As far as interesting archaeological sites go, Pahiyangala, also known as the Fa Hien caves, located in the same district of Kalutara, is a fascinating place to visit. Excavation missions have proved that these caves were inhabited by prehistoric cavemen approximately 37,000 years ago. It is also supposed to be the largest natural rock in Asia, alongside being the most ancient, pre-historic human settlement in Asia. Lying 400 feet above sea level, the cave can easily accommodate up to 3000 persons. Its natural structure is 175 feet high and 200 feet broad.
Another archaeological gold mine is the Richmond Castle in the same district; it is the property of a wealthy landowner turned philanthropist, Padikara Mudali Nanayakkara Rajawasala Appuhamilage Don Arthur de Silva Wijesinghe Siriwardena. The mansion stands majestically atop a hill, and combines Indian and British architecture copied from the plans of an Indian Maharaja’s palace. Sprawled across a 42 acre estate beside the Kalutara-Palatota Road, the castle is characterized by elaborate carvings, Italian and Scottish glass windows and mirrors, and an abundance of Burmese timber.
As a place of worship Kalutara takes precedence; it is one of the few locations wherein one of the thirty two saplings of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree was planted. From this stems the name Kalutara ‘Bodhiya’ or Kalutara temple, a much revered site in the area, paid homage to by local passersby. It is three storeys in height and houses an array of magnificent paintings describing the stories of the Buddha himself. This gleaming white stupa is known to be a significant landmark of the area, and is known as the first hollow dagoba in the world. Inside the hollow area is a smaller dagoba, with its pinnacle soaring towards the dome of the larger one that shrines it.
The Bawa brothers, Bevis and Geoffrey’s contribution towards the sphere of architecture in the country is exceptional. It is noteworthy that these gems of landscaping can be accessed easily during guests’ stay at Jie Jie Beach by Jetwing.
Lunuganga Estate was the country home of Geoffrey Bawa; known as the father of tropical modernism, and the most renowned architect in Sri Lanka, also one of the most influential Asian architects of his generation. Located in Bentota, and lovingly designed upon 15 acres of sprawling lakeside garden estate, Lunuganga is a collection of an idyllic cottage and four suites, complete with terraces, glass rooms, breathtaking gardens, courtyards, pavilions and broad walks. It is a work of art in itself.
Bevis Bawa’s Brief Garden on the other hand is a barely controlled jungle book-esque garden that has an eclectic assortment of art on display. Statue capped gateways, bamboo hedges, Japanese garden, lawns, round ponds, all make up this riotous garden that beckons to be lost in.
In addition to the above mentioned adventures, the hotel also organizes walking tours and cycle rides around Panadura and the coastal vicinity. These tours cajole guests through scenic landscapes of the area.
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