Kalutara has and always will be recognised by the gleaming white dagoba which is the Gangatilake temple. It is the first significant landmark that defines the town. On route to Kalutara near the temple you will see metal bins fixed onto the side of the road and a constant flow of vehicles that stop by. The common belief is that the blessings of the Gangatilake temple assures a safe journey, so most locals pop out of their vehicles to make a donation, say a quick prayer before heading off to the south. Visitors headed to Kalutara can select from several Kalutara hotels perfect for beach lovers since most of them overlook the ocean. The Mermaid Hotel & Club in particular has a fantastic pool, amazing buffet deals and cosy rooms.
The Gangatilake Stupa was built in the 1960s and it still stands as the most prominent indicator of the entrance to the town. The white dagoba at the temple is considered to be the only Buddha Stupa in the world to be hollow inside. Inside the Stupa are paintings of Jataka Tales—the 550 stories of Lord Buddha’s previous births and his teachings—and beautiful Buddha statues. The temple was once a Portuguese fort that guarded the spice trade. During the colonial era the Portuguese used Kalutara as a centre for the spice industry. Most of the spice exchange routes have been erased due to subsequent colonial conquests, but there are still traces of the old spice trails hidden amongst the rubber plantations in this area.
The Gangatilaka Stupa also marks the boundary line between the Northern and Southern areas. The fourth largest river in Sri Lanka, the Kalu Ganga or Black River, which flows in front of the Stupa, separates the Mahawaskaduwa and Katukurunda regions. The temple is a good place to visit if you want to observe Buddhist rituals and customs.
People constantly flock to the temple to burn incense sticks, offer lotus flowers and light clay lamps and conduct several other Buddhist observances. Since Kalutara is a hot spot for tourists there are several places you can stay in when you visit. A search for a Sri Lanka beach hotel will pull up a list of places that you can consider staying at.
Nigel Walters is a travel writer, who writes under the pen name, Fritzjames Stephen. His content is based on the myriad of experiences and indulgences that the world has to offer travellers across all walks of life.