Are you looking for a great holiday destination in Sri Lanka? Look no further than Kalutara ! This coastal city offers plenty of activities to keep you entertained, from cultural sites to natural attractions. Here are the top 10 things to do Kalutara for an unforgettable experience.
Kalutara Bodhiya is a must-see attraction when visiting Kalutara. It is the most ancient Buddhist temple in the area, founded by King Devanampiyatissa in the 3rd century BC. This sacred temple has been a place of worship for centuries, and its architecture reflects the beauty and splendour of ancient Sri Lanka. The Bōdhi Tree at Kalutara is said to have roots that trace back to a sapling of the Jaya Sri MahaBōdhi, which in turn was a descendant of the original Bōdhi Tree in Bihar, India. It was beneath this tree that the Buddha achieved enlightenment.The story of the Bōdhi Tree is intriguing and filled with religious significance. It all started with a fig tree at Buddha Gaya, which gained reverence after Prince Siddhartha Gautama reached enlightenment under its boughs during his meditation. Over time, the tree became recognized as a symbol of the Buddha’s presence and was worshipped as a sacred object.The temple is home to a beautiful white stupa and numerous sculptures, making it an ideal spot for sightseeing and photography.
After visiting the Kalutara Bodhiya, visitors can head to Richmond Castle, a colonial mansion Henry William Cave built in the 19th century. This majestic castle is a reminder of a bygone era and is now open for visitors to explore.
Discover the mystery and grandeur of Richmond Castle in Kalutara, a masterpiece of early 20th-century architecture renowned for its stunning intricate carvings and stately timberwork that retains freshness. Built by wealthy landowner and philanthropist PadikaraMudaliNanayakkaraRajawasalaAppuhamilage Don Arthur de Silva Wijesinghe Siriwardena, the castle sits atop a hill on a sprawling 42-acre estate along the Kalutara-Palatota Road.
Once serving as a luxurious residence for high-ranking British officials, Richmond Castle now invites visitors to explore its fascinating history and admire its distinct features. Including a spacious dance hall with a stage, gardens overflowing with tropical fruits, and a collection of marble statues that pay tribute to the love of nature held by its original owner.
Despite his grand estate and great wealth, the mudaliyar lived a tragic life, with a failed marriage and the heartbreak of childlessness. In a final act of generosity, he donated his properties to the Public Trustee to support and educate less privileged children in Kalutara and surrounding areas. He passed away in 1947, taking his final breath in a quiet room at the Queen’s Hotel in Kandy.
Pahiyangala Cave is located inthe Kalutara district and is one of the best archaeological sites in the area. According to archaeologists, this cave dates back more than 30,000 years, making it one of the oldest archaeological sites in Sri Lanka.
Perched 400 feet above sea level, the Fa-Hsien Cave stands 175 feet tall and spans over 200 feet in length. Legend has it that the cave could once accommodate up to 3000 people, but its natural tunnels are now blocked off and inaccessible. The cave has been divided into four sections, with the largest on the left side at its centre. According to carbon dating, an excavation by the Archaeological Department revealed a deep pit containing five human skulls dating back to 37,000 years old. Along with the skulls, stone and animal bone weapons were uncovered, believed to have been used for hunting monkeys, deer, porcupines, and other creatures. The inhabitants of the cave also consumed the acavus snail and wild breadfruit.
The cave was named after the Chinese Mahayana Buddhist priest, Fa-Hsien, who visited in the 5th century. He was a wandering scholar-bhikkhu who embraced the teachings of Gautama Buddha and sailed to Sri Lanka in 411 AD alongside two friends, Bhadantachariya and the Pali scholar Buddhaghosa, author of the classic manual of Buddhist doctrine and meditation, VissuddhiMagga.
If you’re looking to experience a beautiful natural wonder in Kalutara, Thudugala Ella Waterfall is the place to go. The Thudugala Ella Falls, nestled within the sprawling 400+ hectare Thudugala Estate in the quaint Thudugala village in the Kalutara District of Sri Lanka, is a hidden gem steeped in history. A remnant of the past, a dilapidated bungalow, still stands nearby, a testament to the former British ownership of the estate. The falls boast a picturesque natural swimming pool, surrounded by the lush growth of Ketala plants and a colossal fern known as the giant pus creeper, which has taken over a hectare of land. This breathtaking waterfall cascades in two tiers, the first 8 meters and the second 6 meters, creating a spectacular display of nature’s power.
Locals flock to the Thudugala Ella Falls to bask in its refreshing waters. One unique aspect of this waterfall is the tunnel that runs beneath it and emerges on the side, offering a one-of-a-kind experience.
The Kalutara shoreline boasts a magnificent expanse of glittering golden sand that stretches from Waskaduwa to Payagala, divided by the intriguing Kalu River estuary, which adds a unique touch of darkness to the sand. Situated close to Colombo, it is a prime destination for a day trip, offering coastal pleasures and cultural and religious attractions.
