Place of Interest
Anuradhapura " A World Heritage Site"
Anuradhapura the ancient capital of Sri Lanka is located in the North Central province 205 km from Colombo. Being the first capital it remained in that position for nearly 1500 years from 4 th century B.C. to 1th century A.D.
It gives a fascination glimps of a stately, well laid – out pre-Christian, metropolis with gigantic Buddhist shrines and monasteries, splendid palaces, pavilions and parks, bathing ponds and vast reservoirs, many of them masterpieces of architecture, art, sculpture and irrigation engineering.
Most of the significant historical events of Sri Lanka occurred during the Anuradhapura era. the most important of them was the introduction of Buddhism in the 3 rd century B.C. and Sri Lanka remained a Buddhist country since then. This can be defined as the “”Golden Era” of Sri Lankan culture followed by the establishment of a well developed language, works of art, architecture, irrigation and culture with a rapid development in all sectors.
Today this ancient city of Sri Lanka, which is sacred to the Buddhist world, with its surrounding monasteries, covers an area of over 40 sq. km and is one of the world's major archaeological sites.
The city's most renowned relic is the Sacred Bo Tree, a sapling of the tree under which the Buddha, attained enlightenment. It was planed 2200years ago and regarded as the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world. The city's greatest treasures are its Dagobas (dome shaped massive hemispherical shaped Buddhist relic shrines) constructed of bricks and plaster. The most notable of these Dagobas are, the Thuparama Dagoba which enshrines a collar-bone relic of the Buddha, The 350 feet high Ruwanweli Dagona, which dates back to the 2 nd century B.C. The 1 st century B.C. Abhayagiri and 3 rd century A.D. Jeetawana Dagobas (a UNESCO Word Heritage site) 380 feet and 400 feet high respectively, are second in height only to ancient Egypt's two mightiest pyramids at Gizeh; the monasteries of these Dagobas housed 5000 and 3000 Buddhist monks each.
Mihintale is a wide-spread monastic city of caves, temples and ruins, situated 11 km east of the ancient capital Anuradhapura. It is regarded as the” Cardel of Buddhism” in Sri Lanka.
Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in 3 rd century B.C. during the period of king Devanampiyatissa. Emperor Asoka of India sent his son Arahath Mahinda to Sri Lanka to introduce Buddhism to the country.
the missionary Arahath Mahinda with six other disciples met the king at the Mihintale rock. During their very first meeting the king embraced Buddhism and so did the other citizens. Sri Lanka become a Buddhist nation since then.
Arahath Mahinda Thera and his group of missionaries settled in a hermitage of care on the hill of Mihintale. A grand stairway of 1800 steps made out of granite slabs 15 feet wide, leads to it's summit.
Some of the rock inscriptions found here are recorded as the oldest in the country inscribed in Brahmi scriptures dates back to 3 rd century B.C.
Kantak Cetiya, Ambastala Dagoba, Maha Thupa, Ath Vehera, Arms Hall, Old Hospital and Kaludiya Pokuna are some of the interesting sites at Mihintale.
Polonnaruwa – " A World Heritage Site "
The medieval capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura was Polonnaruwa from the 11 th to 13 th century A.D. At the end of the 10 th century A.D. the South Indian invaders plundered Anuradhapura and destroyed the city. Then they made Polonnaruwa their capital and ruled the country till 1070 A.D. when Vijayabahu I defeated the invaders and united the country.
Today's ruins, however belong almost exclusively t the reigns of 3 great kings. Vijayabahu I, Parakramabahu the Great and Nissankamalla. A well-planned medical city defended by enclosing walls (around 5 km of which still remain)
The ancient remains consist of a walled inner and outer city, surrounded by palaces, shrines, monasteries, pavilions, parks, ponds and giant man made lake. The Gal Vihara is a Buddhist rock-cut temple containing four great masterpieces of world sculpture.
A dominant feature of the city is vast irrigation lake of 5940 acres, named Parakrama Samudra (sea of Parakrama) named after its royal builder king Parakramabahu the Great. It is one of the best examples of the advanced irrigation engineering and construction skills, prevalent during ancient times.
Sigiriya – " A World Heritage Site "
Sigiriya, a massive isolated rock converted to a fortress is an unusual sight rising 200 meters above the scrub jungle. This was the residence of king Kashyapa for 18 years in the 5 th century A.D.
King Kashyapa built his palace on top of the Sigiriya rock anticipating an attach by his half brother “Mugalan”. But being a lover of beauty he converted this rock fortress to a place of extreme beauty with a moat round it, a pleasure garden and a palace on top of the rock, the residence reflected the grandeur of “Alakamanda” the residence of Kuwera the God of Wealth, according to the historical chronicles.
In a sheltered pocket on the western face of the Sigiriya rock, approached by a spiral stairway, are the famous frescoes. Epigraphical evidence refers to the existence of 500 such portraits, but only 19 remain today. Below the caves where the frescoes are, is the Mirror Wall on which, the Sigiri Grafiti composed and scribbled by the early visitors are found.
