The second largest town in the Puttalam district is Chilaw. It is one of the few towns in all of Sri Lanka to be known by three names; “Halāvata” in Sinhala, “Cilāpam” in Tamil and of course “Chilaw” in English. Travel Guides introduce Chilaw as the city famous for its three C’s – Coconuts, Crabs and Coreas!
December 26th 2004, a day forever etched in our memories as the day the sea swallowed the coastline. The amount of destruction caused by the rampaging sea was a phenomenon that was beyond comprehension. I remember sitting at home, watching the Boxing Day Cricket match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand when the breaking news interrupted the live telecast; Sri Lanka was hit by a devastating Tsunami.
According to the “Great Chronicle”, popularly referred to as the Mahavamsa, a similar phenomenon had occurred during the reign of King Kelani Tissa. The ancient scripture mentions that King Kelani Tissa sentenced a monk to death by immersing him in a cauldron of oil. This act of cruelty angered the gods who unleashed their wrath by making the sea flow inland submerging Kelaniya. Soothsayers, who advised the king during times of distress, asked his royal highness to sacrifice his daughter to the sea. Thus, the King’s daughter Devi, was cast in to the sea in a beautifully decorated Golden vessel.
The vessel with Princess Devi aboard washed ashore on to the beach near the area which is today known as Pottuvil. The Princess later became the main consort of King Kavan Tissa of Ruhuna, Vihara Mahadevi. She was the mother of King Dutugamunu and Saddhatissa.
We came across many interesting and iconic places as we headed to Matara from Galle along the Matara-Galle main road. For someone who doesn’t plan on making any stops in between, the drive from Matara to Galle is roughly about an hour. You can take the highway if you want to get there faster, but for a more aesthetic driving experience I recommend the Matara-Galle main road.
Matara is a busy town, especially if you go there during the season. Ironically, this commercial hub isn’t exactly a tourist destination. But, there are a few attractions within the limits of this fast paced city. We, however, decided to drive through Matara and make our way to the first location in our list of places to visit in Matara.