For a more secluded experience, head north of the estuary to Calido Beach – a local favourite. Its peaceful ambience is ideal for a family outing, as you can witness the breathtaking sunset, stroll along the shore dotted with cuttlefish and shells, or relax. Here, you may also find people indulging in fun activities like flying kites, playing volleyball, or even a game of football.
Located in the Kalutara district, Makeli Ella Falls offers a spectacular sight. Visitors can enjoy the view of the water cascading over a large rock formation and into a deep pool below. The waterfall is surrounded by lush green foliage, making it ideal for a picnic or relaxing and enjoying nature’s beauty.
The Makeli Ella Falls, towering at 10 meters tall, resembles a bridal veil from afar and is surrounded by weather-worn granite stones. Preceding the fall lies a spacious natural pool, followed by the 6-meter Thumodara islet watershed, a whimsical fairy-tale-like area. The streams join and flow into the Kuda River, reaching the sea through the Kalu Ganga River.
07.Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple
The seventh item on the list of the best ten things to do in Kalutara is to visit the Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple. This ancient temple is located in the heart of Kalutara and is one of the holiest sacred places in the country. The temple was first built in the 4th century and is renowned for its beautiful architecture and impressive stupa. The temple gleams with magnificence, showcasing statues of the revered Buddha Sakyamuni in a range of postures. A towering and lifelike statue of the Buddha, adorned with vermilion and emerald green, embodies the vivid beauty of Indian art. The monastery was erected to honour King Ashoka of India, who sent his son Mahendra to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism. Within the temple lies the footprints of Sakyamuni, encased in glass and intricately patterned. The striking Buddhist murals inside depict the rich history of Buddhism’s evolution in Sri Lanka, intriguing all who behold them. In the temple’s backyard stands a Bodhi tree, evoking memories of the Buddha’s enlightenment beneath a similar tree in India. Visitors will be awed by the Buddhist pagodas and the eclectic collection of vintage cars and printers displayed within the temple.
08.Batamullakanda Buddha Statue, Matugama
Located in Mathugama, the Batamullakanda Buddha Statue is a must-see for any visitor to Kalutara. The towering statue stands at a majestic 135 feet, casting its shadow far and wide. The statue, South Asia’s biggest of Lord Buddha, is an impressive sight and offers visitors a unique opportunity to take in some blessings. Aside from its religious significance, the statue is also an exciting sight to behold as it stands tall amidst the lush green surroundings. It’s easy to get to from Kalutara, making it a great addition to any sightseeing tour of the area.
09.Lenawara Rajamaha Viharaya
LenawaraRajamahaViharaya is a famous Buddhist temple in Kalutara that dates back to the Polonnaruwa kingdom. As one of the top-rated tourist attractions in Kalutara, visitors can explore its ancient structures, including ancient rock inscriptions, and gain a greater appreciation for the history and culture of Sri Lanka.
The shrine room, hidden within a rock cave, is a Buddhist art treasure trove, accessible only by scaling the treacherous steps carved into the stone cliffs. A series of captivating paintings accompany the majestic reclining Buddha statue and a seated Buddha statue.
Just beyond the shrine room lies a devala dedicated to the Hindu deity Vishnu, perched upon a slight elevation. The serene rock pool in front of the devala mirrors the clouds in its tranquil waters while the temple bell tolls from the edge of the rock, overlooking the sprawling valley. The delicate yellow architecture of the shrine room, set against the rugged backdrop of stone cliffs, is a sight to behold.
The entrance to the cave shrine of Vishnu is marked by a simple semi-circular arch with a tiny door in its centre. The lush green grass covering the foreground contrasts the rocky cliffs, highlighting the site’s beauty. This picturesque view is too magnificent to be captured by a mere camera lens. A paved bridge leads to another flight of steps, guarded by iron handrails, which takes visitors to the summit where the milky white dagoba stands in all its glory.”
KandeViharaya Temple is one of the top things to do in Kalutara, Sri Lanka. Situated on top of a hill, this temple has been a major Buddhist temple in the area for centuries. Visitors witness its grandeur and architectural beauty and pay homage to its spiritual significance.
TNestled in the heart of Aluthgama lies the legendary KandeViharaya, a beacon of strength and endurance that boasts one of the colossal Buddha statues on the planet.
Steeped in rich history dating back to 1734, the temple was transformed in 2009 with elements reminiscent of the iconic Sanchi Stupa in India. For centuries, KandeViharaya has stood tall as a symbol of resistance against colonial rule and the unwavering resilience of the local community. Those looking for an opportune moment of peace and contemplation will not be disappointed when visiting KandeViharaya Temple.
Kalutara is a city filled with beauty and spirituality, offering a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. From Richmond Castle to Thudugala Ella waterfall and Pahiyangala Cave to CALIDO Beach, there are plenty of attractions to explore. Religious sites, such as the Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple and KandeViharaya Temple, offer visitors the chance to explore Sri Lanka’s rich spiritual heritage. Makeli Ella Falls and Batamullakanda Buddha Statue promise excitement for those seeking adventure. Whatever your idea of a perfect holiday may be, Kalutara has something for everyone.