The country context has changed dramatically in recent years
A 26-year conflict ended in May 2009, and resettlement of internally displaced persons is largely complete. The macroeconomic situation is much improved. Sri Lanka has become a middle-income country, and its credit-worthiness has opened its access to International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), allowing for significantly increased financial support from the World Bank during the coming years
A look back at growth performances of other comparable economies, post-Global Financial Crisis (GFC), shows Sri Lanka maintaining relatively stronger growth of over 8% in both 2010 and 2011, largely spurred by private-sector demand. Sri Lanka posted the fastest growth in South Asia in 2011 and is expected to achieve the same in 2012. Growth remained strong in the first half of 2012 at 7.2%, but for the year as a whole it is expected to decline to around 6.5% largely owing to the weakening external demand and tighter credit conditions domestically.
Sri Lanka was able to maintain relatively strong growth (about 5% per year) even during the war
though growth dropped to 3.5% in 2009 during the final military campaign, which coincided with the GFC. The post-conflict rebound helped all sectors both on the supply side and the demand side: Agricultural land in conflict-affected areas could once again be cultivated; double shifts in manufacturing became possible as workers no longer had to worry about security restrictions; domestic consumers and investors confidence revived; and services related to tourism picked up as tourist arrivals surged after the end of the war.
As Sri Lanka economy grew, unemployment and poverty rates fell
As of the second quarter of 2011, unemployment was only 4.2%, though higher among youth, women, and the more educated. Poverty rates have also fallen, from 15% of the population in 2006-07 to 9% in 2009-10. The most dramatic declines have been in the estate sector (from 32% to 11%) following a major wage increase at the beginning of 2010. Poverty rates in Colombo District are under 4%, though there are pockets of poverty in all other parts of the country
Sri Lanka is on track to meeting most of the Millennium Development Goals
UNDP has identified Sri Lanka as an early achiever on 10 of the 21 indicators, including those related to the goals of universal primary education and gender equality. Sri Lanka is also expected to meet the goals of maternal health and HIV/AIDS. However, Sri Lanka is making slower progress on the goals related to malnutrition and child mortality. Indicators are mixed on the environment goal: While Sri Lanka is an early achiever on indicators of protected area, ozone-depleting substance consumption, safe drinking water, and basic sanitation, it has stagnated or is slipping backward on forest cover and CO2 emissions.
As with all prolonged conflicts, social inclusion has been slow to be established
A long-lasting solution to the ethnic problem and putting in place effective means of addressing grievances of minority communities is vital for sustained peace. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (appointed by President Rajapaksa to investigate the final phase of the war), presented its final report to Parliament in December 2011.
Sri Lanka demographic transition is having dramatic impacts on education and health as well as the economy
By 2036, more than 22% of the population will be over 60 and there will be 61 dependents per 100 adults. Unless labor force and employment rates increase, a very small number of employed persons will need to provide for a very large number of non-working people straining the budgets of families and the government. As the population becomes older and has a higher income, the types of public services required will change. The education system will need to increase emphasis on computer, English, and higher-level cognitive skills. The health system will need to deal (both preventively and curatively) with the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, including injuries and mental health problems, and provide rehabilitation and long-term care, especially for the elderly. Social protection for the elderly will need to be enhanced. Increasing urbanization will require investments in mass transit; expanded water and sewage networks; improved road safety; better control of air pollution, noise pollution, and other environmental hazards; and better town planning to allow for elderly-friendly design aspects.
The island of Sri Lanka is located in the Indian Ocean, about 400 miles (645 kilometers) north of the equator. It is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. Millions of years ago Sri Lanka and India were bridged by a strip of land, remnants of which are still visible.
The pear-shaped island of Sri Lanka is 272 miles (438 km) long and 140 miles (225 km) wide at its broadest point. Largely flat and rolling, the terrain is distinguished by a cluster of mountain peaks, the highest of which is the 8,281-foot- (2,524-metre) high Pidurutalagala in the south-central region of the country.
Numerous rivers originate in the mountains and flow in all directions toward the sea.
The surface drainage of Sri Lanka is made up of about 100 rivers, most of which are mere wet-season rivulets. Twelve major rivers account for about 75 percent of the mean annual river discharge of the country, with those that flow entirely through the Wet Zone (the highlands and the southwestern part of the country; see below) carrying about half the total discharge. With the exception of the 208-mile-long Mahaweli River, all major rivers flow radially from the Central Highlands to the sea. The Mahaweli, which originates on the western slopes of the highest areas of the highlands, follows a circuitous route in its upper reaches before it enters the plain to the east of the highlands and then flows toward the northeast coast. Because a part of its catchments is well within the Wet Zone, this river has a larger and less seasonally varied flow than the other Dry Zone rivers and so is a major asset for irrigation in the drier parts of the country.
Space images taken by NASA reveal this mysterious ancient bridge in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. The bridge currently named as Adam's Bridge is made of a chain of limestone shoals, circa.18 miles (30 km) long.
Geologically, the island of Sri Lanka is considered a southerly extension of peninsular India (the Deccan), with which it shares a continental shelf and some of its basic lithologic and geomorphic characteristics.
Hard, crystalline rock formations, such as granite, gneisses, khondalite (a type of metamorphic rock), and quartzite, make up about nine-tenths of the island's surface and subsurface.
Climate is defined as the condition of the atmosphere at a particular location over a long period of time (from one month to many millions of years, but generally 30 years) Climate is the sum of atmospheric elements (and their variations), solar radiation, temperature, humidity, clouds and precipitation (type, frequency, and amount), atmospheric pressure, and wind (speed and direction).
Due to the location of Sri Lanka, within the tropics between 5o 55' to 9o 51' North latitude and between 79o 42' to 81o 53' East longitude the climate of the island could be characterized as tropical.
The central part of the southern half of the island is mountainous with heights more then 2.5 Km. The core regions of the central highlands contain many complex topographical features such as ridges, peaks, plateaus, basins, valleys and escarpments. The remainder of the island is practically flat except for several small hills that rise abruptly in the lowlands. These topographical features strongly affect the spatial patterns of winds, seasonal rainfall, temperature, relative humidity and other climatic elements, particularly during the monsoon season.
