Unawatuna BeachFrom Ramayana
The description of the beach paradises in Valmiki's epic Ramayana sounds like Unawatuna.
- "a seashore dotted with thousands of trees, coconuts, and palms dominating, strings of houses and hermitages along the coastline, human beings and superior beings such as Gandharvas, Siddhas, and ascetics, living in them and countless bejewelled celestial nymphs thronging the shore, the coast intermittently visited by heavenly beings, Gods and demons.":
Currently, an edifice is being built in honour of Hanuman on the harbour end of Rumassala Hill by Japanese monks of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism near the Peace Pagoda that they built.
Alternate mythologyA banished Indian Prince was shipwrecked and the Goddess of Earth, Manimekalai, taking pity created a rocky shelf for him to save his life and that subsequently he headed to Unawatuna. The Goddess of Chastity, Pattini, created a wall of fire to prevent him coming ashore, but being a person of some supreme power, he set in motion a tsunami with his foot to extinguish the fire and set foot on the shores of Unawatuna.
It is said that he lived in Unawatuna and helped the people in various ways. Over the years he has been venerated and worshiped, and the Kovil (or Devalaya) on the west end point of the bay which has a history of over a thousand years is believed to be the abode of this Devol deity.
This rice is pounded and mixed with coconut milk and treacle and made into a porridge which is then offered to the deities at the devalaya and given as alms to thousands of devotees who will trek to the devalaya for this alms giving or Maha Deva Dana or Kiri Dana. Fisher folk save and offer part of their earnings called "Goda kotasa" seeking protection on their forays into the ocean.
Eco-TourismUnawatuna is rich in its biodiversity. Unfortunately, its greatest potential attraction for eco-tourism was the marsh land or mangrove called Kadolana which was partially destroyed, dredged and filled up to build a chain hotel which never got off the ground. Many locals believe it to have been cursed for being built at the doorstep of the Wella Devalaya.
Over sixty species of endemic birds, including Terns, Egrets, Herons, Sandpipers, Kingfishers, as well as rarer species such as the Lesser Whistling Duck, the Asian Palm Swift, the White Breasted Waterhen, the Turnstone Loten's Sunbird, and the Black Bittern have been sighted in the locality by the ornithologist, Clive Byers. These birds are mostly sighted in the remaining marshy area and Rumassala Hillock.
Off the coast of Unawatuna, beneath the Indian Ocean lies a number of coral reefs, shipwrecks, and a great variety of fish and turtles. The turtles still wade onto the shore to lay their nests and eggs, and at times, as if to lay first claim to the sandy shore now invaded by the tourists and dotted by restaurateurs, even go right into the beach front restaurants .
The Rumassala coral reefs at the east end of the Galle Harbor attract divers, but are now endangered due to possible port development. Eco treks in the shrub jungles of Rumassala are also available.