Thursday, September 20, 2012

Exploring Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988, the Galle Fort is an unique exposition of an urban ensemble that illustrates the interaction of European  architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

Galle Fort, Galle Cricket Stadium and the Indian Ocean - all in one view
This fort, located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka in the bay of Galle was first built by the Portuguese in 1588 before being extensively fortified by the Dutch in the mid 1600s. It is this heavy fortification that prevented the city of Galle from the massive Tsunami of 2004.

The picturesque Galle coastline
The Galle fort, one of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites is a great place for a relaxed walk. Such a walk will help you explore its rich history and interact with its multi-ethnic and multi-religious population.

A fisherman's boat docking at Galle's small beach
The famous Galle Fort walk spans from the Galle International Test Cricket stadium to the Indian Ocean coastline and around it. During this walk, you will come across many heritage monuments in the fort such as the Dutch reformed church, the old Dutch government house, the National Maritime Museum near the Old gate, residence of the commander, Great Warehouse built around 1669, the Meera mosque built in 1904, Buddhist temple built at the site of Portuguese Roman Catholic Church, the All Saints Anglican Church built in 1871 and the Clock tower dated 1707.

A small Buddhist temple inside Galle Fort
If you plan well, you can explore the  entire Galle Fort properly and without much effort or exertion. During early mornings and late evenings, you can explore the coastal side of the Galle Fort along with the fishermen’s colony and the brilliant sea views.

Colonial buildings nestled together at Galle Fort - a great deal of colonial history lies in them and for tourists to see
During the day when the sun is high, you can explore the museum, jewellery shops that showcase the famous Sri Lankan gems, the interior design shops, book stores, cafes and fashion outlets. The Amangalla hotel, which is the erstwhile Dutch Governor’s residence is also a great way to spend the day and the night.

The Galle coastline from the other side of the Galle FortIf you are adventurous enough to bear the heat and walk on the fort fringes during the day time, you will see a lot of land monitor lizards basking in the sun. This walk in the sultry weather will also ensure that you get to enjoy Tabili, the tender coconut water drink that is sold in small shops along the walking route.

Galle Fort's famous clock tower - it stopped when the tsunami struck here in 2004
After my recent experience at this fort, I would totally recommend exploring this fort and its historical buildings by foot. This would give you a nice archaic touch to the overall experience.

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