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
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 663 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.
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
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
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.
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".
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.
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 is a similar one - "Sister" that has been recently discovered. ResVehera Buddha standing in the midst of huge boulders, caves and jungles is known by two names - Resvehera and Sesuruwa, which means "similar" because the statue Resvehera is a lot like the shape of Aukana. Although there are certain differences. The most significant of such is a symbolic gesture of its hands (mudra). Aukana Buddha shows Shiva Mudra - gesture of blessing, while the giant ResVehera's hands are in Abhaya Mudra, signifying freedom from fear and fearlessness.
The temple dates back to 1. BC, but was reinforced and rebuilt in the XII and XVIII centuries. For more than 22 centuries the complex was a sacred place of pilgrimage. Each cave has a unique mysterious atmosphere and tells its incredible story that you can barely express in words.
It seems that time stands still here, and familiar to us cause-effect relationship ceases to exist, here even the water for needs of the inhabitants of the temple is flowing upward, rising from the vaults of caves in defiance of Newton's laws.
The temple is under UNESCO protection.
Surrounded by hills, the temple consists of 13 caves, of which only few can be accessed today. The biggest cave on the right side, where everyday rituals are being committed is very important. Legend has it that this cave, in which the pitch darkness reigns, was once enlighted by the gods. Today, in the days of Poya (full moon), people visit the cave for meditation.
The most important event in the temple that brought it fame - recordings of the Buddhist canon "Tripitaka" in Sinhala language. For centuries, the Buddha's teachings were transmitted orally from teacher to student. The doctrine of the Buddha can not be explained in simple terms. The Buddha himself often turned to the comparison, so teaching has reached us in the form of 550 proverbs and parables. In the Ist century BC during the Troubles, when the king Valagambahu was expelled from Anuradhapura by Tamil invaders, 700 monks, who knew the Buddhist scriptures by heart, took refuge in India. Only 60 monks did not leave the island, considering it their duty to preserve the sacred texts. 12 years after the war ended it was decided to record the teachings of the Buddha in Sinhalese language, and Aluvihara church was chosen as a safe and hidden from prying eyes place. Religious texts have been imprinted on the leaves of palm trees talipot.
Places to Visit in Sri Lanka North Central Province
According to one version the rock fortress Sigiriya was built by the prince Kasapa, who had fled into the mountains from wrath of his brother, another pretender to the throne. The second version says that Sigiriya had never been built as any alternative capital or fortress, but was an aesthetically planned monastery complex of Buddhist Mahayana sect for more than 20 centuries. In this sense, Sigiriya palace was no more than an open room for meditation, and flowering gardens and ponds provided an ideal environment for that.
Whatever it was, the architecture gives out nature lovers in its creators. Designing the various components of the complex - pools, halls, stairs, passages - they allowed natural landscape to determine the appearance and location of man-made objects.
Sigiriya is famous for its many stairs - stairs carved between the legs, neck and jaw of the incredible size lion. Steps lead to the terrace the size of 1.7 hectares, where once a palace or a hall for meditations was located. There is also a gallery with frescoes and a "mirror wall" polished with mineral. As for the images on the murals, it is believed that they call for meditation by multiple images, which is a repetition of the goddess Tara, the mother of all Buddhas. Attention is drawn to a huge dissected boulder, one half of which serves as a carved water tank. Among the boulders found around the rock there are a few places of religious nature. To the east of Sigiriya Rock there is an artificial reservoir, which not only irrigates the surrounding agricultural region, but also provides water to pools, ponds and fountains of the complex through a sophisticated system of underground utilities.
Sigiriya was named UNESCO World Heritage Site and is under their protection.
In its heyday the second capital of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa, was surrounded by a well-fortified, 6-kilometer wall. According to its strategic location Polonnaruwa controlled the main crossings of the longest and deepest river of Sri Lanka - Mahaweli Ganga.
