“Why anyone should spend time in Galle ?” someone might ask you, well what would be the answer for it? You might be wondering. I justify the visit to Galle in this manner, “Well it’s the best place to see one of the best preserved Dutch forts in the world, which was originally built by Portuguese in 1505 later occupied by Dutch and English, and it is the birthplace of Buddhist resurgent after the harsh British colonial rule, home town of Galle district, has the amazing collection of galleries, museum, shops, eateries, vibrant and colourful city”.
On reflection, most tourists that visit Galle are not really surprised at the banter. Galle and many attractions in the region are still under the cosh of its popularity as being run-down and a little unpopular. Yet Galle, especially the Galle Fort, has spent the last several decades going through a resurgent process where forlorn mansions and iconic buildings have been and are still being restored. The Galle city was given a facelift in the past to make it one of the most attractive cities on the island.
The buzziest part of Galle is the fortress, where the largest concentration of hotels, bars, museums and many other tourist attractions are concentrated. A large number of well-preserved mansions and houses, dating back to 15s and 16s are converted to hotels, bars, restaurants, galleries, shops, and museums. Several well preserved and partly restored churches are still serving the devotees.
In any case, Galle, part of the southern province of Sri Lanka, is known for several amazing attractions, most of them are very important for the island’s economy. One important attraction of Galle is the pristine beaches with torque water, an amazing collection of natural attractions such as lagoons, diving sites, patches of forests and cultural attractions along with colonial heritage are the other key tourist attractions in Galle.
Must tour the Martin Wickramasinghe folk museum
Galle has a long history connected to the veteran writer Martin Wickramasinghe. Martin Wickramasinghe is widely known as the father of modern Sinhalese literature. Most of his works were carried out in search of the lifestyle and cultural aspects of Sri Lankan people. He was very keen to explore and apply modern knowledge in social and natural science, linguistics, literature, education, the arts, philosophy, Religion and comparative religion.
A visit to the martin Wikramasinghe museum is a must if you are enthusiast about foreign culture, history and lifestyle of the people. The museum is a large snapshot of Sri Lankan life depicted through a massive collection of items such arts and crafts, kitchen utensils, household items, farming items, fishing gears, hunting equipment, furniture and even bullock carts. At the martin Wikramasinghe museum, you will get to see the well-preserved village house of Martin Wickramasinghe along with his household items, such as beds, writing table, chairs etc. The museum exhibits a large collection of items dating back to many generations. The folk museum is visited by many hundreds of people and school children every day.
National Maritime Museum of Galle
You can also visit the maritime museum of Galle, which is located within the borders of Galle Fort, near the Wolvendaal church. The maritime museum showcases a large collection of artefacts discovered in the sea off southern Sri Lanka. Most of these artefacts were rescued from the merchant ships that perished in the sea. The museum itself housed within one of the oldest buildings of the fort. It had been the storage complex of the Dutch East India Company, where the large stock of export products such as spices, ivory, and gems was stored before the shipment.
There are many other interesting artefacts to see in the museum such as models of ancient ships that submerged in the sea off Galle, locally used fishing nets and fishing methods, ancient coins, and clay pots, a model of mangrove forests, boats and canoe.
Must see some underwater living beings
Unawatuna located about 10 km from Galle city, is the most loved beach holiday destination in the region and it is the home to a cluster of small hotels, guest houses and rest houses with occasional star class accommodation providers.
Unawatuna beach just south of Galle is one of the all year round sea bath places in Sri Lanka. Unlike many other sea bathing areas of the southern and west coast of Sri Lanka, where sea bath can be dangerous during the south-west monsoons, Unawatuna enables you to dip into the ocean and have a sea bath at any time of the year. The coral reef off the sea of Unawatuna provides protection against the underwater current while downgrading the force of waves. These coral reefs also harbour a large collection of exotic fish species, sea turtles, sea plants and many other sea creatures.
