Kataragama City

Cities > Kataragama City

Kataragama is a pilgrimage town popular among Buddhists, Hindus, and indigenous Vedda communities of Sri Lanka and even to South Indians. The town has Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Devale, a 15th-century shrine dedicated to Kataragama deity also known as Skanda-Murunkan. The general vicinity of Kataragama has yielded evidence of human habitation at least 125,000 years ago. It has also yielded evidence of Mesolithic and Neolithic habitations.

 

 

During the historic period, the general area was characterized by small reservoirs for water conservation and associated paddy cultivation. Kataragama village is first mentioned in the historical annals known as Mahavamsa written down in the 5th century. It mentions a town named Kajaragama from which important dignitaries came to receive the sacred Bo sapling sent from Asoka's Mauryan Empire. It was also functioned as the

 

capital of number of kings of the Ruhuna kingdom. It provided refuge to many kings from the north when the north was invaded by South Indian kingdoms. It is believed that the area was abandoned around the 13th century. Based on archaeological evidence found, it is believed that the Kiri Vehera was either renovated to build during the first century BCE. There are a number of other inscriptions and ruins. The popularity of the deity at the Kataragama temple was also recorded by the Pali chronicles of Thailand such as Jinkalmali in the 16th century. There are a lot of legends both Buddhist and Hindu that attribute supernatural events to the very locality.

 

Kiri Vehera

 

You will find Kirivehera when you proceed about 20 km from Tissa northwards on the Kataragama Road. Kiri Vehera is a large white-washed dagoba built by King Mahasena and standing in close proximity to the Kataragama Devale.

 

 

  • Anuradhapura City

    Located 205 km north of Colombo, Anuradhapura is an ancient city which as Mahavamsa, the great chronicle affirms, was founded in 380 BC by Prince Pandukabhaya. It remained the capital of Sri Lanka for about 1400 years and is the oldest city of Sri Lanka. Being a kingdom for centuries, Anuradhapura is bestowed with a plethora of historical monuments such as colossal dagobas, monasteries, temple complexes, palaces and many more amazing structures and hundreds of huge reservoirs.

     

    A World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO, Anuradhapura is one of the most sacred cities in Sri Lanka as it is home to the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree which is a cutting from India’s Sri Maha Bodhi Tree under which the Prince Siddharta attained enlightenment (Buddhahood). This cutting of the most revered Bodhi Tree was brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC by the Buddhist nun Sanghamitta, daughter of the great Buddhist emperor of India Ashoka. Also she founded the order of Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka.

     

    Introduction of Buddhism also took place in Anuradhapura during the reign of King Devanapiyatissa (247-207 BC). Arhat Mahinda, son of Ashoka, the great Buddhist emperor of India, was the missionary sent by Ashoka to introduce Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Further, it was in Anuradhapura where Sinhalese civilization began. Hence, Anuradhapura is the cradle of the Sinhalese Buddhist civilization in Sri Lanka.

     

    However, after ten flourishing centuries of its inception, Anuradhapura fell to hands of Indian invaders such as Cholas and Pandyans from time to time. Although regained from time to time, invasions led to the relocation of the kingdom to Polonnaruwa and then Anuradhapura turned ruined.

     

     

    Climate

     

    Hot and humid throughout the year and the average temperature remains between 20°C and 30°C. April is the warmest with an average temperature of 29°C, which could get up to 34°C. January is the coldest when the average temperature is 25°C and it drops down to a minimum of 21°C.

     

     

    Main Attractions

    Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi



     

    Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is a sacred Bodhi tree lying in Anuradhapura. This is one of the most sacred places of Buddhist worship in Sri Lanka. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi of Anuradhapura is the world's oldest human-planted living tree. It is said to be the southern branch from the Sri Maha Bodhi at Bodh Gaya in India under which Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment. It was brought to Sri Lanka from Bodh Gaya in India by the Ven Sanghamitta Therini, a sister of Arhant Mahinda, with the patronage of Emperor Dharmashoka. It was King Devanapiyatissa planted it in his royal park known as Maha Meghavana Udyanaya in Anuradhapura. The area around Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi consists of Lovamahapaya (the Brazen Palace) and the magnificent Ruwanweliseya Dagoba, which were once probably part of Maha Vihara the Great Temple. A continuous succession of guardians has taken care of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi for over 2000 years, even during the periods of Indian occupation

