Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery
Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery
Kosgoda is famous for its turtle hatchery – operated by the Wild Life Protection Society of Sri Lanka. It was established in 1981 to protect Sri Lanka’s turtles from extinction. The hatchery pays fishermen for eggs that they collect at night along the sandy beach. Visitors can see huge tanks filled with new born turtle hatchlings. After being fed, the baby turtles are taken to the sea and released when they are 2-4 days old, usually during the safer hours of darkness. Although October to April is the main laying season, some eggs can be found at Kosgoda throughout the year.
The beaches of Sri Lanka are the nesting grounds for five species of marine turtles. They are the Green Turtle, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill, the Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley. All 5 species have been recorded to nest along specific areas of Sri Lanka’s coast. Studies have indicated that beaches can be categorized in accordance with visitation by different species of turtles. For example Leatherbacks nest at Walawe Modera and Godawaya. Hawksbill nests at Bentota while Green Turtle nests at Rekawa and Kosgoda. Loggerheads nest at Welipatanwala. Olive Ridleys are the only species of turtle that nest everywhere.
There are 18 hatcheries found along the southern coastal line; of them, nine hatcheries are found in the district of Galle and one is found in the district of Hambantota (Darwin’s Cabana). According to statistics from 1996 to 1999, nearly a hundred thousand sea turtles were hatched and released to the sea from these hatcheries.
A growing interest is manifest in the field of turtles everywhere in the world. While an infinitesimal minority of carnivores are bent on destroying this disappearing breed of marine turtles for their flesh and shell, a preponderant majority of people in many countries are keen to protect them and provide them sanctuaries.
Marine turtles were roaming the oceans for about 190 million years. Among the many different varieties of this species only eight of these ancient reptiles are found living today.
The following five different species visit Sri Lanka beaches to nest:
- Induruwa: Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle and Leatherback Turtle;
- Kosgoda: Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and the three species found in Induruwa;
- Akurala: Green Turtle;
- Mavela: Green Turtle and Leatherback Turtle;
- Kahandamodara: Unknown species of turtles visit the area.
- Usangoda: Leatherback Turtle.
- Ambalantota: Green Turtle and Leatherback Turtle;
- Bundala: Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle and Hawksbill Turtle;
- Yala: Green Turtle, Leatherback Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle.
- Kandakuliya: In this area, thousands of Olive Ridley Turtles are found every year. So far no nesting has been found.
Regrettably a large number of visiting turtles are caught by local fishermen for flesh and shells, which is a lucrative market. All turtles and their products are fully protected in Sri Lanka under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, as well as by International Law. Anyone found guilty of committing this offence will be liable for a jail sentence and fines.
Turtles have lungs and must come to the surface to breathe every thirty minutes. When they are asleep their bodies do not need as much oxygen and they are therefore able to spend the entire night underwater. Turtles are known to migrate over long distances. A Leatherback Turtle tagged in French Guiana in South America was recovered in Ghana some 3,800 miles away. Marine turtles reach sexual maturity at thirty years and live to be over eighty years. To lay their eggs, adult females return to the beach on which they hatched. Sea turtles prefer quiet, dark, undisturbed places where they will be less vulnerable to predators. Between 80 and 120 eggs are laid in each nest. The eggs are white and about the same size and shape as a table tennis ball. A single female may nest up to five times in a season. The temperature of the nest during incubation determines the sex of the hatchings. When they hatch the young turtles make their way straight to sea and swim constantly for up to 2 days. This is known as the ‘juvenile frenzy’ and allows the young turtles to escape the predator-rich inshore waters. Every 1,000 eggs laid are believed to yield only one mature adult sea turtle.
If you want to see turtles visiting the South Western and South Eastern coastal villages you can do this at night from a distance with the aid of binoculars. Nesting turtles should not be disturbed and light disturbances should be minimised at night.
Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most famous architect, was a firm believer that a city house was convenient and allowed people to direct their own affairs with more efficiency; but it was a country home that preserved a person’s strength and restored his mind with literature and comfort.
As you view this garden retreat, so lovingly created over a span of fifty years, it is hard to appreciate just how much effort has gone into its creation.
