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|Author:||pink [ Sun Sep 11, 2005 4:54 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Dondra Lighthouse|
Lighthouse which marks the southern tip
Some of you may have been to the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka in Dondra, Matara. The Dondra Lighthouse is the famous landmark which marks this spot. It is located about six kilometres south-east of the Matara town.
It is also reputed as probably the best maintained lighthouse in the island. At 54 metres (150 feet), it is also the tallest lighthouse in the country.
It is located in such calm and quiet surroundings, away from humanity, that some have compared the experience of visiting the lighthouse to entering a pristine monastery. It is situated in a beautiful garden, in the midst of coconut trees and bougainvillaea flowers, with stones painted in white, lining the path to the lighthouse and its keeper's quarters. A plaque which shows the exact southern tip of the country is placed on a small mound close to the building.
The Dondra Lighthouse was built during the colonial period when the British were ruling our country. It was originally designed in 1889 by James Douglas and constructed by William Douglas of Imperial Lighthouse Services.
The octagonal-shaped lighthouse is light yellow in its exterior and has 14 double-panel yellow windows. The walls are made of flat stones in the inside and embossed and decorated stones on the outside. The interior stones are square-shaped and weigh about two and a half tonnes each. It is said that the last stone was placed on Queen Victoria's birthday in 1889. The oval-shaped staircase comprises over 196 steps. The bottom steps are shaped like ovals while the top steps are straight.
The lighthouse is still active and helps guide ships and boats which sail on the Indian Ocean. Over 250 ships are said to pass this area daily, and most of them use the signals beamed by the lighthouse. It also transmits radio wave signals to surrounding lighthouses in Sri Lanka. The large beacon that guides sailors and fishermen in the sea comprises 40 smaller lights and the whole apparatus is supported by oval metal bars. The large yellow blinking light goes off every six seconds, while the 40 smaller lights are constantly rotating and are lit up throughout the night.
The keeper of the Dondra Lighthouse climbs the buildings four times a day, twice to send radio wave signals and twice to transmit light signals to help fishermen and sailors. It is now maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
An average of 50 visitors, most of them schoolchildren, visit the lighthouse daily. It is said that the lighthouse can be seen from as far as the Haputale Pass.
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