In the previous post we explored Mirissa , where we spent half a day.In this post lets cover the other half of the day. It was a long day covering lot of places, so do bear and stick with me :) After stilt fishing in Mirrisa, pursued my journey towards Galle.
Galle Fort has an interesting history being built by Portuguese in 15th century later it was fortified by Dutch in 17th century. Needless to say it is a well maintained UNESCO world heritage site. We could feel a real age of empires fort ambiance while walking along these fort walls. One thing i like most with Lankan govt is their effort to maintain cleanliness and they do restore heritage sites.
After entering the fort via Portcullis gate entrance,first thing we could see from the fort wall is beautiful cityscape of Galle . We can clearly see Galle International cricket stadium from the fort for free :)
The best way to explore Galle fort is to walk along the fort wall and cover the entire perimeter of around 50 hectares.Every corner of the fort wall is quite picturesque and it will be a walk to remember.
It would take 1-2 hours to explore depending on your pace. It's like square where south wall faces Galle cricket stadium, east and north walls are along the sea. We can still find Tsunami hit buildings in the eastern side.
Through out the walk you can see renovated dutch buildings on your left and sea on your right
From the north wall we can see the famous old Galle harbor. Fort Lighthouse is still functional and from this corner we can see ships coming in and out of the harbor.
We can't walk along the wall after the lighthouse. We need to make exit along the "ANNO MDCL XIX" port gate on the west side of the square by walking amidst old dutch streets.
Buildings have been renovated in to hotels, cafes,etc.. but still we can see the old dutch architecture & heritage in them. In fact still some of the properties belong to dutch,Portuguese and German families.We can also find government buildings like hospitals and courts inside the fort
If you are interested , you can explore some famous churches inside the fort. As i have planned a tight schedule i pursued towards next destination Ambalangoda. Ambalanoda was worst hit during tsunami where a moving train was washed away. we can find tsunami memorial there on the way.
Had late lunch in a roadside motel and headed for Mask Factory in Ambalangoda. A master craftsman named Ariyapala made exorcist mask in old times & his sons are continuing that tradition still.They have a gallery as well as museum to buy. We can also find artists sawing,painting ,etc.. in the factory.
Next you can visit Moon stone mining in Ambalangoda. Like Indians are obsessed with gold, Lankans are obsessed with ruby and gems. When you tour Kandy you can find lot of Gem museums there. ( Will write a travel post on Kandy later). Be it moonstone or ruby they all follow the same mining process.
After studying the soil they select a place for mining and set up this kind of mining yard. Miners dig under candle light inside the tunnel and they communicate to the person above via pipe hole.From the tunnel they send the sand up.Then sand is washed in water to collect the residue stones.
Residue stones are taken to the factory where they segregate and prepare the stones with some chemicals. Then they are polished.
Then based on the customer design requirement ,polished stones are cut and designed in to a jewel accordingly.
Next you can go for Madu river Safari. It is a boat ride amidst mangrove forest spread across 22 small islands. With Indian ocean in the southern tip and mangrove forests in the backwater, locals have set up a good safari business.
Boat guide will take us to 5-10 islands where they have tie up with local merchants selling herbs, fruits etc..If you are interested you can go for fish massage here.
Mangrove forests here are so dense that and we need to duck often. we can find migrant birds and Prawn trap nets during the ride.
Next on the way to Bentota ,you can just pay a visit to Turtle farm and Hatchery in Kosgoda. We can find new born turtles to 100-200 years old turtules here.Bentota is just around 10 kms from Kosgoda.
So that's it ! We started the day with whale watching in Mirrissa and ended the day with river safari in Madu. If you plan the day well you can cover lot of places along this coastal route. You can have a leisure evening at your Bentota resort or go for water sports in Bentota Ganges river.
In the next post we shall explore Nuwareliya
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See you soon !