A range of steps stretches through the massive remnants of a lion's paws to the top of the plateau, where on 1.5 hectares of flat and the ruins of the palace, pond and a swimming pool are found.
At the foot of the rock is the pleasure garden studded with ponds, islets, promenades, pavilions, and the ruins of a summer palace. This is one of the remaining ancient parks of Asia.
Dambulla – " A World Heritage Site "
Dambulla is the most impressive cave temple in Sri Lanka. Its history goes back to the 1 st century B.C. The caves of Dambulla sheltered king Walagamba during his 14 years of exile from Anuradhapura Kingdom. When he regained the throne, he build the most magnificent cave temples to be found in the Island.
This temple consists of 5 caves and it is one of the largest cave temple complexes in south Asia. Each of the caves in Dambula had been adorned with wall and ceiling paintings belonging to the period from the 15 th to 18 th century A.D. The complete extent of the paintings is around 2000 square metres.
In every cave there are sculptured statuses of Buddha totaling 154. In addition there are the statues of king Walagamba, King Nissanka Malla and King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe who patronized the constructions of this temple complex. A number of statuses of gods also can be seen here.
King Nissanka Malla who ruled in the 12 th century has patronized gold plating of 73 status of Buddha in this complex and hence the temple had received the nomenclature “Golden Rock Temple Dambulla”.
Kandy – " A World Heritage Site "
Kandy was the capital of the last kingdom of the Sri Lankan kings. ? It remained as the capital of the Island fro a period of more than 200 years from the end of the 16 th century to 19 th century. It remained as an independent state during the Portuguese and the Dutch and in 1815 this kingdom was subjected by the British.
Being the domicile of the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, Kandy is a very significant city not only for the Sri Lankan Buddhist, but also Buddhist all over the world. The highly venerated Tooth Relic is placed in extra special privileged chamber in the palace complex of ancient kings.
Today the city is adorned by the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth –Relic of the Buddha, which was palladium of royalty, the royal palace complex, a picturesque lake, surrounded by forested hills and one of the world's earliest botanical gardens in Asia.
The sacred square and old city center near the Tooth-Relic Temple contain the four shrines of the Gods Vishnu, Natha and Katharagama and the Goddess Pattini, and many historical buildings and museums.
The Kandy Perahara (procession), held annually in August (or late July), is one of the most spectacular festivals in the world. This procession with the inclusion of a large number of elephants, dancing groups, and music groups still maintains the traditional splendor.
Botanical Gardens – Peradeniya
The Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya is located 6 km from Kandy. It is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Asia. Earlier it was the pleasure garden of Kandyan kings, and in 1821 the Britishes who ruled the country, converted it in to a botanical garden. The total area is 147 acres (59 hectares) containing about 4000 species of trees and plants.
Some of interesting places in the garden are,
Double Coconut Palms (Lodoicea maladivica ) –
There are over 200 species of palms in the garden. The most remarkable amongst these is the Double Coconut palm, acquired from the Seychelles Island. This palm produces the largest seed in the plant kingdom.
The Giant Java Fig Tree (Ficus benjamina) –
It is like a giant living umbrella, which covers the ground by its enormous spreading branches, a circumference of about 1800 sq meters.
The Orchid House, which offers the visitors a captivating display of exotic blooms of Cattleya, Dendrobium, Arachnis, Oncidium, Phalaenopsis , Vanda and their hybrids.
The Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala is situated in Kegalle approximately 90 km from Colombo. The Orphanage was first established in 1975 in a land of nine hectares of coconut plantation, near the Maha Oya River. At the beginning there were seven orphanage jumbos of whom some now enjoy the fortune of seeing their grand children born in the same location.
The Orphanage was originally found in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungle. Today there are all together 82 adult and baby elephants in this Orphanage. the first baby in this orphanage was born in 1984. Since the, there were 50 elephants born there. The recent birth happened in December last year.
The main attraction of the orphanage is bottle feeding and watching them bathe. the motherless baby elephants, who are under 5 years are fed with milk by bottles. Seven bottles of milk are being fed to each baby five times a day. Twice a day all elephants are taken to the river for a bath.
The elephant Orphanage is a unique experience for a visitor because it is the only place in the entire planet earth, where one can see such a large herd of captive elephants comprised of week's old baby to fifty years old parents and grand parents.
Nuwara Eliya is geographically located in the central highlands 100m above the sea level and surrounded by lush tea plantations. It is the main hill resort of Sri Lanka and the heart of the tea industry.
In 1819 a group of British soldiers discovered the present location of Nuwara Eliya. Later the British governor Sir Edward Barns observed the serene beauty and the favorable English climate of this area as an ideal location for a holiday bungalow. Later it was developed as a holiday resort for the British administrators.
Nuwara Eliya, popularly known as “Little England” is the land of flowers, the health resort, the holiday makers paradise guarded by a silent mountain range. The perennial cool climate inherent to Nuwara Eliya has made it an English city with Hotels, Bungalows and parks still following British traditions.
Among the town's attractions are its old fashioned hotels, particularly the Grand, St. Andrew's and the magnificent Hill Club traditionally the center of social life of the planting community.