Rainfall in Sri Lanka has multiple origins. Monsoonal, Convectional and expressional rain accounts for a major share of the annual rainfall. The mean annual rainfall varies from under 900mm in the driest parts (southeastern and northwestern) to over 5000mm in the wettest parts (western slopes of the central highlands). (Fig. 1).
Regional differences observed in air temperature over srilanka are mainly due to altitude, rather than to latitude. The mean monthly temperatures differs slightly depending on the seasonal movement of the sun, with some modified influence caused by rainfall. The mean annual temperature in Sri Lanka manifests largely homogeneous temperatures in the low lands and rapidly decreasing temperatures in the highlands. In the lowlands, up to and altitude of 100 m to 150 m, the mean annual temperature various between 26.5 0C to 28.5 0C, with an annual temperature of 27.5 0C. In the highlands, the temperature falls quickly as the altitude increases. The mean annual temperature of Nuwaraeliya, at 1800 m sea level, is 15.9 0C. The coldest month with respect to mean monthly temperature is generally January, and the warmest months are April and August.
The mean annual temperature varies from 270C in the coastal lowlands to 160C at NuwaraEliya, in the central highlands (1900m above mean sea level). This relatively unique feature manifesting as sunny beaches to rain forests inland is a tourist attraction.
The Climate of Sri Lanka is dominated by the above mentioned topographical features of the country and the Southwest and Northeast monsoons regional scale wind regimes. The Climate experienced during 12 months period in Sri Lanka can be characterized in to 4 climate seasons as follows.
- First Intermonsoon Season - March - April
- Southwest monsoon season - May - September
- Second Intermonsoon season - October - November
- Northeast Monsoon season - December - February
First Inter-monsoon Season (March - April)
Warm and uncomfortable conditions, with thunderstorm-type rain, particularly during the afternoon or evening, are the typical weather conditions during this season. The distribution of rainfall during this period shows that the entire South-western sector at the hill country receiving 250 mm of rainfall, with localize area on the South-western slops experiencing rainfall in excess of 700 mm (Keragala 771 mm). Over most parts of the island, the amount of rainfall various between 100 and 250 mm, the norteble exception being the Northern Jaffna Peninsula (Jaffna- 78 mm, Elephant pass- 83 mm).
Southwest -monsoon Season (May - September)
Windy weather during this monsoon eases off the warmth that prevailed during the 1st Inter monsoon season. Southwest monsoon rains are experience at any times of the day and night,some times intermittently mainly in the Southwestern part of the country. Amount of rainfall during this season varies from about 100 mm to over 3000 mm. The highest rainfall received in the mid-elevations of the western slops (Ginigathhena- 3267 mm, Watawala- 3252 mm, Norton- 3121 mm). Rainfall decreases rapidly from these maximum regions towards the higher elevation, an in Nuwara-eliya drops to 853 mm.The variation towards the Southwestern coastal area is less rapid, with the Southwestern coastal belt experiencing between 1000 mm to 1600 mm of rain during this 5 month long period. Lowest figures are recorded from Northern and Southeastern regions.
Second Inter-monsoon Season (October-November)
The thunderstorm-type of rain, particularly during the afternoon or evening, is the typical climate during this season. But unlike in the Intermonsoon season, the influence of weather system like depression and cyclones in the Bay of Bengal is common during the second Intermonsoon season. Under such conditions, the whole country experiences strong winds with wide spread rain, sometimes leading to floods and landslides. The second Intermonsoon period of October November is the period with the most evenly balanced distribution of rainfall over Sri Lanka. Almost the entire island receives in excess of 400 mm of rain during this season, with the Southwestern slops receiving higher rainfall in the range 750mm to 1200 mm (Weweltalawa Estate in Yatiyantota recording 1219 mm)
Northeast -monsoon Season (December - February)
The dry and cold wind blowing from the Indian land-mass will establish a comparatively cool, but dry weather over many parts making the surrounding pleasant and comfortable weather except for some rather cold morning hours. Cloud-free skies provide days full of sunshine and pleasant and cool night. During this period, the highest rainfall figures are recorded in the North, Eastern slopes of the hill country and the Eastern slopes of the Knuckles/Rangala range. The maximum rainfall is experience at Kobonella estate (1281 mm), and the minimum is in the Western coastal area around Puttalam (Chilaw- 177 mm) during this period.
The history of Sri Lanka begins around 30,000 years ago when the island was first inhabited. Chronicles, including the Mahawansa, the Dipavamsa, the Culavamsa and the Rajaveliya, record events from the beginnings of the Sinhalese monarchy in the 6th century BC; through the arrival of European Colonialists in the 16th century; and to the disestablishment of the monarchy in 1815. Some mentions of the country are found in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the books of Gautama Buddha's teachings. Buddhism was introduced in the 3rd century BC by ArhathMahinda (son of the Indian emperor Ashoka the Great). From the 16th century some coastal areas of the country were ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Sri Lanka was ruled by 181 kings from the Anuradhapura to Kandy periods. After 1815 the entire nation was under British colonial rule and armed uprisings against the British took place in the 1818 Uva Rebellion and the 1848 Matale Rebellion. Independence was finally granted in 1948 but the country remained a Dominion of the British Empire. In 1972 Sri Lanka assumed the status of a Republic. A constitution was introduced in 1978 which made the Executive President the head of state. The Sri Lankan Civil War began in 1983, including an armed youth uprising in 1987 1989 with the 25 year-long civil war ending in 2009.
Prehistoric era of Sri Lanka
The earliest archaeological evidence of human colonization in Sri Lanka appears at the site of Balangoda. Balangoda Man arrived on the island about 34,000 years ago and have been identified as Mesolithic hunter gatherers who lived in caves. Several of these caves, including the well knownBatadombalena and the Fa-Hien Rock cave, have yielded many artifacts from these people who are currently the first known inhabitants of the island.
