Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an island of the Indian subcontinent, shaped like a teardrop falling from the southern end of India, situated between longitudes 79º 42'E and 81º 52'E and latitudes 5º 55'N and 9º 50'N. It is 433km long from north to south and only 224km at its widest. Its area of 65,610sq km is about the same size as Ireland. The Geographer Ptolemy called it 'Taprobanam'. It was the north Indian prince 'Vijaya' who first settle down in the island and established the Sinhalese kingdom in the 6th century BC, However the earliest recorded civilization dates back to 4thc. BC and many centuries after the island encountered with the traders and colonizers. The Greeks called it 'Taprobane', 'Serendib' by Arabs, the Portuguese- Seylao, the Dutch - Ceilon and Eventually to Ceylon by British until the independence of the country. Since then, the country's culture being enriched by a rich diversity and today with a population of nearly 21 million, the people of the country belong to different ethnicities and faiths. The Sinhalese are constitute about 74% of population who are Buddhists, Tamils are 18% of population mainly Hindus, Moors 7% of population who follow Islam, and sharply declining number about 1% of population are Burghers descended from the Portuguese ,Dutch and British ancestry who are Christians. Sinhala and Tamil are official languages in Sri Lanka but English widely spoken and understood, places names and sign boards are usually in all three languages.
Sri Lanka is considered one of the most bio-diverse areas in South Asia. According to the Recent scientific evidence indicates that, Sri Lanka has been one of the world's 25 different hotspots in biodiversity. Since it is a tropical country, there are distinct dry and wet seasons. There is two monsoon seasons. From May to September south-west monsoon brings rain to the south and west coast regions and the central highlands. The north-east monsoon season from December to February bringing rain to the north and east of island. What may strike you most about Sri Lanka is its amazing diversity of scenic sights, sounds and scents; possible to pass brilliant green paddy fields, tropical rain forests to arid scrub jungle; extravagant fauna and flora, wonderful sanctuaries for wild life; Plus over 1340 km of unspoiled sun bronzed beaches, ruined cities and hill country tea plantations literally within hours of each other.
SACRED CITY OF ANURADHAPURA
Declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1982. lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka It is the largest and oldest of all ancient capitals in Sri Lanka, has served as one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia with 113 kings, dating from 4th century BC to 11th Century AD. In late 10 century AD the city was fought over and abandoned when the capital was moved to Polonnaruwa. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, but was rediscovered in the 1820s by Ralph Backhaus a young British civil servant. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by well preserved stupas, monasteries, image houses, stone carvings or sculpture, pleasure gardens etc… covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²) and is one of the world's major archaeological sites.
The Sacred Bodhi- tree (fig tree) shrine has been carefully protected day and night. This is the sapling of the original Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment in 528 BC. It was brought from India in the 3rd century BC, making it the oldest historically attested tree on earth (over 2250 years). In the city there are other seven most sacred places to be visited,Plan Your Tour Now
POLONNARUWA THE MEDIEVAL CAPITAL (11TH - 13TH CENTURY AD)
Polonnaruwa lies 216 km northeast of Colombo, and 104kms southeast of Anuradhapura. It is a UNESCO world heritage site inscribed in 1982. It was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. There were three Kings dominate the annals of the city and the period. The Parakramabahu Samudra 'the Sea of Parakramabahu' (reservoir) created by King Parakramabahu I (1153-86), the largest of its kind in ancient Sri Lanka. His reign was Polonnaruwa's golden age. Among the main tourist attractions at Polonnaruwa are preserved ruins of magnificent royal palaces, enormous Buddhist temples, large tanks, Image houses, intact monumental sculpture in colossal four Buddha statues ('Gal Vihara' carved from an immense granite rock) some of the best and even stand majestically today.
ANCIENT CITY OF SIGIRIYA
Sigiriya is only 169km from Colombo and 24 km north east of Dambulla, and one of the eight UNESCO world heritage sites (1982). Sigiriya or 'the Lion Mountain' rises over 180 metres (600ft) from the surrounding forest, and is one of Sri Lanka's major attractions also a popular tourist destination. This astonishing masterpiece was built by 'King Kasyapa' (477-495 A.D) Unique features of this royal city are pleasure gardens (which consist of water, boulder, terrace gardens) considered one of the oldest surviving gardens in Asia, and famous 5 century frescoes (paintings) of 'Heavenly Maidens' only 15 out of an estimated 500 pictures now remain, the 'mirror wall' constructed of brick and plaster and preserved in its original form with ancient graffiti, the Lion's Paw one of the most dramatic features at Sigiriya through which the final ascent to the summit. The summit encompasses an area of around 1.6 hectares, the remains of the foundations show that the summit would have been completely covered with buildings.