Nuwara Eliya offers many activities for tourists including visits to tea plantations, golfing, horse riding, boating, hiking and of course exploring the beauty of the landscaped gardens, waterfalls and plateaus.
Sinharaja Rain Forest – " A World Heritage Site "
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is one of the least disturbed and biologically unique lowland rain forest remaining in Sri Lanka. It is situated in the south-west lowland wet zone of the country and the forest covers an area of 11, 187 hectares of land.
The climate of Sinharaja is very wet. The average annual temperature is 23 0C and it annually receives more than 2500 mm of rainfall during the two monsoons, May-July and October-December.
Beautiful streams, springs, rivers, waterfalls, mammals, birds, butterflies, fish, amphibians and reptiles, rear trees, valuable shrubs and medicinal herbs are all found with in its green canopy. A trek along the Sinharaja paths would provide an enthusiasm in nature and a never to be forgotten experience of sights and sounds and feelings.
Most important facts of Sinharaja are its high bio-diversity and high degree of endemism among the flora and fauna. Due to its high bio-diversity and ecological importance, it has been declared as a National Heritage Wilderness Area and it is the only natural World Heritage Site (declared by UNESCO) in the country. Further it is one of the few virgin forests left in the world.
The Dutch Fort – Galle – " A World Heritage Site "
Galle Fort is the largest intact Dutch Fort in Asia. Located facing the Indian Ocean in the town of Galle on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. It is one of the best preserved examples of 17 th century colonial fortifications in the world.
Originally is was a small fortress, which was build by the portugue4se and later on expanded and converted into a large fort by the Dutch. Today the Fort shows no evidence of the Portuguese founders.
This strongly constructed massive Dutch fortress is a well planned metropolis in an area of 45 hectares. There are a large number of residences and homesteads constructed during the Dutch era within the Fort.
The old man gate to the Fort is an important place. The visitor should pause to study two stones let into the walls over the entrance and exit of this gateway, which tells the story of the conquests of the old city. The lion and unicorn of the British coat of arms is found over the outside arch and on the inside is a monogram of the Dutch East India Company, a shield with the initials V.O.C. chiseled upon it and two lions supporting the crest: the date is 1669
On either side of this gateway are further legacies of Dutch trade in the East, old warehouse, called packhuis.
Colombo is the commercial and business center of Sri Lanka, located on the west coast of the Island. It is Sri Lanka's largest city very colorful and an interesting mix of modern life and colonial ruins.
Colombo was only a small seaport which came into prominence in the 16 th century with the arrival of Portuguese in 1505 and development of it as a major Harbor during the British period and become the capital of Sri Lanka in 1815 after Kandy was ceded to the British. Since then Colombo was the capital for over 200 Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
the city blends together with old colonial buildings, high-rise commercial buildings and star class Hotels. It is filled with shopping centers, airline offices, bazaars and interesting tourist attractions. Some of the finest structures build during the British colonial era still preserved in the Fort area. Hotels of Colombo city are located centrally, which provide much convenience to the visitors. Colombo has the highest population and is the home to around 2 Million people. It is also one of the busiest ports in the South Asia.
Colombo city is full of popular tourist attractions such as, National Museum, Galle Face Green, the Old Parliament, Independent Square, Colombo Fort, Petta Bazaar, The Dutch church of Wulfendhaal, Kelaniya Buddhist Temple.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is situated about 300km from Colombo in the southeast region of the Island in the dry zone bordering the Indian Ocean. Out of the National Parks in Sri Lanka, Yala is the 2 nd largest park. The total area is around 1297 sq. km and is divided into 5 blocks but only I and II blocks are opened for the visitors.
Vegetation of the park is mainly consists of secondary lowland dry monsoon forest and semi arid thorny scrublands. Small patches of riverine forest, mangroves, sand dunes and dry grasslands also presented.
This park has earned much popularity as a result of its access top view large number of wild animals easily. Wild elephants, Wild Buffalos and Spotted Deer can be conveniently be contronted at Yala. The elephant population at Yala is estimated to be around 400-450. The other animals found are Leopards, Bears, Stay Wild boar, Crocodiles, Jackals, Monkeys, Mongoose and many varieties of reptiles.
Yala Park is also famous for its abundant bird life. Over 140 bird species, which include the resident and winter visitors, have recorded with in the park. Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested serpent Eagle, Malabar pied Hornbill, Jungle fowl; Painted Stork, White Ibis and Black necked Stork are commonly seen.
Hikkaduwa is situated 98 km from Colombo on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's only marine sanctuary is located here. Hikkaduwa beach is a paradise of coral reefs, highly picturesque and one of the most beautiful stretching beaches in Sri Lanka.
The coral sanctuary found on the coast of Hikkaduwa is large shallow body of water enclosed by a reef and decorated with layers of multi coloured corals which are the home to countless colorful fishes.
Glass bottomed boat services are available along the Hikkaduwa beach for the benefit of both local and foreign tourists who wish to have a close view of the coral reef and observe coral fish.
Hikkaduwa has something offer to everyone. Coral for snorkelers, waves for surfers and white pristine beaches for these who want to relax and enjoy sun and sand.