Galle District

Galle District bounded on the north by Bentara River, on the south and west by the Indian Ocean and on east by Matara and Ratnapura Districts. Galle was known as ‘Gimhathiththa’ (although Ibn Batuta in the 14th century refers to it as Qali) before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, When it was the main port on the island. The term ‘Galle’ is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese term meaning ‘‘port near the river Gin’’. It is believed that the town got its name as ‘Gaalla’ in the native tongue as a result of the large number of bullock carts that took shelter in the area, following the long slow journeys from remote areas of the island.
Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, during the Dutch colonial period. Galle is the best example of a fortified city built by the Portuguese in South and South East Asia, showing the interaction between Portuguese architectural styles and native traditions. The city was extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. The Galle fort is a world heritage site and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by the European occupiers. Other prominent landmarks in Galle include the city’s natural harbour, the National Maritime Museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and Amangalla, the historic luxury hotel. Natural geographical formations of the area include Rumassala in Unawatuna, a large mound-like hill that forms the eastern protective barrier to Galle Harbour. Local tradition associates this hill with some events of Ramayana, one of the great Hindu epics. The major river in the area is the Gin River (Gin Ganga), which begins from Gongala Kanda, passes villages such as Neluwa, Nagoda, Baddegama, Thelikada and Wakwella, and reaches the sea at Ginthota. The river is bridged at Wakella by the Wakwella Bridge. The climatic condition of Hiniduma Pattuwa is very similar to the central hill country of Sri Lanka.
This area consists of rainforest, which are catchments for most of the rivers and lakes in the Galle District. Sinharaja Forest Reserve is one of them. Other forest reserves in the area include the Kanneliya and Hiyare Forest Reserve. The Galle Dictrict lies in a temperate climatic zone and its annual rainfall in between 2000 & 2500mm. The Madhu Ganga (River) starts from Polathukanda and joins the sea at Balapitiya helping to maintain ecological balance in the area. Among many attraction, Galle plays a vital role in holding the ‘Galle Literary festival’ in the month of January each year attracting authors and literary enthusiasts around the world. The festival is one of the most anticipated literary events in South East Asia, celebrated in around the historic Dutch Galle Fort.

Galle City & Dutch Fort

The most important town on the South Coast, Galle comprises the old Dutch quarter- enclosed within the Fort – and sprawling New Town located outside the Fort’s walls. The fort forms the center-piece of the town as most tourists come to Galle to explore the extensive Colonial-era fortifications- a UNESCO World Heritage Site- and other Dutch-period relics. New town has a few attractions for visitors. Unlike the Dutch quarter, which was largely protected by the sturdy walls of the Fort, the new town was badly damaged by the 2004 tsunami. It has now been rebuilt, and an amble along its streets is a perfect way to enjoy the town’s atmosphere. The bus and train stations are located here, and there are also a number of shops and other amenities befitting a big town. The main street, with its colorful pavement shops, is the perfect place for an evening stroll. Cricket enthusiasts might want to visit the Galle International Cricket Stadium, next to the Fort’s Main Gate.
Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church was built in the 18th century by Commander Casparus de Jong to commemorate the birth of his daughter. Cruciform in shape with high, vaulted ceiling, the church is an imposing sight. Its pulpit is topped by a large, impressive canopy, and a balustraded staircase leads to organ loft. However, the most striking feature of the church is the ornate tombstones laid into the floor and adorning the walls, which were moved here from Dutch cemeteries. The memorials underline just now hard life on the island was for the early colonialists. More tombstones can be seen in the church’s grounds.
National Maritime Archaeology Museum
Housed in an Old Dutch warehouse, this large museum showcases miscellaneous marine artifacts. The visit begins with film screening that details the history of various shipwrecks, such as the HMS Hermes, off the East Coast of Sri Lanka. Items recovered from some of these sites are on display in the halls, and include maps, earthenware, beer mugs, smoking pipes and artillery guns. The beardman mug, excavated from the wreckage of the Dutch ship Avondster, is one such relic. In addition, the museum also covers other subjects related to the sea, such as the influence of shipping and foreign trade on Sri Lankan language, culture and history. The museum’s collection suffered extensive damage during the 2004 tsunami, and a number of artifacts were lost. In their place are some new exhibits that were found in the aftermath of the disaster, such as a wooden Buddha statue, believed to have been towed by the waves from an unknown location.

