(116km south of Colombo)
Of South Asia’s port cities, Sri Lanka’s Galle – pronounced “Gaul” - is remarkable due to its extensive maritime history, international trading links and threefold colonial domination, which led to a diverse and shifting ethnic composition. Unusually, one of the colonial powers – the Dutch - left a valuable legacy in the form of the best-preserved sea fort in South Asia, whose substantial ramparts and bastions largely protect it from the type of modernization and homogenization that has blighted most urban areas of the region.
More unusual still is that during the past decade a small army of privileged Europeans has recognized the fort’s attributes and ambience (and appreciated the bargain price of property) by purchasing and renovating many of the neglected 300-year-old architecturally-important Dutch residences. While these self-described “fabulous nobodies” have contributed to the preservation of Galle’s heritage, the irony that the fort has once again become an enclave for acquisitive outsiders is pervasive.
Galle’s location at the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, with only the Antarctic more than 5,000 miles beyond, ensured the prominence of the port during the early history of navigation. Not surprisingly, it became the natural focal point at the southernmost part of the Silk Routes that connected Asia with the Mediterranean. Galle also provided a relatively equidistant location for Arab and Chinese ships to converge and trade, thus avoiding much longer voyages. It had a fine natural harbour protected to the southeast by an elevated headland and to the northwest by a flat peninsular, although there were submerged rocks and lack of protection from the southwest monsoon.
A serene ten minute boat ride down the Kepu Ela in Mahamodera, Galle, a short waterway off the Gingganga, so near yet so far away from Jetwing Lighthouse is located the Jetwing Kurulubedda: two stilted dwellings on a quiet little village patch off the river. These two luxury dwellings built on stilts boast a bedroom suite, a large terrace with casual and relaxed seating and a spacious plunge pool below. A dining pavilion overlooking the paddy field and marshes, a lounge surrounded by nature with a ramp leading to the edge of the river and a sprawling lawn for relaxation and lazing are yours to experience.
A tranquil, solitary retreat nestled on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean, Jetwing Lighthouse is a masterpiece of space and light designed by world renowned architect, Geoffrey Bawa. Superb dining and a Spa are just some of the experiences to indulge in.
Kahanda Kanda, one of Southern Sri Lanka's newest boutique hotels, offers the indulgent luxuries of a private villa with the service of a five star hotel, and is situated near the southern coast not far from Galle. Five air conditioned suites with breathtaking panoramic views of palm fringed jungle and the Indian Ocean promise stylish, spacious interiors, ideal in which to unwind - the perfect example of getaway boutique hotels.
Overlooking Koggala Lake and surrounded by the lush greenery of a working tea estate, my home turned award winning boutique hotel offers discerning travellers a unique wellness escape with quick access by charming tuk tuk to timeless treasures inside Galle Fort as well as some of the world's best beaches, for which Galle and Sri Lanka are so well known.
Peaceful, tropical ambience, world class heartfelt service and fresh fusion cuisine that lures guests from surrounding hotels in and around Galle, Kahanda Kanda is an idyllic environment for a wedding, a honeymoon or a holiday of absolute relaxation, all on a working tea plantation.