The Galle Lighthouse, also recognised as Pointe de Galle Light, is inland in Galle, Sri Lanka. This is Sri Lanka's oldest light station. The 26.5-metre-high concrete lighthouse was built about 100 metres from the initial site in 1939. The original light was a glass prism lens floating in a mercury bath powered by a weight-driven mechanism. The lighthouse is strategically placed at the southern end of the peninsula, built around 6 metres above the road level on the walls, at what is recognised as the Point Utrecht Bastion, providing a complete view of any ships entering Galle Harbour.
The history of the Galle Lighthouse dates back to the 19th century when Sri Lanka was under British colonial rule. The British established the lighthouse to assist the navigation of their ships that passed through the busy waters surrounding the island. The construction of the lighthouse began in 1889 and was completed in 1894. The lighthouse was designed by Sir James Nicholas Douglass, a renowned British engineer who designed several other lighthouses in India and Sri Lanka.
The Galle Lighthouse stands 26.5 meters tall and is located on a rocky promontory at the entrance to Galle Harbour. The lighthouse tower is cylindrical and constructed of masonry and concrete. The building is painted with black and white bands, the traditional lighthouse colours. The lighthouse has a rotating lens that emits a powerful beam of light that can be seen up to 24 nautical miles away.
The Galle Lighthouse has great cultural significance in Sri Lanka, symbolising the country's maritime history and colonial past. As a result, the lighthouse has become an important landmark and tourist attraction for visitors to Galle. The lighthouse is also featured in the Sri Lankan currency and is a popular subject for postcards and souvenirs.
The Galle Lighthouse underwent significant restoration work in 2002, funded by the Netherlands Government. The restoration work involved the replacement of the original lens with a modern solar-powered one. In addition, the tower was also strengthened, and the living quarters of the lighthouse keeper were renovated. Today, the lighthouse is still in operation and is maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
The Galle Lighthouse has become a popular tourist attraction, and visitors can climb to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of the surrounding area. The lighthouse is also a popular spot for photography, especially during sunset when the light reflects off the ocean, creating a stunning visual spectacle. Visitors can also explore the nearby Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testament to Sri Lanka's colonial past.
The Galle Lighthouse is also the subject of several local legends. One legend suggests that the lighthouse is haunted by the ghost of a keeper who died in the tower. Another legend tells of a giant snake that lives in the waters surrounding the lighthouse and protects it from evil spirits. These legends add to the lighthouse's mystique and intrigue, making it an even more fascinating place to visit.
The Galle Lighthouse is a significant part of Sri Lanka's cultural heritage and is an essential landmark for visitors to the country. In recognition of its importance, plans are underway to enhance the lighthouse's tourism potential further. These plans include the construction of a museum and exhibition centre to showcase the history and cultural significance of the lighthouse.