Explore Tangalle and its surroundings on your solo adventure
If you’ve decided to make camp at the popular beach town of Tangalle, you’ve plenty of options to spice up your stay. From temples to wildlife sanctuaries, secluded beaches to wide lagoons, Tangalle is a great location for experiencing a lot more than your typical south-coast itinerary of Sri Lanka. Here are some of the best places to explore during your solo sojourn in this famous beach town.
The temple at Wewurukannala is home to the largest statue of Buddha in Sri Lanka, featuring the religious figure in a seated pose that reaches a height of a massive 50 metres. The golden statue sits in stark relief against the peaceful white backdrop of the temple – and it is just one of the fascinating things to be seen here.
The temple is divided into three parts, the oldest of which is said to have been built during the reign of King Rajadhi around 250 years ago. The first part of the temple has a smaller statue of Buddha that you can view. The second part takes you through the Tunnel of Hell – a passageway featuring life-sized models of the horrors that await earth’s sinners. Depicting punishments such as being lowered by demons into a boiling cauldron, being sawed in half, and being gutted through with a standing spear, it’s one of the eerie places to visit on your solo tour. At the end of the tunnel, belying the shocking display within, is the gigantic statue of Buddha that you can examine from up close.
Tangalle Beach is stunning on its own, but if you’re looking for more space to yourself, hop into a tuk-tuk and take a ten-minute drive west to Goyambokka Beach. It’s only three kilometres away from the town centre, so if the weather is looking particularly nice, you could even opt to walk there and take the time to enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery on the way. Keep in mind that you’ll have to make your way down a short dirt path from the main road to get there, but it’s worth it. You’ll find that the beach at Goyambokka is even less crowded than the beach at Tangalle, featuring hammocks between the trees that are just beckoning you to get off your feet with a book and relax to the sound of the crashing waves.
Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara
The Mulkirigala rock temple, known to locals as Little Sigiriya, features an ancient Buddhist monastery embedded into a rock face that stands at more than 200 metres tall. This beautiful temple is located approximately 17 kilometres north of Tangalle’s town centre, which equates to a drive of approximately half an hour. The temple is said to be a couple of centuries older than the rock fortress at Sigiriya (the Lion Rock in Sri Lanka’s Central Province), but is similar to it by way of the ancient paintings and intricate inscriptions found within. It is an official archaeological site, and is definitely a stop that you won’t want to miss.
The temple was built around five terraced levels. You’ll have to make the climb up a number of steps to reach it, but it’s worth the visit to the top. Within the temple you’ll find a number of statues of Buddha, detailed paintings of a sinner’s journey to an afterlife of torture, and a stupa with beautiful views of the temple’s surroundings.
When visiting any temple in Sri Lanka, ensure that you are appropriately dressed. This means that your shoulders and legs should be appropriately covered.
Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary
If you have an affinity for nature, you’ll love this next stop. With more than 150 species of birds and 20 species of mammals living here, Kalametiya is situated around 20 kilometres from Tangalle and is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest bird sanctuaries. The best times to visit are during the early mornings or in the late afternoons, since most wildlife tends to stay hidden in the shadows during peak sunlight hours. You can take a river boat tour of the sanctuary, paddling past the lush mangroves in the lagoon, before embarking on a quick trek through the jungle with your guide. Some rare birds that can be spotted here include the Indian Reef Heron and the Black-capped Purple Kingfisher, and the area is considered a bird-watcher’s paradise in Sri Lanka.