Learn some sick moves of self-defence while you're holidaying in Sri Lanka. Visit the Angampora Training Centre in Athurugiriya that's approximately an hour away from Colombo. They have exclusive short-term courses for foreign nationals such as the introduction to Angampora, the fundamentals, Practitioner of Angampora I and Practitioner of Angampora II.
These can be are long as a week or three months depending on how much you want to learn, so, talk to them before you go there. They also have branches in Germany, Switzerland, and India by the way.
What is Angampora exactly? It is an ancient art of martial arts that has been practised in Sri Lanka for thousands of years ago used by great kings and warriors such as Rana Ravana in war as well as self-defence. Angampora incorporates a number of hand to hand combat techniques such as striking, grappling, striking using various weapons such as staves, swords, knives, and maces.
One of the most important or deadly moves in Angampora are pressure point attacks that are said to cause extreme pain or permanent paralysis! The British colonists were so afraid of Sri Lankan rebels using Angampora in battles, that they completely banned it and destroyed all practice centres and brutally shot practitioners of Angampora in the knees to maim them. However, thanks to places like the training centre in Athurigiriya, its slowly gaining recognition and popularity once again.
Photo by Chalani Sarala Peiris (@chalsarala) via Instagram
Not only is this landmark of a temple ranked Number 1 amongst places to visit in Kalutara by many travel guides like Travel Kalutara, it's also one of the most important Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The Kalutara Bodhiya is one of the thirty-two saplings of the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura which in turn is the right-wing branch of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi in Buddha Gaya under which Lord Gautama Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment. Therefore, the respect and veneration that the people have for this site are immense, so be sure to be dressed modestly (preferably in white) when visiting.
The first sapling of the bodhiya or the sacred fig tree was planted during the 2nd century BC. During the colonization of the Portuguese, the entire site was used as a Fort due to its strategic location that helped the colonists strengthen the control of Maritime Provinces of the country. In the 19th century, the British government decided to remove the bodhi tree as it was obstructing the construction of the Kalutara Railway Bridge.
Fortunately, thanks to the outcry of the locals, this national treasure was saved from such a fate and the bridge was constructed without harming the Bodhi. When you visit it today, you'll be able to see not only the sacred bodhi but also several other attractions such as the magnificent stupa and other temple buildings. Don't forget to make an offering at the little till boxes placed outside for it is a ritual that every traveller who passes the temple does.
The Kalutara Bodhiya can be easily reached within one and a half hour's time either through the Southern Expressway or the Galle Road.
Spend the day in Seetawaka Wet Zone Botanical Garden
How does a day spent amongst beautiful, blooming flowers sounds, simply divine doesn't it? If you visit the Seetawaka Wet Zone Botanical Garden located about two hours from Colombo, that's how your days gonna be. This stunning garden is a research and conservation area for vulnerable and threatened endemic plants belonging to the Sinharaja Rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Biosphere Reserve.
Additional to the above, the gardens are also used for bamboo cultivation, ex-situ conservation of wet lowland plants and the improving of export floriculture.
Originally, the 79.07-acre site was used as a plantation for tea and rubber but was declared open in 2014 as the Seetawaka Wet Zone Botanical Garden. There is much to see and do here ranging from admiring the wide number of flowers, plants, and trees to learning about their importance. There is a lovely stream that flows through the garden sustaining many wet zone plants and providing the perfect spot to go swan boat riding.
Explore Historical and Natural Attractions in Gampaha
Travel to Gampaha, literally translating to "Five Villages", this is a major city that's about 1 hour away from Colombo. There's plenty to see and do here but the two most popular attractions are the Alawala Prehistoric Archaeological Site and the Horagolla National Park.
The Alawala Prehistoric Archaeological Site is a great place to visit if you're interested in prehistory. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of prehistoric humans and some of the equipment and weapons they had used back in the day.
The cave known as the "Potugal Lena" is said to date as far back as 125,000 years. One of the caves, the "Thapo Lena" had been used by Buddhist monks for meditation and remnants of that period still can be seen such as a reclining Buddha statue, two seated Buddha statues and cave murals of the Buddha.
The Horagolla National Park is the smallest of its kind under the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The verdant 13.362-hectare reserve is home to a curious collection of wildlife such as giant squirrels, mouse deer, fishing cat, fox, exotic bird life and reptile species including cobras and pythons.