While there is a sense of comfort and familiarity in exploring popular places in any country, the real joy of travel and exploration comes when you venture off the normal tourist track and experience some of the lessor known attractions, don’t you agree? While most visitors to Sri Lanka have probably heard of Mirissa, Ella, Colombo or Kandy, there are many more truly unique experiences to be had in this beautiful island nation that are equally enchanting. With its diverse landscapes, Sri Lanka has many options for any kind of traveler.
For those seeking lesser-known attractions, here is a list of some of Sri Lanka’s unique experiences that are well worth the visit.
Earlier in the year, Karthika Gupta had an opportunity to spend 10 days exploring Sri Lanka with the country’s Department of Tourism. She is sharing some unique experiences to be had on a visit to this amazing country.
While Sri Lanka is definitely a traveler’s delight in all the amazing things that one gets to see and experience, there are so many hidden gems in this beautiful island nation that are not on the regular tourist track but so well worth the visit. Here are some of my favorites.
Kalpitiya is about a 4-hour drive from Colombo along the west coast of Sri Lanka. It is along a small lagoon and is an ideal spot for kite surfing – an addreline filled sport that is quite popular in Sri Lanka. Another activity that is gaining in popularity in Kalpitiya is dolphin and whale watching. Kalpitiya is near where the continental plates meet close to land, so the chance of meeting dolphins without having to travel too far is quite high. While Sri Lanka has many whale and dolphin watching tours around the island (Marissa being the most famous), Kalpitiya is quickly becoming a place to see these animals in their natural habitat.
A few things to note about the dolphin watching experience in Kalpitiya
Another great thing to do in Kalpitiya is to see Kalpitiya Fort. It is also called the Dutch Fort as it was built by the Dutch around the 1600s. The then King of Kandy had asked the Dutch to help him regain the land around the Puttalam Lagoon from the Portuguese (who had taken it). The Dutch helped gain the area back but retained control by building a fort for themselves. The Dutch ruled the trade in the area through the fort, as it was in such a strategic place overlooking the bay.
The fort was designed in 1666 and the construction of the Dutch fort in Kalpitiya was completed in 1676. As the entry point to the Puttalam lagoon the Kalpitiya fort was key in the trade of cinnamon reflecting the might of the Dutch East India company.
What is unique about this fort is that it has only one entry point which faces the lagoon. The yellow bricks that made the entrance arch is said to have been bought down especially from Holland. The layout itself is very simple. The fort has four bastions with the two on the lagoon side being smaller than the two on the land side. The fort walls are massive where the Dutch had used coral and limestone from the sea and soil from the land.
The fort is still considered a military site with active military still on site but visitors are allowed to explore the fort for free.