Unawatuna – the chunk that fell


Unawatuna is a respite from the over crowded hippy beaches at Hikkaduwa.  a ten minute drive from Galle, we opted to stay at Unawatuna during a  a family reunion  — a sort of R&R.  We missed Hikkaduwa, but  away from the noisy crowded Hikkaduwa beaches, Unawatuna was balm to that loss. Hard to say that not a dog was around early morning at Unawatuna!

Early morning out for his run, this Unawatuna resident surveys the traffic with canine instinct  before crossing. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Early morning out for his run, this Unawatuna resident surveys the traffic with canine instinct before crossing. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

The town was waking up. If residents wanted free water and sand to brush your teeth, it was all there! This was and is still a common habit among older coastal residents.

A man brushes his teeth with sea sand and has an early morning wash in the sea at Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A man brushes his teeth with sea sand and has an early morning wash in the sea at Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Amidst the fast speeding cars and motorbikes, the human powered labour incentive transport modes do exist in Lanka.

A hand cart trundles along on the winding road below our hotel at Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A hand cart trundles along on the winding road below our hotel at Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

But still the ubiquitous glass bottom boats popular with tourists for viewing coral was there.

A glass bottom boat silently bobs in the sea across the road from the to the hotel, waiting for tourists  at Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A glass bottom boat silently bobs in the sea across the road from the to the hotel. Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Unawatuna has an interesting past. Some trace the roots of the village to the great epic Ramayana. This is the spot where monkey-warrior Hanuman accidently dropped a part of the Himalayas he was carrying. You may ask how on earth did that happen?  Well, Hanuman asked to fetch  medicinal  herbs to heal Lakshman from the Himalaya’s failed to identify these herbs.  So  he took off with the entire mountain and carried it to the battlefield to try to save Lakshman, but in the process, a chunk of it “fell-down” in the location of the present day Unawatuna. Thus the name of the village derives from “Una-watuna” meaning “fell down”.

Derrick Schokman  writing int the Sunday Observer says “Yes indeed, something did fall there in prehistoric times, not on the land but 100 km away from Unawatuna in the sea. It has caused a huge deep pit into which the whole island of Sri Lanka seems ready to slide.”

“Sir Arthur Clarke in one of his books has stated that whatever fell is still there disturbing the gravitational field of the earth. It is labelled Terran Gravitic Anomaly I, 110 metres below the zero reference on the Goddard Space Flight Centre’s 3 D map of the Earth’s Gravimetric Geoid.”

Unawatuna was also the suburb where the Dutch commanders and merchants resided and had their “Buiten Plaatsen — Country residences.  So between Hanuman and the Dutch, there are some more interesting places to explore on the next visit.

Sri Lanka is beautiful, no doubt and historically interesting but it’s the people that make the difference. I stopped to chat to Indrani on her way to work at another hotel.

Indrani works at a tourist hotel and as her smile says she likes it. Unawatune, Sri Lanka. 4 Feb. 2010.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Indrani works at a tourist hotel and as her smile says she likes it. Unawatune, Sri Lanka. 4 Feb. 2010.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

And at the end of the day, there are the famous sundowners, watching the fiery ball dip into the sea.

Spectacular sunsets are a common all along the coastal towns in Sri Lanka. Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Spectacular sunsets are a common all along the coastal towns in Sri Lanka. Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.Photograph© Chulie de Silva

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12 thoughts on “Unawatuna – the chunk that fell

  1. Great read

    Just goes to prove what i said about sea-side real-estate being bad idea.

    If its not lost to rising sea levels, it may slide into the unidentified black-hole thing in the sea.

    so am still recommending sail boat or very tall coconut tree to climb up.

    bestest on Sunday

    Dilshani

    • Great advice — and I agree with you. We won’t invest in coastal properties but keep our fingers crossed and enjoy what’s there with one eye on that Coconut tree. Glad you enjoyed the read:-)) — Chulie

  2. Thank you for a very encouraging feedback. I enjoy so much photographing and recording the little things in a place I like to remember. Often these are common scenes but will fade away with the passing years.

    I should have mentioned that the man on the first photo on the left did his morning face wash and brushed his teeth with the sea sand before getting on his bike and cycling away to work.

    The woman in yellow was Indrani a hotel worker who stopped to chat.

  3. Hi Chuli,
    This is an interesting description about Unavatana and the photographs are beautiful. You speak of the meaning as being something that ‘fell down.’

    The Ramayana tradition tells us that Lakshmana was hit by Indrajit’s (Ravana’s son) arrow and had to be revived. It is for this that Hanuman was sent to bring the herb “siranjivi” from the Himalayas Since he did not know which herb he was to pick, he instead carried the mound and it is from this that a small portion ‘fell down.’

    We understand that the plants on this spot are different to the natural vegetation of the area and that these plants are of great medicinal value!

    Congratulations. Sivanandini.

  4. Sorry, Chulie, all your references are flawed. If they shouted “Onna watuna” when the chunk fell, then there were Sinhalese speakers here at that time – which was not the case (this is during the pre-Sinhala period – right?). The gravitational anomaly occurs not in the sea but in the magna, below the earth’s crust. I have studied the geological maps of the region (in relation to my work) and found that the entire hill and the sea floor are of Charnokite, a hard type of Gneiss (sp?), but there is an anomaly where the Dutch Fort stands. I love legends as much as the next person, but I also look beyond them.
    Go take a look at “Nooit Gedacht”, before the turn-off to the beach and see the Dutch Commandeur’s country house.
    Go also to the Devale and here of the Devol legend.
    Good luck!

  5. Thank you and it’s good you are correcting me. Writing this late at night I wondered whether to post it but then I thought to go ahead and post it and open the discussion. Yes, I plan to visit those two places next time, do some serious reference work and then I will post a corrected version.

  6. Hi Chuli,
    Interesting information re Unawatunna; nevertheless one must not place too much credence on legends. Unawatunna, to me at least, was noted for the excellent spearfishing and diving in years gone by. I speared many a fine caranx there, but a recent visit was disappointing – the area was, to use a divers’ expression, “Hacked out”.

  7. Pingback: Best Photo Memories of 2010 « Chuls Bits & Pics

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