Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Hambantota, Sri Lanka

Tsunami Memorial at Yala National Park

Only the foundation remains of the rest stop building that was hit by three large tsunami waves, killing 47 visitors. 

Safari visitors to Yala National Park in Sri Lanka can only tour the grounds with a guide and in a car, and there are only a few designated places where you can stop and get out of vehicle for a snack and drink. One of those stops is at the Patangala Rest House—or now, what’s left of it.

The Patangala Rest House house was destroyed during the tsunami that devastated the Sri Lankan coast on Boxing Day, 2004. On December 26th, three large tsunami waves hit the remote beach in the south of Sri Lanka, flooding the middle of the national park where the rest house was located, and killing 47 visitors that were stopped there.

The coasts in the east and south of Sri Lanka were heavily struck by the tsunami, killing 30,000 to 35,000 total people in the country.

Only the foundation of the rest house remains. In its place there’s a memorial, commemorating the 47 people that were killed on the site—15 Japanese and German tourists, and 29 local visitors, according to the monument’s stone inscription. The sculpture represents the three tsunami waves that struck the area, and the level of water after the tsunami. 

Know Before You Go

To get to the memorial you’ll have to be on one of the safaris in the park; otherwise it’s not possible to visit. Most of the safari jeeps will stop at the memorial. The safaris in the park are enjoyable anyway, with a chance of spotting elephants, leopards and bears.