Balangoda Man probably created Horton Plains, in the central hills, by burning the trees in order to catch game. However, the discovery of oats and barley on the plains at about 15,000 BC suggests that agriculture had already developed at this early date.
Several minute granite tools (about 4 centimetres in length), earthenware, remnants of charred timber, and clay burial pots date to the Mesolithic stone age. Human remains dating to 6000 BC have been discovered during recent excavations around a cave at Varana Raja Mahavihara and in the Kalatuwawa area.
Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and has been found in Ancient Egypt as early as 1500 BC, suggesting early trade between Egypt and the island's inhabitants. It is possible that Biblical Tarshish was located on the island. James Emerson Tennent identified Sri Lanka with Galle. The protohistoric Early Iron Age appears to have established itself in South India by at least as early as 1200 BC, if not earlier (Possehl 1990; Deraniyagala 1992:734). The earliest manifestation of this in Sri Lanka is radiocarbon-dated to c. 1000-800 BC at Anuradhapura and Aligala shelter in Sigiriya (Deraniyagala 1992:709-29; Karunaratne and Adikari 1994:58; Mogren 1994:39; with the Anuradhapura dating corroborated by Coningham 1999). It is very likely that further investigations will push back the Sri Lankan lower boundary to match that of South India.
Archaeological evidence for the beginnings of the Iron age in Sri Lanka is found at Anuradhapura, where a large city settlement was founded before 900 BC. The settlement was about 15 hectares in 900 BC, but by 700 BC it had expanded to 50 hectares. A similar site from the same period has also been discovered near Aligala in Sigiriya. The hunter-gatherer people known as the Wanniyala-Aetto or Veddas, who still live in the central, Uva and north-eastern parts of the island, are probably direct descendants of the first inhabitants, Balangoda man. They may have migrated to the island from the mainland around the time humans spread from Africa to the Indian subcontinent. Around 500 BC Sri Lankans developed a unique hydraulic civilization. Achievements include the construction of the largest reservoirs and dams of the ancient world as well as enormous pyramid-like Stupa (Dagoba) architecture. This phase of Sri Lankan culture was profoundly influenced by early Buddhism. Buddhist scriptures note three visits by the Buddha to the island to see the Naga Kings, who are said to be snakes that can take the form of a human at will. Snake transformation of the kings are thought to be symbolic and not based on historical fact. The earliest surviving chronicles from the island, the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa, say that tribes of Yakkhas (demon worshippers), Nagas (cobra worshippers) and Devas (god worshippers) inhabited the island prior to the migration of Vijaya. Pottery has been found at Anuradhapura bearing Brahmi script and non-Brahmi writing and date back to 600 BC one of the oldest examples of the script.
Politics of Sri Lanka
Politics of Sri Lanka takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Sri Lanka is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. Since decennia the party system is dominated by the socialist Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the conservative United National Party. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Politics of Sri Lanka reflect the historical and political differences between the two main ethnic groups, the majority Sinhala and the minority Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island.
Typical Weather: Warm & Sunny
The seaside town of Galle is 116 Km. from Colombo by road or rail, down the south-west coast. Both routes are picturesque, following the coastline closely for much of the way.
Half hour's drive from Bentota is Ambalangoda, home of devil dancing and mask making.
- Ambalangoda is located at a distance of 86 km from Colombo.
- Ambalangoda has a beautiful white sandy beach. A large number of tourists visit the magnificent beachside of Ambalangoda every year to spend some time in the lap of nature.
- The mesmerizing beach is not the only attraction here. The town is also famous for devil dancing and mask making, showcasing important aspects of the culture of Sri Lanka Transportation
- TukTuk could be a cheap and interesting mode of traveling, as you can take photos along the way.
- Cars on rent are available in all major cities of Srilanka.
It is served by Public buses and Train for Ambalangoda. The E01 expressway entrance is 12.5 KM away from Ambalangoda. To Travel to the Kottawa exit point of Southern Expressway from Ambalangoda, it takes about 45 Minutes
Typical Weather: Warm & Sunny
Dist. from Colombo: 314 km
14 km. from Colombo, a most beautiful bay with good surfing. The East coast offers infinite possibilities for all kinds of water sports and underwater photography. The many ship-wrecks of the coast are a tempting challenge to the diver.
Arugam Bay is situated on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka's South-East coast. The Bay is located 220 km due East of Colombo. It is a popular surfing and tourist destination. Many of the buildings were destroyed in the 2004 tsunami.Due to its popularity among tourists thearea has managed a slow recovery by private initiatives only.The main road through town has not been repaved yet.By April,2008 no help has been received from any official source or International organizations. An exception is uncoordinated support for fishing folk as well as many school rebuilding programs, sadly resulting in a continuation to provide only separatist schools for each Community
He Bay hosts a large fleet of fishing boats which operate off the beach. Many organizations donated boats after the tsunami andassa result there are far more fishing boats than ever before.The main beach is bit dirty as it is used as a garbage dump and a toilet by some locals.Nearby beaches are more esthetically pleasing and also have excellent waves. Arugam Surf Point has a very long, consistent, sectiony right hand break.Many organizations claim to ha ve done extensive work in the area, but locally and on close inspection no progress can be observed so far, end first quarter, 2008.US 'Mercy Corps' has been the most active organization, funded by Oprah Whinfrey 'Angel Network', following a huge fund-raising TV series in the States.Sadly, none of their projects survived the first year of operation.A bridge survived the first year of operation. A bridges being constructed by USAID to replace the old, original landmark box girder construction linking Arugam Bay with PottuVille town. There is excellent elephant viewing nearby as well as two types of monkeys wandering around the area.
