• Nik

Places to visit in Sri Lanka

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

Sri Lanka, the "blessed land", is a heart-shaped island, hanging below India in the Indian Ocean. Thousand of unique and mysterious Places to visit in Sri Lanka await your arrival.

As the great writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote once: "The Island of Sri Lanka - a small universe, which combines many cultures, landscapes and climatic conditions, which the country only ten times bigger than Sri Lanka can boast of ... It's hard to believe that there is a country that is doing well in many areas, while possessing such a huge number of advantages and virtually no disadvantages. Beautiful beaches, beautiful landscapes, impressive ruins, lively culture and charming people are part of the treasure of Sri Lanka".

The Island of Sri Lanka has an exotic, palm-fringed coastline, which has no equal in the world. Verdant river valleys, streams, cascading waterfalls and other water bodies have turned Sri Lanka into the country with the highest ratio of water and land in the world. Cool misty mountains and forests that conceal the unusual flora and fauna, turn Sri Lanka into a paradise for those who are granted a true delight at natural splendor.

Places to Visit in Sri Lanka North Western Province

Yoga Pilgrim Lodge is located on the western coast of Sri Lanka, in a quiet and prosperous area called Waikkal, on the bank of transcendental Maha Oya River, half a kilometer away from the river mouth entering the magnificent Indian Ocean. Where beats of industrialized life come to a complete standstill giving way to super natural tropical environment, and you a chance to get new insight and experience of unprecedented yoga state of mind, body and soul.

One of the most mysterious and spacious places to visit in Sri Lanka is the holy city of Anuradhapura. Hidden in the jungle 208 km to the north-east of Colombo the city is of great value to historians, Buddhists ... and lovers of adventures, as history of Anuradhapura knows periods of plentiful growth as well as times of long oblivion.

The local people inhabited this area back in the 10th century BC but proclaimed it the capital only in the 3rd century BC, after the arrival of the sprout of the sacred Bodhi tree - the tree of Buddha that was planted here.

Anuradhapura has evolved into a political and religious capital of Ceylon, and flourished about 1,300 years.¬†During its heyday it was equal to such historical centers as Nineveh and Babylon, even competing with their colossal proportions.¬†4 walls, 26 km each made the¬†internal area of ‚Äč‚Äč663 square meters inaccessible with a population of several thousand people and the magnificence of the temples and buildings, among which - two-storey houses, roads and bridges, palaces, monasteries, hospitals, and the cemetery.¬†The city has one of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world.¬†Most man-made ponds survived to this day.

However, Anuradhapura had been constantly undergoing encroachment from South Indian rulers. After the Indian invasion in 993 Anuradhapura had been defeated and, consequently, forgotten and abandoned. For centuries, the former jewel lay in the jungle. Only in the twentieth century serious excavations were set up in the brilliant city of Anuradhapura.

Today, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka receives thousands of believers who come to venerate the holy places, and there are eight of such: the sacred Bo tree and seven Dagobahs - mausoleums over the relics of Saint Buddhists. Besides, in the ruins of the ancient city there are numerous monasteries and other buildings found to be unique both from aesthetic and architectural points of view.

Wilpattu National Park stands out of the places to visit in Sri Lanka with its solitude. There are 12 national parks and 3 nature reserves in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is less frequently visited compared to others. This is one of the oldest and most important protected areas in Sri Lanka. Located on the north-west of the island, away from the popular tourist destinations, it's not reachable for human vanity.

The park is famous for its grassy plains and dense thickets of impenetrable jungle. Here you can find most of the planet's large animals - elephants, sloth-bear, wild buffaloes, spotted deer. But the greatest attraction for tourists is, of course, a leopard.

Wilpattu is worth exploring in quiet solitude. You will make an eco-tour around Wilpattu by jeep, our guide will show you the most unusual sites and inhabitants of this wonderful place.

Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Western Province

The city of Colombo is one of many places to visit in Sri Lanka not to be missed. It is the actual capital of the Republic of Sri Lanka known as "the gateway of Asia." The port, now the largest in South Asia, was regularly visited by merchants from ancient Persia and Morocco. They sailed here for pearls, precious stones, cinnamon and exotic-animals - monkeys, elephants, peacocks.

Colombo - is a wonderful interweaving of cultures and religions, ages and nations, East and West. Effect of note here is the Portuguese, Dutch and English architecture presence in buildings, names and religions, clothing and food, mixing of words borrowed from different languages. Colombo whimsically combines past and present. Modern shopping areas, giantskyscrapers, luxury hotels with night clubs, the university, several colleges, the national museum and observatory coexist with colonial buildings, souvenir shops, street markets, Buddhist temples, and they in turn - with mosques, minarets and Catholic churches.

