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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Why Kalutara is a Popular Destination – Gateway to the South
Joanna James Joanna James
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Why Kalutara is a Popular Destination – Gateway to the South

Kalutara, although located along the south-west coast of Sri Lanka, is always looked at as the doorway to the southern coast. Apart from Kalutara Beach which is quite a beautiful expanse of golden sand, this beautiful seaside resort has many allures which are not all centered around the sea.


Old Spice Trading Town

Kalutara was a spice trading hub during the colonial era of Sri Lanka. The Portuguese, Dutch and English had a big impact on the towns trading history. The spice-trade initiated by the Portuguese was enhanced by the Dutch who installed canals as a means of transport. The plantations once abandoned by the Dutch were turned into rubber estates by the British. Today the rubber plantations are thriving although a few traces of Kalutara's spice-trade remain. The canals are still navigated and one can hire a boat and get to places like Richmond Castle via these waterways. Richmond Castle, just 18 minutes from Anantara Kalutara Resort, is a beautiful Edwardian Manor well-worth a visit.


Weaving Centre

The town is famous for its reed products and entering Kalutara the roads are lined with little kiosks selling a variety of woven products from baskets to pretty mats and even brooms. Locals have learned the art of turning palm leaves into many different products such as little purses, hats, coasters, lampshades and a variety of other products.


The Delicious Mangosteen

Mangosteen was introduced to the island in the 19th century from Malaya, and today in Kalutara one can taste the best of this sweet and sour fruit. Only in season from June to September, the fruit consists of a dark purple shell within which sweet juicy white pips are nestled. June is believed to be the period when the fruits are at their tastiest and according to old tales Queen Victoria had longed to taste them, sadly the fruit did not transport well and the Queen had to satisfy her curiosity on the mere description. Mangosteen, when in season, is a great treat to enjoy amidst the comforts of your private pool villa. Sri Lanka is well known for a number of exotic fruits amongst which the luscious mangosteen is often a top favourite.


Home of Sap Tappers

Kalutara is part of the palm toddy industry, a popular alcoholic beverage amongst the locals, palm toddy is found along the coastal stretch. Toddy is not the only delights of palm juice, sweet treacle or palm honey is another delight. The sap is obtained by 'tapping', a process where the top of a new coconut flower is sliced off and the nectar collected in a clay pot. 'Tappers' or rather people who collect the sap manage their days' work by extending thick coir ropes from tree to tree, they then precariously walk along the rope to the next tree. Quite a fascinating feat to watch, the sweet toddy is best drunk in the morning hours when it has just been brought down.


Visit the Gangatilaka Stupa

The Portuguese, who established the spice trade in Kalutara, set up a fort to guard the area on the grounds of a temple. The Dutch later took over the fort which under British rule was converted into the residence of the British agent. The stupa is entirely hollow and holds within its interior a number of vintage murals depicting the life of the Buddha.