Ambitious and well-preserved to this day the ruins of the kingdom offer an incredible opportunity to experience the atmosphere of that great era, the spirit of magnificent structures that convey the scale of historical events related to this place.
Due to compactness of the city, Polonnaruwa can be explored in one day, visiting ruins of the three-story Royal Palace of Parakramabahu, The Citadel, Nissankamaly's Council of Ministers building, South Monastery, Parakramabahu's Garden , the Sea of Parakramabahu, Vatadage Temple, the Chapel of Tuparama and much more. All facilities are diverse in form and purpose, each has its own meaning and history that you will discover with accompanying English speaking guide.
Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Eastern Province
Today many people come here to relax on the endless snow-white beaches of Uppuveli and Nilaveli, bathe in gentle waters of the Bay of Bengal, as well as to admire the fabulous views of Irakkandi lagoon.
Among sights of this region the first to note is Frederick Fort that you will marvel at following the path leading to the statue of Buddha on the territory of Gokana Temple. The road comes up to Swami Rock, 130 meter cliff called "Leap of lovers." There is also Koneswaram Kovil that keeps Swayambhu Lingam, which makes it the most important and prominent place for Hindus. Gopuram and inner richness of Hindu temple Kali Kovil both amaze and surprise you, but actions and ceremonies held here will lift the curtain of mystery of Hindu culture and religion.
Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Sabaragamuwa Province
Scenes of Oscar-winning film "Bridge on the River Kwai" were filmed in this part of the island. " The famous bridge, allegedly detonated according to the plot of the film is also located in Kitulgala.
Among the places to visit in Sri Lanka this one is destined for nature lovers, those interested in bird watching, admirers of rafting in the swirling waters of a mountain river or conquerors of high peaks and long distances.
Erudite guide will tell you a story about how wonderful, full of life-giving moisture leaves on the bushes turn into a fragrant, refreshing drink. You can see all phases of this magical process. Get to know people, creating this amazing potion, and technologies capable of supplying the whole world with nice and refreshing drink.
You are invited to free tastings of different varieties of tea, you can purchase here and surprise your friends back home with a cup of genuine Ceylon tea.
A popular place for European planters in the past, the city still has a distinct colonial color: many houses and bungalows built in English style.
Nuwara Eliya - it's a wonderful opportunity to escape from the tropical beaches to the fresh coolness of mountain hills and fantastic waterfalls. Tourists love to visit Nuwara Eliya, and deservedly so: there is adundance of activities to engage oneself in. Tours through endless tea plantations, golf, horseback riding, boating, hiking and of course, exploration of the beauty of hilly gardens, waterfalls and plateaus - impressive - don't you think?
It's the unusual shape that brought the fame to the waterfall. It is composed of three distinct water cascades, descending down into the valley. Beautifully combined with the lush green tea plantations and a fabulous mountain landscape the waterfall makes the outside appearance a memorable one.
The larger of them, Maha Ella, overturned a 80-meter-high. It's composed of three disparate streams that flow down into a large pond with crystal clear water. The smaller of two 60-meter waterfall Kuda Ella is located in the tributary of the Kothmale Oya river.
It is amazing how quiet and peaceful these places are - just sit and meditate right where you stood. There are no people in this area surrounded by mountains. But rare plants, strange insects, butterflies, birds and small animals are in abundance.
The local flora deserves special attention. Located at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level, this area serves as a bridge between wet and dry zones of Sri Lanka. Here the plains meet with the high mountains, and if you climb higher and higher, you can see how the character of the vegetation gets varied. Brief grass will gradually move into the bushes and trees, savanna woodlands will be replaced by the rain forests. Nature lovers will love this corner of the earth.
National Park Horton Plains
200 years ago people cut down rain forests to plantations of tea. Now such barbarism is not happening, and in the highlands of central Sri Lanka there are certain areas under strict protection of the government. One of such preserved zones is National Park Horton Plains with an area of 20 sq. km.
