Matara is a major city in on the southern coast and 160 km from Colombo. It has a long history of being ruled by ancient kings and as a trading point due to Nilwala River runs through the town to mix with Indian Ocean. Matara was ruled by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 18th century. During same period, in 16th and 17th centuries, Moors arrived in the area as traders from Arabia. Today their descendants coexist with Sinhalese peacefully as an ethnic minority.

The famous beach at Matara is Polhena beach. The coral reefs soften the strength of waves, making it the ideal place even for novice swimmers. The beach gets crowded during weekends and public holidays. It is another hotspot to see colorful fish around the reef barriers. The beach is 2km from Matara town.

Visit the “Paravi Dupatha” or Pigeon Island in front of the city where you will find a relatively modern Buddhist temple. It attracts any visitor for the elegant cable-stayed footbridge. The Buddhist temple is set in attractive gardens and houses numerous statues of Lord Buddha.

If you are a lover of colonial history, then make sure to visit the Matara Fort and Star Fort in the city. It will be an awesome experience to stroll around the walls and Dutch ramparts, completed with cannon stations. Inside the Fort, there is a museum as well which display the history of Matara as well as soldiers’ quarters and prisoner cells.

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