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Updated by Joanna James on Sep 13, 2018
Headline for Top Attractions Around Matara – Island Discoveries
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Top Attractions Around Matara – Island Discoveries

The city of Matara lies tucked away along the south coast of Sri Lanka and offers some key attractions in the region that provide fascinating local insights.

1

Dutch Rampart

A colonial remnant from the days of the Dutch, the Dutch Rampart can be found on a promontory which acts as a divider between the sea and a river known as the Nilwala Ganga. The rampart dates back to the 18th century and this fascinating structure offers a unique insight into Sri Lanka's colonial heritage. While it may not be as impressive as the ramparts found in Galle (also built by the Dutch) it still is worth visiting and lets you see a more age-old part of Matara.

2

Star Fort

Another attraction that dates back to Dutch colonial rule, the Star Fort is a more complete structure than the rampart. Relatively small in size, it has a rich history that goes back to 1765 and was initially known as "Redoute Van Eck". Seta amidst a backdrop of the Nilwala Ganga, the fort has such highlights as an age-old coat of arms and an insignia of the VOC company. Following the Dutch occupation, the fort was subsequently taken over by the British. Today, visitors here can see everything from an old Dutch Reformed Church and a museum where one can learn more about Matara's history.

3

Weherahena Temple

Those looking to experience the country's Buddhist heritage can look to visit the Weherahena Temple. While this temple does not have a long history, it lets you see the traditions and customs followed by devotees on full moon (poya) days, especially during the annual perahera held at the end of the year where you can witness a colourful procession featuring everything from elephants to traditional dancers. Of course, the main highlight at the temple is the huge Buddha statue which is one of the largest of its kind in the country. If you are looking for a wellness retreat you can look to stay at an Ayurveda resort Sri Lanka has to offer in the region that also provides excursions to this temple. Surya Lanka Ayurveda Beach Resort is one such option to consider.

4

Polhena Beach

One of the best places to soak up the sun and have fun in the surf and sand, Polhena Beach is the main stretch of shore in Matara. Popular amongst locals, this idyllic beach does tend to get packed on weekends. Within easy reach of the city centre, it is a great place to unwind with family and friends and even for those looking to swim in the ocean or enjoy a sea bath.

5

Dondra

Also known as Devinuwara, Dondra is an idyllic coastal locale near Matara known for its towering lighthouse. It is also home to cultural attractions including a fascinating blue colour temple dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu. Those visiting here during the festival month (July or August) can witness an array of ceremonies and traditions which add to the site's overall charm.