Discovering the Rich Cultural Past of Rural Puttalam
Home to one of the largest lagoons in the country, Puttalam in Sri Lanka’s North Western Province, is also known for its salt mines, energy production, coconut plantations and amazing seafood! It’s a beautiful rural part of the country, full of friendly hospitable people with lots of places to explore, including Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka’s largest park with nearly sixty freshwater lakes and bodies of water.
One fascinating aspect of Puttalam is its predominantly Muslim community known as the Sri Lankan Moors, who can trace their ancestry back to Arab traders settling in the region centuries ago. The pace of life in Puttalam itself is unhurried and easy going, with very little traffic and lots of bustling streets and quaint shops. Houses are brightly colored and many residents get around by bicycle, adding to the town’s ambience. Puttalam Lagoon, while protecting the town from coastal storms, provides locals with serene views across the bay, as well as cool and blustery weather.
One of the best places from which we recommend exploring Puttalam and the surrounding area is Bethany 101, a luxurious boutique hotel situated in a villa built at the beginning of the British colonial era. The villa has been meticulously renovated to its original classic style, even incorporating many of the original fittings and furniture of the period, giving it a unique charm reminiscent of old Ceylon. In fact, part of Bethany 101’s appeal is that you feel like you’re stepping back in time! Read a book in a tea planter’s chair while enjoying afternoon tiffin and slow down to the pace of another era at Bethany 101, where the past is still very much alive.
Puttalam is also lauded for its unique cuisine; a fusion of local dishes with international fare – the result of many cultural influences. Indian, European, Chinese and Malaysian culinary styles have all left their mark on local food, creating a smorgasbord of fascinating food choices. For example, who would have thought that in Puttalam you could find a rice curry that is out of this world. It would not be an exaggeration to say it’s one of the best meals you could enjoy – not just in Sri Lanka – but anywhere!
Once you have explored Puttalam you can take an hour’s drive along the coast to the fishing community of Kalpitiya, one of Sri Lanka’s most captivating coastal regions that is also a marine park with a diverse variety of marine life. It’s also where you will find beautiful Alankuda Beach stretching north along the peninsula that separates Puttalam Lagoon from the sea – a popular destination for watersports, as well as off-shore dolphin and whale watching.
For more information on trips to Puttalam and other destinations in Sri Lanka, please contact information below or email [email protected]