     

    Ruwanweliseya Dagoba



     

    The Ruwanweliseya is a huge 55-metre tall bubble shaped dagoba built in the 2nd century BCE by King Dutugemunu who couldn't live to see its completion. This is the greatest masterpiece of King Dutugemunu. Originally the dagoba stood taller than the current height. This is because it was heavily damaged by Indian invaders and after restoration its height was fell to 55 metres and the diameter to 379 ft.

    The dagoba was originally surrounded by two large paved courts or platforms, the inner one raised above the outer. Round the outer side of the boundary-wall there was originally a complete circle of elephants, made out of brickwork, and coated with Chunam each elephant being furnished, says the Mahavamsa or the Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka, compiled in about the 6th century AD with tusks of real ivory. Most of these figures have fallen away beyond recognition; but in some few, the shape of the animal is still plainly discernable."

     

    Lovamahapaya (Brazen Palace)


    Lying between the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and Ruwanweliseya Dagoba, Lovamahapaya or the brazen palace is an ancient building which had a bronze roof. Originally built by King Dutugemunu more than 2000 years ago, Lovamahapaya was a nine storied 150 ft tall building that could accommodate 1000 monks, but over the time it was rebuilt many times. What can be seen today are 1600 stone columns.

     

    Folk Museum


     

    Standing close to the magnificent Ruwanweliseya Dagoba is the Folk Museum which was established in 1971 with the purpose of collecting, conserving and exhibiting the cultural and religious objects used by the folk community in Nuwara-Kalaviya area. The museum with a good collection of artefacts portrays the lifestyle of the rural peasantry of Nuwara-Kalaviya area.

     

    Archaeological Museum


     

    Established in 1947 and housed in Kachcheri building that lies between Lovamahapaya (brazen palace) and Ruwanweliseya Dagoba, the National Archaeological Museum of Anuradhapura showcases a large collection of antiquities such as Buddha statues, inscriptions, and coins found from Anuradhapura and other historic sites across the island.

     

    Mirisavetiya Dagoba


     

    A huge dagoba standing close to Tissa Wewa (a lake), Mirisavetiya Dagoba was built by king Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BC. Enshrined in the dagoba is an ornate sceptre that contains a relic of Buddha.

     

    Jetavanarama Stupa


     

    Built by King Mahasena (273-301 AD), Jetavanarama Stupa is the largest stupa/dagoba in Sri Lanka. Enshrined in the dagoba is believed to be a part of a sash or belt worn by the Buddha. Today, the dagoba stands 70m high but it originally may have stood 100m high. It is the largest brick building ever built, and the 3rd largest structure in the ancient world, after the two largest of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Approximately 93,300,000 baked bricks were used to build the stupa (Ratnayaka 1993).

    This stupa belongs to the Sagalika sect. The compound covers approximately 8 acres (5.6 hectares) and once housed over 3000 Buddhist monks. One side of the Stupa is 576 ft (176 m) long, and the flights of stairs at each of the four sides of it are 28 ft (8.5 m) wide. The doorpost to the shrine, which is situated in the courtyard, is 27 ft (8.2 m) high. The stupa has a 6-metre deep foundation, and sits on bedrock. Stone inscriptions in the courtyard give the names of people who donated to the building effort.

     

    Jetawanarama Museum

     

    The museum holds an interesting collection of artefacts recovered from excavations carried out since 1981 at the 300-acre site of the ancient monastery that housed over 3000 monks. The objects on display consist of nicely carved Buddha statues, guardstones and many carvings, jewellery and pottery.

     

    Buddhist Railing


    The Buddhist Railing made of stone lies south of the Jetavanarama Dagoba. The building within the railings which has disappeared a long ago is said to be an image house.

