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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 28, 2019
Headline for Forget the Usual and Head to Kalutara – For Secrets Yet Un-spilled!
Joanna James Joanna James
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Forget the Usual and Head to Kalutara – For Secrets Yet Un-spilled!

Kalutara has long been overlooked by tourists for the more popular beaches in Sri Lanka. However, Kalutara is easily accessible from Colombo by bus or by train and made even more reachable after the opening of the Southern Expressway.


Kalutara Beach

Sidelined by tourists, Kalutara has a stretch of lovely beaches; including the up and coming Calico beach. It is on the estuary of the Kalu River and as such is where the local fisherman brings in their boats after each catch. In the mornings and the evenings, you can join in their chants as they haul their nets to shore. Kalutara Beach, Beruwala and Bentota are another set of great rolling sand dunes and beautiful oceans.


Kande Viharaya & Kalutara Bodhi

The Kalutara Bodhi is known as the only completely hollow pagoda in Sri Lanka. It was built over the site of a previous temple that had been razed down during colonial times by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. This site is said to have a great religious significance to Buddhists and contains 32 saplings taken from the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura.
It is advised to use websites such as Travel Kalutara as a notable source to guide you so you can get the most out of your visit as the context will enable you to appreciate the heritage and history as it should be appreciated.


Maduganga River Safari

If you’re looking for things to do in Kalutara that aren’t popular with tourists, consider the Maduganga river safari. Maduganga is situated about an hour’s drive from Kalutara. Opening into the Madu Lagoon, the river is considered rich in wetland biodiversity and was declared a Ramsa wetland preservation in 2004.
The safari is carried out on a boat from which you can traverse through the mangroves looking for 110 different species of birds and the occasional crocodile.
The boat stops at three places of note on the safari; the first being a cinnamon island where you can learn about the famed Sri Lankan cinnamon and have a nice cup of cinnamon tea.
The second is an ancient Buddhist temple island and the final spot is a fish spa where for a nominal fee you can get a fish pedicure


Lunuganga and Brief Garden

Kalutara is home to enduring creations by both Geoffrey Bawa; Sri Lanka’s most famous architect and his lesser-known older brother Bevis.
Brief Garden, Bentota sprawls across 5 acres within the Bawa family plantation and was the brainchild of Bevis Bawa, who retired to his rubber estate after his service in the army. The garden is divided into themed sections and was a famous refuge for dancers, artists, creators, and celebrities. The entrance fee is nominal, and you can strike up a conversation with the curator who was Bawa’s manager and learn more.
Geoffrey Bawa’s Lunuganga is only half an hour away from his brother’s estate. Known as the main anchor behind the concept of ‘tropical modernism,’ Bawa was one of the most influential architects in Asia. You can observe how masterfully he has incorporated the modern with nature, which was his distinct style. If you’re not into architecture, a walk in the gardens is beautiful as it is relaxing.


Richmond Castle

The mansion which is set upon 42 acres with 99 doors and 38 windows was built by Don Arthur De Silva Wijeysinghe Siriwardana; the officer-in-charge for the district of Kalutara in the early 1900s. He was a privileged young man, the progeny of an influential rich planter and attended school in Britain. It says he was inspired by the magnificence of his school friend, the Maharaja of Ramnad’s palace in India when he set about constructing Richmond Castle to impress his distinguished wife to be. Richmond Castle is open from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on weekdays.

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