Kirinda is a small coastal fishing village blessed with a beautiful beach, spectacular views and a thrilling history. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Hambantota district of Sri Lanka, which is situated roughly about 37 km away from Hambantota town and easily accessible via Tissamaharama.
Kirinda offers contrasting landscapes where, on one side of the town is the stunning coast filled with sandy roads and dilapidated buildings and on the other side lies a beautiful terrain of woods and grasslands, presenting a sneak peek of the most sought-after nearby attraction, the Yala National Park.
History of Kirinda
This is the place as per the Sri Lankan history where Queen Viharamahadevi landed, at mostly recognized as the value of Kirinda. Queen Viharamahadevi was the daughter of King Kelanitissa who ruled the kingdom of Kelaniya. It is popularly believed that the King once punished an innocent monk by boiling him alive in a cauldron of hot oil. It is said that the gods, angered over this cruel deed, made the ocean rush inland and flood the entire land. Its believed that if a princess was sacrificed to the sea, it will be appeased.
The brave princess sacrificed herself on behest of her father and for the safety of her motherland. She left the island inside a beautifully decorated boat which bore the letters “Daughter of a King”. As soon as she left the shore, the water receded.
Days later a fisherman spotted the strange looking craft as it drifted off Dovera, near Kirinda. Drawing closer he read the inscription and carried the news to the King of this southern region, Kavantissa, who came to welcome the Princess. King Kavantissa married her upon hearing about her valor and renamed her Viharamahadevi.
She bore him two sons who were then become national heroes in the coming years. The eldest some, lovingly known as Gemunu, became King Duthugemunu (161 – 137 BC) and united the Sinhalese for the first time after defeating the Tamil king Elara.
The fame of this romantic legend makes Kirinda a prime spot for pilgrims.
Best Time to Visit Kirinda
The best time to visit Kirinda is from January to March, May to September and December, when you will have a warm temperature and limited rainfall. The busiest month for tourism in is December, followed by October and August, due to which prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these months. You can save some bucks if you purchase well in advance or plan to visit during the month of June when its least crowded.
Attractions of Kirinda
Adagala Wella Beach
Adagala Wella beach is an amazing secluded beach perfect long evening walks. But it’s not suitable for swimming due to the heavy undertows.
Ruins at Gotimbaragodella
Several kilometres inland from Kirinda, at a place called Gotimbaragodella, there are traces of the ruins of a palace, where it is said King Kavantissa welcomed and later married Queen Viharamahadevi.
Magul Maha Vihara
There are also some ancient monuments at Magul Maha Vihara, close to Palatupana, just within Yala National Park, where the pair are said to have spent their honeymoon.
You can see the superb sweeping views of the desolate coast, and marvel at the long stretch of sand dunes and the ocean beyond when you visit the temple in Kirinda.
As you reach the rocky outcrop you will see a modern statue of Queen Viharamahadevi. Watch as pilgrims make their offerings at the dagoba. Be sure to look out for King Kavantissa’s royal coat of arms featuring the sun and the moon carved on a boulder nearby.
Kirinda Vihara Maha Devi Temple
Kirinda centers on this impressive hilltop Buddhist shrine, which includes a dagoba and a huge standing Buddha. This shrine is dedicated to Queen Viharamahadevi, who is in the heart of the famous local legend. You can see the amazing broad views of the uninhabited coast, and marvel at the long stretch of sand dunes when you visit the temple in Kirinda.
Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya
Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya is located on top of a rock overlooking the Kirinda town, built by King Kavantissa. The temple is perhaps the most prominent attraction within the town boundaries. This ancient temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims and visitors from far, owing to the legendary tales.
Great Basses Reef Lighthouse
Another must-see tourist attraction of Kirinda is the Great Basses Reef Lighthouse, which is accessible solely by boats. The two Basses lighthouses, ‘Great’ and ‘Little’, are two of Asia’s most famous offshore lighthouses. The lighthouse on the Great Basses Reef appears like a needle from large distance.
Visit the local fishermen’s village
You could take a walk through the fishermen’s village as well to get to know about their daily routines and culture from them. You can also end your walk with tea and Sri Lankan sweet meat.
Where to Stay in Kirinda
Most tourists either stay in Tissamaharama or Yala and visit Kirinda on a one day trip. But you can certainly check out the Kirinda Beach Resortif you wish to stay back and enjoy some leisurely walks at the Kirinda beach watching the sunset.
If you are interested in history and want to explore the origin of one of the most famous legends of Sri Lanka, then a visit to Kirinda is a must! If you looking for paces for your itinerary, check out my 7 days in Sri Lanka.
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