Geographical location Galle is situated in the Southern coastal region as teh third big city of Srilanka, about 120 km. south from Colombo capital. It can be reached by vehicles,train. about 3 1/2 hr. direct travel along the South West […]
Galle is situated in the Southern coastal region as teh third big city of Srilanka, about 120 km. south from Colombo capital.
It can be reached by vehicles,train. about 3 1/2 hr. direct travel along the South West coastal drive. Also can use Southern Express way as the fastest route about 1 1/2 hrs. drive.
Historical influence of Galle as a port of call
Since pre Christian Era, Galle, which was a world famous natural harbor, has been used as a port of call or harbor for trading purposes and frequented by traders from both East and West of the world because of the strategically location of the International sea route.
The history of Galle fort is the history of Galle too. It was regarded as a habour and a place for international trade but not as a big city.
Galle is mentioned as “Ceteum Proment” in the first ever world map cartographer by Ptolemy, the famous geographer in the first Century AD. Many travelers and traders reports states that Galle port was situated in the centre of the sea route to East and West and in the 4th and 5th Centuries, ships sailed to Galle from India, Persia, Ethiopia and Arab countries.
It is also said that ships sailed from Galle to those countries,
commercial goods received from China such as silk, cloves, Sandal wood and pepper from Malakka Kasturi ( musk) from Sindhu reached “Seila deeba/ Zeelan”
inexchange from goods and transactions were done in Galle.
Emerson Tenant believes that Galle would have been a leading trading center in the East. He thinks that Tarshis mentions in the Old Testament would be Galle. From where the king Solomon brought sapphires, tamed elephants, monkeys and peacocks.
It has been recorded that Chinese traded Cinnamon, peacocks, tamed elephants, gems, pearls arecanut and Sappan wood.( Saesalpenia sappan) ( Rath kihiri or pathangi) It hasbeen recorded that Admiral Chen Ho came to Galle and made offerings to the Sacred Tooth Relic and had a trade exhibition of Buddhist books and some Chinese commodities.
In the 10th C.AD Galle was famous for Ivory and gems trade.
Galle became the main sea port of the Sinhala Kingdom.
Arab traders carried out the international trade from Sri Lanka and rest of the world.
Portuguese have already come to know about Ceilao. and its cinnamon, spices and other commodities.
Dutch, who came to Ceylan in 1638, (17th AD)occupied Galle Fort after a decisive battle.
For the VOC in Asia,Galle was their second important harbor.
They made the firm base in Cinnamon trade in Ceylon.
Other commodities were pepper, cardamom, elephants, arrecanuts, Sappan wood and gems.
Dutch made it as a fortified city close to the harbor and wall “ Puk huise” It was used as a protective wall and a store house as well.
The fort was reinforced with several bastions, which can be seen by the visitors. i.e. Sun Bastian, Moon bastion, Star bastion, Akersloot Bastion, where the decisive battle between Portuguese and Dutch took place Utrecht Bastion, Flagstaff bastion, where the signalman gives the signals in respect of incoming ships, Aurora, Clipphenberg and Neptune bastions.
It is believed that Dutch used low tide and high tide to wash and clean the sewerage and drains.
Dutch records mention that thee were 1841 inhabitants in 1760 in the fort. Among them, company officers, servants, indigenous company servants, Muslims, Chettiyas, company slaves, and slaves of families and free burghers. (Portuguese and Dutch Who were freed)
Dutch had to hand over all the colonies in the East after a peace treaty of Amiens- France in 1802.
When British arrived Ceylon in 1796, Late 18 AD) the fortified port was an important hub of trade and shipping being strategically located for traffic between the Arabian peninsula and East Asia., but also playing an important role in local and regional trade.
The golden era of Galle came during the British period because; Galle was the main port of trade and Shipping. The Internationalcruises and ships like PNO had to stop in Galle for logistic purposes and Galle became cosmopolitan city with Europeans, Arabs and Asians.The tourist hotels such as NOH, Pavilion. and many others rendered hospitality services in the hustle and bustle city. The people of the area earned their living by selling souvenirs of ebony elephants, tortoise shell handy crafts and gems and jewelry to the visitors, who traveled from London to Australia and Far East.( Beginning of souvenir industry in SL)
However, the natural harbor of Galle was not considered as a safe port. Hence the fame of Galle as an international port was faded away with the operation of Colombo harbor since 1873.
Galle Fort today
Galle was declared as a World Heritage Site (living City) by UNESCO.
Even today a visitor feels the atmosphere of bygone era in Galle because of the buildings and Narrow Streets.
Tourist attractions are : Museums, bastions, Black fort, Old gate with emblems of VOC and English, ( in and out) wall, Kruise Kerk, (Dutch Reformed Church) mosque, Light house, commander’s House, belfry Anglican Church, Clock Tower, light house, Leynbahnstrat. ( rope making st) Pedler st. etc. Dutch hospital (New development)Share this tour
Genuine Lanka Holiday & Tours PVT (LTD)
Gampaha, Sri Lanka.