close at hand
The villages of rural Sri Lanka have changed little with time and most of the communities lead a simple and traditional life. While the main road from Galle to Colombo can be noisy and busy, only minutes away from the traffic, the landscape unfolds to reveal beautiful tropical sights of rice paddies and coconut islands as far as the eye can see. Time seems to slow and stand still.
There are many wonderful temples here on this blessed island. Twenty minutes' away from the Fort are Yatagala and Rhummasala. At the top of the 120 steps, the 1,200 year old Yatagala Temple is one of the oldest in the region, and is set in a beautiful valley of rice paddies and jungle hills. One of the most serene spots on the island, Yatagala is a rock temple with a beautiful image room, a 1,000 year old Bo tree and a wonderful meditation cave. Rhummasala is a brand new temple, built by the Japanese on the magical headland across the bay from the Fort. The location has breathtaking views back to Galle and the stupa is one of beautiful Zen simplicity on a huge scale. Visitors should remove their shoes before entering the temples. On a poya day (full moon) visitors can join the locals in their puja, offerings of fresh flower blooms and incense, in the late afternoon.
handunugoda tea plantation
Sri Lanka is renowned for its tea, and 25 minutes south of Galle is the Handunugoda Tea Plantation. In addition to the rolling hills of the tea estate, Handunugoda features rubber and cinnamon plantations. Guests are invited to the verandah of the Planters Bungalow for tea and cakes with the planter himself. After a tour of the old workings of the factory, visitors are taken to the tasting room to try a myriad of teas. The ideal way to conclude the visit is to enjoy a cup of tea from the plantation, including the unique “White Tea” that Handunugoda produces.
The stunning Hiyare rainforest is 30 minutes drive to the north of Galle. A wildlife guide from the reserve accompanies guests to a beautiful virgin rainforest that surrounds a 51 acre lake. Guests are invited to take in the many interesting species of animals and plants that are found there. A perfect breakfast picnic can be arranged on the banks of the lake. Hiyare has established its own tree nursery, and guests have the opportunity to plant a tree as part of their carbon offset programme.