Bentota, Sri Lanka: Attractions – what to see in 1 day

The luxury resort of Bentota is often referred to as the southwestern gateway of Sri Lanka. From November to May there is hot and dry weather. Thousands of tourists flock to the coast to practice their favorite water sports and bask in the sun. Fashionable hotels provide comfortable living conditions, the services of yoga instructors and specialists in the field of Ayurveda. Many of them have their own tour desks.

Bentota is considered a good starting point for sightseeing tours around the island. Hotels will help to organize a transfer or rent a car, but first the administrator will advise you to explore the local attractions. The services of guides are inexpensive. You can go on the road, developing your own route. The review contains the main memorable and unique places of Bentota, which can be viewed in one day.

Bentota Ganga River

The resort is not accidentally famous for its views and magnificent beach. In its northern part is the mouth of the full-flowing and longest river of the island of Bentota Ganga. Here it flows into the Indian Ocean, forming a beautiful lagoon. A boat trip along the river will be a pleasant adventure at any time of the day. Services are provided by local carriers. All boats are equipped with awnings in case of rain and from the scorching sun.

While traveling along the shores, overgrown with tropical greenery, you can see fishing houses, wild monitor lizards, birds, monkeys. Along the way, there will be devices for catching fish and shrimp, which were used by the Sri Lankans from time immemorial. A little further on, thickets of mangrove plants begin. Their bizarre roots protruding from the water often resemble fairy-tale creatures and monsters. According to legend, the river got its name from the name of the demon – the patron of rivers on the island. Perhaps it was these picturesque shores that prompted residents to this idea.

Further, the journey will continue between the mangrove roots. There is twilight, high humidity and complete silence. It seems that you get into a fairy tale or a film in the fantasy genre. Swimming across the “mangrove tunnel” before your eyes will open up completely different views. First, the water changes color and becomes completely transparent. Secondly, the waves disappear, and the sky, trees, all the colors of nature are reflected on an absolutely smooth surface.

Birds settle on the banks of this part of the river. There are an incredible number of them. They proudly sit on poles built for them, so it is not difficult to consider and photograph the feathered inhabitants. The river gradually expands, small islands appear. A small temple was built on one of them. The final destination of the safari is a fishing farm. Crabs and lobsters are bred here. As entertainment, travelers are offered an exotic foot massage, which is carried out in a special tank with fish.

A river safari on the Bentota River can take the whole day. The duration of the trip and the price of the service depends on the chosen route. A regular walk lasts 3 hours, an evening cruise takes 5 hours + extra time for dinner included in the price.

 

 

Turtle Farm

The road to the turtle Hatchery of Kosgoda will take no more than 10 minutes, if you go by car, or 15 minutes by tuk-tuk. The village used to produce cinnamon and catch fish. Then a farm for the conservation of turtle eggs was organized here. The initiator was the Society for the Protection of Wildlife of Sri Lanka. By the efforts of enthusiasts and with the support of the government in 1988, a project was launched to protect sea turtles from extinction. The hatchery in Kosgoda was founded in 2004 after a devastating tsunami.

Employees of the farm collected and nursed injured turtles, bought their eggs from local residents. They collected them on the beach for further consumption. The eggs were buried on a private beach belonging to the hatchery. According to statistics, all the turtles, when they grow up, return to the beach where they were born. Here they lay eggs to continue their genus. In recent years, the sea turtle population has doubled.

A visit to the turtle farm is part of a sightseeing tour of Bentota. The cost of the entrance ticket is 500 rupees (relevant for January 2022). A group of tourists is assigned a professional guide. The staff consists of employees who speak several languages, including Russian. This farm is the largest in Sri Lanka. On her beach, several species of turtles lay eggs at once – Green, Leatherback, Tadpole, Ridley and Hawksa. Special pools have been built for the newly hatched turtles. In them, babies gain strength before they are released into the open ocean, and at the same time “work as photo models.” You can take them in your arms, take pictures with them, observe their lives.

Address: Kosgoda, Southern Province of Galle, Sri Lanka

Храм Galapatha Raka Maha Viharaya, Galapota Temple

A 30-minute walk from the centre of Bentota is the Buddhist temple galapatha Raka Maha Viharaya. It was built in the 12th century. During the Dutch occupation (16th century), the sanctuary was completely destroyed. Over time, it was restored in that form. in which it has survived to the present day. The temple is active. Its main relic is the tooth of the third follower of the Buddha, the monk Arahant Maha Kashyapa. The shrine is walled up in one of the niches.

Tourists are attracted not only by the history of the monastery, but also by the beautifully arranged territory. Caretakers laid out a large artificial pond with lotuses in front of the entrance. The building and parapets are decorated with calligraphic inscriptions, stone carvings, columns and bas-reliefs of the medieval period. An interesting fact is that the temple was originally built with a complex system of underground passages. For tourists, the entrance to the dungeons is closed, but the scale of the existing network of tunnels can be assessed by the underground passage that connects Galapatha Raka Maha Viharaya with the neighboring temple.

