurious hotels of the fine beaches of Negombo. Time is ripe for sea food.
Boat tripsThe simplest boat trip is a short run up & down the beach in a primitive twin-hulled outrigger sailing canoes called Oruwa in Sinhalese.
We can have a long trip out in a motor boat to enjoy the long sight of the Oruwa fleet as it sails into the shore with the catch of tuna, shark, amberjack, skipjack, herring, mullet, pomfret & seer. Oruwas, are made Jak, a hardwood that last up to 30 years with the help of regular application of coconut oil & shark liver oil.
Long trips can be made to the stretches of reef for snorkeling; trips around the Negombo lagoon; & up the Maha Oya river & the Dutch canal, where we would enjoy the birdlife. Even if those trips wouldn't do, we can sail with a fleet of deep sea fishing & sail-by-stars-night-fishing trips.
DivingPADI courses are available. Dives at around 40 sites, including remote & unspoilt reefs around 9km offshore at depth of 16-20 m teeming with marine life including barracuda (even rare giant barracuda), blue-ringed angels & starfish. There are wreck & deep dives with abundant marine life.
Ruined Dutch FortClose to the western end of the peninsula, commanding the entrance to the lagoon lie the Dutch Fort, mostly demolished by the British to make way for a prison that still stand behind the gateway. It was built in the year 1678, 34 year after the Dutch wrested Negambo from the Portuguese. The natural harbour of Negambo was used by Dutch East India Company to export Cinnamon & other spices. Next to the walls is a Dutch cemetery.
Dutch canal (Hamilton canal)In Negombo the Dutch (17th century) found a way to reveal their love for canals. The canals they built once extended from Negmbo all the way south to Colombo & north to Puttalam, a total of over 120km. It was by way of these canals, that cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cardamoms which grew profusely in the surrounding area & precious gems were transported from the interior to the Negambo harbour. Today, these once vibrant canals, now unused, look rather forlorn.
Compared to 1000km of magnificent 12th century irrigation canals (renovated & in service to date) leading out of inland seas like rain water reservoirs (The Sea of Parakrama - 2100 ha) built in the 12th century by the Sinhalese in Lanka, Dutch canals fades away in significance.
Enjoying local liquorThere are many toddy & arrack (local Real McCoy) taverns in the town. Trips to the arrack distillery, & watch toddy tappers at work are arranged too.
St. Mary's churchSt. Mary's is the most picturesque of the numerous Catholic churches of Negambo. The grandiose pink neoclassical edifice was constructed over a period of 50 years during 1874 -1924. Negambo is nicknamed "Little Rome" because of its numerous Catholic churches, a survival from the period of Portuguese rule.
Angurukamulla TempleEast of town, the Angurukamulla Buddhist temple is famous for its 6m long reclining Buddha statues, other statues & murals.
Eco toursWe can enjoy a Bird watching excursion in Muturajawela Marshes (Colombo Wetlands), a wide expanse of marshland connecting the Negambo lagoon (12km long, with a spread of 7,000 acres & a mean depth of only 1.5 m) The marsh is home to salt-water crocodiles which can grow upto 9 m in length.
Beaches south of ColomboHeading south of Colombo, Galle Road passes through a seemingly endless succession of suburbs before finally shaking itself clear of the capital at Kalutara. With Kalutara begins the golden beaches that serve Sri Lanka's tourism industry. The coast's array of high quality accommodation, beach restaurants & bars makes for perfect indulgent holiday. Yet away from the resorts traditional life continues. Many people still depend on fishing with fishermen bringing in their catch at numerous fishing ports along the coast. The coconut palms that line the shore also provide a livelihood for many. With the road & railway line hugging the ocean, we will have an enjoyable journey. Beruwala Bay Beach, Bentota Bay Beach Resort & Hikkaduwa Bay Beach
Along the main coastal road (Galle road), south of Colombo, the railway line too runs all the way close to the road.
ColomboFort: Commercial centre, Luxury hotels of international standing
Galle Face: Galle Face greens by the beach, Luxury hotels, and offices
Kollupitiya: Colombo business area
Bambalapitiya: Shops & offices
Dehiwale: Bellanwilla Buddhist Temple, churches
Wallewatte: Shops, St. Peter's College
Mount Lavinia: Beach at Mount Lavinia Hotel, St Thomas's College
Ratmalana: Industrial area, Domestic airport
Moratuwa: the coast begins to come into a clearer view now. With the road as well as railway line running next to the coast, now we feel like we have embarked on a trip to a long stretch of beach resorts.
Panadura: Fresh fish, prawns & Batik.
Beaches along the west coastThe best season for diving & swimming on the west coast is roughly November to April.
