Chilaw – A Fun Filled Religious City


Chilaw (Halawatha) is a town full of many exciting activities.  You can visit number of historical, cultural and religious sites around Chilaw.  Specially wildlife at the Wilpattu National Park or Muthurajawela wetland, Boat ride at Deduruoya, Watch whales and dolphins at Kalpitiya or join the Annual puja of Munnaswaram Hindu Temple. The Actual list goes further beyond. Chilaw offers multi day trips because you couldn’t cover the area with a day or two.

Beloved “Father of India”, Mahathma Gandhi paid visit to Chilaw in November 1927 during his only journey to Sri Lanka. He was invited by the Sri Lankan (Ceylon) freedom fighters, Charles Edgar Corea and brother Victor Corea. They have founded the Chilaw Association and Ceylon National Congress to fight against British for the independence of Ceylon. Their family and the name ‘Corea’ had bonded with Chilaw for generations. Old saying in Sri Lanka that Chilaw is famous for three ‘C’ s. Crabs, Coconuts and Corea.

Chilaw Cathedral Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the cathedral of Chilaw Diocese. According to the legend the cathedral and the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel may over 200 years old. At that time most of surroundings of Chilaw was covered by Jungle, a woman went to collect some firewood where she heard someone calls “Please take me”. She was stunned by the voice and went to search, then she found the statue of Mother Mary on a tree.  She took the statue carefully and bring it to town and showed it to a local priest.  He recognized the miraculous statue and people believe to date that the same statue in the cathedral. People are joining together to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in harmony.

Munnaswaram temple’s annual festival is famous among Sri Lankan pilgrims as well as foreign tourists. The temple is situated at the historic Demala Pattuwa (Meaning; Tamil division) area in the Puttalum district. People are flock in thousands to observe the Munnaswaram festival. People selling things at the festival such as handmade clay animals, Cloths, food, toys from their stalls all over the town. Navarathri and Sivarathri are the main festivals celebrated at the temple.  First one is nine day festival to honor the presiding goddess (Nava + rathri = Nine + Nights) followed by the Sivarathri (Siva + rathri, Siva + night) to honor of Lord Shiva. Not only these two festivals celebrating at the temple. There are a festival of their own which is celebrating for four weeks, called Munneswaram festival which are attended by Hindus and Buddhists as well.

Wilpattu National Park is for the people who love nature. The word “Villu” means wetland, Natural shallow lakes surrounded by grasslands. Hence the park is unique as it is in the dry zone in Sri Lanka but covered with wetlands. Many mammals like elephants, sloth bear, deer and jackals made their home at Wilpattu. Also Anawilunduwa sanctuary is another excellent place to watch birds.  It is on the way Anuradhapura and a wetland in dry zone as well as Wilpattu. Consists with manmade tanks and irrigation system.

Chilaw is not just a lagoon and a sea to enjoy under the sun, the area is richer in cultural and historical monuments as well as religious rituals. That may be the main reason people coming to the area without caring about the raging sun or a dry climate.

Attractions Places & Activities for Tourists Chilaw

  • Munneshwaram Hindu temple
  • Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary
  • Boat ride at Deduruoya
  • Wilpattu National Park
  • Munnaswaram Hindu Temple
  • Muthurajawela wetland
  • Watch Whales & Dolphins at Kalpitiya