Beautiful parks and gardens of Colombo give a great opportunity to rest weary traveler from the road, take a stroll along the paths or picnic. They not only decorate the port ofColombo, but they are a gift of nature and heritage of the nation. Most of these parks - are centers of cultural events and carnivals, so they play an important role in the lives of Sri Lankans.

Viharamahadevi Park - a classic version of parkland in its ideal form. Originally the park was named Victoria Park and in 1950 it was renamed in honor of the mother of King Dutugemunu. Park is well-kept and in perfect condition for visiting. There are playgrounds and a seat for the carnival in its western part. The Park strikes guests with diversity of flora and fauna, and it won't be a mistake to call it a paradise in the big city.

The metropolitan areas have certain specialization. They were formed historically and differ from each other. The main market of the city is placed in the area Pettah - a district of artisans and small traders. Pettah means "red city". You can find the most incredible variety of goods in its narrow cobbled streets, entirely consisting of shops. This is the most noisy, crowded and colorful district of Colombo. Each lane has its own "specialty." For example, household products offered on the street Keyzer. Prince Street is known for glassware and mirrors. Ayurvedic doctor buys herbs in the alley of Gabo. And you can find jewelry shops on the Sea Street.

Dehiwala Zoo will be interesting to both children and adults, it is an impressive area, and even a cursory examination will require 2 hours at the very least. The park has collected many species of wild animals - lions, bears, tigers, giraffes, gorillas ... In the "House of Reptiles," you can see a rare albino cobra, and a huge python, turtles, lizards and ferocious crocodiles. "Night House" will allow visitors to see owls and lemurs in their natural habitat. "Butterfly Park" can't be missed where without visiting the jungle you will find that the local butterfly are several times brighter and larger than our European ones. In the wonderful aquarium there are more than 500 different species of marine life collected. At the zoo (on weekends at 15:15, in other days at 17:15) an elephant show is held on a daily basis with all sorts of "stunts" performing to Asian music. In addition, the zoo has a large collection of birds and primates.

Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Central Province

The City of Kandy, or Maha Nuwara, meaning "Magnificent City", is located in the mountain range at an altitude of 488 m above sea level.

What is Kandy for a local resident of the island? Despite the fact that this is the second most economically important and largest city in the country, Kandy is considered to be the religious capital of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The city is literally littered with Buddhist temples and shrines. There is also a World Heritage Site - the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. In close proximity to the Shrine there are 3 of the 4 largest Hindu temples.

Historians claim that in 1590, when the Portuguese captured the south-west and north coast of the island, Sinhalese rulers fled to the mountains and founded the state with its capital in Kandy. For 225 years the state was independent, and only in 1815, the British were able to capture the city.

Residents of Kandy still retain a distinctive culture, traditions and art of the Sinhalese people. Kandy dancers will delight you with their original movements, the extraordinary plasticity and beauty of their costumes, and "swallowers of Fire" dancing on hot coals will stun audience with their shocking art.

There is an artificial lake in the center of the city, the spectacular creation of the last king of Kandy. The Royal Summer Palace was build on a small island in the middle of the lake, where Sri Vikrema Radzhasinghe contained his harem. On the shore of the lake there is the Dalada Maligawa - Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which was built in honor of the Tooth of Buddha, a symbol of the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. The temple is decorated with wood carvings, painted ceilings, garnished with silver and ivory doors.

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic - the heart of Kandy, and Buddha's Tooth is equally the heart of the sanctuary. For Buddhism, this relic has the same meaning as Basilica of the Monastery of St. Peter to the Roman-Catholic Church in Vatican.

Around 540 BC deceased Buddha was cremated, and 4 teeth were extracted from the fire, which were taken around the world. After several centuries of presence in India in 371, one such tooth was sent to Ceylon. Concerned with consecutive defeats in wars and fearing for the fate of his state the ruler of Kalinga ordered his daugher, Princess Hemamala, to hide the Relic of the island in her hair and deliver it across the Indian Ocean. The shrine has become a symbol of the sovereignty of the island.

Odious teeth have long been ascribed magical power: who owned it had full authority to rule on the ground of his stay. Therefore, Buddha's Tooth was the possession of the royal dynasty. Anuradhapura was chosen as the original place of storage, then the relic was moved to the city of Polonnaruwa, and at the beginning of XVIII century it was transferred to Kandy. Then, specifically for the storage of this shrine, a temple Dalada Maligawa was erected . The Sacred Tooth was hidden in seven boxes nested one into another. The Tooth is guarded as the apple of an eye, as Buddhism is believed to vanish in Sri Lanka as soon as the Tooth dissappears from the island.

