The port of Galle dates back to the time when Arab traders sailed to China in search of eastern riches. Galle was their last haven before crossing the Bay of Bengal. Perhaps one of the earliest recorded references to Galle comes from the great Arab traveler Iban Battuta, who visited the port, which he calls Qali, in the mid 14th century. Galle was central to the spice trade route".
The Galle lighthouse is situated inside the landmark Galle Fort. It is built seven meters above the road on the ramparts.
Harischandra, the lighthouse keeper, was on hand to answer our questions. "Do you enjoy looking after the lighthouse?" I asked him.
I Love it. I'm fortunate to have a job at a World Heritage Site. This is a wonderful place to be. Everyday, tourists come to visit the Galle Fort and the lighthouse compound is always full of life. " He was right. At that very moment children were playing cricket on the lawn surrounding the lighthouse and tourists strolled by to admire the tower.
"I don't climb the lighthouse every day to operate the lights like I used to," continued Harischandra.
"The lights are operated through a computer. The light at the top goes on automatically at night and switches off automatically at dawn. I still have my job in case there is a power outage," he said with a touch of sadness.
This is Sri Lanka's oldest light station dating back to 1848, but the original lighthouse was destroyed by fire in 1934. It was rebuilt at the current height of 26m. The light station is within the walls of the ancient Galle fort, a UNESCO world heritage site and well known tourist attraction, making this the country's most often visited lighthouse.