Kalutara Beach: beach, lagoon, basket weaving
Beruwala Bay Beach
Alutgama: Fishing village
Bentota Bay Beach Resort
Induruwa: beach, marine turtles
Ambalangoda: beach, Fishing village, handcrafted masks & cinnamon
Hikkaduwa Bay Beach
Kosgoda: Beach, marine turtles
Weligama Bay Beach
Southern Coastal Belt (season - October to April)The best season for diving & swimming on the southern coast is roughly November to April.
The spectacularly scenic bays beaches of the south coast are among the finest in the world. Unawatuna Bay Beach, Tangalla Bay Beach & Mirissa Bay Beach are the main beaches, each with long sweeps of sand.
Matara & particularly Galle with their colonial origins provide some historical interest. While we could travel along the south coast within few hours, each bay beach tempts us to spend days & again days hopping from village to village & enjoying the laid-back lifestyle. To the interior from the coast are several vast & impressive nature reserves, including Ruhuna Yala National Park, Bundala National Park & Uda Walawe National Park.
Eastern Coastal Belt (season - April to September)When its monsoon season in the western beaches, the east coast of the island provide the opportunity for all of us to bask in the sun, immerse in the sea & swim & surf with the fine waves. Eastern coastal belt offers long miles of unspoiled tropical beaches & vast areas of untamed jungles.
The region's most popular attraction is the Arugam Bay, a pro surfing beach of International standing. Arugam Bay is also the starting point for trips to Lahugala National Park & Yala East National Park.
Moratuwa, the City of Pioneers (Purogameethwaye Nagaraya), Western CoastThe name Moratuwa is derived from "Mura Atuwa" meaning sentry turret in Sinhalese. Moratuwa has been a legendary coastal city since the time of Queen Leelawathie (1208-1210 AD, 1221-1222 AD). One of her military commanders Lak Vijaya Singukith Senevi (Senevi meanining Commander in Sinhalese) was entrusted with the command of one hundred thousand (one lakh) of soldiers, and was based in Moratuwa. He came to be known as 'Lakshadipaty' (governor of one lakh - one hundred thousand) and the area he lived is still known as 'Lakshapatiya'. The people with family names Henadige or Senadige (Sena means Army) are descendants of the house of the commanding officer. The extended forms are Arsakula Hennedige, Bamina Hennedige, Lokku Hennedige, Lewis Hennedige, Varuna Hennedige, Veera Hennedige etc.
Kings & cabbages: commanders & soldiers, carpenters & artisans, cricketers & musiciansThis is an industrial city with timber mills, furniture workshops & garment factories. The fourth densely populated town of the island, Moratuwa is renowned for its furniture craftsmen (E. T. Cooray was a commonwealth gold medalist for furniture). The city gave birth to a rich populace of civil servants, commanders & soldiers of defence forces of Ceylon prior to the independence & since the independence in 1948. The technical aptitude of the citizens resulted in the town being the location of Ceylon Technical College (which subsequently upgraded to fully fledged University) & German Technical College. The city has been well known for its cricketers from the days of Ceylon: Lasantha Rodrigo, H. I. Fernando, D. S. De Silva, Herman Pattternot, Ajith Mendis, Priyantha Jayasekara, Sriyan Samararatne, Granville De Silva, Amal Silva, Bandula De Silva, Hemal Mendis, Lanthra Fernando, Pemlal Fernando, Virantha Feranando, Hasantha Fernando & Dharshana Gamage (Cambrians), Dulip Mendis, Flavian Aponso, Susil Fernando, Russel Wijesuriya, Roger Wijesuriya (Sebastianites) & Sebastianite Romesh Kaluwitarana of 1996 world champions - Sri Lanka are just few among the famous Moratuwite cricketers.
Moratuwa in the splendour of full moonA city famous for its music, Moratuwa is the hometown of Sri Lanka's foremost classical musician illustrious W. D. Ameradeva (W. D. Albert) as well as generations of pop, Calypso & Baila singers. Baila Chakrawarthi (King of Baila), M. S. Fernando, legendary pop singer Clarence Wijewardane of Golden Chimes, Christopher Paul, Priya Peiris of La Bambas, Sunil Perera of Gypsies, Paul Fernando, Saman Silva & Nihal Nelson have been among the popular singers of the city. Moratuwa has its own "song of the town", the famous age-old song "Punsada paya Moratuwa dillenna" (Moratuwa in the splendour of full moon), the indispensable, irresistible theme song for the singing contests & festivals of Moratuwa. No song in the island make your toes tingle as to the vibrant beat of Moratuwa's Baila song "Moratuwa in the splendour of full moon". No Irene would sit still. All take to the dancing floor, all the pretty maids in a row, even the Milkmaid Angeline. Even ever proud Catherine, the maid of the maids. Com'n, let's dance Cathy. That's what I call a skirt.
