Best Beaches of the World: Weligama Bay Beach, Sri Lanka
Beach, Swimming, Snorkeling, Scuba dive (PADI), Boat rides, Stilt
fishermen, Taprobane island, Snake Farm, Lace
23km east of Unawatuna Bay Beach, the
fishing town of Weligama (meaning sandy Village in Sinhalese) meanders
around a broad & beautiful bay, dotted with rocky outcrops & fringed
with fine golden sand. As you enter the charming small town of Weligama
from Unawatuna, the road splits with one branch running along the coast,
& the other running parallel through the town centre. Weligama is quiet
yet attractive. A clutter of shops at the center trails off into lush
streets of pretty gingerbread villas decorated with ornate wooden
fretworks, peeking out from dense, green tropical gardens.
The bay's most prominent feature is the minuscule island of Taprobane,
just offshore, virtually invisible under a thick covering of luxuriant
trees. The island is known locally as Yakinnige duwa (She-devil's
island) floats mysteriously on the gentle waters of the bay, looking as
though it could up its anchor & skim off over the horizon if it felt so
inclined. You can easily wade out at low tide.
The island was owned during the 1930s by the exiled French Count de Maunay, who built the exquisite white villa that still stands, its red
tiled roof poking up through the streets; It looks like an ideal
artist's or writers' retreat, which indeed it once was: novelist Paul
Bowles wrote The Spider's House here in the 1950s.
King Coconut juice
At the western end of town, near the railway line, in a peaceful, small
park, stands a large rock-carved figure probably sometime during the
eighth or ninth centuries with a three-meter figure known as Kusta Raja
(Leper King). He is supposed to have arrived in Sri Lanka afflicted with
leprosy but was cured by drinking only thambili (the juice of the king
coconut) for three months. If you've already tried one of these
ambrosial drinks, you'll know that there's no need for encouragement
from mythical kings to drink away.
The tradition prevailing among educated Sinhalese Buddhist is that the statue is that of God Natha, the Mahayana Bodhisattva Avlokitesvara or Samantabhadra. Ceylonese patriot Dr. Andress Nell (Influences of Indian Art In Ceylon) too identified the status as that of God Natha. The Sinhalese word Natha meaning lord is simply a shortened form of fuller epithet Lokeswara Natha.
Senerath Paranavitana (1896-1972). Sri Lanka’s illustrious archeologist and epigraphist too confirm the identification of the status as that of Avlokitesvara Natha. He has recorded that the kingly attire, Dhyani Buddha Amitabha on the head-dress and the lotus held in the hand are definite indications of Bodhisattva Avalokita. One aspect of this Bodhisattva, that known as Simhanada Lokesvara is considered by Mahayanists to be the curer of all diseases and is particularly invoked to cure leprosy.
Weligama is well known for its stilt-fishermen, whose unique style of
fishing involves casting their lines from a perch on a sturdy pole 20-50
meters out to sea. Nobody seems to know how or where this unusual
technique originated, but it seems to work, as the stilts are passed on
from generation to generation & jealously guarded.
Catamaran and motorized boat rides
You can enjoy a boat trip around the bay with fisherman.
Snorkeling & Scuba dive
Weligama is famous for its lacework & stall are located on the main road
along the coast.
About 14km from Weligama on the Akuressa Road, which has around fifteen
different kinds of snake, including some enormous pythons, as well as
some nasty-looking spiders.
on photo to enlarge