The Galle Fort ramparts is hands-down one of my favourite places to hang out at on the island. It's all magnificent stone and grassy plain with an uninterrupted view of the sea, and it stretches all across the edge of the fort. Its walls are about four centuries old, from when the Portuguese were here.
Here's a rough guide for when you're on the Galle Fort rampart. Be sure to look through our gallery for more pictures of the fort and its happenings.
1. Mangoes & Snakes
Anyone who's been to Galle has seen the giant worm-shaped canopy of trees right smack in the center, in front of Lighthouse Street and Indian Hut
. Under here you get all kinds of random stuff like plastic beach balls, pinwheels - and tasty little bags of mangoes, of course. There's also the mango guy walking around with his basket on his head. There's plenty of benches under the trees where you can relax out of the sun.
You also get hand-crafted little boats, seashell jewellery, and hats (much needed in the sun) sold by hawkers on the ramparts.
These two were on Queen Street
The snake guy is one of my favourites about the rampart - he walks around with a python around his neck and you can do the same if you pay him. We couldn't find him this time, but there were a few of the other snake guys around the fort and the rampart - they charm cobras in baskets and are followed around by a trained monkey.
2. The Lighthouse
The lighthouse is a pretty cool structure on the west end of the fort, about 59 feet high. It's been there since 1938 and you can watch it signalling ships in the distance if you hang out here in the late evenings. You usually need special permission to head up to the top though.
3. Grassy Plains
If you head east on the rampart, you'll reach a wide grassy pitch. It's way greener now than we remember from years ago, and it's ideal for flailing around and maybe playing a good game of cricket.
You'll also find a few interesting stone structures here, remnants from centuries back of either Portugese or later Dutch habitation.
4. The Views
The views from the rampart are awesome. There are plenty of great spots to check it out from the fort, besides the obvious benches on the rampart pathway. We suggest you monkey-up somewhere on the fort for the best views and breeze, either on the grassy side on the east, or on the clock-tower side which is closer to the fort's entrance.
On the clock-tower side, you get an epic drop to the ocean from a high cliff - a great spot from which to enjoy the sunset. We'll have our review on the fort's sunset viewpoint up soon.
5. Rampart Divers
Meet Asanka. He's one of the many young guys who dive off the great rampart rock (you know, the giant one with a flight of stairs on it), for money. You can pay them about Rs. 500 to do it, though if they think you're a kalu-suddha you'll get asked close to 2K, and foreigners get it worse.
Asanka jumps off the giant rock you see on the right side in the pic above. Then he stealthily clambers on top of the smaller rocks and dives off them too, twice. He's been doing this for 13 years. The divers chalk up a lot per day as you might imagine, during season.
6. The Beach
There's actually a pretty wonderful beach at the Galle Fort rampart, on the way west end of the rampart. You need to head towards and past the clock-tower, walk over a plank, and then climb down a flight of stone stairs. The water is beautiful, there's the magnificent view, and a wide clean shore.
We love Galle Fort. It's also quite happening this year especially since a few new eateries have opened up, as well as the Galle Dutch Hospital
. So there's plenty of things to do around here, and on the rampart. The best times on the rampart are early mornings and at around 4PM.
The east end of the rampart has a couple of super picnic spots, especially the square stone-and-grass structures you have to clamber onto.