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Updated by Jane Rubby on Feb 16, 2016
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Jane Rubby Jane Rubby
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5 Places to Check Out in Kalutara, for more than just a beach holiday

Kalutara is located 40 km to the south of Colombo and one of the popular beach-holiday locations in Sri Lanka. Here are five attractions to check while enjoying 'island life' on the beach:

1

Gangatilaka Viharaya

This temple was rebuilt in 1961. The majestic sight of Gangatilaka Viharaya indicates that you have entered Kalutara. It is located to the south of the Kalutara Bridge. The speciality of this temple lies in its 'stupa' (mound-like structure, synonymous with Buddhist temples), which is the only one in the world that is entirely hollow. The interiors are a treat for history and art lovers as it portrays 74 murals depicting various aspects/stages of Lord Buddha's life. The temple was built in the 11th century by King Vikkam Pandaya and later destroyed by Portuguese invaders in the 16th century to make way for a fort. When the temple was rebuilt, the fort was completely destroyed. Another key highlight here is the Kalutara Bodiya.

2

Kalutara Bodiya

This is one of the most important Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka. The sacred bo tree grew from one of the 32 saplings planted all over the country from the Anuradhapura Sri Maha Bodiya, which was planted in 288 BCE and is the oldest flowering plant in the world. Consider staying at AVANI Kalutara Resort so you'll be within close proximity to many of the city's attractions.

3

Richmond Castle

Built in 1896, the Richmond Castle remains the best example of 19th century architecture in the country. It was built by the Mudaliyar of Kautara of the time, Nanayakkara Rajawasala Appuhamilage Don Arthur De Silva Wijeysinghe Siriwardene. The design of the castle emulates that of the Maharaja of Ramnad India. The castle comprises of two floor and fifteen rooms, and all roofing timber, stained glass, fittings and ornaments imported from abroad. When you visit the castle, be sure to enquire of the sorrowful misfortune that overcame its inhabitants. The Mudaliyar moved into Richmond Castle when he married a local beauty from a noble family, Clarice Matilda Maude Suriyabandara. The couple never had children and as a result the garden of the castle had many statues of children gazing upon it. Further ill-luck befell the couple and the Mudaliyar left the castle and confined himself to room number 77 of the Queens Hotel in Kandy. The castle's surrounding gardens have been well maintained through the years and are a must-see.

4

Explore the scenic beaches

Kalutara beach (most importantly Calido Beach) and the nearby Wadduwa beach showcase golden sand and shallow waters that is ideal for a dip. Many Kalutara beach hotels are located by the beach, offering amazing views and great service. Kicking back on the beach, taking in the sceneries and sunbathing is a popular pastime of tourists visiting Kalutara. Also, since it is not popular as Bentota, Hikkaduwa and Unwatuna, the beaches tend to be less crowded, giving you the chance to have an uninterrupted, tranquil holiday.

5

Eat 'mangosteen'

This shiny dark purple fruit is delicious and a favourite among locals and tourists alike. It is sold by street vendors, so be sure to try it while strolling through the town.