Kalutara is known for a variety of things; beautiful sandy beaches, indulgent mangosteens, and a surprisingly rich heritage that will surely captivate you for days should you wish to explore it.
Kalutara is abundant with lush geographical wonders and in many forms too, especially when it comes to fauna as well. If you love waterfalls then you will find a multitude of places to get your ‘nature fix’ in Kalutara. By visiting the Thudugala Estate you can discover the eponymous waterfall, which is not particularly tall but is beautiful, especially when considering it is contained in a lush tropical setting. One of the best aspects of the waterfall is that there’s a cave that begins at the base of it, and ends at the top.
The enigmatic ‘Kalu Ganga’, which translates into ‘Black River’, flows through Kalutara, and is one of the best to experience the wonders of this iconic body of water. There are many spots where you can procure a boat ride along the Kalu Ganga. These are very popular due to the abundance of wildlife to be glimpsed throughout, especially in regards to avifauna. Since the water that feeds the Kalu Ganga flows from the legendary Sinharaja Forest Reserve, one shouldn’t be too surprised to discover a fair abundance of life, encompassing both flora and fauna.
There’s a lot of culture to be experienced in Kalutara. One of the best places to start your anthropological journey is the Kalutara Bodhiya. This is a sacred tree and significant place of Buddhist worship. According to legend, this tree is one of the 32 saplings of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi which was placed here during the second century BC in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. This tree in turn is believed to have grown out of the right-branch of the original bodhi tree under which the Lord Buddha entered nirvana.
The Kalutara Chaitya is also another renowned historical landmark in Sri Lanka. It’s believed to be the oldest hollow stupa in Sri Lanka, and one of the few of its kind in the entire world. The interior of the stupa showcases a total of 74 murals. Each of them showcasing a particular story in the life of Lord Buddha. The cavernous interior of the large stupa is so massive that there are four smaller stupas contained within it.
This is amongst the leading beaches to be found close to Colombo and is definitely a place worth visiting if you enjoy coastal landscapes. The beach is quite pristine and isn’t usually congested. This makes it ideal for those who wish to enjoy beach-bound tranquillity away from the metropolitan madness of the daily grind.
The beach is also quite long and stretches for a distance close to 15km from Waskaduwa to Payagala. Not all areas of the beach are equally accessible. Some are privately maintained by various resorts and hotels Kalutara has to offer. But despite the tranquil nature of the area, there are many eateries to be found close to the beach catering to various budgets as well. Whether you’re looking to enjoy some fine-dining or explore the magical indulgence of Sri Lankan street food, you’re bound to find a favorable place in the immediate locality.
This is another area where Kalutara truly shines. There’s a wide range of architectural beauties to be glimpsed in this coastal locale. Less than a half an hour away from Kalutara is the Barberyn Lighthouse, also known as the Beruwala Lighthouse. It was built during the late 1800s and is situated on the eponymous island. It is a truly beautiful sight, and definitely something worth seeing.
Two of the famous Sri Lankans that ever lived are Geoffrey and Bevis Bawa, two brothers who took architecture and landscaping to bold new heights. Bevis Bawa, the older brother, is famous for his landscaping designs. The most iconic of his accomplishments is the Brief Gardens Estate which is situated in the Kalutara District. This beautiful garden estate has hosted renowned figures such as Agatha Christie and Laurence Olivier.