The park is located at an altitude of 2,000 m and is rightfully considered one of the best reserves of the world, perfect for eco-tourism. It is a beautiful, quiet, mysterious world of incredible landscapes formed of undulating hills covered with dense tropical forest, outstanding waterfalls, austere rock ledges, green meadows and valleys. The park is neighbored by the nearby second and third highest mountains of the island - Mount Kirigalpotta 2395 m and Thotapolakanda 2359 m.
Horton Plains is home to an unimaginable variety of flora. 57 species of plants, 29 of which are endemic to Sri Lanka, grow and flourish here. Fauna is not far behind: 24 species of mammals inhabit the park, including a wapiti deer, giant squirrel, wild boar, porcupine and leopard. Earlierelephants roamed hills of this amazing world.
National Park Horton Plains also attracts travelers with its inimitable sights - Bakers Falls, Chimmini Lake and a steep cliff, which suddenly opens up to a grand plateau. This is the famous "End of the World" - the slope drops sharply first by 328 m, and then vertically by another 1312 m, opening incredible views in front of you, stretching into the distant coastline of the south.
Bopath Ella Waterfall
Name of the waterfall shows its beauty and is connected with its heart-shaped top, resembling a leaf of the sacred Bo tree - the tree of Buddha.
The first part of the name refers to the name of Bo tree under which, according to the legend, Buddha received enlightenment. The word Path comes from Pata - which means "leaf." Three separate ledges from which the water is falling down create an image in the form of Bo tree leaf. And though Bo Path's height reaches only 30 m, it is a form of absolute beauty that brought it the fame of a miracle of nature.
Bo Path Waterfall is also called "women's waterfall": the fair sex come here and ask for health, happiness and prosperity.
Maha Saman Devale
Maha Saman shrine is located 2 km from the town of Ratnapura. The shrine was built by the ruler Parakramabahu II in 1270 AD. It was dedicated to Saman deity, guarding the sacred mountain of Sri Pada - the Adam's Peak.
After it was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1618, a church was erected in its place. In the XVII century the ruler Rajasinha II defeated the Portuguese and freed Ratnapura. He ordered to destroy the church and rebuild Saman Devale.
Nowadays, the temple consists of a series of broad courtyards and buildings in Kandy style. There is also a barely perceptible influence of the Portuguese in its architecture.
Ceylon's Gem Mines
Since ancient times Sri Lanka has been known as Ratnadvipa - "Land of Gems." Here's how Marco Polo describes his visit to the island in 1292 : 'I want you to understand that the island of Ceylon in its size and shape is the most beautiful island in the world, its streams and rivers are full of rubies, sapphires, topaz, amethyst and garnets. "
Very little has changed since the visit of the great traveler and explorer. As before, gems are in abundance here. For that Sri Lanka is called "A Pearl in the Indian Ocean."
In ancient times the island was known as Taprobane, which translates from Greek as "copper-red color." Vedas, the first inhabitants of the island, were playful and splashing in streams and rivers they found colored deposits on the sandy bottom. Only with the advent of Buddhism from North India in 500 BC colored stones were used in the manufacture of jewelry. Later they became a commodity which the Sri Lankans actively traded with Asia and Europe. The ancient Greek and Chinese historians have repeatedly mentioned beautiful gems of Ceylon, and the ruler Solomon sought the hand of the governess Sheba by pearling her with natural treasures of the island.
Sri Lanka is one of the richest jewels of the world. And one of the places to visit in Sri Lanka is the small town of Ratnapura - which, incidentally, is translated from the Sinhalese as the "city of gems" - located just 100 km southeast of Colombo.
Ratnapura is unique in the fact that its mines contain a rich set of specific minerals deposited within one area: sapphires, rubies, alexandrite, topaz, spinel, amethyst, moonstone, aquamarine, tourmaline, garnet, zircon - all of them are found here. This area is famous for an extremely wide variety of minerals. There are about 200 mines. A plain shaft is 30 meters deep and has a series of interconnected tunnels.
