Great Basses & Little Basses Reef lighthouses (මහා රාවණා හා කුඩා රාවණා ප්‍රදීපාගාර)

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Great Basses Reef and the Little Basses Reef are two rock formations on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka. Locals call these ‘Maha Ravana’ and Kuda Ravana’ reefs respectively. Both these reef islets are located in Tissamaharama DS in the Hambantota District of Southern Province. With Sri Lanka being on a major shipping route connecting China with the rest of the world, and these rocks located 12-13 kilometres off the shore, the ancient seafarers found navigating these rocks a formidable challenge and the large number of ships which have wrecked close to these rocks have made this area a popular diving attraction.

Both the lighthouses on these two rocks were designed by James Douglass and constructed by his brother William Douglass of the Imperial Lighthouse Service. The 34 metre high Great Basses was commissioned in 1873 and was made with massive stone blocks which were shipped from Scotland and England. The Small Basses Reef was completed five years later in 1878. Both these lighthouses survived the great tsunami of 2004 with only damages to the bases. These damages were repaired and the lighthouses were made operational again in 2007 with the aid from UK.

The underwater treasures surrounding the Basses reefs were exposed to the world through the 1961 publication called ‘The Treasure of the Reef’ written by Sir Arthur C Clarke based on his experience on the diving expedition to the reefs. He discovered the wreck of a 24-gun ship which belonged to the Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb (1658 – 1707) which contained thousands of silver rupees dated 1702.

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Map of  Great Basses & Little Basses Reef lighthouses

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Travel Directions to Great Basses & Little Basses Reef lighthouses

The reefs can be reached from Kirinda through an arranged boat ride. The boat ride will take approximately 1-1.5 hours to Great Basses Reef and 2-3 hours to Little Basses Reef. But due to the rough seas, diving season lasts only from early March to mid-April.

Route 1 from Colombo to Kirinda
Through : Southern Highway
distance : 369 km
Travel time : 4 hours
Driving directions : see on Google map

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