Banjos & GuitarsMoratuwa is home to street singers such as blind (visually handicapped) Gilbert Peiris too. Handicapped Street singers of the island were once organized into a collective show called "Mawathe api" (We, the people - of the streets of Sri Lanka) & extended a helping hand by late president-ever industrious workhorse-indomitable R. A. Premadasa. Humble Gilbert's banjo was gifted to him by philanthropist & business tycoon Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotalawala, chairman of Ceylinco group of companies, who also extended a helping hand to rebuild the coast of Moratuwa hit by Tsunami on Christmas day, 24th December 2004. Among the favourite songs imitated by blind Gilbert are "Sri Pada Samanala Kande" (Sri Pada Butterfly Mountain), an ode to the magnificent Adam's Peak, & "Sobawa hanga me lo thale" (Why did you part us from the beauty & glory of the world?). Over to you almighty god! One more question, Lord. "Didn't you have some corner of the world for these talented people, other than the streets?"
Famous landmarksThe city of 18 administrative areas is home to numerous Buddhist temples & Roman Catholic, Anglican & Protestant churches.
Bolgoda Lake in Moratuwa is the town's favourite weekend resort for swimming, angling & boat trips with St. Mitchell Hotel on one of the banks being the most popular among guest houses. The Colombo Sailing Club is located at Bolgoda lake at Moratuwa. Bolgoda lake provides good windsurfing too.
Prince of Wales' College, Princess of Wales' College, MoratuwaWe are at Rawatawatte, Moratuwa. A cricket ball that flew high over the parapet of the college grounds crash onto the hood of a bus on the main road we are traveling. Six. Driving along the town of Moratuwa busy with shops, supermarkets, institutes & churches, the lovely site of splendid colonnaded colonial buildings & modern buildings of Prince & Princess of Wales' Colleges shaded by trees takes us by surprise. The main road, Cricket ground, Cricketers, buildings, tall trees & large natural Bolgoda lake behind the buildings, all make a unique setting. Behind the college cricket ground is the eco-chic yard with handsome shady trees of the college. In front of the beautifully cropped old May Flower tree of Prince of Wales' College is the memorial statue of its founder Charles Henry de Soysa. Behind the May Flower tree is a handsome open circular Image House with a fine Buddha statue. A large traditional moonstone welcomes you all to the statue. The college owes a deep debt of gratitude to the stalwart art master of the college, versatile musician, singer, dramatist, artist & sculptor, illustrious Tissa Gunawardene for Buddha statue, moonstone & all other artwork therein & long years of service to the college. The Image House was ceremoniously opened by the last Governor-General of Ceylon, Hon. William Goppalawa on 28th January 1972.
During the school days of my father, Baminahennadige Donald Benedict Peiris (8th April 1930-24th June 2005) of Lakshapatiya, Moratuwa, the one & only cricket team in the whole of Ceylon, which could give a run to the illustrious 1st XI cricket team of Prince of Wales' College was Dharmasoka College of Kandy (hometown of Kumar Sangakkara & Marvan Atapattu) of great mountainous fielders. St. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia & Royal College, Colombo were no threats at all to Prince of Wales College. The present college team too brightened up the names of illustrious cricketers of yesteryear. In 2007, Prince of Wales' College, Moratuwa became the Under 19 all island champions beating their arch rivals St. Sebastians' College, Moratuwa in the grand final. In the semi-finals, while St. Sebastians' College, Moratuwa defeated St. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia, Prince of Wales' College defeated St. Peters College, Colombo to get to the grand final.
Behind the buildings of the college is a branch of Bolgoda Lake with a view of coconut palm fringed banks on the other side & Lunawa Bridge.
Francisco FernandoMemorial for Veera Hennedige Francisco Fernando (Puran Appu) of Moratuwa (7th of November, 1812-8th of August, 1848) who led famous 1848 rebellion in Kandy called Uva Rebellion against the British Empire is located at the Town Hall of Moratuwa. The statue of Fernando is crafted by illustrious Tissa Gunawardane
Fernando faced execution famously declaring "if there had been half a dozen such men as me to lead there would not be a white man living in the Kandyan Provinces". A Select Committee was appointed which consisted of Peel, Gladstone and Disraeli among others. These three were later to become Prime Ministers of Great Britain. On the recommendation of the Committee, the obnoxious taxes which Puran Appu fought against were repealed and the conduct of the British Governor-general of Ceylon and his assistants were severely criticized. Thereafter, the attitude of the succession of British governor-generals in Ceylon took a different turn, repression gave way to welfare schemes though it took another long 100 years for Ceylon to regain full independence on 4th February 1948.