Matara (originally Mahathota) is a city on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, which is famous among tourists for its natural scenic beauty. Matara is among the major cities of Sri Lanka, located at a distance of 160 km from Colombo. The history of Matara dates back to the Anuradhapura period.
Matara’s scenic beauty and greenery attracts lot of tourists, with River Nilwala flowing right through the city. The long stretch of paddy fields and spice plantations provides a panoramic touch to the natural surroundings of the city. The beaches around Matara are also very clean and beautiful and attract lot of foreign tourists. The most popular beach is the Polhena beach, about 3 km from main town, also popular for snorkeling and surfing.
Matara is also home to many historical heritage monuments that were built during the rule of the Dutch and the Portuguese here. One of the main tourist attraction in Matara is the light house in Point Dondra, which was built by the Europeans and is one of the oldest light houses in Sri Lanka. Other important historical monuments are the star shaped Dutch fort and Saint Mary’s Church that were built by the Dutch rulers.
There is also a 25m high colorful Buddha statue with Lord Buddha in sitting position in the small village of Veherehena, near Matara. The city is also the hometown of famous Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya and a village in this district has been named after him – Sanath Jayasuriyagama.
History of Matara
Matara was once called ‘Mahathota’ that translates into ‘Great Ferry’. Matara has been under the rule of many rulers. The Portuguese administered Matara from 1790 to 1795, while the British ruled it from 1796 to 1948. The Dutch were also dominant forces in Matara for some time in Sri Lanka.