Galle, Sri Lanka - Capital City of the Indian Ocean


Galle, Sri Lanka - The Capital City of the Indian Ocean

The picturesque old world town of Galle, with its perfectly preserved 90 acre Dutch fort constructed in 1663, owed its fame on account of the strategic position of its harbour.

It became the island’s chief port-of-call even before the coming of the Portuguese, Ibn Battuta and the Chinese admiral Zhang He came to Ceylon’s shores and there is mention of King Solomon sending ships “to procure gold, gems, ivory, apes and peacocks” and where Jonah fled from the Lord before being eaten by a whale.

In the 17th 18th and 19th centuries Galle was the preserve of European colonial powers and a centre for the cinnamon and spice trade, later it became the “Charing Cross” of the Indian ocean providing a welcome relief for travellers on their way to Far East, with regular stops of the P and O Steam Navigation company.

With construction of the breakwater in Colombo in 1875, Galle went into decline.

However in recent years Galle has become a mecca for foreign tourists, with the expatriates leading the charge for real estate which has set up a business’s to local people, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and declared “the capital city of the Indian ocean” in 2015 at a dinner attended by the Prime Minister.

It is fast becoming the festival capital of South East Asia, with the Fairway Galle Literary Festival, the Gourmet Biriyani Festival Galle, the Tuk-Tuk Polo games, the Galle Film Festival, the Galle Jazz Festival, the Galle Fashion Show… it has become the alternative Riviera between Galle and Tangalle.

It is happening! Galle is making a statement to the world … come and join us!

… A Note from The Festival Founder


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We believe in the pleasure of story and the transformative power of literature and knowledge. We want to create opportunities for you to mingle, discover and ponder . . .

We offer you events where the hair stands up on the back of your neck during a spellbinding reading; where you roar with laughter or struggle to control your tears as writers get to the bottom of what makes them do what they do; where you suddenly see what a book has meant to or for a particular reader.

What you can do, see and experience at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka

At The Fairway Galle Literary Festival, you will find:

1. Famous Writers: For most of us a chance to meet a famous writer, to listen to way he speaks, what motivates him or her, to have a book signed is probably the most motivating factor, and the FGLF has offered this in abundance: Sir Arthur C. Clark, Germaine Greer, Vikram Seth, Edna O’Brien, Ian Rankin, Michael Morpurgo, Candace Bushnell, Sir Tom Stoppard, Alexander McCall Smith, Chimmimanda Ngozi Ardiche amd Maddhur Jaffrey are among the writers whose presence meant that within one year Harper’s had named it the Number 1 Festival in the world.

2. The Bigger Picture: Expanding the boundaries of literature, the festival has had some of the finest writers of non-fiction lined up for intellectual jousting: Richard Dawkins, Anthony Beevoir, Christina Lamb, Pico Iyer, Sir Mark Tully. Lesley Hazleton, Simon Winchester, Shashi Taroor and more.

3. The Booker Bonanza: Many of the writers have either won the Booker Prize or were on the short list: Kiran Desai and Colm Toibin are among this very select group, and we have more at the 2018 Festival (Register Here).

4. The Sri Lankan Factor: The Festival is a chance to meet both local and diaspora writers: Shyam Selvalduarai, Romesh Gunasekara, Nuri Vitachi, Ashok Ferrey and Channa Daswatte.

5. Poetry/Plays/Cultural Shows, Cabarets and Fine Dinners: As the sun goes down Galle comes alive with entertainment of a different kind . . . we have had wine tastings with Jancis Robinson, gin tastings and gourmet dinners with the most famous of chefs: the late Rose Gray, Rick Stein, David Thomson, Skye Gygnell, Peter Kuravita, Madhur Jaffrey, to name a few . . . we have a an infused arrack tasting next year.

6. Workshops and Specialist Talks and Walks: Among the first events to sell out are the Galle Fort walks by Channa Daswatte and Mrs Cader. Professor Robson always does a good one on architecture.

7. Young People: There are ample opportunities for the young to get involved, and they don’t just read Harry Potter! During the next lit. fest we will have three debates among local schools, both boys and girls – it will be interesting to see who wins! The event will be chaired by the only Sri Lankan of the Oxford Union who has not been assassinated!

And some people just want to be with friends and mingle and be part of a social event . . . but most people have what the Thais call “sanuk” – a sense of fun – they may even learn something!

… A Note from the Festival Founder

The Use of English


The Use of English by Festival Founder Geoffrey Dobbs

1. English is the most commonly spoken language in the world. One out of five people can speak or at least understand English!

2. English is the language of science, of aviation, computers, diplomacy, and tourism. Knowing English increases your chances of getting a good job in a multinational company within your home country or of finding work abroad.

3. English is the official language of 53 countries. That is a lot of people to meet and speak to.

4. English is spoken as a first language by around 400 million people around the world, and it is the second language of 800 million.

5. English is the language of the media industry. If you speak English, you won’t need to rely on translations and subtitles anymore to enjoy your favourite books, songs, films and TV shows.

6. English is also the language of the Internet. Many websites are written in English – you will be able to understand them and to take part in forums and discussions.

7. Companies who want to function at an international level only consider their staff well educated if they are good English speakers, writers, and readers.

8. English is not only useful – it gives you a lot of satisfaction. Making progress feels great. You will enjoy learning English, if you remember that every hour you spend gets you closer to perfection.

9. Since English is spoken in so many different countries there are thousands of schools around the world that offer programmes in English. If you speak English, there’re lots of opportunities for you to find an appropriate school and course to suit your academic needs.

10. Because it’s fun! By learning English, you will also learn about other cultures. Few experiences will make you grow as a person more than learning the values, habits and way of life in a culture that is different from yours … so beware of the Chinese!

… A Note from the Festival Founder