The historical and religious structure was of great strategic importance for the resistance forces against the colonialists. Entrance to the territory and premises of the temple is free. The facility is open during the daytime.

Address: Bentota, Southern Province, Galle District, Sri Lanka

Kande Viharaya Temple

As tourists say, it is worth coming to Sri Lanka only because of the fact to see the temples and feed the elephants. Religious sights are located here at every step. Each of them has its own legend and sacred relic. Kande Viharaya Temple is famous for its 48-meter statue of a seated Buddha. It was laid down in 2002 and opened for inspection in 2007. This is a very beautiful panoramic place with an excellent market where you can buy local handicrafts to offer to the Buddha.

The sanctuary was built in 1734 by Rev. Karapagala Dewamitta Thero. The temple developed rapidly and soon acquired the status of the main Buddhist shrine of Sri Lanka. In 1904, a theological school for monks was opened on its basis. For their needs, several residential and utility rooms were completed. Today, the Center for the Training of Religious Figures of the State operates on the territory of the temple. It is the main Buddhist educational institution in the country.

The temple building, the Buddha statue, the Bodhi tree and the surrounding octagonal wall are recognized as architectural monuments. Of interest is a stupa built in the form of a bell. The relic chamber is the oldest room in the temple. In front of its entrance there are protective stones, the inner walls are decorated with frescoes of the Kandyan era.

The central temple hall is decorated with wall illustrations of Jakata’s stories about Gautama’s childhood and formation, pictures from his subsequent life as a Buddha. When visiting the temple, the following rules must be observed: undress at the entrance, cover your bare shoulders with a cape or handkerchief, do not turn your back to the Buddha. In the monastery there is a strict dress code, you should not come in beachwear.

Address: Kaluvamodara, Aluthgama, Kalutara District, Western Province, Sri Lanka

Lunuganga Manor

Bentota hotels are considered the most unique on the coast in their design. But even their beauty and authenticity are lost against the backdrop of the private estate of the architect Jeffrey Bava, which is called “Lunuganga”. On the territory of the villa there is a guest house with a restaurant, comfortable rooms are provided for living, the chef – station wagon is familiar with the intricacies of European cuisine.

The complex is built on the shore of the picturesque Lake Deduwa. During the era of the Dutch occupation, cinnamon plantations were located on this site. The British colonialists planted the area with rubber trees. In 1949, Sri Lankan architect Jeffrey Bava bought the estate from the former owner. He wanted to create an atmosphere here conducive to creativity. Therefore, on the site there are many interesting author’s art objects, for example, a chair for lovers, a statue of a resting cougar and others.

Bava has a Renaissance garden around the villa with its characteristic narrow paths and secluded corners for secret dates. Once here, the noisy bustle of the city is temporarily forgotten. A person experiences deep tranquility, rests his soul and body. Garden tours (Rs 1240) are included. The guide will tell the story of the creation of the landscape, which the owner has been equipping for 40 years.

At any time, a guest of the hotel can go to the noisy beaches of Bentota. Restaurants and water sports centres can be found within a 10-minute drive of the estate. To continue studying the work of Bava, you can book a tour of the estate of his brother Bevis. It is located near Lunugang. This is a more secluded place with a home and a colonial-era setting, bold statues, numerous wall paintings and bas-reliefs, as well as photographs from the archive of the Bava family.

Address: Lunuganga Country Estate, Dedduwa, Bentota, Sri Lanka.

Official website: https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/lunuganga/

Kechimalai Mosque

Part of the population of Sri Lanka (about 9%) are Muslims. They are called Sri Lankan Moors. These are immigrants from Arab countries and Persia, who arrived on the island as traders. They stayed here to live and eventually received the status of separate ethnic communities. During the Dutch occupation, all the Moors were expelled from Colombo. Overnight, they lost their homes and property. The community wandered around the island for a long time until it received an invitation from the Kingdom of Kandy to settle on its territory. The town of Beruwala became a new homeland for the disadvantaged people. The ruler of the state not only allowed the Moors to settle wherever they wanted, but also ordered to build a white-stone mosque for Muslims. But that’s just a legend.

In fact, the Kechimalai Mosque was built in 1024 by the first Arab settlers. Beruwala became their fiefdom immediately after arriving on the island. In the past, Beruwala was named Berberin after Yusuf bin Ahmad al-Kawain, also known as Sheikh Abu Barakat al-Barbari, the Somali Muslim scholar and traveler who founded the city. A Muslim temple was built in the southern part of the harbor. Its snow-white spires and minaret are visible from Halle Road.

Address: Beruwala, Western Province, Sri Lanka

Bevis Bawa Manor and Brief Garden Park

In the vicinity of Bentota (10 km) is one of the main natural attractions – Bevis Bawa Manor and Brief Garden Park. You can get there by tuk-tuk. An entrance ticket for one person costs 1000 rupees (relevant for January 2022). It is best to arrive directly at the opening at 9 a.m. A walk will be a pleasant two-hour walk before returning to the ocean beach. If you stay on vacation in the Lunuganga estate, then a tour of the park will be free, since the hotels belong to one owner.