GOLDEN TEMPLE OF DAMBULLA
Dambulla was designated a World Heritage site in 1991 By UNESCO. The city of Dambulla is situated in the in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, situated 148 km north-east of Colombo and 72 km north of Kandy. It is the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. The area is thought to be inhabited from as early as the 3rd century BC. Major attractions are spread over five caves where the king was provided refuge by the meditating Buddhist monks in these caves for his protection from enemies in the 1st century BC. After 14 years regaining his Throne, the king had a magnificent rock temple built at Dambulla as a gratitude to the monks in Dambulla. The statues and paintings in these caves date back to the same Era, Which are related to the Buddha and his life. Inside the caves, the ceilings and walls are painted with intricate patterns and unevenly on the surface. These colorful murals cover an area of 2,100 m². But the paintings and statues were repaired and repainted in 11th, 12th, and 18th century AD. There are a total of 157 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of god and goddess.
SACRED CITY OF KANDY
Kandy locates only 115km southeast of Colombo and is a city in the center of Sri Lanka surrounded by hills at an altitude of 500m above sea level covered with residential areas concealed by greenery. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. It was established in the 14th century and became the nation's capital in the 16th century, however several foreign invasions occurred by the Portuguese and the Dutch (16th, 17th and 18th century) and until the British troops entered in 1815. In the year 1988, the sacred city of Kandy was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO organization. the Royal Botanical gardens – cover 60 hectares contain over 4000 species of plants and home to one of the world's best collections of Orchids. The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), One of the holiest Buddhist shrines in the world which housed the sacred tooth relic of Buddha, and one of the most venerable places for the Buddhist community of Sri Lanka and all around the world. The world-famous Esala Perahera, a cultural pageant venerating the Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha, is a spectacular parade which goes on for ten nights between the months of July and August and features up to a hundred colorfully adorned elephants, along with the tusker which carries replica of the casket containing the tooth relic, highly skilled Kandyan dancers, flame dancers and traditional drummers.
GOLD TOWN OF GALLE AND ITS FORTIFICATIONS
The capital of Southern tip of the island 116km away from Colombo, is a quiet town with a long history. Galle was inscribed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. The town formed up around its harbour and the Dutch period Fort. Although the Portuguese landed in Galle to discover an important trading centre routes between East and West in 1505, captured and fortified into 90 acre fort surrounded by grassy ramparts by the Dutch in 1663. The walls defended by 14 bastions. After the British took over the country from the Dutch in the year 1796 used it as the administrative centre of Galle. Although they preserved the Fort unchanged they had few additions with new blockhouses, a gate put in between the Moon bastion and the Sun bastion, a lighthouse installed on the Utrecht bastion. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in south and south East Asia. Traces of well-preserved colonial architecture makes the town still looks very much European from the outside.
SINHARAJA FOREST RESERVE
Located in the south west of Sri Lanka Is a national park and a tropical wet evergreen forest, which was declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, also was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978. The reserve is only 21 km from east to west, and a maximum of 7 km from north to south and it has an an average temperature of 23.6C and an annual rainfall of more than 2500mm. The forest offers a huge diversity of species both flora and fauna with a large proportion of those being indigenous to the country with More than 60% of the trees are endemic. Many endemic and rainforest species occur here such as Jungle fowl (Gallus lafayetii ), the Spur fowl (Galloperdix bicalcarata), the Ceylon Wood Pigeon (Columba torringtonii), the Ceylon Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus), the Ceylon Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis), the Red-faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) and the Ceylon Blue Magpie (Urocissa ornate) are among others. Reptiles include the endemic Green pit viper and Hump-nosed vipers, and there are a large variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs.
CENTRAL HIGHLANDS OF SRI LANKA
class="mb-5">Situated in the central part of Sri Lanka. The site comprises of 'the Horton Plains' a National Park and a Nature Reserve, and 'the Knuckles Mountain Range' a Conservation Forest, inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2010. These montane forests, where the elevation reaches 2,500m (8,200 ft) above sea level Horton Plains – designated a national park in 1988 and its plateau at an altitude of 2,130 metres (6,988 ft), region with an astonishing variety of scenery from misty mountains to montane grasslands. This park is a home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, mammal species such as the Bear Monkey (Purple-faced Langur), the Horton Plains Slender Loris and Sri Lankan Sambar Deer. The most prominent 'World's End' on the edge of the precipice here, you look down almost 1000m sheer drop and the beautiful "Bridal Veil" Bakers Falls.
Knuckles Mountain Range - lies in central Sri Lanka, north-east of the city of Kandy, and covers an area of about 90 Sq.Miles or 234 Sq.Km of land extent. The reason to call it Knuckles is because; there is a mountain with five peaks in itself, (ranging from 3000 ft – 6000 ft) that looks like the knuckles of a clenched fist when viewed from Kandy area. Rainfall annually varies from about 2540mm (100 inches) to 5080mm (200 inches), and holding a rich diversity of fauna and flora. The entire area is characterized by its striking landscapes and a series of isolated cloud forests, for those who love to hike or mountain bike, offering numerous mountainous trails that journey across clear rivers, past flowing waterfalls and lush tea plantations.