Things to do and places to visit in Bentota, Sri Lanka
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Things to do and places to visit in Bentota, Sri Lanka

Bentota river safari

As the Thumbelina Apartments are situated on the Bentota River (the third largest river in Sri Lanka), there is ample opportunity to go on a river boat safari. On a few hours trip you can see the famous mangroves of Bentota followed by an excursion to the 800 year old Wanawasala Buddhist temple. A whole day river cruise could include a visit to a village hideaway for special home-cooked rice and curry lunch, and perhaps even include a local wedding ceremony performance. Crocodiles are rare now but there are plenty of water monitors and river birds to be seen.
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Kande viharaya temple

Kande Viharaya in Aluthgama (next to Bentota) has the tallest sitting Buddha statue in the world at about 48m / 160ft in height. The building of the Kande Viharaya was initiated way back in 1734 by the Ven. Dedduwa Dhammananda Thero, an understudy of the most Ven. Weliwita Sri Saranankara Nayaka Thero. Thousands of devotees flock the holy grounds of the Kande Viharaya daily, seeking mental & spiritual relief from all the troubles & worries of day to day life. The tranquillity and serenity that the Kande Viharaya brings into your heart, mind, body & soul cannot be expressed or described with words. It has to be experienced firsthand.
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Beruwela fishing harbour

Beruwela is about 10 to 15 minutes by tuk tuk from Bentota. It is a large commercial fishing harbour. The best time to visit is in the very early morning about 7.00a.m. At this hour the fresh fish are available directly off the night fishing boats. You can't get any fresher than that!
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Sapugoda viharaya

During the reign king Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe of Kandy, Reverend Sapugoda Anandha Thero came to the Massalgoda area in Beruwala (about 10 minutes by tuk tuk from Serena Villa) and started building this temple. As a mark of respect for Sapugoda Ananda Thero this temple is named as Sapugoda Viharaya.  The image house with ancient paintings representing Kandiya Tredusing is a special construction. On the right side of the second storey there is a Makara Thorana with the Bodhi Sathwa in the images and on the very right is a Makara Thorana with the state symbol and the crown. Two figures of a lion can also be seen in the Thorana. Apart from these there is an old Vahalkada and a dilapidated Cabook wall.  Buddha stores of Kandyan style also can be seen in this temple.
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Benthara Galapatha raja maha vihara

Many of the rivers flowing through Sri Lanka have been named in Pali, as mentioned in our chronicles such as the Mahavamsa and Culavamsa. Among them is the Bentota Benthara River flowing through the Deep South. About 38 miles away from the Colombo-Galle-Matara highway, on the river is the Benthara Galapatha Raja Maha Vihara Temple. This ancient Buddhist temple is famous for the tooth relic of the 3rd disciple of Buddha that lies buries in the Stupa. This temple is believed to have been made in the 12th century; it however was destroyed by the Dutch in the 16th century and was subsequently rebuilt giving it a newer look. The arched doorway entrance to the Temple is made of 2 upright monolith carved pillars with another 2 pillars on the top and bottom of the doorway. Dating back to the 'Kandyan Period' (1590 to 1830), these pillars are elaborately carved with the 'Nari Latha' motifs. The Nari Latha is a mythical creeper originating in the Himalayas that when it blossoms, the flowers take the shape of dancing girls. The main temple building houses a number of brightly coloured statues and images. The sleeping Buddha is a long over 25 ft statue that is placed on the floor in sleep posture.
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Brief garden

This was once a rubber estate which was transformed into a magnificent garden by renowned landscape artist Bevis Bawa, the brother of Geoffrey Bawa. Geoffrey Bawa was a foremost architect and the visionary who is accountable for the new Parliament, Ruhunu University and Bentota Beach hotel. Bevis Bawa landscaped the five acre garden at Lunuganga in 1929, the famous features of this garden that attracts visitors to it includes alcoves, nooks, bowers and garden sculptures that are spread out throughout the massive land.
The gardens are surrounded by sprouts of bamboo and a gate, at the entrance of the gate there is a bell that has to be rung to gain permission to enter the gardens. The gardens are subdivided and landscaped according to varying themes including a Japanese water garden. Visitors could also step into the house where Bevis Bawa resided and enjoy the wooden antique Dutch furniture, wall hangings, sculptures and an assorted display of paintings.
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Toddy tapping

