FiFa Low Budget Package Tours.

Come to Arugam Bay.
To watch every single FiFa Qatar game in style.
Basic All-in Transfers from Colombo are only:
Rs./ 12,500 (or 35$) per person
Local accommodation is now very, very cheap in AbaY

Siam View Sports Pub

We are inviting All Low Budget Travelers and Football Fans.
To enjoy every single game with us in Arugam Bay.
A.) NO Power Cuts
B.) Lowest possible room rates
C.) 3 Huge Screens & 2 TV’s
D.) 500++ Channels
E.) Backup Systems
F.) Security
G.) Open all Night

Because we are offering December Specials:
“Come to AbaY to watch the World cup Tours”
We will:
1.) Meet our groups in a Colombo Sports Pub
2.) Watch afternoon games. Like in “Cheers”)
3.) Enjoy their amazing Happy Hours (up to 7pm)
4.) Transfer to Maradana – Madonna Bus stand
5.) 3 Luxury air-con sleeper coaches to chose from
6.) Save hotel costs by overnight trip to Pottuville, E.P.
7.) 4am Transfer to say, Nomads (or similar being open) for a Coffee
8.) Early check in to any of our participating hotels / guest houses
9.) Lunch / Dinner to be arranged
10.) Watching Every single Game on Siam View Sports Screens (FREE)

This offer will be valid for December up to 20th .
Watching those games in Good Company creates a great atmosphere.
Transfers back are also arranged of course.

Those entire packages are aimed at LOW Budget people.
With a very, very basic price tag.
Once here, add ons, Safaris, local spending, Surf Lessons, Swimming.
National Parks etc. are always on offer.
It’s THE best time of year (for non surfers) to visit the East:
Mild, Not Hot, Sunny, No rain!

Reservations / Inquiries:
Every one will receive an answer.
Whats App:

For daily News and offers Join our popular Groups:

SURFER’s Night

Monday 10th of The 10th Month 2022
Everyone is most Welcome!

Admire this Year’s Best Drone Videos in HQ (High Definition)
On The HUGE Screens at the Old Siam View !

1.) Authentic Thai Food
2.) Real German Oktoberfest Beers
3.) Great Music & Performances

As Always:
Gents Walk Inn Free.
Ladies Pay Double

The AbaY Mauer (Wall)

On the Anniversary of the better known Berlin Wall, 13th August remote Arugam Bay has an equally outrageous Mauer Construction event to be reminded of.

The Arugam Bay = SVH Mauer Bau.

The wall the ALIYAR build around the Old Siam View Hotel

The local architect was not a politician like Herr Walter Ulbricht.
It is a now disgraced, but formerly (wrongfully..) somewhat respected manager of a State Bank.

Knowing that the property owner is abroad, to collect his Sri Lankan born daughter from her Boarding school.
What did he do?

He instructed his henchmen and loco building troops to construct a Concrete wall around the Siam View Hotel premises.

In order to take possession and claim the property.
WITHOUT – of course – any agreement.
Or indeed having paid even one Cent !

This is the Original Walter Wall Architect.
“Nobody has the intention to build a Wall”
The Famous Lying Statement of Last Century
(see and listen to the unique famous video below)

This AbaY Wall Architect at Work.
“I am your Best and most trusted local Friend”
Another famous false statement by a greedy, fraud planning, land grabbing man.
Abusing his position of trust
(wait for our upload of just discovered famous CCTV recordings!)

Below is the master of it all:

Nobody has the intention to build a wall
Nobody has the intention to steal your land..

This is the Vehicle they use.
If you see it, ask them about that case and why they are usually hiding

Surfing hotspot Arugam Bay

….to come under fresh spotlight this World Tourism Day

Sri Lanka’s surfing hot spot will come under fresh spotlight this World Tourism Day, as plans are afoot to host the Arugambay Tourism Day programme with the global event.

A meeting with the key stakeholders of the tourism sector and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) this week decided to highlight the picturesque beaches of Arugambay for promotions during the upcoming World Tourism Day 2022, to lure international visitors to the country.

The Arugambay Tourism Day event will be held on
September 27.   
The meeting was held with Ampara District Secretary J.M.A. Douglas, Chamber of Tourism and Industry Sri Lanka President A.M. Jaufer and SLTDA Chairman Priantha Fernando.  Several non-governmental organisations of the Ampara district and stakeholders related to the tourism sector engaged in the discussion.

During the discussion, opinions and suggestions were sought from the officials with regard to special activities, security and infrastructure arrangements to be included in the Tourism Day programme.

The meeting was organized by NGO Coordinator I.M.L. Irfan, Senior Inspector General of Police J.R. Senadheera, Ampara Additional District Secretary V. Jegadeesan and Pothuvil Acting Divisional Secretary Anuruddha Sandaruwan.

“Arugam Bay” – The Israel Movie

Mira Tzur is excited to announce her recent involvement with her company One Circle Productions, as Actress/Exec Producer in the feature film “Arugam Bay” Directed by Marco Carmel, that just wrapped in Sri Lanka, a country under bankruptcy. The experience she had is worth telling

NEW YORK, Aug. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Being an Israeli/American actress, producer, author, former counterintelligence officer & a french countess from the Theraube lineage among other titles she collects as a renaissance woman,  plays the role of Brooke, an American actress who escaped her comfortable vain lifestyle in Hollywood to explore a spiritual lifestyle in the surfing exotic oasis “Arugam Bay”. 

Mira Tzur

The film tells the story of three Israeli soldiers serving the military during the Lebanon War. One of the boys gets killed, having made a pact to surf together after their service, they convince the girlfriend of the deceased friend to join their journey. The three travel from Israel to the magical southeast coast of Sri lanka – Arugam Bay. A well-known destination for professional surfers. The bay is located a 10-hour car drive from the main airport of the largest city, Colombo.

One of the soldiers, played  by Maor Schwitzer an Israeli well known film star, started a romance with latest friend’s girlfriend, played by another Israeli moviestar – Joy Rieger. They meet Brooke, played by Mira Tzur who portrays the social chief of the Island ,who with her spiritual lifestyle, now secretly sells psychedelic drugs to cure PTSD among other mindfulness hardships she believes she can cure.The Dynamics between the Israelis and Brooke are insightful on many levels. It is a winning combination flaunted by; extreme surfing abilities,meaningful friendship,healing, trust & travel to exotic locations that makes the plot relatable on many levels to all international  audiences.

Given the growing economic struggles of Sri Lanka, that have recently led the country to a bankruptcy and political upheaval filming conditions were extremely difficult during the shoot.

Not having electricity, fuel and experiencing food shortage was just some of the obstacles the cast and crew needed to overcome. They established a strong bond with some of the local people and businesses as filming on location obviously helped bring economic prosperity to many of them.

The Italian Footwear company P448 is one of the film sponsors – a sneaker brand that focuses on Sustainability to keep our environment pure. They recycle their soles and use vegan products. They use mix leathers from lion fish and surfers especially wear their brand to keep our Oceans purified. 

For more information on Mira Tzur current projects; 
check out  her Instagram @mira.tzur 
And award winning guide book “Anonymously Famous” (Amazon, Barnes & Noble…)

LIVE Music @ AbaY

And before Arugam Bay was connected to the main Power grid:
There was no
Come & see My Laptop “LIVE”

But a few gifted Musicians entertained our guests.
The Old Siam View however has kept that concept throughout.

As from August 1st. – tomorrow – new bands will perform every week:

Things to Do in Arugam Bay

This list is about the Best Things to Do in Arugam Bay. We will try our best so that you understand this list Best Things to Do in Arugam Bay. I hope you like this list Best Things to Do in Arugam Bay. So lets begin:

Best Things to Do in Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka is known as a surfer’s paradise and one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka. It is one of the areas of the world that you must visit at least once in your life. With the world famous Yala National Park as its neighbour, Arugam Bay is fortunate to be surrounded by a variety of wildlife such as monkeys, elephants and crocodiles. The bay is trendy and a great place to spend at least 3 days. Use this Arugam Bay guide to plan your visit. Located on the east coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is a lively seaside town known for many things, including its beautiful palm-fringed beaches, lively surf scene, and laid-back vibe.