Arugam Bay is far away! 7 hours drive from Colombo, it has until fairly recently only attracted a tthts. There are now almost dayly flights to Ampara with Sri Lankan Airlines sea planes. They are presntly applying for a licence to land on Pottuvil Lagoon. The ISA (International Surfing Association) staged Arugam Bay's first international surfing competition in the summer of 2004, and despite the shocking destruction of the Tsunami, returned again in 2005 to give the battered local economy a boost. 2005 was a difficult year for Arugam Bay as it was one of the worst hit areas of the country. The post Tsunami recovery has by and large been very quick despite the remoteness of the area. many NGO's and private organisations like ourselves (LankaRealAid) have help rebuild the area and some of the guest houses are now much better than before the wave. Both north and south of Arugam Bay there are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Sri Lanka.
Typical Weather: Warm & Sunny
Dist. from Colombo: 314 km
14 km. from Colombo, Batticaloa is famous for its 'singing' fish and picturesque lagoon.
Batticaloa is located at a distance of 313 km from Colombo, in the Batticaloa district of the Eastern Province.
Batticaloa can be reached by motor roads beginning with A1 and connecting to A6, A11, A15 via Maradankadawala, Habarana and Thirukkondaiadimadu. Batticaloa, the terminus of the eastern Railway line can be reached from Colombo via Polonnaruwa. Trains are run daily on this track to Batticaloa. Domestic carriers can be chartered to fly to Batticaloa (IATA airport code: BTC), a military air force base.
The coastal town of Batticaloa sits on a narrow tongue of land with Indian Ocean to the east and the snaking estuarine lagoon of Batticaloa.
Batticaloa has coral rich seas along the east coast. Diving and snorkeling is possible in the seas off Batticaloa. Late March to end of October is a good season for these activities on the eastern coast.
Batticaloa district with an average elevation is around 5 meters, occupies the central part of the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka on a flat coastal plain boarded by the Indian Ocean. The coastal area of the Batticaloa district is dominated by three estuarine lagoons, Valaichchenai Lagoon, and Vakari (Panichchankerni) Lagoon. The District extends for a distance of 130 miles along the east coast of the Island, from the River Kumbukkan - aar in the south to the River Verugalaar in the north. The district of Batticaloa takes its name form the principal town of the same name, which was originally known as Batticaloa, or Puliyanduwa a derivation of the Sinhala name MadaKalappua meaning muddy swamp.
Batticaloa Lagoon, the largest lagoon features extensive mangrove swamps and some sea grass beds that attract a wide variety of water birds.
Kallady Beach is a popular attraction among the diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.
Batticaloa lagoon is famous for its `Singing Fish': on full moon nights, during the period of April to September, a faint but distinct musical sound resembling a plucked guitar rises from the lagoon waters in the area along the Kallady Bridge, a couple of kilometer off the town center of Batticaloa. The mysterious music is attributed to a noise emanated from some form of a marine life found in the lagoon. The best way to listen to the music is to dip an end of an oar into the water and hold the other end to your ear.
Batticaloa Light house
Batticaloa Light House called Muttuwaran Lighthouse built by the British in the year 1913 is located where the Batticaloa lagoon meets the Indian Ocean on the Bar Road. The Bar Road is a stretch of sand bar along the lagoon with the ocean to the eastern side. The lighthouse rising to a height of 28 meters is a rounded tower. The observatory at the top with a radius of six feet features a balcony painted in red with a couple of railings to protect the light house keeper.
The solid looking Batticaloa Fort of hulking walls, the most picturesque of the small Dutch forts of Sri Lanka was built by the Portuguese in 1628. The fort guarded by four bastions, protected by the sea from 2 sides and by a moat on other 2 sides, was captured by the Dutch from the Portuguese in 1638. It was the first Portuguese fort in Sri Lanka captured by the Dutch. In the year 1772, the fort fell to the British. Batticaloa Fort houses within its premises a Buddhist stupa and Chatra dated back to 1st century BC. These Buddhist buildings had once belonged to the ancient Ruhuna Kingdom.
Unnichchai is an agrarian village15km to the west of Batticaloa town in the eastern province. The Unichchai Tank is known for fishing and swimming. Unichchai dam is one of the largest dam in the eastern province. It was breached by the cyclonic flood an 1957 and restored and strengthened in the year 1985.
Kalkudah and Passekudah
Located about 35 kilometers north of Batticaloa two lovely bay beaches of Kalkudah (a 2 km long wide stretch of beach) and Passekudah (a wide beach 4 km long) that nestles on either side of the palm-tipped Kalkudah headland. The twin bay beaches, well protected from the monsoon by an off shore reef make up an ideal stretch for bathing, Windsurfing and water skiing and boating etc. It is one of the best-known reef systems in the eastern coast of Sri Lanka and has been proposed as a Marine Sanctuary by NARA. The Passikudah Tourism Development Zone consists of 156 acres of land in total. Currently there are 13 investors in Passikudah who have signed agreements and are investing nearly 6.5 billion to develop holiday resorts
Typical Weather: Warm & Sunny
Dist. from Colombo: 62 km
2 km. south of Colombo, the Bentota Resort Complex is a romantic rendezvous of river and sea with several hotels, Railway station, post office, shopping arcade, cafeteria and an open air theatre showing folk and mask dancing with clusters of palms overlooking everything.
Bentota, Sri Lanka, 64 km down from Colombo, is the second tourist resort following Beruwala Bay Beach, 55 km down from Colombo by the same highway, (so we passed it few minutes ago) is the gateway to 140 km (86mile) stretch of tropical beaches from Beruwala in western coast to Tangalla Bay Beach in the southern coast. The outstandingly beautiful stretch of road is one of the most scenic routes in the island.
We just passed the raucous fish market of busy vendors with helpless crabs & lobsters, among a huge variety of fish at Aluthgama. We passed Toddy bars too. Toddy is a creamy white bubbling thick & smooth drink of liquor made of coconut sap (tapped from the frond of coconut) fermented in large clay pots-low percentage alcoholic beverage faintly reminiscent of cider. No hurry, we can have gallons of Toddy later today, at our leisure. Toddy galore in these towns. Cheap too. This is the border between the Western & Southern Provinces.
