So, we head down to Galle fort, as a part of my birthday celebration.
Usually I’d naturally ended up in a beach spot but my love for the Galle fort and its history subsided this , so I comfortably avoid the urge to spend time on the beach this time. Also myself and Indi decided that we’d confine strictly to Galle fort and absorb all what it has to offer as we always wanted to. It proved to be a great idea in the end.
We restricted ourselves to spend the next 2 nights within the ramparts of the Galle fort, dining in there and exploring it all.
Galle fort is one of the most iconic locations of Sri Lanka’s modern history. Its history is so fascinating as it has a history of all three European settlers, the Portuguese then to the Dutch and finally to the British. Initially build by the Portuguese in the year 1588 then extensively fortified by the Dutch from 1649 onwards and then finally the British who administered it until the independence.
It’s a hamlet of an area that resemblance Dutch or Portuguese cities. The interlocked narrow roads with full of antiques, art and gems & jewelry shops itself are so much to explore in. Some of these businesses have been around for over a century descended upon to the next generation.
At the beginning of the fort is where you find this long saffron color building which is probably nearly – centuries old. Through that lies the main gate to the Galle fort. Witness the British coats of arms on the top of that gate. There’s also the Dutch coat of arms with the VOC sign.
This building is house to Galle’s Marine museum which is worth a visit. It preserves parts of many ship wrecks and valuable documents, ornaments etc dated 5 centuries back. I have learned some useful info as I completed the tour there. I’ve learned how the Greeks, the Arabs, the Chinese sailed towards Galle coast for trading creating the Galle fort a well exposed trading route nearly a millennium ago.
We were wandering around the streets of Galle fort visiting antique shops and other. However, when it’s time for dining, we’d always ended up in the Pedlar’s Café. I have previously written a blog about this amazing café so please read more there. A structure that is over 250 years of age now offer great coffees, meals with a brilliant ambience that exceeded my expectations. Service was great! Although once in a while there can be flows but, you are on holiday…just relax and enjoy.
We then walked in to another antique museum. Look at this images as it explains everything. There is a gem cutting / polishing shop inside too. One of the things I’ve really admired was that there was a sign strictly advising the visitors ‘please do not give tips’ which is rare sight in this part of the world hence worth noting it. If you like antiques and history where no one bugs you to purchase anything then pay a visit here. I’d re-visit just show my admiration.
One of the other thing to note is that within the walls of fort there is multi ethnic and multi religious community. Noticeably some building are owned by the Dutch even to date and some are by the moors. That explained the mosque located near the light house.
We also paid a visit to the Dutch Reform Church which stands quietly in its centuries old structure.
We then walked in to the famous light house to catch the sunset. It is indeed one of the best way to end the day. While the lighthouse is located at one edge of the fort facing the harbor, there’s much to observe as you walked further to the other side. You might notice the Galle Cricket ground which comes alive when an international Cricket team tours there. One of the most memorable among them are when the Barmy Army travels along with the English Cricket team and they’d almost ‘occupy’ the galle fort laying their county flags. I’m sure they must have enjoyed the charms of the Galle fort soon after the game.
At night the streets are buzzing with life. There are so many restaurants and coffees shops offers great range of sea food and other varieties. Pedlar’s Café now has its own pizza restaurants too.
But as planned we went back to our hotel, the Galle fort hotel for a high tea. Indi has arranged it for us as she wanted to have a good chat with me enjoying the evening. By the way she can possibly write a small book about high-teas of Sri Lanka as she has being to every hotel possible that offers high tea ;). If you are one of them who loves to enjoy the best high-tea in the town, then ask her for more.
Galle fort hotel is one of our most recommended hotels besides Amangalla. Have a look at their court yard below :
If you are on a budget let us know there are few we could recommend to ease your holiday.
It is interesting to note that the Galle’s magistrate court is also located inside the Galle fort almost at the beginning of the fort. Perhaps due to that you can observe few policeman patrol at night which make you feel extra safe to walk around longer at night.
All in all, our stay in Galle fort made it somewhat easier for me to visualise how it would have been during the early 6th century.
One of the most fascinating dynamism could be observed in an island civilization is the inspiration that it drew from the cultural waves which flowed over trade missions from across the seas. While pre 6th century Sri Lanka’s culture that were central to Buddhism and Hinduism were drawn from India, there after it has blended so greatly with the European cultural attributes unfolding a new era of this island nation. Among them the Portuguese influence in terms of Sri Lankas religion, architecture, arts, clothes and more intriguingly even the surnames are a quite phenomenon to note. Galle Fort in this context is an invaluable source of history and a great perseverance by the authorities which still resound this fascinating history in every corner.
I’d recommend that you stay one night here and absorb its vibe that is quite unique and a memory that lasts a lifetime. It’s very likely that you will return to Galle for a stay over whenever you are back in Sri Lanka. If you have teenage children then Gallefort will be a great educational trip for them as well.
Galle Fort stays in the list of holiday escapes that I’d repeat whenever I could and I’m sure that I still have much to discover in this UNESCO World Heritage site of Sri Lanka.
- Start your day early and plan to avoid the mid-day sun as it’s can be too strong. Best to plan your lunch in an aircon restaurant or back in the hotel until late afternoon where you can resume your walkabouts.
- We are an entity who usually don’t entertain Shopping. However it can be a good experience at the Galle fort although I’d shy away from recommending any albeit, I did like a few shops very much.
- Guides – there are specialist Galle fort guides in the area. However almost everyone has shopping commission in their agenda hence we don’t hire them. The chauffeur guide whom we allocate to each client of us are licensed, experienced guides who can unfold the history of Galle fort and they will not push you for any shopping.
- Dining in Galle is slightly costlier than elsewhere in the coast. If you choose the correct venue this is certainly worth it.
- The ideal time to visit the Galle fort – between Mid Dec till Early March as with rest of the west and south west coast of Sri Lanka.
- Best to book – As we always recommend it’s crucial to book your holiday atleast 6 months ahead to secure the best hotels and rates. Galle is one of our recommended stays before you depart the country.
See you soon in Sri Lanka