How to plan your trip to Kalutara, Sri Lanka ?

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kalutara town birdseye view
Major Landmarks of Kalutara; Kalu River, Stupa, Bodhiya and the Bridge. | Photo Credit: Dinu Perera

Kalutara, which also known in old days as Kalutota is a big town in Kalutara District, Western Province, Sri Lanka. It is also the third largest urban area in Western Province after Colombo and Negombo. This scenic resort town is also the administrative capital of Kalutara District. It is located approximately 40 km south of the capital Colombo.

1. Accommodation

The 38 m long Kalutara Bridge was built at the mouth of the Kalu Ganga River and serves as a major link between the country’s western and southern regions. There are a number of religious and cultural sites in Kalutara which are worth paying a visit.

All these places can be visited while you stay at one of the renowned Kalutara Hotel Sri Lanka and the staff will assist you for such excursions. It is always recommended to consult them rather than some shady guides who materialise from nowhere in the presence of foreigners.

2. Transport

You have the option of taking a bus or train from the commercial capital Colombo. The train ride, in particular, is a good option if you are interested in enjoying the scenic ride along the coast. Another option would be to hire a vehicle with a driver, while the more adventurous can rent a car and drive themselves.

Using the train is the cheapest option; even the second class ticket won’t cost you more than 0.50 USD. Renting a car is the costliest option which would cost around 100 – 200 USD without a driver.

kalutara north railway station
Kalutara North Railway station: Photo © Cracky & Click By Pramila Silva

3. Climate

Kalutara is sunny almost the whole year through. The monsoon period is generally from May to July and it is best to avoid this time as it can bring sudden downpours. The average temperature is around 25°C to 30°C and is perfect for a day out in the sun. The Kalutara beach will be pretty rough in the monsoon season and get close to the shore will be difficult.

4. What to see and what to do

Kalutara Chaithya

It was built in the 1960s to the south of the Kalutara Bridge is Kalutara’s most dominant landmark. The white 3 stories-high dagoba at Kalutara Vihara is believed to be the first hollow Buddha Stupa in Sri Lanka which is entirely hollow. It contains a smaller dagoba inside. The interior of the Stupa is decorated with paintings of the Jataka tales about the life of the Buddha.

Kalutara Chaithya – An Insider’s guide to a spiritual experience

Kalutara Bodhiya

One of the most famous sacred and devotional Buddha Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka. It is one of the 32 saplings of Anuradhapura Sri Maha Bodiya. Kalutara Bodiya is located on Colombo-Galle road at the end of the bridge. This venerated Bodhi tree has a prestigious history as the town it is in.

The proud history of Kalutara Bodhiya – The sacred tree that stood the test of time and foreign threats.

Richmond Castle

is a two-story mansion, built in 1910, at Palatota. It is a 42-acre fruit garden estate, originally built for a wealthy regional governor Don Arthur de Silva. The architecture is a mix of British and Indian styles, inspired by the plans of an Indian Maharaja’s palace designed by a London architect. The entire building is characterized by intricate carvings.

Richmond Castle in Sri Lanka – How to get there and tips to visit

Calido beach

A popular beach among tourists due to its natural beauty and scenic views. It is a thin strip of preserved land which runs between the Kalu River and the Indian Ocean. This place is pretty famous among the locals due to the close proximity to the ocean.

The Unconventional Guide to Calido Beach

Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple

A historic Buddhist temple built in 1873, in Kalutara north and famous for its historic buildings.

Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple, Kalutara – The original Dharma Salava

Shopping

in Kalutara and Beruwala is a unique experience. There is a persistent beach sales force at work trying to sell you everything from doormats to leather goods. The locals are very determined but certainly not rude or violent and for many of them, this is the only means of supporting their families.

Unique Shopping Experiences that are only available in Kalutara

Cycling

gives you the opportunity to see the best of the country with a level of intimacy unmatched by most other modes of travel. Riding along the rural area of Kalutara, rivers, lakes and the sandy beaches is surely a unique experience to any traveler.

Some of the best-located resorts in Kalutara are bathed on one side by the Indian Ocean, and on the other by the river, with coconut palms on both sides. As with most major beach resorts along the southwest coast, many places in Kalutara offer major water sports including swimming, water skiing on the rivers or estuaries, snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, parasailing, and fishing.

Kalutara is perhaps one coastal region where that special holiday feeling dominates the town, with shops selling resort wear, renting out bicycles, offering courses in scuba diving and selling all kinds of local souvenirs, batik fabric, and jewelry.

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