Next-Door Paradise: Galle on the Lens
The world is a book. Those who don’t travel read only one page.
Ever experienced something that has had you completely spellbound and transported you unknown ephemeral tranquillity? Ever been so content with the horizon that it fulfils every desire for beauty? Ever been to Sri Lanka?
If not, it is a paradise, with marvellous treats in store for you. And if you have, well a jog down memory lane to this exotic paradise beats your gym workout, doesn’t it?
Lanka. With a historic and symbolic significance to the Indian roots, Sri Lanka stands as an independent and inviting island down south. Encompassed with beautiful landscapes, exquisite food, arid forests & even friendlier locals, it is truly a captivating tourist spot.
Galle is one such haven and one of the most prime travel places in Sri Lanka. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with enthralling buildings dating back to colonial times imposed by the Dutch, beautiful churches & mosques, magnificent mansions & historic museums. Bask in all the grandeur of Galle, as you explore the rustic charm of this city one marvel at a time.
Let’s explore some of the must-visit & must-dos while at Galle.
TURNING BACK TIME IN THE GALLE FORT:
Perhaps, the main reason why tourists flock to Galle is the iconic Galle Fort. Built in 1588 by the Portuguese, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is in the old Dutch quarter of Galle which is also known as the heart of the city. Surrounded by the ocean on three-sides, and housing some of the finest churches, this architectural legacy of colonial houses and warehouses left behind by the Dutch makes for a breath-taking sight.
CHASING SUNSETS AT THE FLAG ROCK:
Located at the southernmost end of the Fort, this former Portuguese bastion is one of the most popular spots to watch the sun go down. Along which, if you’re one to appreciate a good thrill you can watch expert cliff-divers do their daredevilry and plunge into the ocean below.
UNTOLD STORIES AT THE DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH:
‘Groote Kerk’ or The Dutch Reformed Church was originally built in 1649, & later reformed in 1752. The church is situated on the highest point of Galle Fort which stands more than 39 feet above sea level. Its beauty lies in the intricacies, with floors paved with gravestones from Dutch cemeteries, the antique organ and an imposing pulpit made of calamander wood. A quick chat with the caretaker can unveil some intriguing stories & aspects of the site.
TEST THE WATERS AT UNAWATUNA AND HIKKADUWA:
Sri Lanka’s beach-party town, Unawatuna is a lively place with a selection of exotic resorts & hotels. This is where the Dutch first landed & then moved on to Galle which is only 5km away. Historically, Galle was one of Sri Lanka’s main ports, thereby it has witnessed many ships and wrecks as well. A scuba-dive into the bottom of the Indian Ocean near Unawatuna, will reveal a treasure trove of coral reefs, variety of fish & shipwrecks, including an old wooden English Ship called the Rangoon which lies 30 metres deep. Hikkaduwa, around 17km north-west to Galle is a surfer’s dream come true. Popular surfing beaches make for an excellent treat.
A RENDEZVOUS WITH SPIRITUALITY & WELLNESS
The Peace Pagoda houses one of the only three Buddhist Stupas in Sri Lanka & is only 2 km away from the Galle Fort. The Pagoda built by a group of Japanese Buddhist Monks to promote peace in war-prone areas can easily be spotted from the Galle Fort. The Medicinal Forest has an enchanted feel, rich with medicinal plants and herbs. There are lots of local mysteries & legends attached to this jungle, including a tale that the area was a favourite haunt of Lord Hanuman.
The list does not end here! Galle has a number of enamouring experiences to offer to a traveller’s spirit. It is a one-stop destination that epitomises beauty, history and mystery.
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