However, because Arugam Bay is somewhat off the traditional Sri Lankan route, this underrated gem is often overlooked by travelers and backpackers. However, we firmly believe that a trip to Arugam Bay is well worth it. Arugam Bay embodies much of what makes Sri Lanka so popular, it is a tropical beach town with many interesting attractions nearby: the fascinating Kudumbigala Monastery, the picturesque Elephant Rock and the adventurous Kumana National Park to name a few. . Of course, there are plenty of other amazing places to discover in Sri Lanka, but there is something magical about this laid-back fishing village on Sri Lanka’s relatively unspoiled east coast.

Kumana National Park Safari

Kumana National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s hidden delights. It is a very special place with lots of wildlife and stunning scenery! Also known as Yala East, many tourists opt for a jeep safari from Kumana National Park. It is certainly one of the best things to do in Arugam Bay if you are interested in rare wildlife. This 357 square kilometer park is much less visited than its busy neighbor, Yala National Park. Consequently, it’s not as crowded and much less of a zoo-like experience. This is true even during peak season. The density of animals in the park is lower than in other national parks in Sri Lanka, but it is not uncommon to see a leopard and other amazing animals. Like elephants, crocodiles, turtles, white cobras, wild buffalo and many birds.

go surfing

One of the most popular activities in Arugam Bay is surfing, which is why it had to be number 1 on this list. The area is full of surf shops offering lessons and surfboards for rent. The bay is considered the best surf spot in Sri Lanka and attracts surfers from all over the world. It is good to know that it is a great place for amateur and professional surfers. Some of the most popular surf spots in Arugam Bay are Main Point, Whiskey Point, Peanut Farm, Pottuvil Point and Elephant Rock.

Relax on the beach at Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay Beach is a great place to relax where everything moves in slow motion. The beach is a moon-shaped curl of soft, golden sand and is home to some of the best surfing in the country. Although there is a lot of fun in and around the area, such as shopping and surfing, one of the best things to do in Arugam Bay is to visit the beaches and relax. Grab a coconut, apply some sunscreen and take some time to enjoy life on the beach. Arugam Bay is just a small town with a few hundred inhabitants. Everything is scattered along a path, parallel to the coast. So even if it’s not on the beach, everywhere in Arugam Bay there’s a laid back beach scene and that’s what first drew surfers and sun worshipers to Sri Lanka.

Yoga in Arugam Bay

It is well known that surfing and yoga go hand in hand; This is probably due to the calm and relaxing environment that both activities offer. As such, Arugam Bay is a top yoga destination; If you walk down the main street, you will see many yoga centers. After a long drive up the East Coast, a yoga class is quite invigorating. And yes, the trip to Arugam Bay is highly recommended to enjoy all the splendor along the way. A small and highly diverse nation, Sri Lanka offers a wonderful collection of experiences that are best enjoyed on a road trip. Join any rental car Sri Lanka has to offer and enjoy the joys of driving along the beautiful coastline.

see the fishermen

Fishing has been a large part of the economy in and around Arugam Bay for many years. If you visit Pottuvil beach in the morning, you will see the fishermen pulling their nets onto the beach. The nets are attached to hundreds of meters of rope and take about two hours to pull out of the sea. You will also find many colorful fishing boats lining the beach at Arugam Bay. If you pass by in the morning you will see how the fishermen classify their catch before selling it.

Tuk Tuk to Peanut Farm Beach

There are plenty of other coves and beaches just a short drive from the main road, so strap your board to the roof and hit the road. Peanut Farm Beach is another epic surf spot south of Arugam Bay. This was our favorite place of all. It is a great unspoiled place with a beautiful white sand beach, rock formations, trees and thatched roof huts. It is popular for swimming, sunbathing and surfing. Not only that, they also have an amazing beach shack that serves fresh food and smoothies. There is only one guest house in the area and it consists of tree houses. It’s around the corner from Peanut Farm Beach.

Visit to the Kudumbigala Monastery

Kudumbigala Monastery is a 45-minute tuk-tuk ride from Arugam Bay. It is a place that you will love if you are a history buff! It is estimated that this Buddhist monastery was founded in the year 246 BC. It was built during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. It was used by monks who wanted to escape the city and follow a path to enlightenment. Don’t forget to explore the nearby hiking trails and caves, and climb to the top next to the monastery for beautiful views of the area. The climb to the highest viewpoint takes about 1.5 hours, so the best time to do it is in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat. Once you arrive, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the jungle, rocks, and coastline.

Shop till you drop

As for the tourist spots, Arugam Bay has some great shops. It is home to some authentic local brands and local bikini tailors. So if you need a dress made or want to replace your bikinis, you’ve come to the right place! Sitting directly parallel to the shoreline and attracting surfers and sunbathers, this hippie town is a great place to stock up on all your unique, locally branded clothing. From cute logo t-shirts to flowy, boho dresses, it’s the style hub of Sri Lanka. There are other quirky pop-up shops that also sell beach towels and handmade seashell souvenirs.

Time to visit Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year. However, there are two monsoon seasons on the island. On the east coast, where Arugam Bay is located, the monsoon season runs from November to January, so avoid this period. The best time to visit Arugam Bay if you want to surf is during the months of June to September. This is also the high season and the best time for snorkeling and diving. However, if snorkelling and diving are not activities that interest you, you can also visit Arugam Bay between February and May.

Hang out at Hideaway Arugam Bay

If you are just looking for a relaxing night, Hideaway Arugam Bay is a great place to unwind. There are loungers spread out on the floor, as well as a happy hour between 6:00pm and 8:00pm. The Hideaway is a boutique guest house on Arugam Bay opposite the main surf beach with a lovely laid back vibe. It is a family friendly guest house set in 6 acres of lush tropical gardens in the heart of the city. So if you’re looking for a great way to end a day at the beach, be sure to add Hideaway to your list of things to do in Arugam Bay. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more lively, we’ve heard good reviews about Whiskey Point.

Final words: Best Things to Do in Arugam Bay

I hope you understand and like this list Best Things to Do in Arugam Bay, if your answer is no then you can ask anything via contact forum section related to this article. And if your answer is yes then please share this list with your family and friends.


Lahugala Magul Maha Vihara: steeped in history

After visiting the Mudu Maha Vihara at Pottuvil, we came to the Pottuvil bazaar passing Arugam Bay – the sun-drenched and palm fringed coastal paradise. We had a glorious view of the deep blue sea and the sea spray was most welcoming. A number of colourful guest houses and homely cottages stood on both sides of the road which were once occupied by windsurfers.

From Pottuvil, we turned left on the Siyabalanduwa – Moneragala road, beguiled by the panoramic views of the serene rural landscape. Lush green paddy fields that run as far as eye can see and the shade of Kumbuk trees beside the road protected us from the late afternoon sun.

Having driven around 12 kilometres from Pottuvil, we emerged into the wildlife country of Lahugala-Kitulana and reached the jungle village of Lahugala on the edge of the sanctuary where we were greeted by some villagers who were drying maize on the side of the road.

Royal marriage

At the edge of the jungle, the nameboard of this ancient place indicated to the Magul Maha Vihara. The name of this sanctuary literary means ‘the wedding temple’, an unusual title for a Buddhist place of worship. But, history narrates a tale of the royal marriage between Princess Viharamaha Devi, daughter of King Kelanitissa of Maya Rata and King Kavantissa (205-161) of the Magam Ruhunu Kingdom.

The Magul Maha Vihara is believed to be a temple complex with a vibrant history dating back to the times of King Kavantissa who ruled the Ruhuna Kingdom. However, varying sources claim that King Dhatusena (453-473 AD) built the complex, while various other monarchs renovated it through the centuries. From all the legends that surround the Vihara, the most arresting is the story of King Kavantissa and Princess Viharamaha Devi.