Bridge over River Bentota
We cross the bridge over the River Bentota by car. The railway track of Diesel engine powered trains shares the same bridge. Over the bridge, over the waters of river Bentota, all of a sudden it is calm now. Did we miss something? We try to have a glance behind the car. We travelled from north to south over the bridge & now unlike us, the River Bentota that was running from east to west while we crossed the bridge suddenly changes its mind & takes a ninety degree turn. Now, the river flows north right from the very location of the bridge itself, parallel to the coast, for a few hundred meters, separated by the sea only by a narrow tongue of land. Sea from the west, sea from the north-the choppy breakers of the Indian Ocean, & calm waters of the river Bentota from East. The narrow spit of land is beautifully sandwiched & shaded with palm trees on both the seaward & river sides. It can be reached either from the beach or by boat across the river: the paradise island.
Sprawling under an endless canopy of palm trees, the beaches continue several kilometres south from Bentota. The attractive southern end of Bentota beach, i.e. south of the railway station, comprises a wide & tranquil swathe of sand that's home to one of the island's finest clusters of top-end luxury hotels, tastefully located & set at decent intervals from one another down the coast. Some of the hotels herein provide high quality Ayurvedic healing centres. Some of the most sumptuous places to stay in the entire island are located in these beaches from the resort Bentota to village Induruwa. Induruwa too has a small cluster of places to stay on a lovely, quiet length of beach.
Bentota National Holiday Resort (NHR)
Bentota National Holiday Resort spreading over an area of 100 acres is a strip of verdant land of greenery well shaded with groves of Coconut Palm tress, sandwiched between Bentota Beach and Galle � Colombo main road, which also sees railway line of Colombo �Matara running parallel to it. The Resort is a sustainable tourism project launched in 1969 and owned and managed by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). While Lihiniya Hotel, Serendib Hotel, Cey Sands Hotel and Club Robinson Hotel too were established together with Bentota Beach Hotel in the initial stage of Bentota National Holiday Resort (NHR), Taj Exotica Hotel followed suit in time. NHR-Bentota offers a range of accommodation from 5 star of international standing to budget hotels. The Resort is home to restaurants, a shopping arcade, a bank, a post office, a Police post, a life saving unit, a unit of Red Cross, and a telecommunication center. The resort saw the establishment of its own central waste water and sewerage treatment plant in late 1990s. The success with aspects of sustainability of tourism at Bentota NHR has set a fine example on the concept of centrally planned tourist's resorts.
During the colonial period of the British colonialists (1815-1948) in Sri Lanka, a rest house was built for the benefit of colonial civil servants and colonial entrepreneurs traveling between the seaport of Colombo to the sea-port of Galle, home to VOC Galle Dutch Fort. Today the 100 acres of tropical coastal strip of land provides the full gamut of water sports on the beach: wind surfing, water-skiing and diving. Facilities of Diving outfits & services are a regular feature of all the major hotels at Bentota. Then again deep-sea fishing too can be ventured into by the adventurous spirits. The River Bentota with its calm water affords the opportunities for still more water sports and boat trips upstream the River Bentota.
National Resort Complex herein is built entirely for the foreign tourists. A gentle, leafy sprawl of hotels & guest houses along the coast provide a full range of water sports-wind surfing, water-skiing, deep sea fishing, diving. The beautiful calm waters of River Bentota too offers itself ready year round for your merry making in all sorts of water sports along with interesting boat trips up the river. All major hotels provide diving outfits & services.
Water sports, PADI & CMAS courses
Diving the Snake, Paradise Island, Bentota (Swiss management) offers full range of PADI & CMAS courses, plus a wide range of one-off dives at various sites along the west coast. Club Inter Sport of Bentota beach Hotel (PADI-registered dive instructor) offers water skating, jetskiing, windsurfing, speed boating, deep sea fishing. Confifi Marina offers full range of dives & courses, snorkelling trips, waterskiing, jet skiing, windsurfing, boat trips, tube-riding & canoeing. Sunshine Water Sports Centre, Aluthgama offers full range of water sports & particularly good for windsurfing & waterskiing, with training from former Sri Lanka champions. Jet skiing, snorkelling trips, deep-sea fishing &Bentota river cruises. Ypsylon Dive School offers the usual range of single dives, PADI courses, night dives, introductory "discovery" dives & wreck dives
Boat safaris in River Bentota
Boat trips along the River Bentota are quite popular. The Bentota lagoon is the last section of the broad River Bentota, a popular spot for boat safaris. Starting at the Bentota bridge & cruising inland, soon we will be in the lagoon dotted with tiny islands fringed with tangled mangrove swamps. Among aquatic birds-herons, cormorants &colourful kingfishers - as well as water monitors & crocodiles, the boatmen ferry (Who pay the ferryman? Allow me) us right in the thick of mangroves. The sight is mysterious & beautiful at once, as we cruise through shaded waters beneath huge roots. The longer the cruise, the further upriver we cruise, the more unspoilt the scenery becomes. Longer excursion includes side trip to coconut factories & handicraft shops. Most trips cruise for three hours while the Dinner Cruise last 5 hours. Grilled prawns with garlic butter, steaks, rice & curry & of course, The best dessert in the world, curd with Kitul palm honey.
