Tangalle (Sinhala තංගල්ල [ˈtaŋɡalːə], Tamil: தங்கல்லை) (also known as Tangalla) is a large town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. It is one of the largest towns in southern province. It is located 195 km (121 mi) south of Colombo and 35 km (22 mi) east of Matara. It has a mild climate, in comparison to the rest of the district, and sandy beaches.
The name of the town in Sinhala means “projected rock”, a reference to the rocks which form the coastline in the town area, which contrasts with the sandy beach of the surrounding areas. Another rationale is that the name is derived from ran-gala or “golden rock”, which relates to a local legend that a holy man once ate a meal there and the rock was turned to gold.
Tangalle is a regionally important fishing port, situated on one of the largest bays in Sri Lanka, which is protected from the ocean by an enclosing reef. It is a centre of tourism and a popular holiday destination on the south coast. In the town centre there is an old Dutch fort which is used as a prison today. The Dutch and subsequently the British used Tangalle as an important anchorage on the southern coast of the island. The Dutch Fort, Rest House and Court House are a few remaining examples of Dutch architecture in Tangalle.
Tangalla is the gateway to the wide-open spaces and wide-open beaches of southeast Sri Lanka. It’s the last town of any size before Hambantota and has some old world charm. But you’re really here to find your perfect beach and revel in it
Tangalle is a lazy fishing town situated on one of the finest and largest bays of Sri Lanka. With a palm fringed bay, beautiful coves and vast golden beaches Tangalle is a tranquil alternative to the more vibrant tourist beach destinations. The popular bays here are Goyambooka, Medaketiya, Pallikkudawa and Medilla. Medaketiya is a beautiful quiet beach with fine white sand. The most popular tourist attraction in Tangalle is the stunning Mulkirigala rock temple. The best months to visit this scenic town is from November through April.
Highlights of Tangalle
Mulkirigala Rock Temple
Bundala National Park
Ussangoda National Park
Kudawella Blow Hole – Hummanaya
Turtle Watching at Rekawa
Forget Bentota and Hikkaduwa. Sri Lanka’s deep south is the next big destination. Tangalle, on the southern coast (just three and a half hours from Colombo) is a small town with a bustling fishing port and is well known for its beautiful stretch of palm-fringed bays and coves. The name Tangalle means ‘projecting rock’, because long ago, the town was protected from the ocean by a long rocky slab that projected into the sea across the mouth of the bay. Here are eight ways to get acquainted with this lesser-explored region of Sri Lanka:
Luxe out Tucked into a coconut grove and bordering an arc of pristine white sand beach, Amanwella resort has thirty luxurious suites built on three different levels, with private plunge pools and terraces overlooking the Indian Ocean. The Australian architect who designed the resort with local hand-hewn stone and terracotta roof tiles was inspired by the clean vertical lines of Geoffrey Bawa , Sri Lanka’s most famous architect. There is nothing that separates you from the sea: the Bar, restaurant, swimming pool and cosy library all look out over the turquoise sea and endless coconut groves. Have a massage at the spa here and tuck in to Mediterranean and Asian fusion cuisine as you sip on a local beer or two. (www.amanresorts.com)
Cruise through the mangroves Tangalle has some beautiful lagoons and mangroves where you can go on a river safari or kayak and spot weaverbirds and monkeys in the trees, storks and cranes along the banks, and water monitors in the shallows. Plan to wrap up just before dusk if you can, to witness the amazing sight of thousands of fruit bats descending on the trees. When you’re done, get a snack at one of the many small restaurants on the nearby beaches.
Tuck into local fare Tangalle is a great place to eat traditional Sri Lankan food like rice and piquant curries, hoppers made from fermented rice batter with a dash of palm toddy and coconut milk, sea food and the famous street-food favourite Kottu paratha, which is diced chapattis pounded with spices, meat and vegetables. Don’t forget to taste local specialties like fiery coconut sambol and drink sweet King Coconut water. Indulge your sweet tooth too, with local desserts like thick buffalo curds that are sold in mud pots with local treacle made from the sap of a palm tree called Kitul, and Watalappam—steamed custard made from coconut milk and palm sugar spiced with cinnamon and cloves.