Youth Observer

Lahugala Magul Maha Vihara: steeped in history


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16 July, 2022

The Dagaba at the Magul Maha Viharaya

The Dagaba at the Magul Maha Viharaya

After visiting the Mudu Maha Vihara at Pottuvil, we came to the Pottuvil bazaar passing Arugam Bay – the sun-drenched and palm fringed coastal paradise. We had a glorious view of the deep blue sea and the sea spray was most welcoming. A number of colourful guest houses and homely cottages stood on both sides of the road which were once occupied by windsurfers.

From Pottuvil, we turned left on the Siyabalanduwa – Moneragala road, beguiled by the panoramic views of the serene rural landscape. Lush green paddy fields that run as far as eye can see and the shade of Kumbuk trees beside the road protected us from the late afternoon sun.

Having driven around 12 kilometres from Pottuvil, we emerged into the wildlife country of Lahugala-Kitulana and reached the jungle village of Lahugala on the edge of the sanctuary where we were greeted by some villagers who were drying maize on the side of the road.

Royal marriage

At the edge of the jungle, the nameboard of this ancient place indicated to the Magul Maha Vihara. The name of this sanctuary literary means ‘the wedding temple’, an unusual title for a Buddhist place of worship. But, history narrates a tale of the royal marriage between Princess Viharamaha Devi, daughter of King Kelanitissa of Maya Rata and King Kavantissa (205-161) of the Magam Ruhunu Kingdom.

The Magul Maha Vihara is believed to be a temple complex with a vibrant history dating back to the times of King Kavantissa who ruled the Ruhuna Kingdom. However, varying sources claim that King Dhatusena (453-473 AD) built the complex, while various other monarchs renovated it through the centuries. From all the legends that surround the Vihara, the most arresting is the story of King Kavantissa and Princess Viharamaha Devi.

According to legend, Viharamaha Devi, daughter of King Kelanitissa volunteered to sacrifice herself to the sea. She was safely carried over the ocean waves, reaching ashore at a place near Pottuvil, not far from Lahugala, where the encounter between King Kavantissa and the princess led to their marriage. The legend tells that the marriage ceremony was conducted on the grounds of the Magul Maha Vihara where the King had later built the Temple to celebrate the auspicious event.

The Magul Maha Vihara, according to the inscription, was originally known as the Ruhunu Maha Vehera. The Vihara appeared to have fallen into ruin for 200 years and lay abandoned in the jungle. At the beginning of the 14th Century, the temple was brought back to former glory by Queen also of the name Viharamaha Devi, wife of Buwaneka Bahu IV of Gampola and Parakramabahu V of Dedigama who renovated and donated many acres to the temple.

Ornamental moat

Shading our eyes against the late afternoon sun, we first saw an ornamental moat with lotus blossoms, with wide stone terraces leading down to it which showcases the style of the Anuradhapura period. Rectangular in shape, the Vihara was bordered by a moat in ancient times.

Having crossed the moat by a causeway, we entered the main entrance. We were thrilled by gazing at the marvelous antiquated ruins. We were surrounded by four ceremonial gateways, each one of them carved from stone and adorned with moonstones, balustrades and rows of pillars. Each gateway is aligned with others. The compound is laid out in straight lines. In this compound, one can see the remains of magnificent structures on stone platforms. It is a monastic complex, with an image house, a Dagaba, a Bodhigara, numerous guard stones and a chapter house. Surrounding the central quadrangle is vast area with walkways and numerous stone structures.

The magnificent tank which once gave it life, now strangled by creeping vegetation, runs along the Eastern side of the Vihara.

On the Eastern side of the temple is a renovated Dagaba in the temple ground. The four entrances to the Dagaba are well preserved. Each such entrance is flanked on either side by stone carved seated lions perched on stone slabs of the stone railing encircling the Dagaba.

To the West of the Dagaba is the much famed Bodhigara – the Bo tree shrine – known among people as the Magul Poruwa (marriage podium) of King Kavantissa and Queen Viharamaha Devi. It is believed that the Poruwa was later converted to a Bodhigara that housed the Bo Tree within the circular structure that is similar to a flower.

Pohoya Seema Malakaya

The surrounding platform has carvings with a frieze of lions and flower vases, which are thought to have been constructed during the middle of the Anuradhapura era. Proceeding to the Left where the ruins of what is thought to be the Pohoya Seema Malakaya (Chapter House) stood, we stopped to inspect the moonstone, the carved stone steps and the balustrades that have been marvelously preserved.

The moonstone engraved here is held in much prominence as this is the only one in Asia that has the mahout astrid the elephant. Consisting of many half circles engraved with designs such as Liyavel; an intricate design incorporating vine like patterns, lotus petals and animals, the moonstone is deemed as a portrayal of the cycle of birth.

Finally, we came across a massive image house around nine feet in height with a standing torso of a Buddha statue erected in the middle and upright stone pillars around it. The statue is believed to have been broken into pieces in the past. It has been restored by the officials of the Department of Archaeology.

The entrance has a plain moonstone and two guard stones depicting the figures of Bahiravaya (guardian demon).

With the sun setting into the far horizon, we had to end our journey at the Magul Maha Vihara. We came back to the car park contemplating that we have only managed to scratch the surface of the hidden treasures. After having a refreshing cup of Beli Mal, we proceeded to Kotiyagala in search of many archaeologically important places.


Frightening experiences with elephants at Lahugala

by Lal Anthonis

Lahugala is a magic word that never fails to stir a tingle of excitement and bring a thrill to all those who know and love our jungles and their denizens. It is a little village with two fairly large wewas or tanks, one known as Kitulana and the other by the name of the village itself. It is situated 14 miles inland from the little town of Arugam Bay in the south-east coast of Sri Lanka. Both these tanks are overgrown with a kind of grass, now known as Lahugala grass. It is referred to in Sinhala as beru, which reaches well up to the height of an elephant.

As for me, Lahugala tank holds a special, precious memory. It is now over 50 years since, yet I remember it as if it were only yesterday. I stood on the verandah of that dilapidated circuit bungalow at the edge of the tank, with my parents at my side and with a pair of over-sized binoculars in my seven-year old hands. I gazed across the grass of Lahugala at my first pair of wild elephants.

It was at that moment that the ‘jungle bug’ first bit me and the feelings grew in me like a spreading illness. Many are the jungle jaunts I have done and many are the occasions I have visited Lahugala tank since then. Yet on that day long ago I never ever imagined that Lahugala tank was to give me some of the finest moments with wild elephants.

Midway in the afternoon one day in August 1974, Mervyn Gunasekera and Chandima Karunaratne, two of my friends and I arrived at the Lahugala lodge for a three day stay. At about 4 pm the first herd of elephants broke cover across the tank, almost at the very same spot that I had seen my first wild elephants many years earlier.

The bungalow keeper Samuel, who was called Sam for short, and I decided to approach the elephants by jeep. Leaving my friends in the lodge and keeping as close as possible to the edge of the jungle, we drove up slowly on the pockmarked lunar-like surface of the dried tank bed.

About a quarter mile from the lodge, the edge of the jungle goes round a bend and when we drove up to this point the sight that met our eyes was unbelievable. The entire area from the water’s edge to the jungle was a mass of elephants. The next moment they heard or saw us, and they all made off into the jungle in a swirling cloud of dust.

I switched off the engine and waited quietly. A few minutes later they came out again, all 87 of them. We watched them at very close quarters until the late evening light started to play tricks with our vision. In the greying dusk, the elephants moved like spectres against the darkening undergrowth of the forest.

A close call

It was on the second day at Lahugala that I had one of the most frightening experiences in the wilds. It was a warm but breezy noon and we were about to sit for a chilled refresher when I spotted an elephant on the bund some distance away. Very soon there were five of them and as they were some distance off, I decided to approach them on foot to do some photography.

Sam and I set off along the bund. The breeze was in our favour and we were confident that we could approach the animals without being detected. By the time we were within 50 yards of the elephants, the entire herd (about 60 of them) came out into the open and was feeding on both sides of the bund.

It has been a habit of mine when doing photography in the jungle, to turn around every now and then to find out what was happening behind. This practice had prevented many a sticky situation for me. But on this day, fascinated by two young elephants playfully fighting, and another young one rubbing her giant bottom on the bund trying to get at an itchy point with an irritated look on her face, I entirely forgot about the rear. It was then that I thought I heard the familiar ‘flop’ of an elephant’s ear flapping behind us. I turned round slowly and looked down at the bund.

