(Text by BEVERLEY JANSZ) The sunny golden beaches of Arugambay in Sri Lanka’s East Coast, which was almost devoid of tourists for the last 20 years due to the ethnic conflict, has come alive again. It is back to sun, sea and sand for both foreign and local tourists in their numbers in the wake of the Government’s peace initiative.
Chairman, Arugambay Beach Resort, Dr. Param sothi, who built the resort over 20 years ago, but was unable to even visit it for over 10 years due to the ethnic war, was all smiles and showed signs of relief.
The resort has already begun operations, and a massive refurbishment is under way to cater to the influx of tourists to Arugambay. ‘I am certain that the sunny golden beaches of Arugambay will soon be another ‘Hikkaduwa’ Dr. Sothi said with much relief.
In addition to the beautiful beach, Arugambay Beach Resort offers tourists a host of attractions. Arugambay combines several features of tourist interest but was left unnoticed by the tourist and travel trade for almost 20 years and tourist guide and travel magazines have sadly almost forgotten Arugambay, one of the three popular East Coast beach resort destinations in Sri Lanka, others being Trincomalee and Pasikudah.
With the cessation of hostilities following the demise of the LTTE, new interest and enthusiasm are very evident in re-discovering the East Coast, particularly Arugambay. Hotels, resorts and restaurants are coming up everywhere in the area. Tourists both foreign and local began flowing in large numbers for which the resort village was unprepared.
Arugambay Beach Resort is only a two hours drive from the cool climes of the Bandarawela mountains and is 1 1/2 k.m. from Pottuvil town on the road to Panama, overlooking the sea. The resort offers 10 guest rooms in chalet type bungalows. This unique family resort in cooled by the lush vegetation surrounding it and the cool breeze from the sea.
The chalets are cozy, comfortable, roomy, airy, well furnished with tiled bathroom and elegant fittings. The guest rooms have spacious verendahs overlooking the garden and the Arugambay beach. The resort has a few cabanas too.
The service is homely. The food delicious, offering the catch of the day from the Arugambay beach, seafood, fish, prawns, crabs, cuttle fish and tiger prawns make up the mouth watering menu in addition to the usual Western and Eastern cuisine. Guests are also offered pure curd made of fresh milk available in plenty at Arugambay.
Arugambay Beach Resort offers a host of tourist attractions. It lies midway between two popular National Parks, Lahugala National Park and Kumana Bird Sanctuary, which is the eastern border of Yala National Park. Lahugala is only 13 k.m. and Kumana Bird Sanctuary is only 23 k.m. from Arugambay Beach Resort.
A host of heritage sites and ruins dating back to the 5th century are in close proximity to the resort.
They are Magul Maha Viharaya (also known as Ruhunu Maha Viharaya, Mudu Maha Viharaya and Dudumbi Gala Hermitage, the Oakande Rock and Hindu temple, which is said to be the spot where Sindbad the Sailor ended up after a ship wreck, as stated by Richard Boyle in a historical article.
One of the main attractions for tourists visiting Arugambay Beach Resort, is the herds of 20 to 50 elephants seen at the Lahugala tank, Sasthri Veli, on the Panama Road and also on the road to Okanda and Kumana, on the way to the resort.
There is a range of special packages for Sri Lankans and expatriates, for picnics family and company outings for which the resort offers a host of facilities, including delicious seafood.
Arugambay Beach Resort is managed and marketed by Orient Hotel, Bandarawela which has embarked on a scheme to market and manage a number of resorts in Bandarawela and Arugambay under the Orient umbrella, General Manager Orient Hotel, Bandarawela, Rewatha Hettiarachchi said.