MADHU GANGA : Fish Therapy

Madu Ganga is a beautiful river that nestles alongside Whispering Waters in the southern coastal belt offering dozens of islets forested with mangroves. Apart from the land’s natural beauty, the history reveals that the Buddhist Amarapura Nikaya sect had its first Upasampada (higher ordination ceremony) on a fleet of boats anchored upon it in 1803. The travelers to the site have an opportunity to view Buddhist Kothduwa temple situated on an isolated island in the lake. Madu Ganga is considered as Sri Lanka’s second largest wetland consisting of 32 islands including two main islands providing shelter for 215 families.
The Madu Ganga is a shallow water body in south-west Sri Lanka, Which enters the sea at Balapitiya. Madu Ganga‘ together with the smaller Randombe Lake, connected by two narrow channels, forms the Madu Ganga wetland. Its estuary and the many mangrove islets on it constitute a complex coastal wetland ecosystem. The land has high ecological, biological and aesthetic significance, being the home to 302 species of plants of which 19 are endemic plants and to 230 species of vertebrate animals of which 20 are endemic species. Madu Ganga is possibly one of the last remaining tracts of pristine mangrove forests in Sri Lanka and the mangroves covers and extent of 52 hectares along the river.11 species of mangroves can be found in this area. The Madu Ganga Wetland was declared in the list of ‘Wetlands of International Importance’ in 2003, in the Ramsar Convention.
The main treasure of Madu Ganga is its mangroves that act as a bio-lock to the area in giving protection to the variety of aquatic plants and animal life. They provide a home for different kinds of aquatic plants, crabs, shrimps, fish, various invertebrates and other animal life including crocodiles. The area is a much favored destination for around 70 species of fish and 13 species of migratory birds. Madu Ganga boat tours provides travelers natural foot massages from hundreds of fish. The Madu Ganga boat rides are popular among local and foreign visitors to the area. This ride gives travelers several memorable experiences and this natural fish therapy is one of them. There are several fish spas located within Balapitiya, Madu Ganga. Many artificial cage ponds are built in the natural river forming the breeding grounds for doctor fish. Once the visitors get in to the floating stage of the boat and soak their feet inside, hundreds of fish gently nibble off the dead skin. Over the years, Madu Ganga has played an important role in providing food and shelter and of course providing easy access to the main land via small wooden boats. During the pre-colonization period Madu Ganga was used as one of the mainwater ways connecting cities and ancient Sinhala Kingdoms. The ancient Kothduwa temple is located in one of the islands of the Madu Ganga.
Activities : River boat safari, Sea Boat safari, Shrimp farm experiences, Fish therapy, Monkey activity experiences, Fauna and Flora sites, Cinnamon cultivation experiences.

Bentota & Water Sports

Bentota is a favorite with tourists seeking package resorts. However, there is a wide range of accommodation available in town, including guesthouses and high-end hotels and villas. The beach is attractive, especially at its southern end, where dense groves of palm trees rise behind the wide stretch of sand.
Water Sports in Bentota

The calm waters of the broad Bentota Ganga Lagoon are perfect for a gamut of thrilling activities year-round, making Bentota the de facto watersports capital of Sri Lanka. The area is popular among visitors, who come to enjoy windsurfing, kitesurfing, water-skiing and banana-boat rides on the river. In addition, angling enthusiasts can spend a rewarding day aboard a fishing boat as a variety of game fish including marling, barracuda and tuna thrive in the waters. Diving and snorkeling are also popular activities along the coast and can be enjoyed from November through to April before the monsoon arrives. Canoe Rock is among the most notable dive sites in Bentota, accessible to divers of all levels. With extensive colonies of beautiful coral and schools of brightly colored fish, this is a very large site that requires several dives to be explored fully. Equipment rental, lessons and package deals are all available at hotels, guesthouses and water sports centers in Bentota.

Water-skiing is among the most sought after activities on the Bentota Ganga, with both beginners as well as seasoned skiers guaranteed a great time.

Diving along the coast can make for a great experience. There are a number of dive schools that organize lessons for novices, and help them explore sites.

Banana boating on the lagoon is bound to elicit screams and shrieks of delight as the inflatable boat is towed at speed, with the driver navigating some sharp turns.

Deep-sea fishing boats spend around four hours out on the ocean casting for snapper and grouper fish. Anglers can take their catch back for dinner.

Windsurfing is popular in Bentota, with strong winds making for ideal conditions Beginners are encouraged to practice within the lagoon whereas the more experienced surfers can take to the ocean.