For 250 yards the bund stretched away and there was nothing on it. In the hot afternoon it looked desolate and little whirls of dust rose from it, like tiny ghosts rising from this dusty path to dissolve in the wispy breeze.

I could see the lodge far away and the figures of my two friends that seemed to float in the heat waves that raced across the wewa, as they stood on the rock in front of the lodge.

The only other signs of life were a few grey langurs that sat on the branches of a large tree that grew just below the bund. I turned back to the herd and was just beginning to enjoy the scene when I heard my name being called in a loud and clear voice, which was Mervyn’s. It was one short shout, but I noticed the tone of urgency in it. I whipped around, and there, barely 20 yards behind us, on the bund stood ‘jumbo’. He was a magnificent beast, a very large bull.

Sam’s bravery

He was looking our way, with his trunk half lifted and its prehensile tip drawing little designs in the air. His ears were outstretched. For a moment time seemed to stand still, and in the deadly silence, I could hear the drumming in my chest like the beat of an engine. The breeze caressed the nape of my neck and sent a chill down my spine, while my knees were feeling weak. After my initial shock, I whispered to Sam, who was still watching the herd, that there was an elephant behind us. In a moment he gathered the situation and making a gesture with his hand, he wanted me to follow him.

Watching Sam walk towards the bull with an air of confidence and absolutely no outward sign of fear took away that feeling of helplessness from me, yet it was with leaden feet and a sweaty brow that I followed him. The bull stood still with his ears still out. His trunk was now lowered, but its tip was still curved slightly upwards. It was a grand sight. He looked intently at Sam with a quizzical expression on his face. Then a deep rumble came from that cavernous belly, and he gave a throaty growl that seemed to shake the very bund that we stood on.

Not for a moment did Sam falter but kept walking towards the elephant. Then an ear-splitting squeal rent the air and the elephant gave way. He turned around, yet with that air of dignity these beasts possess and slowly walked down the bund. Then turning round again at the edge of the jungle, he watched us. At this point no more than fifteen feet separated the bull from the bund. Sam, that brave man, stood on it and wanted me to get past him. My involuntary quick strides brought trumpeting from the bull. I turned round expecting him to be coming after me, but Sam was behind me with a wide grin on his face.

It was with a sense of relief, now that our path of retreat to the lodge was once again clear, that we sat on the bund and waited for the bull to come out. Within minutes he obliged by coming on to the bund and walking towards the herd. He then got into the wewa and started to feed on the luscious grass. I noted then that I was thirsty, and once again looked into Sam’s grinning face. He then said, “Sir, your beer must be getting warm”.

Mock fight

There was another incident that was pleasing to watch as long as it lasted and then left delightful memories after it was over. Just after a 20-minute shower of rain that left as suddenly as it came and made the evening damp but sunny, two young bulls came on to the bund and started pushing each other and banging foreheads in a playful wrestling bout. This went on for some time till they got down from the bund and entered the jungle from where we could hear them. The din however was getting closer and we waited expectantly.

They broke cover just in front of the lodge, bursting out of the undergrowth, with one bull chasing after the other. The first one in a hurry did not notice the large pool in front of him, just below the anicut. Before he could stop himself his forelegs crumbled, and as if in slow motion, slithered head over heels into the water. He was up in a flash and stood watching his companion at the edge of the pool with a bewildered, almost human, expression on his face.

Largest herd

The climax of our stay at Lahugala came in the morning before we left. The enthusiastic voice of Mervyn woke me up, and was almost pleading with me to get up as I loathed to leave the comfort of my cozy camp bed and face the morning chill in order to see what he was looking at. When I responded I saw, right across the wewa, almost stretching across our entire field of vision, the largest gathering of elephants I had seen till then.

We gave up our count at 200, as the centre section of the herd had already started making their way into the jungle. By 8 am they were all back in the forest. Once the elephants had gone, an indescribable feeling of loneliness and desolation pervaded the place.

These incidents took place in 1974 and at that time Lahugala was not declared a national park. The lodge was leased from the Department of Irrigation and run by Wildlife and Nature Protection Society for its members. It was handed over to the Department of Wildlife once the place was declared a national park. Visitors were then not allowed to walk along the bund.

However, in the 1980’s when I was Honorary Secretary of the Society and consultant and adviser to the then Director of Wildlife, I had the privilege of traversing the bund, when I had some excellent experiences with elephants. I also had some exciting footage from the bund when filming for national television.

In 1974, when I did not have much experience in the wilds, the incident on the bund as related here, was terrifying. In the 1980’s, when I worked extensively in the field in an honorary capacity for the Director of Wildlife, I had more nerve-racking experiences, but I still consider the incident on the bund a ‘sticky moment’.

Chandima Karunaratne and Mervyn Gunasekera made many more jungle trips with me and shared many an exciting event. Sadly in 1996 Mervyn passed away. Though no longer with us, his memory, like that of the herd at Lahugala, will always remain with us. The bungalow keeper Samuel was employed by the Society, and when the bungalow was handed over to the Department of Wildlife, he left the Society and I have completely lost contact with him.

(To be continued)

(Excerpted from Jungle Journeys in Sri Lanka edited by C.G. Uragoda)

Captivating new TV series searches for Drive to Survive impact on surfing

Make or Break’s behind-the-scenes look at the World Surf League engages fans and non-fans alike even if some hard questions remain ignored

Seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore features in the new Apple TV+ series Make or Break. Photograph: Tony Heff/Apple TV

There is a moment early in the first episode of Make or Break, a new series from Apple TV+ about the World Surf League, when Tyler Wright neatly encapsulates the tension at the heart of professional surfing. “We come from a sport of, ‘aww we’re hippies’,” says the Australian surfer, a two-time WSL champion. “We’re not. We’re competitive little assholes.”

Surfing has long grappled with this bipolar identity; a sport initially beloved by the counter-culture movement that grew popular, some would say too popular, on the back of booming commercial and competitive success. Make or Break, an entertaining seven-part series, is the latest attempt by the surfing elite to capitalize on its popularity. Given the show has already been renewed for a second season – before it even went to air – they will most likely succeed.

It seems that no high-performance sport can flourish in the modern era without its own behind-the-scenes show on one or other of the rapidly-multiplying streaming platforms. Drive to Survive, the Netflix hit about Formula One, is perhaps the best example – now into its fourth season, the show has expanded the ranks of motorsport fans, including in the lucrative American market. Even before Drive to Survive, English football teams and US sporting franchises were experimenting with access-all-areas docu-series.

The success of these shows has sparked a content gold rush. In recent months, Drive to Survive equivalents have been announced for tennis, golf and the Tour de France. Surfing is already on the wave, with this new series developed by Drive to Survive producers James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin (the former is also known for his sporting classics Senna and Maradona).

Make or Break is captivating television. Professional surfing is a director’s dream – the WSL sends a small crew of male and female surfers around the world to compete at idyllic surfing locations. The editors have made liberal use of high-definition competition footage, as surfers charge heavy barrels and pull off gravity-defying aerial maneuvers against beautiful coastal backdrops. There is eye-candy galore.

But the show’s real triumph is its ability to engage surfing fans and non-fans alike with well-told stories. Make or Break gently explains and explores the complexity of professional surfing in a manner that makes it accessible for non-surfers, without alienating long-time WSL watchers. The show is unafraid to explore the gritty reality of life on tour, with heartfelt and revealing interviews.

“I’m tired to be on the road – I just want to be home,” admits an emotional Filipe Toledo. Another episode charts the challenges faced by the rookies, who live a precarious existence seeking to consolidate their WSL ranking and bank balance. “It’s only once you get results on the tour that you start earning the bucks,” says one. (Professional surfing is a top-heavy sport – the big stars sign million-dollar endorsement deals, while a few bad results can spell competitive and financial doom for others). Now-retired Australian surfing icon Mick Fanning, presented as some kind of wise owl of the surfing world, adds moments of levity throughout the series.

