Despite being a tiny drop in the Indian Ocean; Sri Lanka is an amazingly diverse country. This diversity has many flavors from life styles to culture to weather and history. Amidst the array of destinations there are certain places that literally make you feel like a tourist. Todays’ piece is on one such location – Negombo.
The black sand beach at Negombo
Fondly referred to as “The Little Rome”, Negombo is sprinkled with decidedly ornate Roman Catholic churches that were built during the Portuguese-era. The Katuwapitiya Church and the Grand Street Church are the two biggest parishes in Negombo, a predominantly Christian area. Located about 37 kilometers North of Colombo, the Negombo town is positioned at the mouth of the Negombo lagoon. A traditional fishing town situated a mere 7 kilometers away from the Bandaranayke International Airport in Katunayaka, the economy in this areas is of course based on fisheries and tourism.
They say that the world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page. But we generally tend to overlook the fact that the country we live in is chapter one of the book. The first chapter of a book can either get you hooked, or regret ever reading the book in the first place. The book of the world is no different! Fortunately for us, our motherland, our first chapter, Sri Lanka, is a country like no other. This tiny island paradise is home to a variety of astonishing sights, rich history and amazing cultural heritage. Go ahead, read a few more pages from chapter one! Trust me; the chapter on Sri Lanka is much larger than you think…
The Kalutara Temple
On my quest to cover the coastal region of our beautiful island home, we’ve covered most of the south from Hikkaduwa to Dondra Head in Matara, as well as a few locations on the east; namely Paasikudah and ArugamBay. This travel entry is on a spontaneous trip to Ahungalla.
Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Abundant with natural resources and beauty, our island has all it takes to be called the “Paradise Island”. From long sandy beaches to breathtaking mountain landscapes and everything in between; she is a nation with a diverse population and a proud heritage. Sadly, our home was plagued by a thirty year civil war. Beautiful locations in the island were unreachable, whilst many resources were made unusable and precious human lives were destroyed. But that’s all in the past! Since the end of the war, we’ve seen considerable growth in the travel and tourism industry fed by both local and foreign travelers eager to experience Sri Lanka in all her glory!
Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean is known for her beautiful sandy beaches! Travelers from all corners of the world visit our country to experience the 3 S’s – Sun, Sand, and Surf! Luckily we have enough and more beaches around the country to accommodate the large volumes of travelers who are drawn to the beach. What is fascinating about the beaches around the island is the fact that each beach has a unique “selling point”. Some beaches are by definition tourist hot spots that emphasize on fun and entertainment! The beauty of the beach is complimented by the activities that go along with them. Snorkeling, Scuba diving, traditional surfing, and kite surfing are gaining popularity with each passing day.
There are times that you wake up on a Sunday morning and think to yourself, what do I do today? Do I take it easy and relax a little? Do I find a quiet spot and lose myself between the pages of a book? Or do I hit the road and go for a drive? It just so happens that on this particular Sunday morning, the last day of the year 2017, my wife and I decided that we should hit the road and go somewhere that we’ve never been before. Having decided to spend New Year’s Eve in Galle, our choices were somewhat limited, but, we unanimously picked Matara as the destination for the day.
They say, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” and the journey to Matara from Galle is a living testament to this statement.
If you live on the West Coast, it will take you quite a long time to get to Arugam Bay since you will have to cut across the breadth of Sri Lanka and end up on the East Coast. Irrespective of which mode of transport you take, it’ll take you somewhere around 8-12 hours or more to get to Arugam Bay from Colombo. If you’re travelling specifically to Arugam Bay, I suggest you leave out 2 days for travel (one day to get there, and another day to get back). From the perspective of travel time Arugam Bay may not be the ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
There are a few route options available when travelling to Arugam Bay. If you’re up for a long drive, and starting the journey from Colombo, you can take the rout through Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, UdaWalawa, Thanamalwila, Wellawaya to ArugamBay. From Kandy you can drive to Mahiyangana via the 18 hair-pin bends on to Bibile, Monaragala, Siyambalanduwa, Pottuvil Town and reach Arugam Bay. From the south, you can take the highway to Matara, and drive through Tissamaharama and Buttala via the Kataramaga road to Monaragala and continue to Arugam Bay. Of course you don’t HAVE to drive, when travelling in a group the best option is to hire a van or small bus based on the number of travellers in the group.
Before the Southern expressway, going down south was a drive along the Galle road. Once you leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city, you can enjoy a calm drive along the coast through some of the famous fishing villages in Sri Lanka. During some part of the drive, you are sure to roll down your windows to let in the refreshing sea breeze. Intoxicated by the salty air, you find it hard to resist pulling over to the side of the road and running off to the beach.
The most popular coastal destination that you come across en route to Galle is the seaside resort town of Hikkaduwa. The entire stretch is littered with hotels, luxury resorts, restaurants and bars. The Hikkaduwa season, which falls between November and April, brings large crowds of tourists from all parts of the world. The peak of the season is between January and March during which time almost all hotels and rest houses will be booked, beaches will be crowded and it may be very difficult to get into some of the popular restaurants.
18th January 2015 was a hot and humid Sunday. I was home alone killing time watching movies and reruns of the past weeks TV series. It was around 11:30 am when I made a decision to get out of the house and just go somewhere, anywhere!!
Living in Maharagama, the first thing that came to mind was to take the highway bus to Galle. I’ve never taken the highway bus before, so I had a quick shower and a change of clothes, packed my camera and was on my way. The mid day sun was screaming down and I could feel my skin burn. Jumping on the Galle bound Air Conditioned bus was such a relief. It’s said that the time taken to travel from the Kottawa Highway Entrance to the Galle Exit is about 1 hour. And it takes about 10-20 minutes to get from Maharagama to Kottawa in light traffic. When the bus entered the high way and the ride became much smoother, I decided to pass the time by catching up on some reading. The bus finally stopped just passed the entrance to the Galle Fort and so began the adventure.