Start Fort, or someone called “Tharaka Kotuwa,” is an ancient building in Matara, Sri Lanka. It was built by the Dutch as a defense building during the period of 1763–1765. The start fort is located 350 meters east of the Matara fort on the Nilvala River. The Dutch called this fort “Redoute van Eck” back then.
The Dutch captured Sri Lanka from the Portuguese in 1638. They captured the Matara fort from the Portuguese and reconstructed it in 1640. However, it was vulnerable to attackers coming from the land. The Matara Rebellions and the Kandyan Kingdom army attacked and captured the Matara Dutch Fort in 1762. Anyhow, the Dutch re-captured the fort in 1763. They identified the vulnerable situation of the fort and then decided to increase its strength. As a result, they planned to build the Star Fort.
The name “Star Fort” comes from its unique shape. It has a six-pointed star with enough space for 12 large cannons to cover all directions. The rampart walls have been constructed with granite rocks and corals. The width of the rampart wall is 14 feet. It also has got enough space to hold a small garrison, food supplies, and ammunition.
Further, it has two prison cells and a well in the center with a 2.75-meter diameter. The roof of the building was completed with cadjam leaves in the early days and then replaced with clay tiles. There is a deep moat around the Star Fort, which also provides additional protection.
Even today, you can see the VOC emblem and the year of the construction near the main gate. The Dutch were made to live in this fort for their protection, but they never had a chance to prove that. They handed over the Star Fort to the British in 1796.
The site is still open to visitors and is under the control of the Sri Lankan government. You can walk around the star fort and experience the Dutch culture in Sri Lanka. It is a nice place to visit around the Matara area of Sri Lanka.
(Star Fort Image Credit: Viraj De Alwis from Facebook)
Pidurangala Rock is another famous tourist attraction in the Sigiriya area. It is a 360-degree viewpoint with a nice little hike to follow. The view of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress from Pidurangala Rock is simply breathtaking, and we believe you’ve seen it while searching for images of Sri Lanka on Google Images.
Pidurangala Rock is not as famous as Sigiriya Rock. But it is a superb destination that you should also visit during your tour of Sigiriya. It is located 2 kilometers to the north of the rock fortress. The hike will start from the Pidurangala Raja Maha Viharaya, where the initial part of the hike is not very difficult. In the beginning, there is a clear and nice footpath. After that, you will meet the Pidurangala cave temple and the ancient ruins around it. Historians believe that the ruins date back more than 2000 years. They also believe the entire area was a monastery before King Kashyapa came to Sigiriya in the 5th century AD.
After the cave temple, your hike will become much harder, and you will have to cross some difficult spots. The route is easy to find thanks to the man-made red arrow signs. Anyhow, your route is along the large boulders. If you are an experienced hiker, it will only take you around 30 minutes to climb this rock. But if you are a lazy hiker, then it will take you around 45 to 60 minutes to reach the top.
The view from Pidurangala Rock is absolutely fabulous. It is an ideal spot to take some rare images. From there, you can observe most parts of the Central and North-Central provinces of Sri Lanka. The best time to visit there is at sunrise and sunset. These times allow you to take your best shots.
As a visitor, you should buy a ticket to enter Pidurangala Rock. It is open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is no water source on the top; therefore, you should bring enough water with you.
Finally, we suggest that you don’t forget this place during your travels to Sigiriya Rock Fortress or Dambulla Cave Temple.
(Cover Image Source: @ParadiseSrilanaka
- Historical Places
- Mahiyangana, Places to Visit in Mahiyangana, Places to Visit in Sri Lanka, Religious Places in Sri lanka
Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple that is situated in the Mahiyangana Area of Sri Lanka. The place belongs to the Badulla district of Uva Province, where the temple is situated a few kilometers away from Mahiyangana City. This is a historically and religiously important place for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It is considered by the Mahiyangana Temple as one of the Solosmasthana, or 16 sacred religious locations in the country.
How to get Mahiyangana Temple?
The distance to the location from Colombo is 185km and from Kandy City is 68km. You can easily reach the location if you are following the Colombo-Padiyathalawa A26 route. After reaching Mahiyangana City, you need to go around 3 kilometers along the Mahiyangana-Badulla Route to reach the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya.
History of the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya
According to the Mahavansa, Lord Buddha visited Sri Lanka after the 9th month of enlightenment. This happened on the full moon, Poya day, of the Duruthu month. The Lord Buddha’s aim was to stop the fight between two groups of local people called “Yakkhas. On that day, the place was renowned as “Mahanaga Park,” where Lord Buddha landed in Mahiyangana. It was the first time Lord Buddha landed in Sri Lanka in the 6th century BC.
Lord Buddha gave his hair relics to the god ‘Saman’, and then he made a stupa in the Mahiyagana Area by keeping those hair relics. In the early days, it was renowned as the “Miyuguna Viharaya”. The place where the stupa was established is considered where Buddha kept his feet in Sri Lanka. Therefore, Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya and the area are extremely important places for Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
In history, Mahiyana and the surrounding area were called “Binthenna”. It was a historically important place because it connected both Ruhuna and Rajarata.
The stupa of the Mahiyangana Temple was reconstructed on many occasions. King Devanampiyathissa, King Dutugemunu, King Parakramabahu, and King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe were some of the kings who contributed to the development of the temple. In the last century, former Prime Minister DS Senanayake contributed to the Modern Stupa of the Mahiyanagana Raja Maha Viharaya.
The modern temple looks really beautiful from a distance. You can find many beautiful photos of the temple on Instagram and other social media. Many pilgrims visit the place every day, and it is a fabulous place to visit in the Uva province of Sri Lanka. The surroundings also look so beautiful, with many mountains and paddy fields. The Mahaveli River also flows near the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya. The perahera festival in Mahiyangana is also a nice cultural festival to watch in Sri Lanka.