Visit the fishing harbour Tangalle once was a harbour for the Dutch and British fleets. Today it has a bustling fishing harbour (the first manmade one in Sri Lanka) where trawlers and boats land after days out at sea, with their swollen nets of fresh fish. Go early in the morning to see fish being auctioned, gutted and cut up.
Laze on the beach Tangalle’s beaches are meant for lounging. You share the beach only with small fishing boats and a few fishermen mending nets. The turtle-trampled sands are great for walking and sunbathing. Tangalle’s deserted beaches are where the turtles lay their eggs in the golden sand. If you want to see giant sea turtles coming ashore at night (January to July) to lay their eggs, then the beach of Rekawa is ideal. Tangalle has some great stretches of beaches like Marakolliya and Medaketiya, which are dotted with tiny shacks selling freshly-cooked local fish and curry.
Visit the Hoo Maniya blow hole Around seven kilometres from Tangalle, the village of Kudawala is home to the Hoo-maniya blowhole, whose name derived from the low, whistling sound it produces prior to spouting water. The blowhole is formed from a narrow fissure in the cliff, and is most impressive during the monsoon when the jets—churned to a dazzling whiteness—can go as high as 15m.
See the stilt fishermen On the way to Tangalle, around Kogalla, you will see Sri Lanka’s famous stilt fishermen perched on a vertical pole planted into the sand, holding the stilt with one hand and a fishing rod in the other. They catch small fish like herring with just a crude fishing pole and a hook with no bait. Many say that this originated after the Second World War when the fishermen had to contend with rocky beaches and found this method a good way to fish inside the deep waters. Of course with it now becoming such a popular tourist attraction, many of the wily fishermen ask for money before letting you photograph them
The Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara is ( also known as Mulkirigala Rock Temple) 20 km (12 mi) north of the town. The temple is perched on a boulder approximately 200 m (660 ft) high. According to ancient inscriptions carved on the rock, Mulkirigala dates back almost 2,000 years when it was a site of a Buddhist monastery. The temple complex consists of ancient murals, a recumbent Buddha statue, devalayas, and several cave temples all of which are found at different levels while ascending the peak of the rock. One of the caves houses a library in which, a most important discovery was made in 1826 by a British administrator, George Turnour, who found a number of olas (palm-leaf manuscripts) containing the key to translating the Mahawamsa, the ‘Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka’. Turnour’s discovery of the tika, or commentary, made it possible for the Mahawamsa to be translated from Pali first into English and then into Sinhala, this translation then enabled scholars to study the history of the island from 543BC to comparatively modern times.
The Parewella Natural Swimming Area, is located 0.9 km (0.56 mi) from Tangalle town center.
Hummanaya blowhole, is located 11.2 km (7.0 mi) north of the town in the fishing village of Kudawella. It is the only blowhole in Sri Lanka.
Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary is 24 km (15 mi) east of the town. The Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1938, originally with 2,500 hectares but was abolished in 1946 due to the opposition by local residents. It was once again declared a sanctuary in 1984 but with a considerably reduced area. The Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary is an area of coastal lagoons and mangroves, which is rich in marine and home to four nationally threatened birds: Indian Reef Heron (Egretta gularis); Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus); Black-capped Purple Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata); Sri Lankan Junglefowl (Gallus lafayettii), as well as other birdlife and reptiles, a large number of which are nationally and globally threatened.
Turtle Watch Rekawa is 10 km (6.2 mi) east of the town. At the beach you can watch five species of marine turtles: Green turtles, Loggerhead turtles, Leatherback turtles, Olive Ridley turtles and Hawksbill turtles laying their eggs in the sand nests at night. The Turtle Conservation Project that conducts a `turtle watch’ programme, which protects the nesting sites until the hatchlings return to the ocean.