The capital of the southern province is a city with a colorful history. UNESCO declared World Heritage Site the magnificent Dutch fort is the most popular attraction of the town. 300 year old Dutch atmosphere is still very much alive around the fort. Located near the southern end of the Sri-Lanka. Galle enjoys a nice coast line. And it’s a district that enjoys a great variance of scenarios, from beaches to marshlands to dry planes to hills. The southern coastal belt is the most popular among the tourists and comes to life mainly from October through April when the monsoon moves northeast and the sea becomes calm with blue skies
To add to the natural beauty, Galle has a great history too. The history goes in to King Solomon’s time. It is believed that Galle is the ancient seaport “Tarshish”, from which king Solomon drew the ivory and other valuables. It’s been the most prominent seaport before the western rule of the country. Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays and Indians were doing business through Galle port. The ‘modern’ history of Galle starts in 1505, when the first Portuguese ship was drawn by a storm and the captain Lourenzo de Almeida came near Galle. But he did not land. Later they occupied many Sri Lankan Coastal towns, and by 1597, built a small fortification in Galle.
The City of Galle had been under the European administrative center over 4 centuries. Portuguese had to surrender to the Dutch armies. In 1640, the Dutch took over Galle. It was them who built the Fort in the year 1663, in the way it’s seen now. They built a fortified wall, using solid granite, and built three bastions, sun, moon and star. There was a developed town center, and a whole lot of buildings.
After the British took over the country from the Dutch, in year 1796, they kept the Fort in the same way, and had it as the administration center of Galle.
How to Get There:
From the airport, take the train to Galle Railway station. Usually, it would take up to 4 hours to get to the heart of the city. Or you take the bus to Colombo (the capital of Sri-Lanka) then take a bus to Galle ( Rs100). Usually, buses are faster than the trains. Do not try to rent a car and drive if you are not a trained driver. It’s so difficult to find your way out and there is no obvious road rules to be seen. It’s scary.
Things To Do in Galle:
Hire a driver and drive back through Dodanduwa, visiting the Buddhist island hermitage in the Ratgama Lake, a retreat of infinite peace and beauty.
Unawatuna bay provides safe swimming and snorkeling, protected as it is by a reef. This is the place to go if you want to find some of the finest beaches in Galle. Great place to have dinner or lunch. The hotels are some what expensive but you if you find a place to rent, you would save money. Ask locals if they are renting rooms for tourists.
Rhumassala is associated with the legend of the traditional Ramayana story. When the warrior Lakshman was wounded, a Himalayan herb was required for his cure and Rama dispatched the Monkey-god Hanuman to fetch it. But Hanuman forgot the name of the herb, so to be on the safe side he tore off a hunk of the Himalayas, carried it on his back and dumped it, where it now lies!
Lihiniya Gems: if you are interested in seeing gems especially moonstones which are special to Sri- Lanka.
Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications:
Sinharaja Forest Reserve: a must see rain forest and one of the largest forests in Sri- Lanka.Located in south-west Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the country’s last viable area of tropical rainforest. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. It’s recommended to hire a guide if you are not familiar with the rain forest eco systems. Rainforest can be unpredictable and do your homework before you venture.
The “ Ariyapala” Mask Museum : a place to observe and buy some of the finest wooden masks.
Koggala Lake and surroundings: a nice gateway to enjoy a fantastic panorama especially if you could do a boat ride.
Galle fort lighthouse : Highest point of the Galle Fort. It is overlooking the city.
Galle international Cricket stadium