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Updated by Joanna James on Nov 23, 2019
Headline for 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Kalutara – Soothe Your Nostalgia for Colonial Charm
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Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Kalutara – Soothe Your Nostalgia for Colonial Charm

Kalutara is just a one hour drive south of Colombo; amazing palm-lined beaches, woodland pools and the remnants of old colonial charm make Kalutara a perfect weekend getaway.

1

Thudugala Ella

It is quite an enjoyable but easy adventure to find this gem hidden between the jungle and the rubber estates that dot the area. Coming from Colombo and taking the Katukurunda-Matugama route you will then have to take a tuk-tuk to Thudugala Estate and trek for 300 or so metres through the rubber trees to find this enchanting hidden waterfall. The estate was once owned by a British businessman and the ruins of his estate house and the small hydro plant can still be seen as remnants of a bygone era.

2

Richmond Castle

This mansion is one of the best architectural feats accomplished in Sri Lanka during the 19th Century. Built by a rich aristocrat by the name of Don Arthur DeSilva Wijemanne Siriwardhene who was during that time the local placed in charge by the crown for the area of Kalutara; the mansion was said to have been built to impress his future wife. Teak and Mahogany from Burma and bricks and marbles from Scotland were imported to build the Richmond Castle. Don Arthur's marriage ended tragically as his wife's infidelity with a servant led them to separate; he then bequeathed the property to the Public Trustee to benefit the children of the country. The issues in their marriage were said to have stemmed from them being childless. If you're staying in an upscale Kalutara hotel it is most likely you can arrange a tour to visit the mansion from the hotel itself. AVANI Kalutara Resort actually has bicycle tours which take you to this site.

3

Fa Hien Caves

Though named after a Buddhist monk named Fa-Hien who took shelter in these caves during his pilgrimage to Adam's Peak, the site has far greater importance. It is not only the largest natural rock in Asia it is also the oldest known pre-historic settlement in Asia. 5 skulls and bone weapons dating back nearly 37,000 years were found in this extensive network of tunnels that could easily house over 3000 people.

4

Bodhinagala Forest Hermitage

This monastery spread across 50 acres on the banks of the 'Kalu Ganga' serves the purpose of providing a tranquil sanctuary for meditating monks but it also happens to be an amazing place to birdwatch. Many of the rarest endemic birds and a few rare migratory birds such as the Malabar Trogon and the Asian Emerald Dove can be seen here.

5

Kaluthara Bodhiya

The first sight you will see as you enter the town of Kalutara-South is the towering Bodhi Tree and gleaming white Pagoda of Kalutara Temple. This site is over 2300 years old and is home to one of the 32 saplings of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. During colonial times the temple was transformed into a fort but after gaining independence in 1948 Sri Lanka's first Prime Minister D.S Senanayake ordered all other establishments on the temple to be removed and that the site is preserved as an important religious location.