At the north end of Induruwa is one of the turtle hatcheries set up to protect turtle eggs till they hatch. Turtle eggs, which would otherwise be eaten, are bought for a few rupees each from local fishermen & re-buried along the beach. Once hatched, the baby turtles are kept in holding tanks. Small tanks contain hundreds of one to three-day old turtles, as well as larger one, including an albino, kept for the collection. In the night, you can release a three-day-old turtle into the Indian Ocean to fend off itself. The beauty of the operation is the beaches are guaranteed the female baby turtles released herein will find their way back, sans GPS, in the depths of seven seas to their natal beach ten years later to lay their own eggs. The wonders & mysteries of our planet are endless. Let's protect it from the poachers, marauders & mass murderers. Five of the world's seven species of marine turtle visit Sri Lanka's beaches to nest, a rare ecological blessing. The government support for the conservation is a far cry from an ideal conservation project for an island that could easily be converted to the world's prime turtle-watching destination. In buying a baby turtle (from privately run turtle hatcheries) so that it could be released to the ocean, your wallet would loose a couple of dollars (let me put it this way: after all, keepers of the hatcheries too spent money buying the eggs from the fishermen, don't they?) to an eminently worthy cause. You would loose A Few Dollars More buying tortoise-shell ware (see, still we aren't saving all of the turtles, still not in the ideal situation), drums, masks & handmade lace. Lace of Portuguese origin, even 15th century Portuguese style ladies jackets made of white lace: Kabakorottu. That's what since15th century coastal belt generation to the generation as my grandmother's (all of them Sinhalese in our western & south-western coastal belt) wore in their times. My father, Baminahennadige Donald Benedict Peiris (8th April 1930 - 24th June 2005) of Lakshapatiya, Moratuwa too used to talk of traditions & costumes of the western coast.
Independent turtle hatcheries run by villagers & Turtle conservation project (TCP) sponsored by UNDP Turtle Conservation Project.
Bentota in Colonial History and Bentota Beach Hotel Sri Lanka�s first European invaders, the Portuguese (1505-1656) who dominated the maritime spice trade, built a fort on the bank of the Bentota river. No colonial fort would be complete without heavy artillery. So the Portuguese manned the fort with cannon. It was called ParangiKotuwa in Sinhalese meaning the fort of the Portuguese. A century later the Dutch in Ceylon (1656-1796), who ousted the Portuguese let the fort fall into disrepair, bent much more on the trade, converted one of the large buildings within the fort into a colonial rest house for Dutch Officers en route from Galle, home to VOC Galle Dutch Fort and the seaport of Colombo.
Following the Dutch, the British (1815-1948), who discovered the rest-house and found it a fine coastal sanitarium in which to spend beach holidays with friends and family. That was to give birth to colonial Bentota. The British were quite taken up with the definite quality of tranquility: with Bentota Rest House being its center of attraction, with beach, lagoon, river and wooded and sheltered terrain brought about a palliative ecology and air.
Sir James Emerson Tennent (1804-1869), the colonial secretary of Ceylon (1845-1850) narrating in his book titled Ceylon, An Account of the Island (1859) says that the rest house at Bentota, situated within a little park, deeply shaded by lofty Tamarind trees on the point of the beach where the river forms its junction with the sea, is one of the coolest and most agreeable in Sri Lanka then called Ceylon. In his eyes the attractions at Bentota was enhanced (Oh! that�s an epicurean) by the lavish breakfast laid out by the civil officer, Mr. T. L. Gibson. The table was covered with all the luxuries at Bentota: fruits in great variety, curries, fish fresh from sea, and the delicacy for which the Bentota had earned a local renown, oysters detached off the rocks at the bottom of adjoining estuary with the mallets by the Sinhalese divers. When the river was at low tide, the oysters weren�t edible unless washed in salt water for at least two days. Hence the oysters were taken out at mid-tide. Bentota Beach Hotel built on the site of the ParangiKotuwa Old Portuguese fort, was modeled after the Dutch star forts, having assimilated the traditional Sinhalese architecture of central open court yard making the hotel blend perfectly with the surroundings.
Ten kilometres north of Bentota is pretty Brief Garden. It used to be the home of landscape artist, sculptor & bon-vivant Bevis Bawa, older brother of illustrious Geoffrey Bawa, one of the twentieth century's foremost Asian architects whose work includes the new Parliament, Ruhunu University & renowned top-end eco-friendly hotels, Kandalama Hotel, Bentota Beach Hotel etc. of the island. In 1929 Major Bevis Bawa of British Army in Ceylon began landscaping the 5 acre garden his father had purchased following a successful legal brief. Having cleared the Rubber plantation, Bawa set to work creating a verdant romantic folly of inviting alcoves, nooks & bowers & garden sculpture. Bawa continued his masterpiece to his death in 1992. In the backdrop of undulating landscape of paddy fields & scattered villages on a hillside, Bawa designed a delightful series of cool shady terraces of wonderfully composed views, designed in various moods with references to European & Japanese style gardens, which tumble luxuriantly down the hillside below the house. And then there are wide lawns, ponds & a hilltop lookout too. The house itself wouldn't take a backseat to the garden. The artwork on display is eclectic, ranging form homoerotic sculpture to a wonderful mural of Sri Lankan life in the style of Marc Chagall. Some of the artwork was done by Bawa himself. The mural was created by the Australian artist Donald Friend, who hadn't intended to stay more than six days but ended up staying in Ceylon (then name of Sri Lanka) for six years. The fascinating collection of photographs includes a photograph of Bevis Bawa posing with house guests Vivien Leigh (Gone with the Wind) & Laurence Olivier (Oh! Ah!) during their filming of Robert Standish's famous novel "Elephant Walk" in 1953. And Emperor Edward the 8th to the boot.
Robin Maugham at Brief Garden
Spurred by his uncle William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), Robin Maugham (1916 -1981) an investigative journalist, novelist, travel writer set off on what he would later describe as his Search for Nirvana. Nirvana being almost endless cycles of death and birth away and next to the supreme enlightenment, Robin Maugham, to his consolation, found Brief Garden at Bentota six miles away from the Bentota National Holiday Resort. He gushed: Brief Garden is a Paradise; it is a Shangri-la, a glimpse of Nirvana-call it what you will after you have been to see it. The harmony of the Brief Garden is unexpected because, as Bevis Bawa explains it, it consists of a collection of several small gardens-thought out by him in various moods and at various times during its growth over the last forty years. The result is a climax of loveliness, a proclamation that nature can triumph over the hideous inventions of mankind. In the leafy trees and shrubs the wild birds call and sing. Flowers glitter in the sunshine. Gracefully-shaped vistas reach out towards the horizon. Tranquility pervades the green terraces. Peace covers the house with a soft cloak. Peace falls over the lawns like a blessing. Peace is everywhere. For this place is a Paradise, made by the sensibility of one man, created by his patience and his love.