The process of obtaining minerals has not changed since old times, except for the use of water pumps and diesel generators. While in the mine tunnel you will observe all the stages of extracting minerals from the earth.
Sthreepura Lena Cave
Sripura Lena Cave near Ratnapura was investigated by speleologists in November 2009.
The cave is situated on a steep slope in the eastern part of the ridge Soodagala Peak Wildernes, covered with tropical rain forest. Entrance to the cave is about 12 m wide. The inner area of the cave is 90 meters by 40 meters, and it is structurally divided into two chambers - the internal and external. The cameras are connected by 15-meter pass, that has an angle of 145 degrees. Inside the cave explorers discovered stalactites, stalagmites and porous quartz. At the lower level of the cave the explorers saw a lake connecting two chambers.
The Adam's Peak
There are many mountains in Sri Lanka and each is beautiful in its own way. But one of them is absolutely and necessarily fits to the list of places to visit in Sri Lanka.
The second highest mountain peak on the island was called Adam's Peak by the Portuguese, because they believed that our ancestor stepped right on this place after being expelled from Paradise.
Local call it Samanalakande, which means "mountain on which butterflies are flying to go to infinity," or simply - "a mountain of butterflies." According to legend, a myriad of butterflies from all over the island come here to part with life - or, according to another version, butterfies destined to be in Paradise get here after their death.
Adam's Peak rises high in the sky at 2243 meters. On top of it there is a hollow vaguely resembling a footprint. Four major religions of the world have their own interpretations of this rock formation.
Followers of Hinduism believe that a huge imprint on the top of the mountain was left by the god Shiva in the time of performing his sacred dance. Christians believe that in this place, Adam got off the ground. Buddhists call the mountain Sri Pada, which means "sacred footprint", as referred to the depression - this is Buddha's footprint, left by him at the time of his ascension to Heaven. Arab tradition considers Ceylon to be the closest place to Paradise.
A majority of Sri Lankans believe that this footprint was left by God Saman - one of the oldest gods of the island and one of the four deities protecting it. God Saman has long been living on the mountain, protecting the pilgrims ascending to it. He is considered to be a very kindly God and is usually portrayed in a human form riding a white elephant (Buddha himself was a white elephant in one of his rebirths) with a red lotus flower in his hand.
The road to the summit of the sacred mountain passes through a string of spectacular waterfalls, winding among the densely overgrown with tropical vegetation slopes and tea plantations. Sri Lankans have taken care for a climb to be comfortable, but the ascent still seems to be endless - at every turn another flight of stairs opens and looks steeper than the previous one in the meantime presenting you with spectacular views and thrilling emotions. To reach the top you need to go through around 5,000 steps.
Most pilgrims climb the stairs at night, lit by fluorescent lights or with flashlights in hands, not just for touching the sacred imprint but to witness a unique phenomenon at sunrise. At dawn the summit offers a wonderful view - magnificant mountain ridges stretching in the east and mountain slopes stepping down towards the seaside in the west. But the most impressive is a shadow from the top of the Adam's Peak lying in the clouds covering the neighboring summit. There are unusual gleaming of mirages above the famous Adam's Peak at this time of day.
Places to Visist in Sri Lanka Southern Province
Lunuganga. Sri Lanka has produced a new style in architecture exotically named "tropical modernism". Tropical modernism is characterized by a blurring of boundaries between inner and outer spaces, so that the architecture and landscape of the surrounding area interact with each other. Deshamaniya Geoffrey Bawa has become a flagship of the style, the most famous architect of Sri Lanka, one of the most influential architects of South-East Asia in the last decades of the twentieth century.
In 1948, Geoffrey Bawa bought an abandoned rubber plantation, where he had been realising his new and bright ideas for 40 years. As a result, over an area of 100 square meters a stunning tropical garden has grown up with lakes, pavilions and walkways to the pools and whimsically organized open spaces that offer interesting perspectives. All perspectives were chosen so that at any point of view the observer could see good-neighborliness of wildlife and man-made art.
