Saturday, March 31, 2012


Kalutara, Visit Sri Lanka For the last leg of our tour we went to Kalutara which is famous for its white sand beach. Kalutara is around 40 kms from Colombo. We stayed at the Kani Lanka hotel. Have put up the review of the hotel here.

After we left Yala, we visited the Galle Fort along the way. This fort built by the Portugese in 1588 is a UNESCO world heritage site. Heavy fortifications were later done by the Dutch. We did a "driving tour" of the town and saw old colonial building like Dutch church, old government house, National Maritime museum, light house etc. A walk along the rampart walls gives postcard views of the Light house. We saw a great sunset from here.

The stay in Kalutara was spent enjoying the great beaches here.

The mask museum at Ambalangoda is a short drive from Kalutara. An array of masks used in different traditional dance forms are put up for display. One can see the mask making process here as well.

We also visited a turtle hatchery. The hatchery buys turtle eggs from local fishermen who collect it from the beaches. It then hatches the eggs and releases the turtles back to see.

Another short journey takes you to Richmond Castle. Built during colonial times, this palace is now being used as a school. The caretaker there showed us around the castle.

Check out more photos below...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Butterfly Garden, Ovalekar Wadi

A butterfly garden in Mumbai would be a surprise for many but it does exist indeed as a surprise. Its a two acres agriculture plot converted by the enthusiast owner Mr. Rajendra Ovalekar into a butterfly park.  This is not his commercial project but shear out of interest.
While going from Borivali, take right turn for Ghodbundar road and after around 8 kms, take right turn for a narrow lane for Ovala village. Hardly after 1-2 kms, you see Ovalekar Butterfly garden on the right.  The park is open on Sunday morning only. Owners charge small fees of Rs. 25 for entry. The garden has space for parking as well.

Tiger Butterfly

Mr. Ovalekar spends sufficient time touring visitors around the garden, explaining the life cycle of butterfly, showing eggs, pupa, caterpillar etc. which are hard to notice for the untrained eyes. Check below link of photographs where I have uploaded snaps of life-cycle of butterfly. Mr. Ovalekar knows the need of eager photographers and helps in spotting the butterflies. It requires a lot of patience to spot the insect when it is resting. There are around 120+ species which visit this garden. When I visited in the first week of March, it was the low season, so could hardly spot 8 to 10 and could click only few of them. It being a natural breeding ground for butterflies, owner has taken a huge effort to put the natural and wild plantation to attract various species.


Best period to visit the garden, as informed by the owner, is around November which is the best period to spot various species.  In first half of the year, its April-May when one can be visit the park. The park opens at 7.00 AM, Guided tour starts depending on the climate but not later than 09.00 AM. Its best to call the owner and inquire about the time. You can also inquire about the season of the various species and then plan the visit.

White spotted Moth
I surely plan to visit again in the month of November.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Leopards of Yala

Yala National Park, Leopards of Yala, Visit Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka photos, Yala photos
Next on our itinerary, the Yala National Park, is famous for its Leopard population. This park became famous after the Discovery channel created a film on this place titled "Leopards of Yala". Since then the park has seen a major increase in tourist visits. We stayed at 'The Safari' hotel. Have put up the review of the hotel here

One needs to book jeeps in advance for the safari. We were able to book our jeeps at the hotel. Do research the rates in advance. We were charged 5000 LKR for the morning safari. Separate tickets per person need to be bought at the park entrance. A forest official joins you for the safari.

We did 2 safaris in the park, early morning and late evening. We had a much better experience of sightings for the morning safari. The park territory extends right up to the Indian Ocean. It bore the brunt of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Our guide informed us that the tsunami waters had come inland upto 1 km. It seems the animals in the park had 'sensed' the tsunami and had moved further in. A tsunami memorial has been built by the sea in memory of the victims. During both the safaris that we did, we went as far as up to the memorial and then started the return journey. The beach here is stunning and makes for an excellent 10 minute break.

The park has a number of bird and animal species. For me the highlight of the safaris was the Leopard sightings and the peacock dance. Check photos below.