The seaside town of Galle leaves one delighted as the waves playfully caress the shore. It’s just the place to have a wonderful time with one’s family.
Take a slice of Goa, add a hint of Mauritius, flavour it with Kerala and you get the splendid island of Sri Lanka. Coconut trees, beaches, temples, wildlife, forests, light houses, colonial buildings, as well as new age hotels and shopping — this country has something for everyone.
In the mood for some sun, sand and sea, we decide to head to the southern town of Galle. I don’t know what to expect of the place. All I know is that it was devastated by the 2004 tsunami.
The drive to Galle is picturesque with the sea on one side and greenery interspersed with houses on the other, except for a long stretch of land with remnants of houses destroyed by the ruthless waves.
A tall statue of Lord Buddha stands as a memory of those who lost their lives. Strangely enough, the very sea that was the cause for much woe steps up to cheer us up — the waves playfully caress the shore, little children prance about and the cool sea breeze pacifies.
En route to Galle, we stop at the Matara Star Fort. Built in the 1760s, the fort has a unique star shape. The moat around even has a lazy looking crocodile perched on a wedge of rock.
The next stop is the Dondra light house. I am a tad reluctant to visit the light house, but anyway head there, whining all the way. Like a battery-operated doll, I almost instantly stop complaining when I get off the vehicle. The place is breathtaking.
The azure sea laced with white foam, there is greenery all around, and amidst that stands the resplendent white lighthouse. Out come the cameras and wide grins as we pose against the lively backdrop.
Out tour guide has a tough time pulling us away from there. Every time he looks away and starts walking towards the vehicle, we stop to click more photographs. Once done, we pile into the vehicle gigging like school children.
Shortly, we reach Galle. “We are at the Galle Fort,” announces the tour guide, and looking at me adds: “Maam, please change your footwear to something comfortable as we have to walk a bit.” I promptly remove my stilettos and slip into my sneakers, and we are off.
Tales from the past
The Fort was built by the Portuguese. Overlooking the sea, the Galle cricket stadium and offering a marvellous view of the town, this makes for a good photo stop.
Earlier, the fort housed a prison, and even though it is not functional anymore, strange noises are said to be heard here at midnight.
On hearing that, I scream and move away from the prison gate where I had been pouting for the camera all this while.
We walk along the ramparts to the lighthouse, and after a few kilometres, we come across a typical Dutch road with Dutch-style houses on either side.
Nestled in that very road is a quaint house with tonnes of antiques. It’s a museum and the collection is the single-handed effort of Gaffer, a businessman. The collection includes lamps, vases, crockery and cutlery, artefacts collected from ship wrecks and what not!
By now, I am tired and just want to check into the hotel and plonk myself on the bed. After a half-hour drive, we reach The Fortress hotel. Stylishly seated on the beach, the huge white walls enclose lush lawns, a 75-metre swimming pool, boutiques, plush restaurants and exquisitely designed rooms. A friendly attender escorts me to my room.
I am given the Ocean View room that offers a fantastic view of the ocean and the pool, has high-vaulted ceiling, wooden flooring, a separate wash area done up in glass, a personal Jacuzzi, a hip couch, huge snug bed and more. Once he’s out, I slide into the Jacuzzi, sipping on Baileys, as the water works miracles on my tired muscles.
Next morning, the alarm goes off at 6. I want to wake up and walk along the beach and take in the sights and sounds, but the comfy bed doesn’t want to let go of me, almost like an over possessive mother. Finally, I manage to leave by 6.30. There’s a slight drizzle, adding to the charm of the place.
Fishermen on stilts sit patiently and wait for their catch, families and couples splash about in the waters and I take the opportunity to go for a swim in the fabulous pool. I truly am having a ball at Galle.