The land in which the Lunuganga estate resides now has a long beautiful history. It was a Dutch cinnamon garden and then a British rubber estate. The area around Lunuganga is the wettest and most fertile region of the island. To the east of the estate, lies the mysterious Sinharaja Forest, which is the last surviving primeval rain forest in the country. The estate itself sits beside two low hills along the Dedduwa Lake, and as you look further down you can see the Indian Ocean splash over coral reefs. As you breath in the fresh air, you get a feeling of complete peace.
Lunuganga consists of the Entrance court, Glass house, Garden room, Gallery, Main house, Small house, Cinnamon hill house, Middle walk, Broad walk, Plain of jars and Cinnamon Hill.
Guided tours are offered everyday between 9 am. And 5 pm. The visitors can also enjoy a meal or tea on the terrace overlooking the Dedduwa Lake.
The Portuguese built a fort on the site of the original Buddhist temple at Kalutara. The Dutch took it over and later a British agent converted it into his residence during the colonial era. The modern temple, built in the 1960s, is located just south of the Kalutara Bridge and is the only dagoba (Buddhist shrine) in the world that is hollow. Inside, the cool, echoing walls are lined with a sequence of 74 murals depicting various scenes from the Buddhist Jataka (the legendary 550 previous births of the Buddha) tales.
The remainder of the temple buildings are situated in a compound on the other side of the road, featuring the unusual Bo Tree enclosures and Buddha shrines. It is a lively complex and a good place to watch the daily rituals of Sri Lankan Buddhism: offerings to Buddha images are made three times a day. Devotees place food and flowers in front of the images, lighting coconut-oil lamps, tying prayers written on scraps of cloth to one of the Bo trees or pouring water into conduits which run down to water the Bo tree’s roots. Outside, a series of donation boxes line the roadside. These are popular with local motorists, who frequently stop here to offer a few coins and say a prayer for a safe journey.
Gal Vihara Buddha Statue
Gal Vihara Buddha Statue
In the city of Karandeniya, the Gal Vihara Buddha Statue is located in the Galagoda Historical Shailatalarama Maha Viharaya. The statue was created during the Dambadeniya Era and is an astonishing thirty-five metres. Eyonis Esquire constructed the statue while the temple was created by King Dera Pathiraja.
Known also as Aluthgama Kande Vihara or Bentota Kande Vihara due to its proximity to both towns, this historic temple at Kaalawila is just a few kilometres from the Induruwa Beach resort. It is situated atop a hill, thus the name Kande Vihara (meaning temple on the hill). Thousands of devotees still flock to this temple, which was established in 1734, in search of mental and spiritual solace from the worries and troubles of daily life. The Kshethrarama Pirivena, founded by the famous monk, Ven, Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera in 1904, is also located within these sacred premises, and acts as a vital centre in Buddhist education in the country.
Close to the wilderness of the Sinharaja natural forest reserve is located the Kalugala Aranyaya, a Buddhist monastery perfect for peaceful meditation. For the monks in this monastery, meditation has become a daily ritual in their search for the path to nirvana. People from far and wide visit the monastery to make offerings to the monks. Founded in 1940 by a great philanthropist in the area, P. Samaradivakara Ralahamy, Kalugala has become a place of hope, showing the path to end suffering for monks and Buddhist devotees. The motor-able road is available only up to a small village called Gurulu Bedda in Badurelia Agalawatte. From Gurulu Bedda, travellers have to walk about an hour to reach Kalugala Aranyaya. The area is surrounded by spectacular scenery and involves crossing several waterways. As rain is common in the area, the foot paths can become waterlogged making the journey harder.
As you walk uphill you enter the wilderness of the Sinharaja forest. The sound of waterfalls breaks the silence. You can also spot exotic trees, insects and birds, and if you are lucky, giant squirrels jumping between branches. After climbing the mountain you arrive at the Kalugala Buddhist Monastery. At the entrance you will find the caretaker or the office of the monastery providing instructions to visitors. Some devotees visit the monastery regularly, and have been visiting it since their childhood. The monastery also offers accommodation for the devotees who comes there to prepare the alms for the monks and for that reason there is a small electricity generator to light up the kitchen. Other than that the monastery is illuminated by kerosene lamps at night. Almost all the Buddha statues at the monastery are hewn out of solid rock. The monks in the monastery have a strict time table – the daily meditation starts at 4.30 in the morning and can go on until 10.30 in the night.
