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Martin Wickramasinghe Museum: A Journey Through Sri Lanka’s Literary and Cultural Heritage

Galle is a southern coastal town in Sri Lanka, famous for its history, vibrant culture and tranquil beach vibes. Home to the historic Galle Fort, this was once a colonial hub under the Dutch. It is now a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors who come to view its colonial structures, sample local cuisine, and soak in the inviting seaside atmosphere.

Located a few metres away from Galle is the picturesque town of Koggala. Sites of note include the Koggala lake, and the Martin Wickremesinghe museum. Martin Wickramasinghe is one of Sri Lanka’s most prolific authors, whose novels and short stories have been translated into many different languages and are enjoyed by readers all over the world. Those who want to learn more about the author can visit his ancestral home. This charming house has now been converted into a museum showcasing the remnants of his life, along with traditional relics. It is one of the most interesting places to visit in Galle.

Let’s take a closer look at what visitors can expect to see here and other things to do in Galle.

The 200-year-old museum is situated in the village of Malalagama, and is one of the most famous places in Galle. Its architecture is typical of Southern Dutch colonial houses, with whitewashed walls and floors paved with clay tiles. Visitors can get a glimpse into the past as they step into the house. The building has quite an interesting history, and was one of the few houses to survive World War II. The village was taken over by the Royal Air Force during the time, and most homes were demolished to build a seaplane base – which is still in use to this day. Wickramasinghe’s house miraculously escaped this fate, however. The quaint house caught the eye of a female Air Force officer, who made it her residence for the duration of the war, ensuring its preservation.

The ‘Hall of Life’ inside the museum narrates the story of Wickramasinghe’s life through a series of photographs, antique furniture, souvenirs, awards, and other memorabilia. Visitors can also view the writer’s desk with its antique chair and cubbyholes. The ashes of the author and his wife Prema are buried in a grassy mound to the right of the house. Behind the house are a few more attractions, including a traditional rice storage hut made of mud and wattle, raised on stilts, and the Folk Museum.

Martin Wickramasinghe dreamt of creating a folk museum to display the cultural and traditional heritage of Sri Lanka. He collected many artefacts and stored them in his house. After his death, the Martin Wickramasinghe Trust made his dream a reality by opening a Folk museum to showcase his collection to the public. Many new and interesting pieces were also added, making this one of the best museums in Galle.

Visitors can see a variety of objects such as traditional clay cooking vessels, grinding stones, wooden bullock carts, horse carriages, puppets, masks, metal craft, traditional musical instruments, dance costumes, and more. The museum also sells a collection of Martin Wickramasinghe’s books in several languages.
The gardens around the house are a wonderful place to take a stroll in. The 7-acre land has many species of indigenous trees and shrubs, which draw in a variety of birds and animals.

Highlights of sightseeing in Galle include the famed Lighthouse, the Fort, and the Dutch Reformed church. Sample the local cuisine, relax by the beach and look for some of the best Galle places to stay by the sea. Accommodation is not hard to come by and there are lodgings for every budget. For those looking for luxury hotels in Galle, Jetwing Lighthouse is a tasteful option, combining high-class amenities with beautiful ocean suites, a large pool, and settings that boast coastal charm and elegance.

The Martin Wickramasinghe museum is a must-visit attraction for those who want to discover more about the author’s life and gain a deeper insight into the culture and traditions of the South.

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