Drive to Survive has been criticised for glossing over Formula One’s shortcomings – its history of sportswashing, gender inequality and significant climate impact. Given Make or Break was produced in partnership with the WSL, it is surprising that the first season engages more fully with some of surfing’s own pitfalls. The first episode is particularly gripping, as the WSL confronts a longstanding inequality that has historically seen the women compete at Maui, while the men surfed at the more consequential and iconic Pipeline, on the Hawaiian leg of the tour.

“Surfing is sexist,” says a no-nonsense Wright. But a shark attack at Maui during last season’s event saw the women forced to finish the event at Pipeline, a famously-heavy wave. “It would be a moment in women’s surfing history … but at the same time, farrkkk it’s Pipe,” laughs Wright while weighing up the switch (she ultimately won the event). Pipeline now permanently hosts both the men’s and women’s competition, a positive development – albeit the sport’s lingering gender inequality remains evident in Make or Break, which focuses disproportionately on the men’s competition across the series.

Jack Robinson walks along the beach in one of Make or Break’s stunning surf locations.

Jack Robinson walks along the beach in one of Make or Break’s stunning surf locations. Photograph: Tony Heff/Apple TVAdvertisement

Make or Break may well elevate surfing to new heights. The sport’s inclusion in the Olympics last year was another step towards the mainstream; Wright’s brother, Owen, won bronze for Australia. By humanising the world’s best surfers (the frequent expletives suggest unfiltered footage), and accessibly explaining the sport’s vagaries, Make or Break will attract a wider audience to the WSL, just as Drive to Survive has done for Formula One. From the WSL’s perspective, the partnership will likely prove a shrewd commercial decision. In the new sporting era, content is king.

But it does leave a wider question unanswered – at what cost? What does commercial success and greater popular recognition, propelled by a new international TV series released by one of the world’s biggest technology companies, mean for the soul of surfing? Is the sport’s growing mass-appeal an unalloyed positive?

Midway through Make or Break, the WSL season heads to inland California, for an event at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch, a wave pool. This artificial competition setting is depicted as a pure test of surfing ability. “There’s nowhere to hide,” says one observer of the format, in which surfers compete individually on identical waves, ranked against the whole field, rather than in heat-by-heat contests subject to the whims of the ocean. Left unremarked is the profound philosophical shift prompted by wave pool surfing for a sport and past-time founded on a deep, even spiritual connection to the sea.

It may be too much to expect a glossy streaming series to explore such existential questions. The evolution of the sport, from its hippy roots to wave-pool competition broadcast around the globe, continues unabated. Make or Break will only give this trend greater momentum. But, at the very least, it is compelling viewing.

Make or Break premieres on 29 April on Apple TV+

Israeli film crew in SL to shoot ‘Arugam Bay’

Visiting Israeli film crew at Bandaranaike International Airport with Frames TV & Film Productions and Sri Lanka Tourism officials

  • Feature film is expected to be screened in Israel and over 50 countries across Europe  
  • UCM, Sri Lanka Tourism and Frames TV & Film Productions to co-produce film
  • SLTPB says project is a great opportunity to promote destination SL and mitigate ‘current negative publicity’ towards country

Israeli film production house United Channel Movies (UCM) is currently in Sri Lanka to shoot its latest feature film ‘Arugam Bay’ in the eastern region of the island nation.  

The filming will start on May 3 and is expected to wrap up by May 22, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) said in a statement to the media yesterday.

The main filming will be taking place in Arugam Bay, Colombo as well as in Tel Aviv – Israel.  This film is expected to be screened in Israel and over 50 countries across Europe.

“I have been travelling to Sri Lanka for over 15 years and it is like a second home to me. The current situation facing Sri Lanka did not stop my return to the island and undertaking this film.  We are happy to be back in Sri Lanka and I’m confident this film ‘Arugam Bay’ will gain greater success,” said Film Director Marco Camal while sharing his thoughts on filming in Sri Lanka.

While creating a greater promotion for the destination of Sri Lanka as well as the Eastern province as an unforgettable beach destination, with many adventure and leisure activities, the SLTPB said the Arugam Bay project expects to generate foreign revenue for the country’s economy. 

The statement highlighted that the project is a great opportunity for Sri Lankan international film industry as well as for the inbound film tourism industry.  

The film is about a young Israeli group travelling to Sri Lanka for surfing and life experiences. The film will also highlight the warm hospitality of Sri Lankan and the genuine love and care offered to foreigners in general, the SLTPB said.

Sri Lanka-based international film production company Frames TV & Film Productions will be joining hands with UCM Productions, Israel Film Commission and Sri Lanka Tourism to produce the film.

Sri Lanka Tourism and the partnering organisations expressed confidence in the popularity generated via this film helping to mitigate the ‘current negative publicity’ towards Sri Lanka and inspire more international productions to select the island nation as the most preferred tropical film destination. 

The SLTPB said it supported the destination promotional film production as part of the ongoing International Film Tourism Promotions and expects to further promote the island as one of the leading film location destinations in South Asia.

After the elephant charge, exploring the parks around Arugam Bay

by Dianthi S. U. Wijeratne

(Continued from last week)

The following morning looked gloomy with an overcast sky. The sounds of the birds were the same as on any other day. The river looked quite full. Most probably it had rained upstream, since the water looked like chocolate milk. Fortunately we had taken drinking water, which was used for cooking purposes. We had to be satisfied with the river water to wash ourselves. After a quick breakfast, the damage caused by the elephant was inspected. It was small wonder that nothing had happened to either engine. The mechanic who was brought from the village confirmed this, much to our relief.

It rained almost the entire day. It was miserable being in the campsite. In addition to all we had gone through, I found a garuda, which is a giant-sized centipede about six inches in length, crawling on our tent. It had rained so hard that some of the tents were falling apart as the earth to which they were tethered with spikes was soft and the roof of the tents was heavy with collected water. One tent was so full of water that certain personal belongings were floating inside. Even though it was miserable being at the campsite we had no choice but to wait till the police report regarding the accident was taken for insurance purposes.

The following day we decided to pack up and return home one day earlier. The police officers had told my husband that our vehicle had been about the twenty-fifth that had been damaged by elephants. We were later informed that the elephant, which damaged our vehicle, was being referred to as “Mitsubishi”, after the make of our pick-up.

After that fateful day I decided never to go to Wasgamuwa again, and none of us has been there since. Having nightmares about elephants chasing me is nothing new since that day. I doubt my ever wanting to go there again. With the experience we had, I personally think it would be a good idea for park officials to hand over flares to trackers to be used in an emergency.

National Parks around Arugam Bay

Having checked the maps for a couple of days and after consulting others, a decision was made to go to Arugam Bay through Tanamalwila. Though it was a longer route, the drive was supposed to be easier than via Belihul Oya. Seventeen of us, including three children, set off in three vehicles just before 3.30 am on our long journey on July 20, 2002. Traveling to these war-torn areas, which were out of bounds for 20 years, was made possible as a result of the on-going peace process.

On reaching Udawalawe we stopped at the causeway to watch a herd of elephants in the National Park grazing in the morning sun. Later on, as it became warmer, the herd gradually retreated into the jungle. Having broken journey and flexing our muscles at Udawalawe, we proceeded to our destination, of course breaking journey several times in between. There were people in our party who had never been to Arugam Bay all their lives. I was told that I had been to the place at a very young age but have no memories of it.


Eight miles before Potuvil is Lahugala National Park. I have visited the place as a child with my parents and brother. At the time I remember having stayed in the bungalow overlooking Lahugala tank. There were two rooms in the bungalow, one of which my elder brother and I shared. I also remember my brother waking me up early morning to show me elephants, which usually feed on beru grass. I was so sleepy that I found it difficult to keep my eyes open, but somehow managed to keep awake.

We were too scared to walk to the other room to wake our parents. We, therefore, kept an eye on the elephants, for which the tank was famous, till the sun came out. Lo and behold, was I not angry with my brother for having woken me up early and having kept me awake for so long, only to find that we had been staring at some huge rocks!

