I took the scenic coastal road to Colombo from Kadolana last Saturday and stopped at Beruwela for lunch. This predominantly Muslim town is considered to be the place where first Arab traders landed in Sri Lanka in the 8th century. They probably came from the Yemen and called their landfall Barberyn. The Kechchimalai Mosque, one of the oldest on the island, stands on a rocky headland, marking the spot. Today, just under 10% of the population of Sri Lanka is Muslim and are called Sri Lankan Moors. They no longer speak Arabic and have adopted Tamil as their language.
Beruwela marks the start of a 130 km stretch of pristine beach studded with resorts. Beruwela has a 110 ft lighthouse built by the British in 1928 on a small island called Barberyn which can be visited, and a flourishing fishing harbour.