While the coastal destination of Kalutara in Sri Lanka is known for its sublime beach, it has many captivating places to visit as well and here are some of the highlights.
Kalutara Temple and Bodhiya
Two venerated Buddhist sites, the Kalutara Temple and Bodhiya are popular attractions worth visiting. Easy to reach from beachside properties like Anantara Kalutara Resort, the huge temple with its striking white exterior features a hollow stupa in which you will find enthralling murals depicting scenes from Lord Buddha’s life. Nearby is the Bodhiya, a sacred Bo tree which is believed to have been grown from a sapling of the tree in India under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.
Amongst the other notable places to visit in Kalutara is the riveting structure known as Richmond Castle which is now an orphanage. This two-storey mansion dates to 1896 during British colonial rule and features Edwardian-style architecture as well as a delightful garden with various statues. On a guided tour, you will be able to find out more about its original owner and see its distinctive interiors complete with antiques, a teak staircase, stained glass and more.
Black River (Kalu Ganga)
A key natural attraction, the Black River (or “Kalu Ganga” as locals call it) offers much to discover and experience for the whole family. Some resorts here will organise boat rides along the river which provide an absorbing adventure; on your journey, you will pass thriving mangroves and get a chance to spot various wildlife including diverse bird species and gain a unique perspective of this destination.
Fa Hien Cave
When it comes to excursions in Kalutara, one of the best places to head to is Fa Hien Cave named after a Chinese monk who is said to have rested here during his visit in the 5th century. A popular attraction amongst locals as well, this huge ancient cave is notable for being the site where one of Asia’s oldest pre-historic human settlements was unearthed, said to be around 37,000 years old! Here, you will find a pit dug by the Archaeological Department as well as a temple and an impressive reclining Buddha statue.