On our recent trip in July 2002, we learned that this bungalow had been demolished during the height of the war, with a few walls remaining. The rocks that were visible many years ago, were all covered with large trees that were growing around them. An army camp had been set up by the main road nearby. On our visit there were no barricades on the access road, but I am sure a couple of years ago no vehicles would have been allowed to pass the camp without permission, and hardly anyone would have dared to go that way either.

We were lucky to see quite a large herd of elephants in the far corner of Lahugala tank. At Kitulana tank, the other reservoir close by, we again managed to spot a few elephants feeding on the same type of grass.

By lunchtime we reached Arugam Bay which has been internationally selected as one of the best places in the world for wind surfing. There were quite a number of tourists who were surfing and it was a welcome sight after all these years of hardship and war. The view of the beach was really enticing, and a sea bath in the bay is a must.

Magul Maha Vihare

After lunch at the hotel, where we were served the largest prawns I have ever seen, we again visited Lahugala National Park. Having watched a few elephants at Lahugala, we visited the nearby Magul Maha Vihare. A Buddhist monk explained to us that this was the place where King Kavantissa had married Vihara Maha Devi. Its very name, magul implies a marriage. Apparently the princess had been floated alone in a boat at sea by her father, the king, at Kelaniya in order to safeguard his capital from the wrath of the gods.

The princess survived the trip. King Kavantissa had been informed that a princess was drifting round Kirinda near Yala. On hearing this the king had gone to a village and asked the villagers ko Kumari?, which meant, “where is the princess?” That village was hence referred to as Komari and the name has survived to this day. The king then went to Sangamankanda, which was the village next to Komari, whence he could access the beach. There he was told that the princess had drifted away and was in ara gamey, meaning “that village”. Hence the name Arugam was coined. Sangamankanda is only 10 miles away from Arugam Bay.

The monk also showed us the unique moonstone found there, which had a mahout etched on every other elephant. According to him there is no other moonstone in the country which shows a mahout on elephant back.

Likewise, he said that another unique factor was the stone border seen around the magul maduwa where the king and princess were married. Generally, such borders depict figures with large protruding abdomens, known as bahirawayas, but this one had a lion alternating with a punkalasa, which is a pot with coconut flowers. This is considered a sign of prosperity. The entire magul maduwa is of stone.

There is another place that carries the same name and the same legend that King Kavantissa was married there. It is situated on the track that runs from Yala to the temple at Situlpahuwa. Like the temple near Lahugala, this monument too is in thick jungle, where once we saw a large elephant feeding a few yards from the monastery.

However, this Magul Maha Vihare has no significant archaeological remains. There is a rock cave with a drip ledge above, which signifies an ancient monastery, the refuge of monks who lived a spartan life led by meditation. The priest at the temple near Lahugala told us that his Magul Maha Vihare was the real one.

Kudimbigala hermitage

The next morning we set off through Panama to Kumana, which is about 23 miles away. There were vast paddy fields on either side of the road before and after crossing the bridge over Hada Oya. Then one enters the thick jungle. The route we took was a seasonal pilgrim path from Potuvil to Kataragama. The pilgrims cross Kumbukkan Oya at Kumana, and entering Block 2 of Ruhuna National Park, reach Kataragama during the season.

On the way, we visited the famous Kudimbigala hermitage. It was a fair climb to the top. On the way, in rock caves, there were a couple of small rooms known as kuti used by individual monks to meditate. There were ponds, dagabas, and a few other ruins to be seen. The monk who met us said that terrorists had blasted the library and destroyed all the books that were in it. The three dagabas on three different rocks had been broken into and treasures stolen by vandals within 100 days of the start of the peace process.

The same vandals had poured coconut oil, which had been kept there for pilgrims to light lamps with, on a limestone Buddha statue. This act of theirs had destroyed the appearance of the statue but not the faith. An unusual finding was the presence of a fresh water well on top of the mountain.

Hanging on a tree was a bell made of a hollow log. A strip of wood about two inches wide and three to four feet long, fashioned out of a hollow log, lay by the side of the path. While we were on top of the mountain with the priest, it was time for the monks’ lunch. One of the monks thumped a similar bell that was hung in a comer with a piece of wood in a slow motion and gradually increased the tempo, followed by a decreasing sound. This was an indication to the rest of the monks who were meditating that it was time for alms. That was also an indication for us to take our leave.


We passed Okanda Murugan temple. There were hundreds of devotees seen at this temple. They were cooking their own food in very large pots and pans.

We came across the famous Bagura plains near Kumana. It was a vast extent of land which had been famous for deer, but we did not have the pleasure of seeing a single. The drought was so severe that very little water was seen anywhere. In the party that accompanied me, only my father had been to Kumana before, and therefore only he knew what was where. Kumana was famous for birds, but we saw only a few of them.

The road was in a pretty poor condition, and this made the journey very tiring. We finally came to the former Kumana campsite. We were surprised to see two buildings namely a kovil or Hindu temple built on the bank of Kumbukkan Oya and a sales outlet nearby, which had not been there some years ago.

We traveled a little further down Kumbukkan Oya and had our lunch. The water in the river was stationary as in a lake, for its mouth (moya kata) had been blocked with sand due to the drought. It was a serene sight, with the thick jungle on either side and the blue sky reflected off the still waters.

One could just imagine how the campers of days gone by would have enjoyed their stay here. Of course, the water that remained was too stagnant for a bath, though it was most inviting to wash off one’s tiredness. After lunch we turned back to return to Arugam Bay. On the way at dusk we saw around ten jackals in a pack running back and forth across the road, probably looking for food. I managed to spot five elephants during the entire trip. My father informed me later that he had been to Kumana on several occasions, but he had never seen an elephant. I was quite pleased with myself on hearing this.

We noticed farmers burning logs on the side of the road near the paddy fields. These fields cover a large area and extend as far as the eye could see. I understand that a group of owners get together and light similar fires right round the paddy field in order to prevent elephants from destroying the crop.

I did a more recent trip to Kumana in the latter part of December 2002. While returning at night, I noticed a tusker feeding in a paddy field, while the house in which the owners lived was quite close by.

This was just outside Arugam Bay. When questioned why she did not chase away the elephant, the woman in the house mentioned that in that case the tusker would pull down her hut. Fortunately for her, the elephant was disturbed by our vehicles, and he jumped over the barbed wire fence and left the field.

(To be continued)


Exploring Gal Oya National Park and Yala after expansion


Published 1 day ago 

on 2022/04/24

by Dianthi S.U. Wijeratne

The following morning we left for Gal Oya from Arugam Bay through Siyambalanduwa. While traveling we saw Govinda Hela, a mountain which the British called Westminster Abbey. Further away was another mountain, known as Vadinagala, which was seen even from the campsite in Gal Oya National Park.

After a drive through scenic country, we arrived at Inginiyagala in the Gal Oya valley. Here we stopped to have a look at Senanayake Samudra. The meaning of Samudra is “sea”. It most probably would have looked like a sea had it been full of water. Unfortunately the water level was well below average due to the drought that was prevailing at the time. Most of the rocks at the bottom of the tank too were exposed.

I have seen pictures of myself as a small child going with my parents and brother in a launch on Senanayake Samudra. I have my doubts that this facility is still available considering the security factor. This has been the first reservoir to be built after independence by D.S.Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of the country.

The vegetation within the park was quite green unlike that in Yala, Udawalawe and Kumana. One reason for this greenery may be the availability of water in Senanayake Samudra, which is in the centre of the park. The place was quite damp and cool.

In all probability there was only one motorable road within the park and there were no bungalows. After a drive of about two miles, we reached the campsite. While we were relaxing at the campsite I spotted two elephants with two babies in the far distance. After a short while we proceeded to Ampara. The heat was unbearable as it was 38 degrees C. On the way to Akkaraipattu we visited Deegavapiya Chaitya, which is said to have been built by King Saddhatissa 400 years after Lord Buddha’s demise.

In Sri Lanka there are supposed to be six medicinal troughs (beheth oruwa). A cavity in the shape of a human being is carved out of one piece of solid rock. In ancient times this cavity was filled with medicinal fluids, such as oils, milk and herbal mixtures, and the patient was immersed in it. One of the oldest medicinal troughs had been found in Deegavapiya.

