History Overview – Galle Heritage

History Overview

Geographically, the town of Galle is situated within 6° 3’ 13” of North latitude and 80°12’ 42” of East longitude. Galle District encompasses 1636.45 square kilometers of the 5497.4 kilometers of land area in the Southern Province. That represents 2.5% of the land area in Sri Lanka. Two prominent geographical regions, the Salty maritime zone and wet evergreen jungle zone can be identified in Galle. Distance to Galle from the main city of Sri Lanka is 116 kilometers.

Galle belongs to the Secretarial Division of Galle Four Gravets.In the 17th century, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was geographically divided to form three main administrative divisions namely Jaffna Division, Colombo Division and Galle Division. Accordingly, for purposes of governance, the Division of Galle was bounded by the geographical area from Bentota river extending to Walawe river on one boundary and maritime belt and interior areas encircling Pitigala, Beralapanathara, Katuwana, Mapalagama were considered to form the other boundary. Administrative boundaries prevailing have been set from Bentota river up to Goviyapana Ela stream and from coastal belt to Imaduwa – Sabaragamuwa interior zonal boundary. The Galle town belongs to the provincial administrative division, the boundaries of which extend towards and somewhat beyond Fort, Kadawatha, Bataduwa and Batuwantudawa.

The land area consisting of 4 square miles separately identified by Dutch rulers

for purposes of facilitating governance is considered Galle Four Gravets. There had been four passes at Fort, Kadawatha, Bataduwa and Batuwantudawa to enter the area thus abstracted where there were 4 entrances those days. There had been four main villages belonging to Galle Four Gravets.

Three Municipal Councils, Colombo, Kandy and Galle were established by British in 1865 AD under the Municipal Councils Ordinance No.17. Establishing the Galle Municipal Council was proposed in the Gazette Paper No.3571 of 17th November, 1866 AD. Accordingly, Galle Municipal Council was established on 01st January, 1867 AD. A land area of 6.5 square miles comes within the purview of Galle Municipal council.

Galle Fort is the zone No.01 of 115 zones that belong to Galle Municipality. According to the present administrative divisions, Galle Fort is identified as a separate location as Grama Seva Division No.96D.

Historical Information and Archeological Background

Apparently, Galle developed as a commercial City due to Galle harbor. Galle harbor commands an important standing due its location at a place with strategically importance in Arab peninsula and East Asia. Remnants of ships found sunk in the Galle harbor are the most important archaeological evidences revealing the historicity of Galle harbor. Dutch records state that six ships sank in the Galle harbor during Dutch era. Two of those fad sunk within the harbor bay and three near the entrance. One ship sank while waiting out of the bay for the Captain after having given the signal.

Dutch Ship Avonadstar sank on 23rd June, 1659AD. The ship was ready to leave bound Bathavia carrying s shipload of merchandise collected from Ceylon. Ship Dolphin engaged in inter Asian navigations sank in 1663 AD and ship Hercules sank in 1661 AD. From the precincts where Hercules sank, 30 cast iron guns have been salvaged. Not only the parts of Dutch ships but also parts of vessels belonged to earlier periods having been found in Galle harbor is a matter for special concern. Among those, the two massive anchors found in 1996 are specialties. Those are said to be dating back to13AD – 14 AD and bear strongest archaeological witness to international trading relationship Galle harbor had in the periods prior to the arrival of Europeans.

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