Activities : Water Sports, Diving, Snorkeling, Beach Games, Leisurely Stroll, Photography, Sightseeing


Back in the 1970s, Hikkaduwa was Sri Lanka’s bona fide hippie hangout. Today the town is firmly on the tourist trail – a typical beach destination for a budget holiday, which comprises lazing on the sand and soaking up the sun. Hikkaduwa is also popular with young, independent travelers who are drawn to the nightlife and surf. The area boasts four popular surf breaks; conditions for surfing are best from November to April. There is also a range of other activities that can be enjoyed here, such as diving, snorkeling, visiting the nearby turtle hatchery or taking a boat trip on Hikkaduwa Lagoon, situated just east of the town.
The Coral Sanctuary, at the northern end of the beach, has been an attraction for generations, and was declared a national park in 2002. Unfortunately, it has been a victim of the elements as well as of its own success. The coral reef was badly affected by bleaching in 1998 and was damaged further by debris from the 2004 tsunami. Over the years it has also been ravaged by pollution, dynamite fishing, harvesting of the coral for lime and by people walking on the reef. Although most of the coral is now dead, there are certain areas where it is beginning to recover. Visitors can observe the coral from a glass-bottomed boat trips are offered everywhere in Hikkaduwa but these are largely unregulated and the boats can damage if they bump against it. A better way to explore the reef is to go snorkeling. It is a delight to spot colorful tropical fish and the occasional turtle, but keep an eye out for the hordes of boats drifting on the water above.
To the north of Hikkaduwa, at Telwatta, there is an evocative Tsunami Museum. Photographs of the disaster and exhibits on the subsequent reconstruction efforts are on display here.
Although a lively town, Hikkaduwa bears signs of rife and unchecked development. An unbroken succession of shops, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses are sandwiched between the busy main road and the beach, which erosion has reduced to a narrow strip of sand. However, newer and relatively pristine tourist destinations, such as Wewala, Narigama, Thiranagama, and Dodanduwa, have cropped up south of the town. Things are quieter and more spread out in this places and it is possible to find restaurants and accommodation options to suit all budgets.
Diving in Hikkaduwa
One of Sri Lanka’s most popular dive destinations, Hikkaduwa has a good range of dive sites. Some, such as off Coral Gardens offer swim-through caves and valleys that can be explored. Tropical fish abound but the real reason go underwater is to see the red and orange coral. Diving the rock formations at Kirala Gala, about a mile offshore, can also be very rewarding with its stunning coral and an abundance of fish such as wrasse, anglefish, parrotfish and trigger fish. It is however a deep dive at 40 m (131 ft) and is only open to experienced divers. There are also a number of shipwrecks that can be explored, such as The Earl of Shaftesbury, a 19th century sailing ship and SS Conch, an oil tanker that sank in 1903. Diving conditions are best from November to May and there are plenty of dive schools to choose from.
Activities : Water Sports, Diving, Beach Games, Leisurely Stroll, Photography, Sightseeing

Unawatuna & around

The village of Unawatuna is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular resorts. There is a fine stretch of beach, although it has somewhat narrowed in places due to erosion and encroachment by local businesses. Numerous guesthouses dot the village, and restaurants, shops and tour operators abound. There are also street vendors trying to sell souvenirs or touts offering services such as taxis and guided tours.
Despite becoming increasingly commercialized, Unawatuna still attracts visitors with its laidback charm and year-round swimming. A semi-circular belt of sand, the beach is set in an attractive bay protected at both ends by a headland. The water here is calm for most of the year and there are a number of water sports on offer, including snorkeling and wreck-diving. Other interesting activities include cookery lessons and yoga classes. Unawatuna also offers a vibrant nightlife, although it can sometimes get very noisy; music blaring from bars at all hours of the night during high season is commonplace.
At the western end of the beach is a dagoba, from where there are some good views over the surroundings area. Another attraction is Rummassala, a rocky outcrop behind the village. Legend states that it is a fragment of the Himalayas dropped by the Hindu monkey god Hanuman as the made his way back to Lord Rama, carrying the herb needed to save his wounded brother, Lakshmana. Another bit of the mountain is said to have fallen on Ritigala. Higher up the Rumassala hillside is the modern, white Japanese peace pagodafrom where visitorscan enjoy the great views of the Galle Fort. The hill also known for the number of the rare plants and medicinal herbs that grown on it. On the other side of the hill is Jungle beach. Often largely, deserted, this is the good spot for snorkeling and can be a welcome relief from the busy main beach. Visitors can either hire a three-wheeler or walk the flatter, longer route around the hill to get to the beach.
Activities : Water Sports, Diving, Beach Games, Leisurely Stroll, Photography, Sightseeing

