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Thursday, May 12, 2016

15 Attractions to explore between Colombo and Galle on A2!

If Galle is your destination in Srilanka and if you ask the taxi driver to take you to Galle from Colombo, he will probably opt for the expressway (E01)- which is wider, faster (only marginally because of speed limit) and heavily tolled.  But then, expressway is extremely boring- nothing much scenic to see, because of barricades you can’t divert at will to visit nearby attractions. You will probably reach Galle a bit earlier but you would have missed lots of action.

I suggest instead of expressway, take the A2 highway. This is bit narrower but runs closer to ocean. Thus it is like the East Coast Road (ECR) near Chennai. There is no toll fee to pay and you can stop at several attractions on the way. In this post, I am listing about 15 attractions worth exploring, located between Colombo and Galle, adjacent to A2. A direct journey from Colombo to Galle might take about 2 hours on the expressway, but will take about half a day if you stop at various attractions/things to do listed below. Of course you can skip whatever that doesn't interest you or demands more time than you can afford to spend.

1  River Safari in Mangrove forest: There are a few spots such as Balapitiya, Bentota etc where you can hop on a boat and enjoy a river/lake safari, which will take you inside mangrove forests, you might get to view many birds and scenery and probably stop at a tiny island as well. We had experienced Mangrove in Pichavaram and spending time here would have left us little time for Galle, so didn’t try this. The quote was LKR 3000 (USD 20 approx) per person for a 90 minute ride. You should be able to negotiate marginally if you are serious. Keep an eye for signboards that invite you to take a ride, often found adjacent to bridges across the river.
2 Moon stone mining and factory: There are a few locations where moonstones (a semi-precious gem) are mined, cleaned, polished and converted into jewelry. These factories usually give a free tour of the campus and you can experience the mining and jewelry making process for free. You can optionally buy some jewels from the shop as well. Read my detailed post here.


3 Tsunami Memorial: A roadside spot- stop for a minute and pay respect 
4 Train Journey: Railway track runs almost parallel to the road. If you wish to experience local trains in Srilanka you can probably buy a ticket for a city few stops ahead, experience the train journey a bit and then get back into your taxi. (You can take the train all the way till Galle, which will be a lot cheaper than hiring taxi, but you won’t be able to stop at will to explore other attractions.
Train at Bentota Station
5 Turtle Care: There are numerous turtle farms and hatcheries along the highway. Most of them charge LKR 500 (USD 4 approx) per person, for a walk-through of turtle hatching and caring program. We didn’t try this. 
6 Large Buddha Statue: A nice roadside statue at the centre of a pond, well maintained. Known as Tsunami Hongaji Vihara.



7 Hikkaduwa Stilt  Fishing: Try your luck.  Keep looking for poles like the ones shown below and if you are lucky, you might find locals sitting on them and try to catch some fish. In case you don’t find anyone fishing this way, locals are happy to stage  a show for you if you’re willing to pay some money. A separate post is coming up on this.
8 Tsunami Museums: There are a few Tsumani museums along the way- entry is usually free but a voluntary donation is expected. Photos of devastation and related details are exhibited inside
9 Kalutara Bodhi Temple: A nice temple town with multiple temples, famous one is the pagoda shown below
10 Seenigama Temple – A small but nice temple by the highway. There is another temple complex few hundred meters into the ocean- can be accessed only by boat. 

11 Try Orange Tender coconuts: For LKR 50 per unit, taste these orange coloured tender coconuts by the roadside- they are much sweeter and tastier than traditional green coloured ones. They won’t have a straw- so either carry your own, or learn to drink directly from the hole made in the coconut. We stopped at a place to drink some, didn’t know local language to ask “How much”... Then a biker stopped and with his help we got to know the price. Over 3 days, we tried tender coconut at 3-4 places- all were charging 50 LKR only and won’t hike the price seeing tourists. God  bless them.
12: Beaches: All along the A2 you will find numerous beaches- many have rocks on to which you can climb and relax. Stop at a few places that excite you. Hikkadua and Bentota are the most popular ones.
Bentota Beach- our first stop on the way to Galle, 6 AM
13: Galle Marine Walk- just before entering Galle city, this path leads you into the ocean for a good photo op
14 Scuba Diving/Dolphin sighting/Ocean adventures: Prior planning is recommended. There are a few agencies that facilitate scuba diving off Hikkaduwa or an ocean cruise to see dolphins. I wrote to one of them before my trip and got a reply that May is not the season for them in Hikkaduwa to operate Scuba diving.

15: Rathgama Lake: We didn’t visit this one, but you can try. A large lake with temples and view.

Our journey to Galle from Colombo was very memorable because of above attractions. We left from Airport at 3 AM, reached  Bentota at 6 AM and reached Galle hotel by 11 AM after exploring most of above things.

Read more of my Srilanka posts here 

4 comments :

Ami said...

Stilt fishing....sounds so interesting. Would love to try it out myself ;)

Alok singhal said...

I would love that journey along the ocean too, I did the same on my recent California trip -took US 1 and drove like 500 kilometers just along the stunning beaches!

Sneh Asnani said...

Nice post.. I have been planning a trip to Srilanka for a long time now but it never gets materialized.. may be you can help me with the itinerary and more details..

http://travelhues.blogspot.in

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Ami- standby for a detailed post on Stilt fishing

@Sneh -Sure, buzz me via FB or email, I can help as much as possible based on my knowledge from 2 Srilanka trips.

@Alok- Great. But nothing compares to Melbourne's great ocean road I guess..