Geoffrey Bawa himself appear in avatars: here in the form no other than God Bacchus himself, holding a birdbath shaped as a giant clam-shell, there in the shape of water-spouting gargoyle with wild hair & blue marble eyes. Bawa, himself was an imposing character, intellectually, socially as well as physically. He was 6 feet 7 inches tall. That is as tall as South African born former captain of England, fabulous Tony Greg, the most colourful commentator in Cricket today. And impartial too, as is the champion of champions, Illustrious Ravi Shastri of India.
Typical Weather: Warm & Sunny
Dist. from Colombo: 98 km
8 km. south of Colombo, Hikkaduwa is the place for underwater delight. Site of the famed coral gardens; hire a glass bottomed boat or goggles and flippers and explore the fantasies under your feet. Don't purchase or encourage sale of corals.
Sri Lanka is home to some of the best stretches of beaches in South Asia. The country�s beaches have become its foremost tourist attraction and since of late, many important festivals have been centredaround it.
Hikkaduwa is one of the well-known and admired beach resorts of this paradise island. It is positioned 98 kilometres south from the commercial capital, Colombo. The extraordinarily attractive beach of Hikkaduwa is a place of fun and excitement and always has something for everyone.
The only marine sanctuary of the country is situated in Hikkaduwa since its inception in 1979. The Hikkaduwa Marine Sanctuary is home to around 70 diverse types of corals and is constantly frequented by the likes of conservators, scientists and biologists. Many believe this is the best place to explore marine creatures such as coral fish, lobsters and various kinds of coloured tropical fish. A beautiful stretch of a 1.5 kilometre long beach runs parallel to the coral reefs of this beautiful marine sanctuary. The reefs here consist of twelve kinds of butterfly fish and five kinds of angelfish.
The beach of Hikkaduwa is a great place to enjoy numerous water sports activities, as well is the venue for the annual beach festival that attractions local and international travellers in large numbers. With regard to the various sports and leisure activities that are on offer, one of the unique highlights of the Hkkaduwa Beach is the glass bottom boat rides that are ever popular amongst nature lovers. It is a place of discovery and wonder for the likes of snorkelers, wind surfers, divers and for those who wish to enjoy an enthralling deep sea fishing experience. The breathtaking beaches are also perfect for those who simply want to relax, gaze at the Indian Ocean and ponder on the earth�s beauty.
This amazing beach resort offers its visitors a pleasant yet memorable nightlife and abundant dining venues to enjoy an array of succulent seafood. The vast number of hotels and guesthouses located right along the beach provide modern facilities, friendly service and some remarkable views of the sparkling blue ocean. Visit this beautiful destination and be awed by the beauty and opulent ambience.
Kalkudah Beach and Passekudah Bay
Typical Weather: Warm & Sunny
Dist. from Colombo: 282 km
Sri Lanka is the ultimate call for all the wanderlust travelers in search of some relaxation combined with some exciting action. Whether you want to try out some amazing sport activity like snorkeling, wind surfing or skiing or just bask in the sun along the beaches of Sri Lanka , this place offers everything for everyone. The delightful sights of the rising and falling waves surprises the visitor
Kalkudah Bay is a 2 km long wide stretch of beach, located 32 km north of Batticaloa. Kalkudah&Passekudah are two very fine beaches in the East Coast of Sri Lanka. One of the best stretches of beach in Sri Lanka is the East Coast which runs to more than 300 kilometers . It is well protected from the monsoon by an off shore reef. Passekudah Bay is another wide beach 4 km. long just south of Kalkudah .The combined beaches of Kalkudah and Passekudah are ideal for bathing as the sea is clear, calm and reef-protected. It is a favorite among the nature lovers and for those looking for some exciting water sport activity. The Kalkudah beach provides a perfect setting for sun bathing , Windsurfing , and skiing. The beach also houses a varied number of tropical fishes and exotic coral reefs. The combined area of Kalkudah and Passekudah was declared as the National Holiday resort in 1973.
Kalkudah is one of the finest beaches in the east coast on the way to Batticaloa .It is also emerging as a popular tourist centre with many modern hotel facilities. May to September is considered as the best time to visit east coast, as it is dry during this period and the surfers can go for sun bathing , wind surfing without much difficulty. The beach adorned with coconut palms is truly one of the finest stretch in the east coast of Sri Lanka, thus no wonder it also emerges as a popular tourist destination.
Two and half hours drive from the airport, this small yet busy town is well known for its iconic GangatilakaVihara, one of the few Buddhist monuments that permits entry and a true highlight worth visiting. Markets and small shops make up this seaside down and it?s fascinating to watch the locals trade - from coconut fibre products to fresh fish and vegetables. Kalutara's golden beach is fringed by magnificent palms and is excellent for swimming. Stay at Mermaid, an attractive beachfront hotel o
Just over 40km from Colombo, bustling Kalutara is the first beach resort we reach traveling south of Colombo. Kalutara has a huge stretch of fine sand with Wadduwa to the north which is home to the area's top resorts.
The appearance of roadside stalls selling coir rugs, basketware& reed mats signals the entry into Kalutara. As if the tell-tale signs wouldn't do, Kalutara heralds its presence with nothing less than the immense white gleaming dagoba of the GangatilakaVihara, immediately south of the long double-span bridge across the Kalu Ganga (River Black).
Kalutara itself divides into Mahawaskaduwa (Kalutata North) where the beach is more scenic, right down to Katukurunda (Kalutata South) It's one of the west coast's largest settlements, but the long stretch of beach north of town remains reasonably unspoilt, dotted with a string of top-end hotels which make a decent first or last stop on a tour of the island, in view of the town's proximity to the international airport.
