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Explore Chilaw with your family

A family holiday might be just what you and the kids need to destress and relax. Located two hours away from Colombo, Chilaw is blessed with saffron sands and verdant mangroves; beckoning you to explore through both! This beautiful coastal town is an excellent wildlife destination too, giving you and the family something exciting to partake in during your trip here. Wondering what else you can do? Keep reading to find out more!

For Culture

Sri Lanka is a melting pot of different cultures stemming from four main religious groups- Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam which all coexist in this small island. While you immerse yourself in the varied cultures and religious, here are two main holy sites in Chilaw that are worth adding to your list – 

  • Munneswaram Temple:
    Munneswaram Temple is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest Hindu temples which dates to 1,000 CE. The temple is also one of the five ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, so the Maha Shivarathri festival is an important event in the temple’s calendar and the festival is attended by people of all faiths. If you plan your visit in August (during the Maha Shivarathri festival) bring your kids to watch the festivities that occur here.    
  • Madhu Church:
    Located in the town of Mannar, the Madhu Church is an important Roman Catholic shrine, approximately 4 hours away from Chilaw. While it can be a bit of a drive to reach the church, there are a variety of other things you can do in Mannar, ideal if you’re planning a day tour out of town. For over 400 years, the church has been an important site for pilgrims. In 1924, Pope Pius XI granted the image of Our Lady of Madhu a Canonical Coronation, making the shrine one of the few in Sri Lanka to get Papal recognition. 

For Wildlife

The island is a treasure trove when it comes to wildlife. Blessed with exotic creatures both on land and sea, you’ll be spoilt for the choice at the variety of nature reserves that can be explored. The land is blessed with elephants, deer, leopards and more, while the oceans are thriving with turtles, whales, dolphins, and more– all of which can be experienced in or around Chilaw. Here’s a list of nature parks all animals should visit

  • Whale & Dolphin Watching:
    Kalpitiya is the #1 place for dolphin and whale watching on the west coast. As it’s located two hours away from Mannar, you’ll have to get the kids ready in the morning to set sail to the depths of the Indian Ocean! The best time for whale watching in Kalpitiya is from mid-October to end-March when you can embark on a once in a lifetime experience! While age acts as no barrier, this excursion is undoubtedly exciting for the whole family, as you will be a few feet away from these majestic creatures.
  • Wilpattu National Park:
    Wilpattu National Park is the country’s largest and one of its oldest national parks. Situated about two hours away from Chilaw, the park is a great place for you and your family to experience the rugged wilderness. This thick green jungle holds many wonders such as elephants, leopards, sloth bears and more! Embark on a safari in the mornings for the best chance of spotting wildlife. 
  • Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary:
    Anawilundawa Wetland comprises of mangroves, grasslands and marshlands which provide a great backdrop for birdwatching. Young kids will especially enjoy cruising along the marshlands on a speed boat and spotting various animals. 

Planning your wildlife safari in Sri Lanka? Read our guide first!


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