Pahiyangala Caves lie in Yatagampitiya, a remote village about five km away from Bulathsinhala (40km along Piliyandala-Horana road), in the Kalutara District. Excavations have proved that these caves were inhabited by prehistoric cave men some 37,000 years ago. This cave is supposed to be the largest natural rock in Asia and this is also known to be the oldest pre-historic human settlement in Asia.
The cave lies 400 feet above sea level. At its entrance, the cave is 175 feet high and over 200 feet long. It is believed that 3,000 people can be easily accommodated in this cave. The natural tunnels running into the caves are now blocked and not accessible for safety reasons. The cave has been divided into four sections of which the left side cave is the largest. There is a deep pit dug out by the Archaeological Department for an excavation. In this pit archaeologists discovered five human skulls which were identified as 37,000 years old by carbon dating in USA. Some weapons made of stone and animal bones were also recovered during the excavation. It has been found that these were used to kill monkey, deer, porcupine and other animals. The cave men are also believed to have consumed acavus, a species of edible snail, and wild breadfruit.
Biologically, this cave dweller known as Pahiyangala Manawakaya (Pahiyangala Man) had a short vertebral structure, wide jaw bones , a large palette and big grinding teeth.
The name of the cave is derived from the name of the Chinese Mahayana Buddhist priest ” Fa- Hsien” who visited the cave in the 5th century. This Chinese scholar-bhikkhu was a tireless wanderer in strange lands. It is learnt that Fa-Hsien sailed with two friends Bhadantachariya and Buddhaghosa. The latter was a Pali scholar, commentator and author of Vissuddhi Magga (a classic manual of the Buddhist doctrine and meditation), and they sailed from the mouth of the Hooghli river in Calcutta to Sri Lanka in 411 CE.
Fa- Hsien obtained a copy of the Disciplines and Long Agamas when he visited Anuradhapura and from there he was determined to climb the Sacred Mountain “Sri Pada” and pay homage at the Buddha’s foot print. His pilgrimage to Sri Pada lasted several months because the route to the peak was through Bulathsinghala, Kalawana, Nivitigala, Ratnapura and Gileemale. On his journey, it is believed that he had lived several months in the Pahiyangala cave and a vessel which was supposed to have used by him was discovered during the excavations.
Later this cave has been converted into a Buddhist temple by a priest called Porogama. According to legend Ven. Porogama Thero had used a six foot Yakula which was similar to an iron crowbar. This iron crowbar is so heavy that even six people find it difficult to carry it. He is said to have used this to push aside the debris and soil that obstructed the entrance to the cave. He was also said to have been able to level the ground. The Yakula is now tied to the feet of the reclining 40 foot Buddha statue. Ven. Porogama Thero also constructed two colossal door frames for the Vihara which can be seen at the entrance.
Brief Garden, owned and landscaped by Bevis Bawa, is a wonderful little estate garden located along the south coast in Bentota. Bevis was a Sri Lankan architect and artist, along with his brother Geoffrey Bawa (the award winning architect who designed Sri Lanka’s House of Parliament). Initially the estate was a rubber plantation belonging to his mother. She bequeathed it to him after her death and he soon converted the rubber plantation into a legendary garden.
As you enter the illustrious garden through a tall, statue-capped gateway you will be surrounded by a thick bamboo hedge. Immediately you get the feeling of entering a private universe. The garden makes even the most serious adult want to run about in this wondrous playground. Filled with inviting nooks, alcoves and cloisters, the garden is an illusion to the eyes. Although it is not large in area, the hilltop, the pond and the stone steps make it seem grandiose and imposing.
The house itself is less illusive. The main gates open up to a large, bamboo-hedged circle which serves as a car park. The front door is set in the hedge itself and the house is quite invisible to the eye. The roof is concealed by magnificent white bougainvilleas.
Within the house the floors are bare cement. The walls and ceilings are plain and without ornament. There is an absence of softness yet there is an overwhelming sense of comfort which radiates from the works of art placed throughout the house. Much of it is Bevis’s own work and of these, the sculptures of beautifully proportioned male nudes are the most remarkable. The work of many other artists, Sri Lankan and otherwise, are displayed within the house as well.
Be sure to allocate time for an excursion to Brief Garden.