Sri Lanka has become the new home of the Tooth Relic, as the Buddha himself declared that his religion would flourish here for another 2500 years. Daily sacred rituals are held three times a day: morning, afternoon and evening. For breakfast and lunch 32 servings of rice and 32 varieties of vegetables are prepared for the Tooth, and healthful drinks are served in the evening. Buddhists believe that offerings to the relic are similar to offerings to Buddha himself. A symbolic washing of the Holy Relics in the liquid prepared from the scented water and fragrant flowers is helf every Wendesday, it is known as Nanumura Mangallaya. During the annual festival, known as the Esala Maha Perahera, there is a solemn procession led by a royal elephant with a sacred relic on his back. The procession involves dancers, drummers, caretakers of the Temple in their fancy attire, standard bearers and torchbearers and, of course, elephants in festive vestments.

Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage. Among the green hills of Kegalle, about 50 km on the road from Colombo to Kandy, a herd of 75 elephants freely roam the expanses of the nursery in Pinnewala. Originally created by the Government of Sri Lanka in 1975 as a sanctuary, the nursery soon became one of the most popular attractions of the island.

Thoses young elephants, who for one reason or another were left without care of their mom elephants, are taken to the orphanage to provide them with food and necessary living conditions. Not so long ago an elephants breeding program was started.

Best time to visit the nursery - feeding and bathing hours. Then there is great opportunity to observe these giant animals at close range and even watch how elephant calves are being fed milk from a bottle.

Pachyderm paper - is one of the innovative initiatives of Sri Lanka rapidly developing in recent years that turned out to be a source of income for many local residents. The fact is that in addition to all their numerous talents, the elephants are living factories for the creation of paper. In the process of digesting large amounts of dietary fiber an elephant gives an enormous amount of raw material from which Sri Lankans make paper. The manure is dried, evaporated and the resulting mass is used in the manufacture of high-quality paper. The texture and color of the final product depends on the diet of an elephant. The main consumers of the end product are such famous companies as Colombo Hilton, Sri Lankan Airlines, Bank of Ceylon to name a few. Think of elephants next time you hold Sri Lankan bank notes in your hands.

Exotic Sinhalese name "Peradeniya" comes from the pera - "guava" and deniya - "plain".

Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the places to visit in Sri Lanka considered to be one of the best recreation parks in Asia. Founded in 1821, it's located 12 km from Kandy, in the bend of the Mahaweli River - the largest river in Sri Lanka.

The garden occupies 60 hectares and was designed by growers of Sri Lanka so that different types of tropical flora are located in different park areas. There is a board at the entrance to the park with a map that marks the main routes by which one can wander all day long.

The park has about 10 thousand species of plants and trees, 4,000 of which are designated with information signs. Incredible flora of various shapes and sizes attracts and leads up further and further into the park.

There you stroll along the alleys of Seychelles, royal and cabbage palms. Here you admire a garden of spices and charming orchid garden adundant in luxurious colors and aroma. Come to investigate the grand avenue of memorial trees planted by the heads of state and prominent people who visited the country. In addition to trees planted by members of European royal families, there are also trees planted by Indira Gandhi, Yuri Gagarin, Marshal Tito, the Russian tsar Nicholas II. Numerous lawns, gazebos and greenhouses filled with exotic flowers, plants and trees, create a truly unusual corner of the island.

From Aukana to ResVehera. Among the many statues of Buddha found in Sri Lanka one deserves special attention. It's called Buddha Aukana ResVehera. Aukana statue is located 51 km south of Anuradhapura. A 13-meter figure is carved from a stone. It is believed that it was carved in the V century BC during the reign of King Dhatusena (459-477 years). Despite its serious dimensions, proportions of the statue are so perfect that even raindrops falling from the nose of the Buddha land in the middle between the feet with a millimeter pricision. A giant stone face is turned to the Kala reservoir, the largest artificially created reservoir in Sri Lanka.

This version of Buddha's face is rather unusual for Sri Lanka. Eloquently outlined puffy lips, straight and rather broad nose, contour lines merging with a sloping forehead, brow line abruptly bent above the eye sockets with heavy eyelids closed. Face is devoid of emotion and resembles a frozen mask. Buddha's left hand pressed to his shoulder, right hand raised, but higher than usual, and thus not turned with a palm but with an edge toward the viewer, which looks more like a modern welcome. Over time the statue of Buddha in Aukana became a unique model for later artists creating standing statues of Buddha.

A few kilometers from the statue there i