The Bon Viants and Gypsetters are heading to Galle in south-west Sri Lanka. Artist, Hip Lawyers, Surfers, and entrepreneurs have now discovered this Serendipitous enclave.
Until recently, Galle was an almost undiscovered hideaway in this tropical paradise. The preserve of just a few intrepid families, beach bohos and slightly eccentric Asiaphile second-home owners.
Today, Galle flourishes the travel and fashion pages of Vogue, Tatler , Elle and Harpers Bazaar along with almost every considered travel magazine.
Sri Lanka and the Galle area is fast becoming the destination of taste, style, spiritual awakening and sheer indulgence for a more enlightened traveller, seeking balance and inspiration on their travels.
The journey south to Galle from Colombo, is a pleasant, unique and scenic one along the Southern highway, which takes one hour by car. Alternatively, there is also the old Galle Road that hugs the coastline and takes about three hours to reach Galle.
Although a textured journey! which encounters local villages and the lives of local folk, this tiny road continues to flow relatively freely and the views are stunning.
Galle can be reached by car, train or the Air Taxi service which when operational lands on Koggala Lake, about 20 minutes to the south. Useful drive times include: Colombo to Galle (one hour); Airport to Galle (2.5 hours); Galle to Mirissa (45 minutes) Galle to Tangalle (2 hours); Tangalle to Yala (2.5 hours); Kandy to Galle (5.5 hours); Nuwara Eliya to Galle (6 hours).
Galle owes its historic importance to its natural harbour and strategic location. It has long been a hub of trade and commerce with ships from all parts of the world docking at the ancient port to barter their goods for treasures from this island: precious gems, pearls, spices, and scented woods. Galle is even referred to as the Biblical `Tarshish’ where King Solomon's ships called at port to take aboard treasures.
The accidental arrival of the Portuguese Lorenzo De Almeida in 1505, when his fleet of ships steered off course following a storm at sea, changed the history of this island nation. The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch in 1640 and then the British in 1796. With each occupation, Galle’s landscape changed and the cultural influences remained. Colombo became Sri Lanka’s main port in the 1870s and Galle’s influence waned, perhaps protecting its charm.
Today Galle is a bustling provincial capital where a kaleidoscope of ethnicities and religions live side by side. The majority of Galle’s population is Sinhalese but there are significant communities of Moors, Malays, Tamils and increasingly a scattering of Europeans, largely but not exclusively British, who have been attracted by the area’s rich cultural heritage, beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyles. Artists, designers and writers flock each year for rest and inspiration.