Places to Visit in Mahiyanagana and Surrounding Areas
-Dambana Weddha Village
-18 Bends Route in Udadumbara
(Note: Mahiyangana Temple Image Credit goes to respective Owner)
Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist monastery that is situated in the Kirinda area of southern Sri Lanka. It is a historically important place in Sri Lankan history. There are numerous ancient ruins and historical evidence that have helped to establish the surrounding areas of this monastery. Sithulpawwa is a place that belongs to Block 1 of the Yala National Park. Therefore, anybody can visit this place during their tour to the Yala Nationa Park.
Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya is located 294km away from the capital, Colombo. The distance from Galle city is 165km and from Ella tourist city is 103km. You can reach this place by travelling 18km along the Yodakandiya-Tissmaharama route from the Kataragama Pilgrimage City. The notice boards will easily direct you to the place. You will also see many wild animals along the route because it belongs to the Yala National Park. There is a nice park available to stop your vehicle.
History of the Sithulpawwa Temple
It is believed this monastery was built in the 2nd century BC by King Kavanthissa. At that time, this was named “Chiththala Pabbatha”, which means “The Hill of the Quiet Mind.” This history says that this was a place for Buddhist education for the Buddhist monks. It was also available for worship by the devotees. Today, many ancient cave temples, paintings, inscriptions, Buddha Stratues, and other Stratues can be found in the surrounding area.Most of the paintings have been destroyed, and those historians believe that those paintings belong to the Anuradhapura Kingdom era.
Other facts about Sithulpawwa
On the public holidays, Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya is a busy place. Therefore, it’s better if you can go there on a weekday. The large stupa on the large rock can be found from a long distance. The view from that rock is absolutely beautiful, and it is fantastic to take some beautiful photos. This is a nice place to visit if you are a person who loves to explore Sri Lankan culture and history.
(Sithulpawwa Temple Background Image source: VISIT 2 SRI LANKA from Twitter)
Lipton’s Seat is a popular high observation point in Sri Lanka among local and foreign travelers. It is situated at the top of the Poonagala Hills at an elevation of 1970m. This is also a viewpoint from which you can observe five major provinces in Sri Lanka. The route to Lipton’s seat is absolutely beautiful with greenish tea estates. We can suggest that it is another must-visit place near the Ella tourism city.
Lipton’s seat is situated in the Badulla district of Uva Province. Haputale and Poonagala are the closest town to the area. Distance to here from Haputale is 16km and from Ella is 27km. There are two major routes to reach the place.
- Bandarawela, Poonagala and through Nayabedda Estate
- Hapuatale and through dambethenna tea estate
Those two routes are very scenic with lush and greenish tea plantations. It’s no matter whether you select one from them,
If you are starting from Ella, then the Poonagala – Nayabedda route is ideal for you. The surround is amazing to watch. Tuk Tuk is the most suitable vehicle for this route and it takes around 1 ½ hours to reach there. If you come from Colombo or from the Upcountry railway, then the Haputale-Dambethenna route should be your selection. The public transport busses are available on that route. But Tuk Tuk or a scooter are the most ideal vehicle for too this route. It also takes one hour to reach the destination.
However, you should buy a ticket to enter the Lipton’s seat. After the entrance, you have to walk around 1.5km to reach the actual viewpoint.
As we mentioned earlier, you can observe five major provinces in Sri Lanka from here. Those five provinces are; Uva, Sabaragamuwa, Eastern, Southern and Central. As well as you can clearly identify some of the key places. In a clear day you can identify Chandrika Lake, Udawlawa Lake, Handapanagala Lake, Hambanthota Harbour, Wedasitikanda Mountain, Devinuwara Lighthouse, South Coast and Tricomalee Lighthouse.
Early morning is the best time to visit Lipton’s Seat. On that time you can observe the beauty of the sunrise from the distance. It is actually a fantastic picture and you don’t forget to capture it with your camera. Sometimes, the mist will cover the place and it will destroy your stunning view. In such a time, you can see the clouds under you. If you are lucky person then you will see clear picture of the surrounding. If not you will be unhappy with the mist.
Lipton’s Seat and the surrounded Dambethenna tea estate was established by the Scottish tea planter Sir Thomas Lipton around 1890s. He was also contributed in development of the tea industry in Sri Lanka. He managed all the surrounded tea estates and lived on there. After his duties, he came to this view point and sited on their leisurely by observing the scenic view. Sir Thomas Lipton also started the Dambethenna Tea Factory for the manufacturing of tea. On those time this was the estate produced the best Black Tea in the country.
Other Facts about Lipton’s Seat
- Catherine Seat is another nice view point near the Lipton’s seat. It is few kilometers away and which is situated in the Nayabedda estate. This view point also generate a scenic picture and you can clearly identify the places like Bandarawela, Diyathalawa, Uva Valley and Namunukula Range.
- Lemathota Waterfall is a nice waterfall that you will meet it in the Dambethenna estate. But it is not popular among most of the travelers. However, it is another nice place to wait for few minutes.
- Lipton’s seat is a place with cool climate. You should be ready for that before go there. As well as you can expect sudden changing weather.
- There is a nice statue of the Sir Thomas Lipton near the viewpoint. You can sit neat it and enjoy the beauty of the atmosphere.
- The place is open from 6am to 5pm. Anyhow, Morning is the ideal time to go there.
- You can visit Dambethenna Tea Factory and further can analyze the tea manufacturing procedure.
(Cover Image Source & Credit: Lanka Classy Tours Twitter)