Weherahena Temple or someone called “Weherahena Poorwarama Rajamaha Viharaya,” is another nice place to visit in Matara, Sri Lanka. It is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site with a large Buddha statue. The temple is considered the first and largest tunnel temple in the world. But there is no great historical value behind this. The distance to Weherahena Temple from Colombo is 170 km, and from Matara city, it is 7 km.
There is an interesting story behind this tourist attraction. It dates back to the early 20th century. Rev. Parawahera Rewatha Thero has arrived in the Weherahena area as a punishment from his teacher. The land was approximately 0.5 acres in size at the time, and it was made up of a Bodhi tree. The Thero then built a small clay house on the land with the support of the people. He then decided to develop the temple and planned to build it into the largest Buddha statue in the world. He also wanted to build a tunnel temple, as has been mentioned in the Ummagga Jathaka Story.
In 1939, the Thero began construction on the planned temple with the help of Anagarika Dharmapala. The tunnel was first made, and the work on the large statue was started later. Finally, the statue was completed in 1976. Japan was also encouraged to rebuild the temple in a modern style after 1976. The area of the whole temple is nearly 3 acres today.
Today, visitors to the temple can see the beautiful and decorated art on the tunnel walls. The 39-meter height Buddha statue has brought massive attraction to the temple from the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. The Buddha statue is also thought to be in the samadhi position.
We suggest you visit this beautiful Weherahena Temple during your tour of southern Sri Lanka.
(Featured Image Credit: Gamini Nishantha from Facebook)
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)
Dondra Head Lighthouse is situated in the Dewinuwara of the Southern Province, Sri Lanka. It is considered the southmost point of the island which is situated 6km from the Matara. The Dondra Head Lighthouse is considered the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka and one of the tallest lighthouses in Southeast Asia.
The lighthouse is managed by the Sri Lanka Port Authority. It is open to visitors, but you should get special permission to visit its balcony. The view looks breathtaking, and you can observe the calmness of the Indian Ocean and many other land areas of the Matara region.
The height of the lighthouse is 49 meters (160 feet). But the light’s focal height is 47 m. Overall, it contains seven floors and 14 windows. Further, Dondra Head Lighthouse is considered one of the four international lighthouses in Sri Lanka. Electricity is used to power the lighthouse, where its range is 52 km (32 miles).
The construction of this lighthouse was commenced in 1887 and completed in 1889. The initial design was made by Sir James Nicholas Douglass. But the construction was done by William Douglass. All the construction materials, including bricks and steel, were imported from the UK.
The place is a superb spot for travelers who visit southern Sri Lanka. Therefore, we request that you don’t miss this place when you are traveling to Matara, Mirissa, Weligama, or any other area of the Matara area.
(Image Source: Anna Franci from Facebook)
Hiriketiya Beach, or what some call “Hiri Beach,” is an upcoming popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. If you are seeking the best places for surfing in Sri Lanka, then you should not miss this beautiful spot. It is popular for its calm nature, yoga activities, delicious foods, and golden sands. This is certainly a marvelous place for those who love beach life.
Hiriketiya Beach is situated in the Matara District of the Southern Province. It’s a narrow bay. The area and surroundings are comprised of many palm trees. The distance from Colombo is 193km and from Galle is 64km. However, it’s not far away from Matara City and it’s about 21km. You can easily come to Matara via the Southern Expressway from Colombo. Unfortunately, there are no train roads nearby. Dickwella is the closest town to the beach, and it is 2km away. Busses are available from Matara to Dickwella. You can then easily access the location by tuk tuk.
More Facts About Hiri Beach
Hiriketiya Beach is a surfing paradise. It is the main attraction of this marvelous destination. This is a more suitable place for beginner surfers. The waves are superb all year round. You can rent surf boards from many places out there on the beach. The experts and guides will help you with the matter of ‘how to do surfing’.
The place is also nice for swimming. It’s less deep and you can walk a long distance towards the sea. As well, the place is awesome for other beach activities like snorkeling.
The surrounding palm tree forest has added additional beauty. Anyhow, Hiri Beach is a relatively small spot. But there are many restaurants and cafes nearby. Accommodation is also available nearby for those who are searching for budget, mid-range, and luxury stays.
The average annual rainfall of the Dickwella area is around 1500mm. From October to December, the area receive more rainfall than other times of the year. The Average Annual Temperature is about 28 ’C. The wind speed is high in the May to September months, and the wave speed is high in this season. Hiriketiya Beach is the best place to visit from October to March. You can experience a hot and humid climate in almost all coastal areas of the island.
Other Places to Visit in the Matara Area
- Tangalle Beach
- Weligama Bay
- Talalla Beach
- Hummanaya Blowhole
- Dickwella Beach
Read more from our blog: Beautiful Beaches in Sri Lanka
(Featured Photo Credit: Villa Roy Hiriketiya Dikwella Sri Lanka )