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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Hidden Treasures in Matara – Explore the Sleepy Deep South
Joanna James Joanna James
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Hidden Treasures in Matara – Explore the Sleepy Deep South

Matara sits on the south coast of Sri Lanka, steeped in colonial history the place is a sleepy fisher village offering warm balmy skies and wind swept coasts to explore. Here are it's best attractions.


The Matara Town is a Gem on Its Own

Of all the interesting things to do in Matara exploring the town takes precedence. Located just 160kms from the commercial capital Colombo, this town is classed as the islands eighth largest, with a population of around 40,000. If you are hankering for a taste of rustic countryside lifestyles, typical of the south, Matara offers a fine insight. Having said that, one cannot avoid the fact that Matara town is a transportation hub; located at the end of Sri Lanka's southern railway line, the town is also home to the islands southern-most point, Dondra Head. Matara is a lively town; made vibrant by the young students of the Ruhuna university located just 3kms away.


Explore the Nilwala River

The Nilwala is one of Sri Lanka's main rivers; this beautiful body of water flows through Matara on its serene journey to the sea. A major source of irrigation for paddy fields, rubber and tea estates this river, benefits many communities along its onwards journey from central Sri Lanka. Anyone enjoying a stay at Soul Resorts will love a trek to the river, and one of your best experiences in Matara will be a three hour tour along the river. Be rewarded with sights of lush banks, palm trees swaying in the wind, rustic huts along the verdant banks home to many bird species and lazy crocodiles floating without a care. Bathing is not recommended in the Nilwala due to the wily crocodiles, who have been known to drag off little children.


Absorb the Colonial History

Matara has a well-chronicled colonial history; although the town is tipped to be a much older settlement, nothing beyond the colonial years is recorded. Although the Portuguese were based in the town, it was the Dutch who paid attention, making use of the deep waters of the Nilwala estuary. Their presence is marked in many ways, especially with the establishment of the two forts, thus making Matara a fortified stronghold for the spice trade they found so lucrative in Sri Lanka.


Discover the Amalgamation of Old and New

Matara Town is a fine mix of old and new, the old and new quarter are separated by the Nilwala River, and in days of yore the only way one crossed the two banks was via barge or boat; today a modern bridge connects the two sides. The northern end is a bustling modern hub of busy streets framed by multi-story buildings, shops and restaurants while the southern end is a laid back colonial town, running along the beautiful coast.


The Matara Fort

The Matara Fort is located in the Old Town sector, the perfect defence, wedged between river and sea; the Dutch enhanced this stronghold by building five metre high ramparts on a promontory. The ramparts built in 1640, was an enhancement by the Dutch to a fortification which the Portuguese had already built. Explore and relish the colonial mansions, the old British Clock Tower built in 1883 and the leafy surroundings.

  • A true believer that the pen is a mighty weapon, ventures into reaching the minds of every reader with the earnest hope of leaving an indelible stream of thought.

    A travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.

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