Kalutara was once an important spice-trading centre controlled at various times by the Portuguese, the Dutch & the British. When the Dutch deserted the bustling spice port at Kalutara, they left behind canals linking the spice plantations. British replaced the inland estates with Rubber plantations. Though estates now produce rubber, traces of the old spice route are seen. By paddling through the tranquil waters of the old canals en route the little known & intriguing Richmond Castle, a few kilometers inland. Today, the bustling town is better known for its coconut palm gardens & for coconut-fibre mats, ropes & baskets.
To guard the spice trade the Portuguese built a fort on the site of then Buddhist temple here. The Dutch took it over & a British agent converted it into his residence during the colonial era. The impressive modern Buddhist stupa was built in 1960s has the unusual distinction of being the only one in the world which is entirely hollow. We will be going right inside the cavernously echoing interior. Inside, the cool, echoing walls are lined with a sequence of 74 murals depicting various scenes from the Buddhist Jataka (550 previous births of the Buddha to be - Bodhisattva) tales. The remainder of the temple buildings is situated in a compound on the other side of the road, featuring the unusual Bo Tree enclosures & Buddha shrines.
It's a lively complex, & a good place to watch the daily rituals of Sri Lankan Buddhism: the offerings to Buddha images are made three times a day. Devotees place food, flowers in front of the images, lighting coconut-oil lamps, trying prayers written on scraps of cloth to one of the Bo trees or pouring water into conduits which run down to water the Bo tree's roots. Outside, a sequence of donation boxes line the roadside, popular with local motorists, who frequently stop here to offer a few coins & say a prayer for safe journey.
Kalutara is famous for its colourful, soft basketry. At the Basket Centre is in the middle of the village, the local weavers tame the unyielding palm fronds, turning them into purses, coasters, hats & other items. Then again unyielding & stubborn thorny Watekaiya palm leaves are skillfuly transformed into patterned mats, purses, lampshades & linen baskets Many other wares being woven from coconut fiber too. Having witnessed the skill of the weavers, rest assured, you will never use the term "basket case" in such a pugnacious tone again.
The island's best quality "Mangoosteen" was introduced to Ceylon from Malaya in the early 19th century, (in season June to September) together with the economically important rubber. Mangosteens is a dark purple shiny fruit containing luscious, translucent segmented flesh of deliciously tart flavour. Mangoosteen is said to be at its best in June. Queen Victoria longed to taste on of these delectable fruits, but they did not travel well & she had to make do with mere descriptions. Mmmmm... be careful not to let the reddish-brown juice of the mangosteen's outer shell soak into your clothes since the stain is indelible.
At Palataota, in a little inland, is Richmond Castle, a fine country house in a 42-acre fruit garden estate. Built in 1896, it originally belonged to landowner turned philanthropist NDA Silva Wijayasinghe, the local PadikaraMudaliyar (village leader) & was used during the British period as a circuit bungalow for officials. This magnificent hybrid of Indian & British architecture was originally a spice plantation mansion, built for the PadikaraMudaliyar, a wealthy regional governor, who copied the plans of an Indian Maharaja's palace designed by a London architect. Note the audience hall, with intricately carved pillars & beams (two shiploads of teak were brought from Burma for its construction) & a spiral staircase leading to a gallery of some fascinating photographs from the time. The house & grounds are open to the public. It makes a good canoeing or bike track with riverside picnic.
The large number of coconut palms along the coast road marks this as the center of Palm toddy industry. Palm toddy is a favourite among the Sri Lankans, as is the stronger distilled arrack, both of which are found throughout the island. Toddy as well as sweet palm juice, treacle or jaggery are produced from the sap which is collected in earthen pots that are hung at the crown of the palms which have been selected for "tapping" The sap flows when the apex of a virgin frond (flower bunch) is "tapped" by slicing it off & tapping it with a stick to make the cells burst & the juice to flow. This usually starts in about three weeks of the first cut. From then on successive flower buds are tapped so that sap collecting can continue for half a year. The skillful tapper usually ties a ring of rope, a brace around his ankles & shins up the tall smooth trunk two or three times a day to empty the sap pot into one he has tied around his waist. The sap tappers move from one tree to another tree by means of a pair of coconut fibre ropes, one for the feet & other a meter right above it as a grip line for hands, tied at the top of the tall trunk of one tree to the top of equally tall trunk of the next tree. The high in the air horizontal circus rope trick saves the tapper time & energy that would have wasted in the cycle of climbing down one tree & shining up the next tree.
The Negombo Beach is yet another unique treasure of the blessed land Sri Lanka. Negombo, which is, positioned not too far away from the commercial capital, Colombo lies as close as just 5 kilometres from the Bandaranayke International Airport. Above all, it occupies the finest location to spend a memorable holiday while experiencing the best of sun, sand and beach.
Due to its perfect location and proximity to the airport, the Negombo Beach attracts travellers heading in or out of the island. It is also a great stopover for those on their way to explore the wonders of the hill country. Negombo was once a small fishing town that grew to become the countrys first beach resort. It mainly developed during the time of Portuguese and Dutch rule. The many significant constructions and buildings are proof of the noteworthy colonial rule. For instance, the Old Dutch Fort gate that is now a part of the prison was built in 1672. The Dutch Canal and the many surrounding churches also bear clear evidence of colonial rule.
The beach can be accessed within a distance of just 2 kilometres from the Negombo Town. The atmosphere of this stunning beach provides its visitors an unmatched experience on the daily life of the fishing community. For instance, travellers can witness the haul of shark caught being brought to shore by the anglers as well as the early morning fish auction.
The west coast of Sri Lanka that includes the Negombo Beach is commonly known as a superb place for whale watching since it is the breeding grounds of the Sperm whale and the Blue Whale. The Negombo Beach is a haven for water sport enthusiasts who wish to enjoy activities such as wind surfing and diving. Water sport equipment are readily available at the nearby hotels, or can also be rented or purchased by the many private vendors located close to the beach. Furthermore, diving schools that offer courses at reasonable prices can also be found within the vicinity.
The beautiful and unspoilt sandy beach of Negombo, is primarily maintained and upgraded by the nearby hotels with the aim to provide the best family beach vacations in Sri Lanka.