Several dozen species of tropical plants grow on the territory of the park. The landscape is decorated with many ponds, sculptures, unique art objects, water cascades, bamboo gazebos and stone stairs leading to different parts of the garden. In the mid-30s of the last century, the brother of the Sri Lankan architect Jeffrey Bava Bevis became the owner of the estate. He designed the site according to his own design project, turning the former rubber plantation into a work of landscape art.

Bevis Bava had excellent taste. This can be judged by the cascading reservoirs with crystal clear water, numerous frescoes and bas-reliefs, made and selected according to certain themes. The park consists of several gardens. That was originally Bevis’ idea. Each garden was created in a certain period of life and was a logical continuation of the equipped areas. Here, as in life, everything goes on as usual and changes depending on age. Bevis Bava was not an architect or designer. He was a military leader, and when he retired he received this estate as a gift from his father.

Address: Bentota, Southern Province, Sri Lanka

 

 

Julie and Tambadola Waterfalls

If you are tired of swimming in the salt water of the ocean. then you can go out of town and visit some of the most beautiful waterfalls of the island of Julie and Tambolu. Both are in the mountainous region of the former Kingdom of Kandy. The road passes by tea plantations, rice fields and tropical gardens. The height of both waterfalls does not exceed 3 meters. They are surrounded by lush vegetation. Here it is good to spend time on a hot day, hiding from the sun under the wide palm leaves and swimming in cool fresh water.

At the foot of the rock, along which waterfalls flow, a stone pool is formed. It is shallow, so people who do not know how to swim can swim. The pool overflows during the rainy season, but never dries up, even during the dry period.

It is a unique freshwater ecosystem located in the middle of a rainforest. There are very beautiful landscapes, a huge number of birds live. This place is well known to locals and even foreigners. You need to go along the road through Kitulgoda. After Polgampala, drive about 1.5 km along the Kurupita road, then turn onto the first bypass road on the right side, which will lead to Tambadola Waterfall. After about 2 km, get off and walk to the end of the road. There is a well-groomed hiking path leading to the waterfalls.

Tudugala Waterfall

Tropical waterfalls are a bleaching kind of natural perfection. The 8-meter Tudugala is the most picturesque confirmation of this. It is located on the territory of the estate, previously owned by one of the British colonialists. He and his descendants left Ceylon long ago. Not far from the waterfall you can see a dilapidated house, which once served as a dwelling for an English family. The Briton should be given credit in that. that he made the stone pool of Tudugala one of the most popular places for swimming.

Near the natural reservoir, even in the high season, there are few tourists. The reason for this is the presence of an artificial freshwater basin, to which a pointer leads at the entrance to the protected area. For a trip to the waterfall, it is better to use a car. Bikes can also be reached, but rocky roads will bring a lot of unpleasant sensations. In the village you can stay for a couple of days. There are mini-hotels, a beautiful food market. Fresh mountain air will benefit the body. Local guides are always ready to provide services and lead to the waterfall those who wish to meditate and swim.

Address: Dodangoda Village, Kuluthara District, Western Province, Sri Lanka

Tea factory in the vicinity of Bentota (Kumudu Tea Factory)

On the way to the turtle hatchery, you can stop at the Tea Factory “Kumudu”. Here, all the tea leaves collected in the mountainous regions are processed. Raw materials are sorted, fermented and processed. As a result, the factory produces 16 varieties of elite Ceylon tea, which is exported to different countries of the world. In 2017, the factory entered the top three producers of tea products on the island.

In June 2020, the factory launched the Monarch tea line. The variety immediately received universal recognition. On the company’s Facebook page, the label received a lot of positive feedback. Travelers, in particular, wrote about its excellent and unique taste. But everyone, as one, agreed that Sri Lanka is a special part of the world, where every cup of tea has a unique taste.

The tour is accompanied by a tasting of tea drinks, during which tourists can buy the variety they like. During the tour, visitors are shown the process of making tea, starting with leaf processing and ending with packaging. Several bushes are planted on the territory as a visual aid. There are no tea plantations in the vicinity. Raw materials are brought from high-altitude areas. The tour is conducted in English. The entrance ticket costs 250 rupees, a pack of ready-made tea – from 360 to 600 rupees.

The factory “Kumudu” works around the clock all days of the week, but excursionists are accepted here only in the daytime. Nearby there is an interesting souvenir shop “Senula gift House”. In it you can buy pure coconut oil, which is used in SPA procedures and massage sessions. Both facilities are conveniently located on levvanduwa road – Avitgava Road.

Address: Ittapan, Southwest Coast, Sri Lanka

You can “walk” along the coast and explore the sights of Bentota from a bird’s eye view. Not far from the mouth of the Bentota Ganga River is the Richie Skylark helipad. Air excursions over the resort are available on request. Helicopters also operate charter flights to Colombo, the airport and nearby islands. This type of transport is quite expensive. Travelers usually book a car transfer at the hotel or come to the resort.