Guests of Lunuganga walk through the gardens and lawns on their own and have picnics in specially designated areas. They can easily get into one of the many cozy places for reading, practice in painting or any other form of artistry. If any Muses exist they are most probably live here, in the fairy garden of Geoffrey Bawa.
It is the oldest array of moist tropical forests of Sri Lanka - and, unfortunately, the last one. The very name of a prehistoric forest, which translates roughly as "The Lion King" already makes it clear with what reverence and awe Sri Lankans appreciate it.
Wild jungle is incredible. Huge - up to 50 meters!- trees, vines, ferns, horsetails are intertwined, forming a green canopy without interfering with each other. In Sinharaja life is swirling with hundreds of thousands of animals and insects: amazing huge butterflies and insects are flitting over the flowers, birds are singing their numerous songs, ringing of cicadas - endless cacophony of sounds envelops and entices you deep into the dense forest.
It is inhabited by exotic amphibians and reptiles, mongooses, langurs, monkeys, spotted deers, wild boars, leopards, armadillos, giant squirrels - virtually all endemic, that is just living here in this area and in these circumstances, many of them are very rare species! Biologists have estimated that of all creatures populating the Earth 2 / 3 species are found in the tropical rain forests.
Sinharaja is really breathtaking. Staying under the mighty canopies of trees your consciousness gets overturned and even the most indifferent, those for whom the word "ecology" - just a word, can't excape this new feeling. It comes to your mind that life is a random gift, and it is worth spending just for creativity. That nature must not be conquered - it will never surrender, and you should learn from it and protect it instead of exploiting. That a human is not a host but a temporary guest on this planet and that he should behave accordingly.
Sinharaja Forest is a biosphere reserve, listed "World Natural Heritage" and is protected by UNESCO.
Bundala Bird Sanctuary
Interested in birds? Bundala is a place for you - a unique ecosystem on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, where a great variety of birds live and flourish.
There are around 197 species of birds here. Sri Lankan flamingos, ibises, storks, cranes, marabous, pelicans, greenshanks, ducks, teals, herons, coots and many other beautiful flying and singing beings share a total area of about 25 000 hectares. There are more than 20 thousand of migratory birds who come to Bundala in winter time.
In addition to birds Bundala is inhabited by 324 species of vertebrate animals, including 32 species of fish, 15 species of amphibians, 48 reptiles, 32 species of mammals, 52 species of butterflies...
But these figures will remain black soulless marks on a white screen until you see with your own eyes colorful flutter, a spectacular splendor that wanders, runs and flies in and out of mangrove forests, bushes, jungle, sand dunes on the beach and in gentle waves of the Indian ocean.
Walking along the coast on the sand you will notice unusual trails. These are sea turtles crawled ashore at night to lay their eggs.
You'll see how land, ocean and marsh coexist side by side in harmony with inhabitants of Bundala.
There is enormous variety of flora here: 383 plants of the world have found this place fit for habitation. Among flora representatives 6 endemic and 7 are on the verge of extinction.
Bundala Park is under the auspices of International Ramsar Convention, protecting world wetland ecosystems. It's given National Park of Bundala the status of biosphere reserve and a natural site of international importance.
Natural Fountain Hummane, the Blow Hole
Hummane or Blow Hole - a natural marine fountain that rises from a fracture in the rock. Even in calm weather, when the ocean is quiet the height of the jet reaches about ten to twelve meters. And when a strong wind is blowing water hits the cliff pushing the water flow out through the hole to a height of up to 30 meters!
You can watch this unique geological formation on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, near the village of Kudavella or Dikwella.
The first part of the name Hummane - a sound that the release of water through the hole is accompanied with. Thus, the fountain adds more entertainment with its original music. Situated on a cliff at a height of about 13-15 m above sea level, Hummane is probably the highest miraculous singing fountain in the world.
