The District of Hambantota, which extends from Tangalle to Tissamaharama offers something special for everyone. Crystal clear seas, golden beaches, mysterious archeological sites, and a chance to see some of Sri Lanka’s spectacular wildlife; Hambantota has it all. In spite of this, the District is one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets.
Stretching along one of the south’s most spectacular coastlines, Tangalle is known for its sandy beaches and calm seas. While many visitors prefer to spend their time sunning and swimming, the area offers much more. Nearby Rakawa is one of the island’s best ecotourism destinations. Rakawa Beach is an important sea turtle nesting area. A nighttime visit offers a chance to see these majestic creatures drag themselves ashore to lay their eggs in the sand. For the ornithologist, an early morning trip to the Kalamatiya Bird Sanctuary is a chance to enjoy large flocks of resident and migratory birds in solitude.
The most imposing rock temple in the South, Mulgirigalla, lies only 16 km from Tangalle. The ancient origins are unknown, but scriptures carved into the rock show that this has been the site of a Buddhist monastery for millennia. The climb up Mulgirigalla leads the visitor through cave temples with murals depicting the history of the area, upwards past a reclining Buddha statue, and finally on to the breathtaking view from the summit.
In spite of its attractions, numerous seaside hotels and guest houses, and quaint, local restaurants, Tangalle is still largely unknown to tourists. Discover Tangalle !
Hambantota, the capital of the district, takes its name from early seafarers. When mariners arrived from the Far East in their sampans, they sought anchorage in the natural harbor, known in the local language as ‘tota’. In time, the area came to be called “hamban-tota”. Today, Hambantota is the salt capital of Sri Lanka, and dazzling white saltpans surround the town.
A short drive away lies Bundala National Park. Although the park is home to elephants, deer, crocodiles, and other wildlife, the main attraction is the birdlife.
From September to April, the shallow brackish lagoons teem with life, as thousands of migratory birds seek shelter from the harsh European winter. At the height of the season, migratory plovers, terns, gulls, ducks and flamingo share the wetlands with resident herons, egrets, pelicans, cormorants and storks. Because of the high number of migrating waterfowl that make their winter home in the lagoons, Bundala was declared Sri Lanka’s first Ramsar site; a wetland of international importance.
The town of Tissamaharama is surrounded by rice paddies dotted with ancient temples. The Tissamaharama dagaba was once the largest temple on the island. According to legend, Buddha once visited Tissamaharama, and a sacred tooth relic is enshrined in the dagoba.
The real fame of Tissamaharama is as the gateway to Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s most popular wildlife reserve. Yala boasts one of the world’s largest population densities of leopards, with a population of over 30 individuals. Because of this, the park is one of the best places in the world to observe and photograph these elusive creatures, and it has been featured in many documentaries and films. The lucky visitor may spot one of these famous residents sunning on the rocks or walking along the road. Even if they’re not on view, Yala offers sightings of elephant bathing in the numerous lakes within the park, sloth bear, deer, jackal, crocodiles, and a wide variety of bird species. Also within the borders of the park are remains of civilizations long past. The impressive Sithulpawwa rock temple dates back over 2000 years. While it has changed from the days of the 1st century when 12,000 monks were in residence, it is still an important religious site today.
While in the area, the nearby fishing village of Kirinda, with its rocky beach, spectacular views, and charming history is worth a visit. According to legend, in the 2nd century B.C., angry gods sent a tsunami that flooded the central coast. To atone, the King put his youngest daughter in a boat of gold and sent it to sea. The young princess reached shore at Kirinda, where she married the local ruler and began a dynasty that reigned for centuries. A statue of the queen looks out on the village from a rocky outcrop.
On a clear day, the lighthouse at Basses Reef appears. This marks both the rocky promontory and an underwater paradise. Arthur C. Clark put Kirinda on the map when he used it as his base for the diving exploration for his book The Treasure of the Reef. Although the season is short, Basses offers the best snorkeling and diving in Sri Lanka.
At Kataragama, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam meet. In July and August, the annual festival draws thousands of pilgrims, many of whom walk the length of Sri Lanka to arrive. Elephants are on parade, drummers drum, traditional dances are held, and the faithful demonstrate their sincerity by performing acts of penance such as walking over hot coals or piercing their flesh with hooks. The Maha Devale shrine, on the festival grounds, is believed to be a place of worship from ancient times.
This region is made up almost entirely of undulating plains. Except for the hills located on the Western, North-Western and North-Eastern margins, only isolated hills and highlands are found within the district. Approximately 90% of the area of the district is covered by plains whole hills and highlands occupy the balance 10%.
Location and Size
The Hambantota District occupies the south-eastern region of the Island. It is 1012.75 sq.miles(2622.82km2) in area. It covers about 1/25 of the total area of the Island. The district has 94 miles(151.3km)of coastline. As regard the size, the Hambanthota district occupies the 12th place among the 24 administrative district of the Island. Just over 1% of the total area of the district or 11.5sq.miles (29.8km2) is covered by major inland water bodies. The balance mainly consist of land. The District of Hambanthota extends from latitude 6.N to 6.5.N and from longitude 80.6.E to 81.7.E.
Water is of course a resource that is vital to the Economic development of the district as well as to the daily life of the Community. It is in the form of Surface Water and Under Ground Water. Basic Water requirements of the District and met by surface water resources Which are present in the form of rivers,streams, tanks, reservoirs, Lagoons and Bays.
The Region has a Hot Dry Weather which is characterised by bright Sun Shine. This General characteristic, which applies to a major portion of the district changes somewhat towards the highland areas of the West & North West. These section has a present wet & cool climate. The average daily temperature of the district is 80.-81.F(26.6.-27.6.c).The average duration of sunlight in the district per day is 6.8 hours. The district receives maximum sunlight during the month of march. It is 8.2 hours per day. Sunlight is least in June during which month it is 5.8 hours per day.