Galle Fort, jutting a bit into the Indian Ocean, and at the western end of a moon-shaped bay on Sri Lanka’s southwestern tip, is beautifully situated. Its eastern bastions face the dawn and the western ones, the setting sun. A 5:30 rise-and-shine gets one up just in time for sunrise and a look at streets just beginning to stir. Early yes, but the cool air and pink skies are worth it! Before dawn, as night fades, slats framing a portico slice lamplight into onto a brick street in Galle Fort. Lights are still on as sunrise pink washes over the elite Amangalla hotel, built as the Oriental Hotel in 1684, to house the Dutch Governor and his staff. On a hazy morning, a lone runner heads along the ramparts toward the lighthouse on Point Utrecht Bastion. As the sun rises over the fishing harbor just outside Galle Fort, fishing boats are tied up on the shore. Trees on the eastern side of Galle Fort are silhouetted against an early sky; a few minutes later, waves splash lightly against the rocks below Zwart Bastion, and the sun breaks through a low cloud cover. All Saints Anglican Church is all angles and decorative curves in morning light. The church was dedicated in 1871 on the site of an 18th century court house, and its altar is said to occupy the spot where gallows had once stood. Light on the stone ramparts change from pink to golden as the sun rises behind Point Utrecht Bastion. Jama Al-Khairat Mosque, or Meera Mosque, established in 1909, anchors a predominately Muslim neighborhood of Galle Fort. Young men have a block of Rampart Street mostly to themselves for a morning game of street cricket. At the Kathiresan Temple near the Galle Fort Station just outside the fort, Hindu priests conduct morning puja. A street caterer offers a selection of “short eats” from his bicycle cart. Residents wait patiently in their doorways, upon hearing the tinkle of his bell. “Would you like a coffee, Madam?” Serendipity Cafe opens an hour early for me (!) and serves Lavazza coffee to go with my “short eats”. Wooden horses outside an antique dealer’s shop catch sunlight; girls on their way to school stop to pose, holding in big smiles until after the shutter clicks. The atmospheric Galle Fort Hotel, still shuttered at 7:30 am. Pure magic: In a picture-postcard moment, a wedding party takes advantage of early light for portraits beneath the Fort bell tower. * * * To see all our travel stories from Sri Lanka , click here .