Sea Turtles Project
A project for conservation of sea turtles is under patronage of the state movement protecting these reptiles. Almost from the beginning of times turtles were full-fledged residents of the reef area on south-west coast of Sri Lanka, but barbaric actions of men put these animals on the brink of extinction.
At present, it is important to make up for the number of killed turtles. To do this so-called tortoise farms have been established in Sri Lanka - stations of incubation, where activists breed baby turtles and release them into their adulthood.
Enthusiasts of the project collect eggs of sea turtles on the coast or acquire them from fishermen and bury them in the sand along the shoreline for 48 days - time needed for hatching. Baby turtles are kept in an artificial reservoir (pool) for 2 - 3 days, after which they are released into the ocean.
We will visit the turtle farm on the south coast, 3 km from the town of Bentota. If you want, you can personally release several turtles into the ocean with wishes of long and successful voyage.
There are also two adult albino turtles kept in the breeding farm that are of special interest to scientists and researchers.
Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Province of Uva
In the central part of Sri Lanka, south of the alpine resort of Nuwara Eliya, there are just seven of these sites located in the patch of land roughly the size of 50 to 50 kilometers. Including Diyaluma - the second highest waterfall on the island.
The name of the waterfall refers to the legend of tragic love between a young prince and a girl from a lower caste. According to one version the girl committed suicide and the broken-hearted young boy brought the body of his dead lover on top of the cliff. The gods heard the request of local residents to feel sorry for the prince and since that time the river of tears is running off the cliff forevermore lamenting the pain of his lost.
From the Sinhala language the name of the waterfall means "rapid flow of water." It is amazing how hard and grandeur boiling waters fall down from a height of 220 meters. Gazing at the Diyaluma waterfall it becomes clear why the man loves contemplating how fire burns and water flows...
The Village of Ella
Ella is must places to visit in Sri Lanka and is glorified by every guide-book to Sri Lanka. With what exactly does this modest village draw so much attention?
First of all, with its road. Ella is located in the eastern highlands of Sri Lanka and we'll go by gig-train through mountain serpentines to its nice, coated with various flowers railroad station. This is one and a half hour journey that you will remember for a long time: with picturesque tea plantations and forests on the slopes of majestic mountains, this rail route is one of the most beautiful in the world.
Ella is known as the scene of the episode from the Indian epic "Ramayana". According to one version demon Ramana captured Rama's wife Sita and kept her in the cave. The name of Ramana was preserved in the name of waterfall and cave nearby.
Ella has views that remind of English countryside where you can actively relax, watching the hills colored with all shades of green. But the curious will view with pleasure the Ella Rock, the Bambaragala Peak and the Small Adams' Peak, the Ella Gap, Ravana Falls and the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka - 240-meter Bambarakanda Falls.
Bambarakanda Ella Waterfall
Deep rivers and bizarre geological formations that allow water dash down cliffs - nature of the Sri Lanka favors waterfalls. There are more than hundred and each of them surprises and delights you with incredible beauty, strength and diversity of their movements.
Majestic Bambarakanda Ella Waterfalls - the highest among the other waterfalls of Sri Lanka. Its flamboyant feature is an ever-changing pattern of precipitating from 263 m high cliff water, as strong gusts of wind dispel the flow of water like a sail in the wind.
Dambatenne tea estate
Sri Lanka takes 3rd place among the world's largest producers of tea and the first - among the exporters, meeting nearly 25% of global demand. It may well be that the tea you drink originates from Sri Lanka.
In particular, Lipton tea is grown at Dambatenne tea estate located 9 km from the highland city of Haputale. In 1890 this plantation was purchased by Sir Thomas Lipton. His factory became a kind of role model - other factories that later appeared in this district were just copies of Lipton's one. Tea production is still afloat and the factory is successful so far.
On average, a tea collector will bring about 15 kg (20 kg in high season) of tea leaves in a day. The leaves undergo a process of drying, rolling, grinding and sieving. At the same time the processing is performed mostly with machinery purchased nearly 100 years ago to comply with the traditional methods of tea production: drying machines installed by the British continue to dry tea leaves and even the office life and atmosphere at the factory look same as in Lipton's times.
