At the southernmost tip of the Island and situated 6km from Matara, Devundara or Dondra is believed to be the abode of Upulvan Deviyo or God Vishnu. As such, originally termed as Devi Nuwara, which translates to the City of Gods, with time it is believed that the name has become Devundara and then Dondra, its English adaptation. The origin of the town is said to date back to 660AD where historical records show of a flourishing port town and a place revered by many travellers and worshipers seeking blessings of the deity. Now the town is more famous for the Dondra Head Lighthouse and the Devundara Devalaya.
A white and modern archway and a gravel path that leads to a newly built temple ushers one to the premise of Devundara Devalaya. The origins of the Devalaya, described in the poem ‘Panditha Perakumba Siritha’, narrates a fascinating tale. According to legend, King Dappula I (661–664 AD) of Anuradhapura, had once dreamt of an unusual dream, in which he was told of the arrival of Upulvan Deviyo in the form of a kihiri log (a type of wood) at Devundara. Believing that the dream meant something, the very next day the King and his entourage went down to the shore of Devi Nuwara and lo and behold there was a kihiri log. The log was at once taken in to the custody of the King and was carved in relief of the deity. It was then ceremonially enshrined within the Devundara Devalaya. History tells of a great and grand temple complex that once stood in the premise of the current devalaya, which covered an extensive area. The temple had impressive architecture where the roofs were adorned in gilded brass, copper and gold, which could be seen far into the ocean. However, during the 16th century the town and the temple complex was completely destroyed. And much later, King Rajasinghe II built a Vishnu Devalaya, that only reflected a shadow of the temple’e former glory. The Devundara Devalaya that stands today is blue in colour to represent God Vishnu. Many devotees from around the Island and world come to the Devalaya daily and ruins of an ancient temple that would have occupied the spa
Standing at the Southern most point of Sri Lanka, the Dondra Head Lighthouse built by British in 1889 is currently operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Octagonal in shape and painted in white, the Dondra Lighthouse stands 54m high in a carefully tended garden. It is one of the four international lighthouses in Sri Lanka and also one of the tallest in South East Asia as well. The Lighthouse is still active and helps to guide ships and boats and is positioned at a crucial point in the Maritime route. The Dondra Head Lighthouse also transmits radio wave signals to surrounding lighthouses in Sri Lanka. Consisting of seven floors and 14 two panel windows, one has to climb 196 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse where the view overlooking the ocean is quite breathtaking. However, to climb you have to get prior permission from the Ports Authority.
Situated in the Galgane Road, near the Galgane Purana Raja Maha Viharaya, Gale Ge is believed to have close links to the Hindu epic, Ramayana. Some believers claim that the fight between King Ravana and Rama took place at Gal Ge, built to mark the place where King Ravana had died. However, yet others say that the Gal Ge represents a shrine built to worship the Sun God as the entrance to the structure is constructed facing east. A few stone steps lead to a higher plain where the Gal Ge stands amidst a sizable green field. This structure that remains now is said to be assembled from ancient stones to represent how the shrine would have looked been long ago. On the door panes and at certain points, faint etchings serve as testaments to its age that clearly runs many centuries back.
Not to be matched with more popular counterparts located nearby, still the beach at Devundara can provide a welcome interlude. Rocky outcrops that frame small patches of beach areas that are not crowded is the charm that attracts some to these waters. Small beach strips and unspoiled waters along with a beautiful vista, especially at sunrise and sunset are definitely worth enjoying if you happen to pass by this small town.