Unawatuna is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Sri Lanka and is the most “famous” beach in the country. It is a lovely banana-shaped beach of golden sand and turquoise water, surrounded by green palm trees!
It was the first beach we visited in Sri Lanka. We chose not to stay at one of the fancy and expensive hotels along the beach of Unawatuna, but a few kilometers away at a guesthouse. We walked to the Unawatuna Beach on two separate day trips.
Unawatuna traces its roots to the great epic Ramayana. In the epic, the monkey-warrior Hanuman was sent back to India to fetch the four medicinal herbs by Jambavan namely, mritasanjeevani, vishalyakarani, suvarnakarani, and sandhani from the Himalayas in order to heal Lakshman who was wounded trying to save the abducted Princess Sita from the demon king Ravana. Hanuman failed to identify these herbs, so he lifted the entire mountain and carried it to the battlefield to try to save Lakshman, but in the process, a chunk of it “fell-down” in the location of the present day Unawatuna, the name of the village derives from “Una-watuna” meaning “fell down”.
Currently, an edifice is being built in honour of Hanuman on the harbour end of Rumassala Hill by Japanesemonks of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism near the Peace Pagoda that they built.