This area is famous for Samimale Rock Temple and a small cave located nearby. Opposite, at an altitude of 1905 meters above sea level, about 7 kilometers from the factory there is a viewing point, known as Lipton's Seat. Sir Lipton found a convenient place from which you can see almost half of the southern part of the island in good weather. This lookout is one of the attractions of Sri Lanka renowned for breathtaking views of emerald green tea plantations.
There is a village of Lipton tea collectors piecefully nested below the hills. There you can also see built in a colonial style Sir Thomas Lipton's bungalow and small but fabulous botanical garden.
In the Middle Ages Katharagama or Katirkamam was a modest village, lost in the jungle. Today it is a world center of pilgrimage.
Here, in the south-eastern Sri Lanka, 228 km from Colombo is the most important Hindu religious structure - the temple of Maha Kataragama Devale, place of worship of the god of Murugan. Murugan cult has long gone beyond Sri Lanka, South India and Asia and spread around the world. So Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even some Christians come to this sacred place.
There are also the temple complex Dagobah Kiri Vihara and mosque Masdzhad-ul-Khizr located in the town.
Kataragama Shrine and its ancient the most solemn festival which takes place in August between the full and new moons are as old as the culture of Sri Lanka and are the events and places to visit in Sri Lanka. Some argue that the church is older than the Sinhalese as a nation, given that they appeared on the island in the V century BC.
However, no matter what time you choose for visiting the shrines those who come here become a witness, and even a party to any of such celebrations - topical spectacle, a fantastic drama of human life, devoted to Almighty God.
An observer will see that during such celebrations all people forget their representations of caste, race and religion, and become as one - not even deprived of the untouchable castes should worry of being chased away.
The cult of self-torture flourishes in Kataragama. It is believed that God protects the faithful and punishes the victims for their own sins. Therefore, repentance is a sight not for the faint hearted and takes many different forms: rolling on the hot sand in the courtyard of the temple, cheek and tongue piercing, hanging by the hooks. More courageous and pious participate in the walking on hot coals, and only people with weak faith will get burned. For the most lacks even a hint of redness or blisters.
Yala National Park
It is believed that in the II century BC one of the rulers of Sri Lanka banned the hunting of animals and reptiles, as well as logging and collection of plants in the certain parts of the island, thus creating conservation areas and for us one of the most spacious places to visit in Sri Lanka.
Yala is the largest national park and nature reserve in Sri Lanka - the most suitable place for those who need a close touch with the wildlife. So, we would advise to uncover your telephoto lens - you will have a unique opportunity to capture animals in their natural habitat.
At sunrise and in the evening when the scorching sun is still weak or disappearing, you will see leopards coming to water areas. Yala is famous for its impressive population of these amazing creatures and the local subspecies of leopards are considered to be the largest on Earth. In contrast, elephants can be seen during the day - they love to swim in many lakes of Yala in the hot part of the day.
All the large mammals of Sri Lanka live in the park - bear, boar, gazelle, wild buffalo, a large wild cat, spotted deer and Indian zambar deer. And smaller animals, such as: rabbits with a dark neck, mongooses, porcupines and a gray langur hanuman. Yala hosts diversity of world-known species of birds - there are about 140 species recorded. Usually you can see the crested eagle, snake eagle, speckled horn-billed bird, wild chicken, Asian jabiru, peacocks, flamingos and pelicans.
Opened in the 30s of the last century the park covers an area of more than 100,000 hectares. The terrain is flat in some places, hilly and rocky in others. Landscape of the park is predominantly dry grassland, consisting of plains, overgrown shrubs and umbrella trees. In the east the park comes up to the south-eastern coast of the Indian Ocean. Thick succession of mangrove trees is located along the shore line where you can observe various animals and birds.
Not surprisingly, documentary footage of the BBC and Discovery Channel is constantly held in Yala. Make their operators compete with you!