Hambantota, Kataragama & the Road to Arugam Bay

…. Arugam Bay is a beautiful coastal town…..

We had toured Hambantota while visiting the Yala area and I wanted to share some pictures of of this southern coastal town before taking you on a journey up the east coast. [Nil.JPG]

Hambantota is the salt producing capital of Sri Lanka, which happens to be the electorate of the current President.

Yala, Bundala & Kirinda1

We were amazed to see the number of projectsA? coming up in the area including the construction of a new port, international airport, convention centre as well lots of new road construction!A?A? The Chinese government has invested heavily in the area and this has brought with it many other big investors from countries such as India, mainly in a bid to ensure that China does not have a stronghold here.A?National Parks

Sri Lanka is in a strategic position for shipping and many countries both in the region and in the west are concerned about the heavy investment of China here!

After 3 nights in Yala we head for the east coast but first we visit Kataragama, a religious city for both the Buddhists and Hindus of Sri Lanka.A?Kataragama-1

Many people visit to make pledges and ask for favours from the many gods worshipped here including Ganesh, Shiva, Skanda and Vishnu.A? During festival time you can observe devotees walking on hot coals and hanging from hooks to fulfil varies vows made to these divine deities.A? We did not witness this but the usual rituals of tying ribbons and thread, smashing coconuts and having offerings blessed was in full swing!Kataragama-2

The devotees first bathe in the adjacent river before entering the temple premises.A? Cleanliness is next to godliness after all!Kataragama-3 Buy calandiva P7030128

Orange is the colour of the Hindu devotees and white that of the Buddhist worshippers.A? There are many superstitious beliefs associated with this temple.A? One is that of making the first journey to the temple after the purchase of a new car!

Devotees also make journeys on foot, referred to as a a??pada yathraa?? from places as far as 150 km away.A? On the way to Arugam Bay, we saw manyA? pilgrims on this religious pilgrimage some with children & baggage in tow.A? I marvelled at the stamina of the older folk who are prepared to walk in temperatures hovering in the mid 30a??s!

After Kataragama, we head north toward Monaragala our lunch stop.A? The road is desolate and borders the Yala National Park which extends a fair distance beyond the areas frequented by tourists.

I am now in territory I have never visited previously partly because this area was under constant attack during the war years and Yala National Park was closed for a number of years.A? Reminders of the war are still evident.A? There are bunkers and watch towers at frequent intervals still manned by soldiers in the event trouble should flare up once more.A? I wonder what it must be like to spend hours alone at a post such as this, on a desolate road with no one in sight and only a few sand bags to protect you from potential danger.Kataragama

We stop to ask if I can take a picture.A? Naufer explains hea??s got an Australian on board who is documenting her journey and could she please take a picture.A? Photography of such sites is usually discouraged but the war is over and the soldier is happy to oblige.A? He has obviously been relaxing and hurriedly pulls on a shirt to pose for the camera, oblivious to the fact he is in total darkness!A? I wish I could stay and chat but that is a story for another day.

The lush hills of the centre have now been replaced by the dry climate of the south east.A? As we approach the coast and our destination city, we make a few detours to visit a number of water harvesting projects I will talk about in a new post.A?Kataragama-4Arugam Bay is a beautiful coastal town, renowned for its fame as a surfing destination.A? InA? fact I have read it is rated as one of the worlda??s top 10 surf spots and hence it has long since been discovered by surfers despite its distance from Colombo!A?A?P7030201

A number of tournaments are held here and tourists hotels have sprung up around the town.A?A?P7030202While there are still reminders of the destruction of the tsunami the area has certainly recovered and travellers are back!A? The beach stretches for miles and our hotel garden leads right on to the beach.A? I check in to my beach cabana and go for a run.A? I need someA? exercise.A? Ita??s good to feel the ocean breeze and hear the sound of the crashing waves!P7030210

To awaken quite alone in a strange town
is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.
-Freya Stark
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2 Responses to “Hambantota, Kataragama & the Road to Arugam Bay”

  • Rosemarie Armstrong

    A wonderful place of the past. I cringe when I read the
    line mentioning “electorate of the current president”
    The man had the nerve to destroy a property belonging to the Armstrong family and claim it for himself.
    Visitors to the country have been deprived of enjoying and viewing the beautiful place that was once called “Eden View”.
    A visit down south today lacks any of its past beauty. Do enjoy what is there today.

  • Nice article about hambantota, kataragama and arugam bay. Hope you enjoyed the trip!

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