My father was very keen on seeing it, but what we saw was something we never expected. It was lying as a heap of broken stone fragments in a corner of the temple. According to the chief monk, this trough was located about a quarter mile from the temple, and he had decided to relocate it in the museum at the temple premises. He had been in the process of getting ready to have it transported, when this historical piece of artwork had been blasted into several pieces with the use of explosives by some persons, whose identity was known to him.

We came back to Arugam Bay via Akkaraipattu, and on the way we passed through Sinharamuthuvaran, where a very attractive cadjan-roofed resthouse once stood, as well as Komari of Kavantissa fame. We returned to Colombo the next day.

Yala Block two

Block two of the Ruhuna National Park, which was seen across Kumbukkan Oya at Kumana, could be entered from Yala. I remember travelling this way in May 1992. When our Land Rover was being taken across Menik Ganga at Nana Thotupola, the vehicle stalled in the middle of the river due to its wheels getting stuck in the sand. Every effort was made to pull it out the vehicle with the help of the accompanying four-wheel drive pick-up,’ as well as that of about 25 men who were bathing in the river at the time, but to no avail.

Finally success was achieved with the help of the Land Rover’s winch, which was hooked on to the back of the stationary pick-up. Having thus entered Block two, we then proceeded a short distance till we came to Katupila Ara, which too had to be forded. I remember my brother-in-law wading across to check the path the vehicles should take.

Having safely crossed over, we came across a small water-hole where we saw a remarkable sight which was never before witnessed by any of us present. Though there were people in the party who were highly experienced in the ways of the jungle, this sight was unique to them too. There were over a hundred crocodiles of all sizes sun bathing all round the water-hole. They all crawled hurriedly into the water on the approach of the vehicle, and there was not even a ripple on the surface of the water to show that there were so many crocodiles in that small water-hole.

If a small animal, such as a deer, ventured there for a sip of water it would no doubt have been an easy prey. Having witnessed this scene, we realized that my brother-in-law had faced much danger from crocodiles in wading across Katupila Ara.

Further on, we came to Pottana where we saw a fresh water well built with masonry. It was an unusual sight in a jungle without human habitation. My father told us that it was a well that was built for the use of pilgrims on their way to Kataragama from Potuvil. This has been the path where a man-eating leopard had been lying in wait many years ago to attack sick and decrepit pilgrims.

In 2002 we repeated the trip. The water level in Menik Ganga was quite low and it was smooth sailing for the three pick-ups to cross over to the other side. On this occasion no one dared to test Katupila Ara before the vehicles crossed. The water was almost up to the bonnets and the windscreens did get washed in the process. We saw a huge bull elephant and a lot of buffalo grazing not too far from us. The road to Pottana was really bad. At a certain point I thought that each vehicle would topple on to its side.

Pottana Pitiya was a vast dry plain with thin vegetation. Beyond this was the lagoon and then the sea. We met a couple of visitors with a tracker cooking their lunch near the sea. They were kind enough to offer us some fried prawns as a snack. Unlike on the previous occasion we did not come across the small water-holes or the well of fresh water. Most probably we would have taken a parallel route.

On our return journey, we found that the water level in Katupila Ara was higher than in the morning. We crossed it with difficulty, the engine just escaping being flooded by the depth of water. On the other side of the Ara, we found a jeep which had been immobilized by water getting into the engine.

They had brought a mechanic from Tissamaharama to repair it. It was quite late in the evening and there was no sign of getting the engine started. Later we heard that the jeep had been towed the next morning for a major repair.

It was late in the evening when we reached Menik Ganga. We were so glad to see Block two after a lapse of 10 years.

In February 2004, while camping at Yala, we once again entered Block two. Proceeding northwards, we forded Katupila Ara, Pottana Ara and finally the broad Kumbukkan Oya, to reach Kumana. After visiting Kumana villu, we returned to Yala the same evening. It was a memorable journey, having passed through perhaps the most extensive plains I have seen.

Yala Blocks three, four and five

The North Intermediate Zone was absorbed into the Ruhuna National Park. This step was taken when the government in 1964 banned the issue of licenses to shoot animals, thereby making the presence of Intermediate Zones where shooting was allowed, meaningless. This annexure was divided into Blocks three, four and five. The Department of Wildlife Conservation built a bungalow in Dambakotte in Block four, which was reached by travelling along the Buttala – Kataragama highway.

We left Colombo on December 21, 1996 and reached Dambakotte bungalow, where we were to stay three nights. The bungalow, which was about a kilometre from the road, was surrounded by tall jungle trees, while underneath them was a carpet of beautiful grass which was of a special green. About a kilometre further into the jungle was a tank, which we visited several times during our stay, but failed to see any significant wildlife except several varieties of water birds.

This area was said to be rich in bear population though we did not see any. However, we heard the loud mating call of a bear quite close to the bungalow at about 11 o’clock in the night. The noise faded away into the distance in a few minutes.

Block 3

We traveled to Galge, which was about five km from Dambakotte. About 200 yards away from the quarters and offices of the Department of Wildlife Conservation was an extensive slab of rock where there was a large natural water-hole or kema, which probably never ran dry during the drought. The employees used to draw their regular supply of water from this water-hole. On our way to this water-hole, a large wild boar accompanied us, and we thought it was a pet of the men working there. Little did we realize the danger we were in till we were told that it had attacked a police inspector a few days earlier and he was still being treated in hospital at the time.

The water-hole had caved into the rock sideways to form a very large cavity, while the opening into the exterior remained comparatively small. By these means only a small area of water was exposed to the sun, thereby reducing the amount of water that would evaporate. This contrivance probably accounted for the failure of the drought to dry the water-hole.

The impressive Ireson tower stood on a rock some distance from the water-hole. We reached it by shuffling along the narrow stony ledge of the water-hole with difficulty. This tower was an outstanding memorial to J P Ireson, who died of diarrhoea in 1922 at Monaragala, where he was planting. He was president of the Wildlife Society at the time, and it built this memorial to him at Galge, which could only be reached on foot or horseback at the time.

Ireson was an inveterate hunter, who used to come down frequently from Monaragala to hunt around Galge, which therefore was selected as the site for the memorial. However, on questioning the average man there, the answer would invariably be that it was a monument to an Englishman killed by an elephant at that spot.

From Galge we went through thick jungle, along the only available jeep track in Block three. In view of the many obstacles that greeted us, this track had not been used for a long time. We reached a large rock known as Paskema (five water-holes). Its surface had several water-holes of different sizes, some with beautiful lotus flowers, but it probably received its name from the fact that there were five significant water-holes in it. On climbing the rock we could see the jungle far and wide, the trees being festooned with flowers, young leaves turning crimson and woody creepers hanging heavily on branches.


Continuing the journey, we came to Malwariweva which was a tank that had been renovated a short time earlier. We walked along the bund and saw pits on it which were produced by elephants whose feet had sunken into the earth as they descended into the water.

Further on, we came to Malwarikema that had, as its name implied, a water-hole which appeared beautiful with blossoming lotus. This was apparently an old monastic site. An unusual finding on it was the presence of two cone-shaped pits, several yards apart from each other. Each measured about eight inches in diameter and six inches in depth, and they were exactly circular and the walls perfectly smooth. The tracker who accompanied us explained that they were pits in which treasures were hidden in the olden days, and that treasure hunters had raided them and removed the contents.

It was difficult to believe this story. The pits were not large enough to hide such treasures, and it was unlikely that rainwater would be prevented from seeping in. It is a moot point how treasure hunters would have located them once the contents had been sealed off by the owners centuries ago.

Block five

The Buttala – Kataragama highway does not exactly follow the old jeep track, as it deviated about a hundred yards at certain points. The jungle that lies between this highway and the Menik Ganga is Block five. We had a bath in the river at a place at which two tributaries joined to form the main river. This was the point at which the elephants from Handapangala crossed the river when they were driven into Block four by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The wisdom of this man oeuvre is open to question, for several elephants died subsequently.

