Southern most major town in Sri Lanka and the terminus of the coastal rail line has also been under the Portuguese and Dutch rule. The star shaped fort at Matara is an unusual and a unique structure. There are several beautiful and less crowded beaches along the coast between Galle and Matara and the closest to the town is at Polhena. Another attraction is a 25m high colourful Buddha statue built at Veherahena Temple.
The temple is about 2 kM from the town centre and about 1 Km inland from Pallimulla on the main road.
Matara fort built by the Dutch around 1640 is a fortification of a Portuguese garrison. The old Dutch church is an interesting and one of the oldest structures in the Fort. There are many other structures in the Dutch and the British era most of which have undergone many changes. The star fort built in a shape of a star has been built to provide additional protection to the main fort across the river. The moat now restored and a drawbridge added recently.
Early British era market at Nupe now serves, as a music-training centre is an interesting building with Kandyan roof tiles.
Ahangama and Midigama
Ahangama and Midigama are two stilt fishing locations in the area. The fishermen rest on stilts fixed on shallow water and use rods for fishing. This unique method of fishing is still practiced today.
Dondra or Devinuwara
Dondra or Devinuwara 6km east of Matara is the southern most point of Sri Lanka. A 40m high lighthouse has been built in 1890 to provide guidance to the shipping route south of Sri Lanka. The shrine dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu at Devinuwara is a popular local attraction. The annual festival held in July / August is the major event of the temple.
Closer to the Weligama rest house is a 4m tall 7th or 8th century statue of a Mahayana Bodhisathwa (future Buddha) carved in to the rock. The legend says the statue has been built by a king whose skin decease had been cured in this area. There are three variations to the identity of the person who has instructed the construction of the statue, either a local prince or a Sinhalese king or an Indian king. The statue depicts the influence of the Mahayana Buddhism in the country at the time and the carvings are very intricate and detailed.
About 15 kM from Matara towards Galle is a popular resort town of Weligama. Here are many recently built hotels for visitors in search of the sun and sand. The rest house at Weligama is one of the oldest rest houses in Sri Lanka. The Aggrabodhi Vihara about 1 Km from the rest house towards inland is an ancient temple established in the 3 century BC. The temple is mentioned in several ancient literature works in 13th and 14th centuries confirms it’s importance, but had been destroyed by the Portuguese and many of the existing buildings are of recent construction.
Beliatta about 30 Km east from Matara is famous for the utility and ornamental items of brass work and metal. Most of the brass work sold in the other parts of the country originate from two villages the area. There is a sales centre run by the Department of Small Industries at Angulumaduwa.
Devinuwara Wevurukannala Temple
Dikkawella Wevurukannala Temple 20 kM east of Matara has one of the most unusual objects for a temple. That is a huge clock order invented in 1927 by a juvenile offender in detention, but still in working order.
To And From Matara
Distance to other Towns in Km