The main town of Hambantota district in the southern province, Hambantota, Sri Lanka, was deeply affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. And since then, there have been multiple development projects conducted in the area. Some of them include the construction of the international airport and a new seaport which was completed in 2014.
The projects like Hambantota Cricket Stadium is said to be a part of the government’s plan to change Hambantota into the major urban hub of the country, second after Colombo. The town is popular for its biodiversity and it is home to over 20 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
Back in the early days, during the Kingdom of Ruhana, this port town received many traders and travelers from Indonesia, China, and Siam. And these traders used to travel in large ships and boats, which were called Sampans and the port or anchorage they had parked was called thota. And because of this, the town was called as Sampantota, also known as Godawaya. As time passed, this area was called Hambantota.
This town was a part of the traditional south called Ruhana. Back in the days, Hambantota and the neighboring regions were the hub of a thriving society as well as the Sri Lankan Buddhist culture. And close to Hambantota, there is a massive temple known as Tissamaharama, which was constructed to house a sacred tooth relic. The Hambantota region was also a part of the irrigation network and fertile fields. Along with the name Sampantota, the town was also named as Dolos dahas rata, Mahagama, and Ruhana.
Things to do in Hambantota
1. Bundala National Park:
Flocked by tourists from all over the world, Bundala National Park acts as a winter land for all the migratory birds. Other than the bird watching activity, the national park also features unique flora and fauna in their natural habitat. It is renowned as the world at the edge as this is the place where wetlands, sea, and land come together. 2. Ridiyagama Safari Park:
Loved by nature enthusiasts all over, this 500-acre safari park opened its doors to the public in 2016 and features several attractions for visitors to indulge in. 3. Dry Zone Botanic Gardens:
One of the renowned and five botanical gardens in the country, the Dry Zone Botanic Gardens boasts scenic views, walking trails, bird watching, and several other activities. The experts from Sri Lanka helped develop the garden for conservation facilities of the trees, shrubs, flowers, and plants. 4. Mahapelessa Hot Springs:
To reach Mahapelessa Hot Springs, visitors must go through the boat rides and wild animal infested forests. The locals made this hot water well to relieve the thirst of the animals and the people. But over some time, this location has become a popular tourist attraction. 5. Ussangoda National Park:
The 21st national park in the country, Ussangoda National Park is a technologically advanced national park that was built to conserve the area’s geographical, archaeological, and biological values. 6. Birds Research Center & Resort:
This attraction is Asia’s largest Birds Park and Research Center in the area. Home to over 3,200 exotic birds and endemic, and 180 birds, Birds Research Center & Resort is perfect for all the bird enthusiasts. 7. Mirijjawala Botanic Gardens:
Known for its panoramic beauty and several walking trails, Mirijjawala Botanic Gardens boasts an area of approximately 300 acres.8. Kumana National Park:
Situated on the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, Kumana National Park is a famous tourist attraction and is popular for multiple things. Some of them include the migratory wading birds and waterfowls, and avifauna. The park is approximately 391 kilometers long and is home to a much unique flora and fauna. This park is nestled near Hambantota city. 9. Walawe River Safari:
A famous biodiversity area, Walawe River Safari is perfect for wildlife spotting. This area features over 6 types of mangroves, 72 different bird species, 50 fish species, 25 plant species, and 28 animal species. During the safari, visitors can explore multiple water animals in their natural habitat.10. Yala National Park:
One of the most-visited spots in Sri Lanka, Yala National Park has been home to several species of animals and birds since the early 1900s. Visitors can tour around the wildlife sanctuary by taking a jeep safari. There are five sections in the park and only two of them can be visited because the rest of the area is protected under the natural reserves. It is home to over 50 species of animals and 200 species of birds. And between the months of January to July, visitors can enjoy watching the leopards roaming around freely in the park. 11. Hummanaya:
Another popular attraction, Hummanaya, also known as Kudawella Blowhole, is situated in the Hambantota district. It is famous because of its unique geographical feature, which is known to make an odd ho-ho-ho sound. The waves here hit the rocks and traverses through the hole, because of which it releases this peculiar sound that locals and visitors from all over the world hear, while on their way to Hummanaya.