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Updated by Pushpitha Wijesinghe on Jul 22, 2014
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Fun Things to do in Kalutara: A Coastal Retreat

Situated to the south of Colombo, the coastal town of Kalutara is a convenient location to enjoy Sri Lanka's southern town life while also being a mere hour's drive from Colombo city. The town, an important spice trading center in Colonial times, is now famous for its Buddhist temples and pristine beaches.

1

Gangatilaka Vihara

Gangatilaka Vihara

Located on the banks of Sri Lanka's fourth largest river, the Kalu River, the temple has a commanding view of the river, sea and the 38-meter long Kalutara Bridge that links the town's northern and southern areas. A true landmark of the historic Kalutara town, the Gangatilaka Vihara is an impressive 33 foot-tall structure built in the 1960s and is the only known stupa with a hollow interior. The interior walls of the stupa are decorated with 74 murals which depict scenes from Buddhist Jataka stories. The main road runs through the temple compound thus dividing it with the stupa on one side and the other featuring the Bo tree and Buddha shrines.

2

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle

Built in 1896 by a wealthy regional governor, this iconic structure with its blend of British and Indian architectural styles was modeled after an Indian Maharaja's Palace. Sitting on a 42-acre fruit garden estate which was originally a spice plantation, the two-storied mansion has 15 rooms, a large audience hall, a carved spiral staircase and intricately carved pillar and beams. Richmond Castle is where visitors can glimpse the property's rich history through the numerous photographs on display that pay tribute to the early 20th century Colonial era.

3

Kalutara Beach

Kalutara Beach

Kalutara South beaches are known for being some of Sri Lanka's finest beaches. The beautiful shoreline and clear waters has made it a popular holiday destination with many a Beach Hotel in Sri Lanka located along its shores including Mermaid Hotel & Club. The beach is ideal for relaxation and water sports.

4

Basket Centre

Basket Centre

Known for its colorful basket ware, the Basket Centre at the heart of the village is an ideal place to witness artisans at work weaving palm fronds into beautiful purses, coasters, hats among other items. Other materials used to produce these local crafts include coconut fibre and the local Watekaiya palm leaves.

5

Fa Hien Caves

Fa Hien Caves

Also known as Pahiyangala, the Fa Hien Caves is the largest known cave complex in Sri Lanka. The caves' name derives from folklore that the famous Chinese Buddhist monk Fa Hien had resided in the cave while en route to Adam's Peak. At a height of 300 feet, this complex of interconnected rock shelters is famous for being the first identified pre-historic human burial site. Since its discovery in 1968, ancient stone artifacts and human remains have been found dating to the Mesolithic Age about 33,000- 4,750 years ago.

6

Brief Garden

Brief Garden

Developed over a period of fifteen years by Sri Lankan Artist Bevis Bawa and famed Architect Geoffrey Bawa, the five acre garden is beautifully laid out with an array of tropical trees, plants and sculptures. The home of Bevis Bawa situated on the property houses a range of artwork including sculptures and a Chagall- inspired mural of Sri Lankan life by Australian artist Donald Friend.

7

Kande Viharaya

Kande Viharaya

Loacted near the Aluthgama town, the 16th century Kande Viharaya continues to play an important role in the town's Buddhist cultural and religious activities. The temple is famous for its Kandyan period murals and the temple's newest addition the iconic 160- foot tall Samadhi Buddha Statue.

8

Kechimalai Mosque

Kechimalai Mosque

The 8th century Kechimalai Mosque is Sri Lanka's oldest Mosque believed to have been built by the island's first Arab settlers. The unique structure with its white minarets is a significant landmark built on the site of the Arab settlers landing and is the focus of important Muslim festivities.