Indikolaweva was a tank in Block five which had been recently renovated. On the bund was an elongated piece of dung, which the tracker identified as that of a crocodile. He mentioned that it was rather poisonous to the skin, for blisters may form when trod on. On the other side of the long bund, we saw an elephant, while a tall tree nearby was crowded with hornbills. We did not see any other animals of significance, and this was true of all these Blocks. One reason for this scarcity of animals was probably the presence of tall jungle trees in the areas we visited.


(Excerpted from Jungle Journeys in Sri Lanka edited by CG Uragoda)

Top surfing spots … best waves …


Sri Lanka is one of the up-and-coming surf gems of South Asia. Everything from crumbly beginner breaks to rippable points is on the menu, and there are tangy eggplant curries and mist-shrouded tea fields to get stuck into when you’re finished.

With one coast facing the open Indian Ocean and the other peering into the Bay of Bengal, Sri Lanka has a seriously enviable location for hitting the waves. Both sides of the island work at different times of the year – the southwest in the winter, the east in the summer. On top of that, the vibe is mega chilled, with reggae-surf bars dotting the shorelines and boho surf camps welcoming all levels.

Wondering where to surf in Sri Lanka? Look no further than this guide, which scours both halves of the Teardrop for the eight top spots.

(Extract. AbaY relevant ) :

Arugam Bay: the place to surf from May to October

Arugam Bay is the surf town of choice during the south-western monsoon. That brings rough ocean currents and loads of rain to pretty much all the other places on this list between May and October. All the while, the east coast of the island where A-Bay – as it’s come to be known – makes its home gets blessed by regular groundswells and sun-filled days.

There’s a whole string of breaks on the menu here. Closest to the town, the right-hander of Main Point is a cruisy ride of up to 150m (492ft) on the best days. To the south, there’s Peanut Farm, the beginner’s choice, followed by the punchy points of Okanda for the pros.

Arugam Bay has developed into a pretty hefty resort town in the last couple of decades. The road behind the beach is now riddled with curry houses and beer bars, which can become pretty lively in the peak of the summer. SAFA Surf Camp is probably the best-known tuition provider, with packages for all levels.

Getting to Arugam Bay: A taxi from the airport to Arugam Bay takes about 5 hours and costs about 18,000-25,000?
Air con Bus Colombo to AbaY:
Rs./ 2,000


surfing is suitable for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is gifted with some of the best beaches in Asia as well as in the world that is wholesome in every aspect to name as great. It is also the reason that Sri Lanka has become one of the major travelling destinations for foreigners who are seeking to get some sunshine basking on a beautiful beach.

As a result more and more visitors are flowing to these Sri Lankan shores every year and many of them are surfers. The attraction and arrival of these foreign surfing communities are one of the main reasons behind owning a growing surf culture in Sri Lanka. The major reason for the success of the industry is the specific beaches that Sri Lanka has which are extremely suitable and popular as surfing destinations across the globe like Arugam Bay, Weligama, Hikkaduwa and Mirissa. Having more beautiful geological, archaeological and natural surroundings across the country also has been an extra benefit for Sri Lanka when we talk about tourist attractions to the island nation.

The next reason behind the success is the excitement created around the topic of surfing recently and which has been influential to create a buzz among the foreign crowd and locals. The establishment of the Surf Federation and the launch of the National surfing contest and some government involvements also have been the major reasons behind this success.

Although the private sector has not paid much attention to surfing, Red Bull fired the first shot through their Red Bull Ride My Wave. The Red Bull energy drink company has come as light in a tunnel that barely gets light and the Red Bull company is making a tremendous effort to increase the level of quality and make surfing in Sri Lanka more enjoyable and competitive. For the last six seasons Red Bull has proved that the event is successful and its importance for the sport to move forward and that is one of the major reasons that upheld the success in the sport in the country.

Sri Lanka is blessed with pristine beaches and perfect conditions in the ocean to create waves. Sri Lanka is more popular for its small wave surfing and this is great to attract every level of surfers from starter in the sport to the pros. The Southwest of Sri Lanka offers mellow beach breaks that create the vibe suitable for beginners like Weligama and Dewata. These small waves are pretty easy to manage and safe to ride for beginners and one of the best places to start as a surfer. This reason has been helpful to establish more surfing schools around the coastal line. Moreover surfers can surf Sri Lanka throughout the year depending on the time period of the year. The southwest season runs from November through to April while the northeast season runs from April to October.

The southwest of Sri Lanka also offers punchy A-Frame reef breaks such as the Hikkaduwa main reef, Kabalana The Rock and Madiha left. Surfing on the East coast, especially in Arugam Bay it is all about leg-burning long right-hand point breaks, every surfer’s dream. More experienced and fun-seeking people are flocking towards Arugam Bay every year and recently it was recognized as an international level surfing point where a lot of international fame has been floated towards.

The peak of Arugam Bay fame was acquired when the first international competition was organized in Arugam Bay in 2018. Annually the Sri Lankan national championship is also held in Arugam Bay and all these reasons are buckled up to bring fame and attraction from the international surfing community to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka set to come of age in surfing

Arugam Bay is getting ready.
For an awesome Surf Season!

Sri Lanka, known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is very much known for its versatile culture, customs and great range of spicy food as well for its shiny golden beaches. In the summer as well as in the winter Sri Lankan beaches are always filled with a humongous number of foreign visitors who come to encounter the hospitality of these astonishing shores.

Yet Sri Lanka was missing something in that its shores had to be picture perfect or simply missing surfing in a professional manner. But now eventually the sport has found its dimension in the country and all the materials are there to write down the success story of Sri Lankan surfing in the near future. First of all let’s have a flashback about the history of the sport in Sri Lanka.

Surfing was introduced to Sri Lanka around the 1960s where American surfer Rusty Miller and three of his friends made their mark on the shores of Ceylon for the first time when they went on a trip to surf on the west coast of the island.

Hikkaduwa hosted the first Sri Lankan surfing tournament in 1993. Channa Navaratne planned the event with the help of a group of Americans to exhibit local talent. Mambo, a local surfing legend from Hikkaduwa won the competition himself. But the sport found its feet properly only after the conclusion of the civil war in 2008. The absence of foreigners due to safety issues were a drawback while LTTE terror engulfed the beaches like Arugam Bay and Pasikudah created additional drawbacks and surfing was hidden behind the dark clouds in the 30 year long war.

But after Sri Lanka found the peace that it was looking for many years, surfing became an instant hit across the shores of this little island nation tailor-made for surfing and the air was clear for any person to access the sport freely. Arugam Bay, Hikkaduwa, and Weligama became the hot spots for the Sri Lankan surfing game right after the war was declared as officially over. Arugam Bay hosted the first major World Surf League qualification event. This made a major turnaround in surfing in Sri Lanka where more buzz was created in local communities as well as foreign communities about surfing in the island.

A much-needed accomplishment was achieved by the surfing community in Sri Lanka when the Sri Lankan Surf Federation was established in 2017 to encourage people to participate in this sport and the biggest achievement in the Sri Lankan surfing game was the National Surf Championship when its inaugural season was staged in 2018 and the winner going on to compete in the World Surf Games in Japan.

One of the proudest and foremost triumphs in the short history of Sri Lankan Surfing came in 2018 when the first Sri Lankan national team toured India where they finished second and third in the Cove-Long Point Surfing Championships in Chennai.

Three years later 2011 marked a proud moment when a first-ever Pro Surf League competition as part of the World Surf League took place that year at Arugam Bay. This marked the start of an era where the country was on the international stage for the first time and the locals were exposed to the possibilities of surfing as an international sport for the first time where in 2019 the second edition of the competition took place in what became the largest surfing event ever to be conducted in Sri Lanka called the So Sri Lankan Pro Surf Competition held as part of the World Surfing League Qualifying Series 3000 at Arugam Bay with a large number of international participants.

It’s a journey with a lot of ups and downs, but there is a long way to go. The surfing story of Sri Lanka is very promising with all the talent, attention and the awesome locations the country has that is tailor made for surfing.

The recent government involvement means there will be more backbone strength for the sport in the country and the sponsors are now sailing towards the national arena of Sri Lankan surfing. With all these positives it can be agreed that Sri Lanka is heading in the right direction to become a stronghold in the game of surfing.