Explore Sri Lanka’s Southern Province (Part 1 – Stay & Tour)

Galle Fort

It was originally built by the Portuguese way back in the 15th century. It was later fortified by the Dutch around the 16th Century. It is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument and is recognized by UNESCO. Walking on the main fort gives you a panoramic view of the Bay of Bengal. Sitting for a while in silence, just listening to the waves transports you into a long-lost era thinking about this massive fort and its endurance during the various sieges and battles.
P.S. Galle is worth a day trip. I recommend not overstaying here.

Japanese Pagoda

The route to the Pagoda is walking up a hill. Since no public transport is available there, we hitch a hike from one of the passing cars.
After experiencing an atmosphere that read war cries, it was time to experience peace at the Pagoda. The serene structure is against a background of the sea and a lot of shady trees. One can get a panoramic view of the ocean from here. Close your eyes and sit a while, forgetting all your worries. Hear the waves crashing, some birds chirping and feel spirituality touching you.

** P.S. Visit to the pagoda requires that a dress code be followed. To respect the sanctity of the place, please read instructions online. On our return, we hiked down through the Unawatuna beach. The route is amidst trees and creepers and is not an isolated one. I recommend walking it down if you don’t have a vehicle as Unawatuna beach is very close by.

Koggala Stilt Fishing

A unique and interesting method of fishing by the local fishermen here is the “Stilt Fishing”. This traditional method of fishing is slowly dying. After the Tsumai in 2004, stilt fishing was stopped. It has again started but in very less numbers. What is rampant now, is the fishermen posing on the stilts for photos and sharing their stories. This costs roughly around 1000 bucks.
A visit to this place either at sunrise or sunset, offers a magnificent view with the rising / setting sun as the backdrop against the gushing of waves.

Stilt fishing requires a lot of skill and balance. A vertical pole with an attached crossbar is embedded into the sea floor among the shallows, or on a riverbed. The crossbar allows the fishermen to be seated a couple of meters above the water causing minimal shadows on the water and hence little to no disturbance amongst the sea life. They collect the catch in a bag tied to the pole or to their waist. (Source: https://lanka.com/about/interests/stilt-fishing/)

Turtle Conservation Center

The Turtle Care Center, located in the South Western coastal village of Kosgoda is one of the 18 turtle hatcheries along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. This center was established in 1981. It is also very popular as all five species of turtles that visit Sri Lanka nest here i.e.

  • Green Turtles
  • Loggerheads
  • Hawksbills
  • Leatherbacks
  • Olive Ridley

The hatchery claims that their Sea Turtle program aims to protect the turtle eggs and increase hatching rates. Some of their staff patrols the beach all night looking for mother turtles that come out of the ocean to lay their eggs during the nesting period. They protect the mother turtle during the nesting process and when she is finished laying the eggs and returns safely back to the ocean, the eggs are relocated from the beach to the hatchery where nests are already prepared and then marked with the name of the turtle species and the date of laying eggs.
We were told that this is done due to threats that endanger the eggs in their original nesting locations such as erosion, traffic of tourists, dogs, crabs, birds and irresponsible human action.
We were shown turtles ranging from 150 years to hatchlings. Most of the bigger turtles were rescued from the sea and have some disability or the other.

(P.S. There are many discussions surrounding such conservation centers on their objectives, honesty, integrity. However, we still gave it a try to check it out. It is solely a reader’s choice to visit such places. The reasons cited for keeping the hatchlings in the tanks and releasing them later were not so convincing)

Yala National Park

Started in 1900 this wildlife sanctuary is spread over a land of 130,000 hectares and touches the Indian Ocean. Yala National Park is known to house leopards. There are safaris which needs to be pre-booked for approximately 1000 bucks per person. The safari begins as early as 5.30 AM as you need to have the entry permits before entering the National Park. The booking amount paid to the safari includes this. Yala National Park is host to a variety of species of Flora and Fauna. Your Safari guide will help you spot the variety of animals and reptiles like elephants, spotted deer, peacocks, crocodiles, mongoose, jackals, birds and what not. However, we were not fortunate enough to spot the Leopards. Well, I guess even the most extinct species run away from the messed up Human beings 😊

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