Nestled atop the highest point in the ancient port-city of Galle, at the Lady Hill you have a bird's eye view of the lush green tea plantations stretching down the mountains to meet the brilliant blue Indian Ocean. Close to some of the best beaches in the island and to the heart of Galle city but secluded enough to be relaxing and rejuvenating the Lady Hill is just what the discerning tourist and business traveler is looking for.
Originally built more than a hundred years ago as a Vicarage of the Church of England this restored colonial building still retains its old world charm. The large open verandah, high ceiling and staircase, floor and ceiling of teak are all part of the architectural heritage of colonial Sri Lanka. Subtly blended with these features are all the modern comforts which a traveler looks for giving you the best of both worlds.
115km (72 miles) and 2 1/2 hours drive from Sri Lanka's capital city, Colombo, is Galle, the ancient port-city and the first international trade centre for Sri Lanka. Today this city steeped in history and culture is the provincial capital of Southern Sri Lanka.Removed from the hustle and bustle of a capital city and administrative centre but just a 5 minute walk from the heart of town the Lady Hill is perfectly situated on the highest point in Galle.
Just 5 minutes walk away is the 90 acre fort of Galle built by the Dutch rulers in 1663. This area has been classified as an UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is not only a historical city but one that continues to 'live and breathe' even today. It houses many places of interest including Groote Kerk, the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka, the Bell Tower and the old Dutch Government House.
Close by are the banks and other business institutions and the handicraft shops (specialties include hand-made lace and ebony carvings) and Sri Lankan gem and jewelleryshops.
Close by within the Galle Fort and in town are many handicraft shops selling specialties of the region such as hand made lace and ebony carvings and Sri Lankan gems and jewellery. Within the hotel too you can indulge yourself in the hotel shop which offers a range of items from spices, tea, fabrics and clothing to art and books to every day necessities like film rolls and picture postcards.
Just 10 minutes away is one of the best beaches in the world, Unawatuna. With the sea often as calm as a pool this area offers many possibilities for entertainment - you can snorkel and explore the reef and interesting wrecks; you can dive; or you can just soak in the sun.
At the western end of Unawatuna beach is a huge mound-like hill which is strangely out of place in the landscape. Blessed with about a hundred herbs, some of which are found no where else on the island this hill offers an exquisite view of the harbor, the town and even Adam's Peak on a clear morning.
For those of you who love trekking Galle can offer you some very interesting trekking opportunities. Walk to the famed Watering Point Unawatuna where VOC ships made their vital intake of water before they sailed on to Indonesia or back to Holland. Along the way explore a freshwater pond, which apparently held fresh water since the 17th century and only became polluted during the last thirty years. Continue on to Rumassala and then on to Welledevalaya temple. Walk through a small valley with paddy fields and end up at Yaddehimulla, a friendly tourist village.
If ancient architecture interests you a trek along the sewage systems built by the Dutch will certainly be of interest. Much of Galle was built around these intricate structures that were aligned to the tides to provide a continuing and natural flush. By following the system you can discover the framework of the historical city.
Martin Wickremasinghe Museum of Folk Culture
The museum is inspired by one of Sri Lanka's foremost writers and his writings. Situated in Koggala, 10km from Galle, it is surrounded by 8 acres of restored ecosystem and houses an interesting collection of Sri Lankan artifacts and memorabilia.
Stilt fishing at Ahangama
As you drive South along the Galle Road look out for something unique to the island - fishermen perched on sticks planted in the sea and armed with a fishing rod. This phenomenon can be seen on just this short stretch of the Galle Road.
If it's wildlife that turns you on visit the Koggala Bird Island just 15 km away. Further afield is the Ramsar Bird Sanctuary of Bundala where hundreds of migrant birds make their home during the Northern winter. At the corner of the island where the south coast meets the east coast lies Yala National Park where you can see the majestic elephant, the deer, the sambhur, the proud peacock and last but certainly not least the graceful leopard.
Temples and Churches
The religion of the majority Sinhalese in Sri Lanka is Buddhism. Visit a village temple and also the famed ancient temple at Kataluwa - Poorwarama temple which is home to several historical paintings. Also visit the old Dutch church within the Galle Fort and a Hindu Kovil in Galle town.
One of the things Sri Lanka is most famous for is its tea and a popular misconception is that tea is grown only in the central highlands. Visit a low country tea estate right here in Galle and taste the difference. Learn more about the processes involved in getting that cup of tea to your table.
Take a serene boat ride down a tributary of the Ginganga River and take in the abundant flora, fauna and bird life. You can also visit a cinnamon plantation, rubber estate, tea plantation, vegetable farm, Buddhist temple, wood carver and traditional village laundry along the way.
Island hopping on the Koggala lagoon is another favourite with both local and foreign visitors. The boatman winds his way around the islands in the lagoon and you can visit a spice garden, cinnamon plantation, bird island and a temple which houses Sri Lanka's first printing press dating as far back as 1862.
Tropical rain forests
Situated inland from Galle are some of the most beautiful and valuable tropical rainforests in the island and in the region. Sinharaja Rainforest, a World Heritage Site is spread over an area of 11,330 hectares and boasts a large number of rare, endemic plant and bird life.
Also close to Galle is the Kanneliya Forest Reserve which contains 81% of the woody plant species endemic to Sri Lanka. After an invigorating trek through the jungle you can cool down with a bath under the unspoilt waters of the Kanneliya Waterfall.
Kottawa Forest Reserve is another must for you nature lovers. A live herbarium with plants and trees identified in both English and Sinhalese a visit to Kottawa gives you the chance to learn more about Sri Lanka's floral heritage.
Near Yala National Park is Kataragama where both Buddhists and Hindus worship God Kataragama at the historic shrine deep in the Southern jungles and on the banks of the Menik Ganga. The annual festival in July and August is spectacular with fire-walking and other rituals being performed by devotees.