Hiyare Reserviour Rain Forest

Hiyare is a beautiful tropical rain forest, bordering the Hiyare Reservoir located approximately half an hour’s drive from Galle to Udugama. Hiyare is popularly referred to, as an extension of the kottawa kohombala Forest reserve a lush 600 acre land .hiyare reservoir located in the vicinity built by Mr.D.J. Wimalasurendra had been once a main source of water for the Galle town. Veritable paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, with pristine beauty and wealth of flora and fauna. SriLankan Green Pigeon, Ceylon Rose,Two-spotted Threadtail, Black Ruby Barb, Sri Lankan Green Pit Viper and the Sri Lankan purple-faced Leaf Monkey are some of the endemic species living in the rain forest. There are about 118 bird species which 3 are of endemic birds, 23 freshwater fish species of which 13 are endemic fish, 78 Butterfly species 55 dragonfly species , 34 reptile species , 18 amphibian species , 28 land snail species , and 29 Mammal species. Visitors have a rare opportunity to see Hog Deer-extremely wary and nocturnal deer. In addition a tropical tree farm is maintained at the location as an initiative for reforestation. A biodiversity breeding center for endangered spices and the animal rescue programme which provides immediate medical and surgical care for injured wildlife are unique experiences for the visitors of this rainforest. The regular sight of the ‘Heen Bovitiya’ (Osbeckia Octandra) flowers which is considered as the national flower of the southern province adds colour to these such green rain forest.
Activities : Low country tropical rain forest experience, Large man-made lake within its boundaries, Sri Lankan fauna and flora watching, photography, Endemic species watching.


Paramotoring is the latest addition to recreational sports activities in Sri Lanka. Initially started off in Benthota with the expectation of reaching out to Sigiria, Puttalam, Trincomalee and Kaluthara. A parachute & a 46 horse power engine is being used for paramotoring at Benthota beach. Travelers have the luxury of experiencing paragliding experience while soaring gracefully over the beautiful scenery below embracing fresh air during an approximate ride. The aircrafts are flown at a low altitude (1000 feet), at slow speed to ensure safety of the passengers showcasing the beauty of the country. Sri Lanka offers trained pilots to sit with the passenger to give the experience of a discovery flight. Travelers seeking adventure, have the option of riding paramotors by strapping the Motor onto back and experience the excitement of paramotoring. This sport is relatively risk free and is flown by qualified pilots adhering to international safety standards.
Activities : Diving and Snorkeling, Surfing, Motor Boat or Catamaran Ride, Bird watching on Koggala Lake (largest lake) in Sri Lanka.


Sri Lankan masks played an integral part in the ancient days as they were used for various requirements for healing rituals, comic plays, theater, dance and festivals. As these rituals of our ancestors are fast diminishing from our present society, these masks are now used for decorative purposes or kept as exhibits in private collections by both locals and foreigners. Ambalangoda a coastal town in the southern province is renowned for traditional mask carving and mask performances. Tukkawadu Gunadasa and his ancestors are identified as the pioneers of mask dancing in Ambalangoda. Mask carvings usually require a high amount of utmost care, diligence, skill and patience.
Masks are created for three different types of dancing rituals. ‘Kolam’, depicting mocking stories of traditional Sri Lankan colonial life ‘sanni’, or devil dancing masks, used in a type of exorcism ceremony to heal people of persisting illnesses believed to be inflicted by demons; and ‘Raksha’ masks, which are used in festivals and processions. The Naga Raksha (Cobra demon) mask of the ‘Raksha kolama’ (demon dance), consists of a ferocious face with bulging, popping & staring eyes, a bloodthirsty carnivorous tongue lolling out of wide mouth armoured and armed to the hilt with set of fang like teeth, all topped by a set of cobra hoods. The process begins when the tree trunk is chopped into small logs-generally into four, six or eight inch logs, depending on the size of the mask. The wooden logs are then kept for drying in the sun for a couple of days to take the sap out. The tools of the trade include cross cut saw, hand axe, chisel and paint brushes. At the beginning , the outline of the mask is drawn on the log using the hand axe. Afterwards they are kept on a stall by the fireplace for a few days for seasoning. This is important to keep the masks free of insect attacks.
Carving of the mask begins afterwards. Carving is done using the chisel. During the carving process the log is transformed into an intricate design by carver with various facial features and expressions to create the characters that come in folklore such as Nonchi akka and Lenchina, or the mask figures used for various healing rituals. Once this is done, the masks are kept in the sun for drying for a few days before smoothening its surface with sandpaper. After this point on, the artists who are specialised in colouring /drawing the masks, take over. They first apply a base paint on the mask – mostly a yellow shade before painting the masks using various other colours to suit different characters. Ears of the masks are made separately and these are attached to the masks at the end.
Sri Lanka Dream Tours organize various tour activities that includes folk dance & music program, local house visits, local market visits, dinner or lunch with a local family of the area and much more like this. These activities are organized as part of your tour program and gives real experience of India to any guest visiting India with us.