Things to Do in Hambantota
Compiled by Shafiya Nawzer
Hambantota is a town in Hambantota District of Sri Lanka. This town was badly affected due to Tsunami in 2004 but now it has been transformed from an underdeveloped area to a city, which attracts several tourists and has turned into a major urban hub. The city has a tropical wet and dry climate like the rest of the country. It is famous for its salt pans which supply quality salt to the entire country.
Hambantota offers an overview of Sri Lanka’s religious aspects and diverse wildlife. It lures those who want to explore the wild and get lost in the beauty of it. Hambantota has been an important city from even before the colonial time and hence the depths of the past that one can uncover here is uncertain.
History, nature and adventure come together in the bustling seaside town of Hambantota. Laze by its idyllic beaches, go on safari in its neighbouring jungles, or admire its historical sites – Hambantota offers a little bit of everything. There are several places to visit in Hambantota that one must explore to be familiar with the culture and lifestyle of the city!
Bundala National Park
Home to a number of vibrant and colourful birds, the Bundala National Park in Sri Lanka is one of the favourite destinations for bird watchers all around the world. The park spans across an area of 6,216 hectares within which it shelters around 200 different bird species out of which more than 50 are migratory bird species.
The topography is an amazing combination of scrubs, marshes, lagoons and dunes. Almost every species of water birds can be found in the park most of which are attracted to the lagoons.
A perfect remedy for your wintertime blues – Tangalle Beach, which showcases a wide stretch of sandy beaches. The turquoise water complemented with the lined palm trees and soft sand is what makes the Tangalle beach the ideal place to be in. The beach, located 160kms south of Colombo also offers some of the most beautiful and breath-taking sunsets which make it the perfect place to sit by and relax.
If you dig a little deeper into the history of the Tangalle beach you will find that this beach was a small fishing village. Fishing hence became the primary source of livelihood.
Mirijjawila Botanical Garden
This complex of horticultural beauty is one of the more unique features in the city, if not the island. The Mirijjawila Botanical Garden is only one of five botanical gardens, and though located in Sri Lanka’s dry zone, is a flourishing attraction in Hambantota. Built-in 2013, the garden was made to improve the area’s biodiversity, and as a result, is home to a diverse variety of flora and fauna. The Mirijjawila Botanical Garden is one place that you should not miss when you’re exploring this southern city – and is a great place for kids to explore. Hop into one of the carts for a quicker way to explore the garden; ideal if you’ve got smaller kids who fuss about walking long distances!
Often one of the more overlooked places in the coastal town, the Ramba Viharaya is one of the ideal places to understand how the kingdoms of old incorporated Buddhism into a major part of their lives. This particular temple stemmed from the era of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom between the 11th century to the 14th century.
It was one of the major temples of the kingdom due to the Chola invasion that caused King Vijayabahu I to flee from the capital and take refuge in Ruhuna (modern-day Hambantota). As a result, the temple was not only a religious centre, but also an academic centre. It is believed that the exiled king schemed all his campaigns against the Cholas here, and there is significant evidence to prove it.
Mahapelessa Hot Springs
Being one of the most popular tourist attractions, the Mahapelessa Hot Springs receives visitors throughout the year. The tourists need to go through the wild animal infested jungles and boat rides to reach the hot spring where they can see and touch the hot water well. The locals had made this well in order to quench the thirst of its people and animals. But with time, it has become a tourist attraction.
The Martello Tower stands to be a unique piece of colonial heritage, as it is the only fortress of its kind in the whole of South Asia. Built in the early 19th century by the British, it was used as an important defensive complex when the Kingdom of Kandy led a battle to drive out the colonisers. Although small, the tower is believed to have had heavy armament, which ranged from howitzers to 18 pounders. Presently, the tower serves as a museum that showcases the transformation of the fisheries industry in the area.
Ussangoda National Park
It is a place of archaeological significance along with exquisite natural beauty. It has divine landscape and unusual red soil which does not exist anywhere in Sri Lanka. It is believed that it resulted due to a meteor or asteroid hit years ago.
A lot of elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, and various birds can also be seen here. It's one of the best places to visit near Hambantota owing to the variety of wildlife you can spot here.
Birds Research Centre and Resort
This place houses magnificent types of exotic birds. One can even feed the parrots and interact with them or just see the amazing species of birds from all around the world. Some of the rare and endangered species of Asian birds can also be sighted here. There is also a restaurant inside in case you need to satisfy your cravings for Sri Lankan food.
Sithulpawwa Buddhist Monastery
It is also one of the ancient Buddhist monasteries. The panoramic view from the monastery is breathtaking. It is a religious place with archaeological significance dated to be centuries old.
The mere journey to this place is filled with excitement as one gets see elephants and other wild animals on their way.