Must explore Koggala Lagoon
Koggala lagoon covers a surface of about 7.27 km2 (2.81 sq mi), the length of the lagoon is 4.8 kilometres and the width of the lagoon is 2 kilometres. The lagoon has a shallow water surface area, which measures to be around 1 meter of depth and deeper part of the lagoon measured 1 meter to 3.7 meters. The main water source of the lagoon is the monsoon rain while few streams such as Mudiyansege-ela stream, Thithagalla-ela stream, Heen-ela also feed the lagoon.
Koggala lagoon is one of the main tourist attractions in the area and has rich biodiversities and ecosystems. Drifting through the mangrove forests during the boat trip will be a fantastic experience for nature lovers. You will be able to see a large collection of mangrove trees and plants as well as aqua Fauna species and many animal species such as water monitors, land monitors, monkeys, crocodiles etc.
The visitors are also able to drop into one of the 8 small islands in the wetland. The most popular island is “Madol duwa”, which featured as a place for fun-filled activities in one of the novels (Madol Duwa) written by Martin Wickramasinghe. These islands are formed by the lush mangrove swamps. The tour will last about 2 hours giving you the pleasure to live with untamed wilderness. Madol duwa boat tour gives you perfect opportunity to see many mangrove species including 10 mangrove species endemic to Sri Lanka.
Keep your antenna up and have your attention on mangrove roots that are shoot-up from the muddy surface, these roots are coated with a variety of creatures such as barnacle, oyster and crab. Mangrove forests with dense and intertwining roots are well stocked with many fish species, shrimps and crabs and very valuable fish feeding ground.
Kathaluwa Buddhist Temple
In addition to the natural attractions and scenery, Kataluwa purana raja maha vihara (Kathaluwa Buddhist Temple) is one of the important cultural, religious and historical attractions in the lagoon. The temple featured very valuable Buddhist paintings dating back to more than a century. Some paintings are depicting scenery from the colonial era and in one of the painting, Queen Victoria commemorates her support for local Buddhism while the British government supports the British missionary Christianity in the backdrop.
For an unforgettable eyeful of splendour take a tour of Galle Fort, hundreds of thousands of architectural masterpieces ornate the Galle Fort, which is one of the most popular landmarks in southern Sri Lanka. Galle Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site and the fort is surrounded by a gigantic wall. The fort served as the administrative capital of southern Sri Lanka during the Dutch colonial era. Today it serves as the single most important tourist attractions in Southern Sri Lanka, where tourist can see many hundreds of well preserved Dutch architectural building dating back to 15s.
The Portuguese arrived in Galle in the 1505 AD and built Galle fort, on the south-west corner of the island, bordering the Indian Ocean. Galle is the major city between Deep South Sri Lanka and commercial capital of Sri Lanka known as Colombo. Later, Dutch and British left their mark. The old town (Galle Dutch fort) occupies the western corner of Galle city and lies well above the Galle city.
Without a doubt, Galle fort is very easy on the eye. Picture a scene of tightly packed stone dwellings scattered on a flat surface, houses and building are so tightly compact that most of the time there is no distance between 2 buildings. All building is in Old Dutch style with a steep roof, big verandah, big windows and large doors. Rows of picturesque houses, shops and mansions line the narrow cobbled streets painted in various distinctive pastel shades and the view from the southern part of the rampart is dominated by the Wolvendaal church, originally built by the Dutch as a church.
Must take a walk on the walking path
The maritime walking path which stretches along the high-rise wall of the fort is quite something special on every evening on warm sunny days, when the diminishing sun reflects in the sea. It is a safe haven for many couples to enjoy the romance of nightfall. Many families are also occurring here as the day’s windup to chill-out by the sea breeze.
Where to sleep in and around Galle
There is plenty of B&Bs, dormitories, boutique hotels and luxurious hotels suitable for short vacations and long term holidays. A large number of boutique hotels are scattered within the borders of the Galle fort and most of them provide a comfortable stay at an affordable rate.