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Galagedera: stroll, shop and take in the daily life of high street in a typical small highland town.

Surrounded by one to two thousand feet high mountains Galagedera is the gateway to the hill country.

Its thriving high street offers banks, temples, police station, church, mosque, cafes, a tiny supermarket, hair salons, photography studios, a rudimentary gym, and scores of shops selling spices, sarongs, sailfish, and mangos to mobile top up.

Here, at least, the ravages of online have yet to make even the merest dent to bustling busyness of people going about their lives.

With some 30-40% of the population Muslim, it has wisely eschewed the recent anti-Muslim race riots that sometimes-engulfed other towns.

Centuries ago, it presented a daunting stranglehold to colonial armies bent on invading Kandy. In 1765 the town took to its hills to roll vast rocks down onto Van Eck's failed invasion. Shortly afterwards the hapless Dutchman signed a treaty in the town with the Kandyan king.

A similar attempt to hold up the British army in 1804 was less successful. In Udupitya, on the town’s outskirts, lay the king’s martial training grounds; and at Balum Gala, above the present Flame Tree Estate & Hotel he kept his lookout for invaders. In valley hamlets around the town huge iron link chains have been discovered, part of a defence to open the sluice gates and flood any invaders.

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