Toddy tap palm wine also called palm toddy or simply toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the Palmyra, and coconut palms. This drink is common in various parts of Asia and Africa, and goes by various names, such as "emu" and "oguro" in Nigeria, nsafufuo in Ghana, kallu in South India, tuak in North Sumatra, Indonesia, goribon (Rungus) in Sabah, Borneo, and tuba in the Philippines, Borneo and Mexico. Toddy is also consumed in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. It tastes a little like cider and is quite potent!
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Moonstone mine

Sri Lanka is famous for its precious gems and moonstones. Moonstones belong in the semi-precious category but are an important component of the gem business. Meetiyagoda, located between Ambalangoda and Hikkaduwa, is one of the few places where they are found in such high concentrations. It is believed by the villagers that this piece of land, around an acre in extent, is blessed by the moon. The moonstone is grey and feels cool and smooth to the touch when polished and has a glow like that of the moon. The finest are bluish in colour and there are quite a few of them in these mines. At Meetiyagoda, you can see or even go down into the deep, narrow shafts from which the stones are mined. The small visitor centre will provide information related to this stone while the large shop on the premises sells moonstones as well as other stones.
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Turtle conservation

The sea turtles project is one of the turtle hatcheries located along the southern coast, this hatchery is located 3 Km south of the Bentota bridge. These turtle hatcheries were constructed to rescue and protect turtle eggs because of the rapidly declining numbers of marine turtle in Sri Lankan shores. Marine turtle eggs are purchased from the fisherman and re-buried along the beach and left there for 48 days allowing the eggs ample time to hatch. Thereafter the baby turtles are collected from the beach and kept in tanks for 2-3 days, and released into the ocean to fend off for themselves. The few female turtles that survive will return to their natal shores after ten years to lay their own eggs.
Visitors to the hatchery could release baby turtles into the ocean at night; they could also take a glimpse at the two very rare albino turtles that are kept at the sea turtle project for research. This sea turtle conservation project is a site that should not be missed when one visits Bentota.
Marine turtles were roaming the oceans for about 190 million years. Among the many different variety of this species only eight of these ancient reptiles are found living today. Of the eight Sri Lanka is famous for five kinds of turtles who regularly visit the sandy beaches to nest in Sri Lanka's South Western and South Eastern beaches from Induruwa to Yala and Kandakuliya in the Puttalam district.
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Bullock carts

The bullock cart (also known as a bullock wagon or bullock team) is a common means of transportation used traditionally since ancient times in many parts of the world. They are still used today where modern vehicles are too expensive or the infrastructure does not favour them in Sri Lanka. Bullock comes from the old English for castrated male cattle.
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Brick-bake house

In Sri Lanka, many brick bake houses can still be seen in the villages which are fully powered by man power. We can take you to such places and show you the traditional methods used to make bricks.
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Rubber tapping

Rubber tapping is the process by which rubber is gathered. An incision is made in the bark of a rubber tree, which cuts through the latex vessels that flow between the bark and the cambium. The latex then drips into a vessel.
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Knochimle muslim mosque

This historical mosque in Beruwala was built on the premises where Sheikh Ashroph of Vethiuvam of Yemen was buried in 880 AD.  It was renovated by the British and gifted to Muslims who lived in the vicinity. The mosque, located on the beach on a top of an isolated rock, 30m high, extends over half of the premised and other part remains as landscaped gardens.
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Monday market

On Mondays the busy town of Aluthgama which is just across the bridge from Bentota transforms into a bustling market centred on the Matugama Road. There is a large vegetable market and many other items can be purchased at very cheap prices.
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Beruwela lighthouse

The Beruwela Lighthouse is located on an island. When you approach Beruwela, in the distance you can see the island and a small white steeple jutting through the trees. That is the lighthouse tower. Boat trips can be taken to the lighthouse.
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