     

    Tuparama Stupa


     

    Located north of the Ruwanweliseya Dagoba and built by King Devanapiyatissa, Tuparamaya is the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka built after the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Enshrined in the dagoba is the sacred collar bone relic of the Buddha. This relic, a gift from India, stands testimony to the cordial relations enjoyed by the then ruler of Sri Lanka. The columns around the stupa were part of the walkway that supported a roof which covered the sacred edifice. Aesthetically, the interior of such a structure must have been the stunning expression of wood engineering and of the most skilful craftsmanship. The edifice's conical design, unique in the architectural history of the world, continues to be discussed and debated by scholars and scientists.

    The discovery of medical texts and surgical instruments dating back to the Anuradhapura period confirm the quality of life during that era. The tradition of using stone troughs as medicinal baths to cure the sick was in vogue during the Anuradhapura and subsequent Polonnaruwa periods and before Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. The patient, whether paralytic or in a coma after a snake bite, was immersed in a bath enriched with the appropriate medicinal potions that would gradually be absorbed into the body. Interestingly, the shape of the vessel was moulded to economize on the expensive fluid. The name Thuparamaya is a residential complex for Bhikkhus.

     

    Abhayagiri Dagoba


     

    Located north of the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree and Ruwanweliseya, Abhayagiri is a huge dagoba with a large monastic complex built by King Walagamba during the 2nd century BC. The dagoba originally stood 117 metres high, but today it stands only 75 metres high. The monastery is said to have accommodated about 5000 monks. Ruins of this large monastery are visible today. The dagoba has now been restored.

     

    Abhayagiri Museum


    Lying just south of the Abhayagiri Dagoba is the Abhayagiri Museum which holds a striking collection of artefacts like squatting plates, jewellery, pottery and religious sculptures discovered from this ancient site. Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian who visited Anuradhapura in the 5th century stayed at this monastery.

     

    Lankarama


     

    Located at Galhebakada in Anuradhapura, Lankarama is a stupa built by King Walagamba in the 1st century BC. The ruins at the site bear evidence to the fact that there had been a vatadage, a house encircling the stupa. The courtyard surrounding the stupa is 3 metres above the ground. Nearby is the Et Pokuna (elephant pond) which had been watered by the Periyakulama tank through subterranean canals. The pond stands 159 metres in length, 52.7 metres in width and 9.5 metres in depth. Et Pokuna is believed to have been used by the Buddhist monks who resided at the Abhayagiri Monastery.

     

    Samadhi Buddha Image


     

    The Samadhi Buddha Image lying at the Mahamevna Park is one of the greatest Buddha images in Sri Lanka. The 4th century 7' 3" tall image poses the Dhyana Mudra - seated in meditation posture.

     

    Ratna Prasada (Jewel Palace)


    Ratna Prasada lying at the Abhayagiri monastic complex is an Uposatha house used by the Abhayagiri monastery to conduct Uposatha ceremonies. The jewel palace is believed to have been built during the eight century AD by King Kanitta Tissa. The guardstone at this palace is one of the finest guardstones in Sri Lanka. A cobra head and a man with a pot of water in his left hand and a tree in his right hand are carved on the guardstone.

     

    Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Ponds)


     

    Located within the Abhayagiri monastic complex, Kuttam Pokuna that means twin ponds is a fine set of swimming-pool-like bathing ponds, the northern of which

    stands 40m in length and the southern 28m. This was built to be used by the monks residing at the Abhayagiri monastery for bathing purposes

    One of the hydrological marvels of ancient Sri Lanka, Kuttam Pokuna is watered through a fine system of filtration. Water channelled through underground conduits is first conveyed to stone chambers in which mud and other dirty particles deposit, and then clear water flowed to the larger ponds through the mouth of a dragon and then to the smaller pond.

     

    Royal Pleasure Gardens (Goldfish Park)


    The Royal Pleasure Gardens located nearby the Tisa Wewa and the Isurumuniya Vihara, spreads over an area of 14 hectares. According to the inscriptions at Vessagiriya, this was the park of goldfish. The park has several finely carved ponds that may have held goldfish and water lilies. The rocks scattered all over the park have been used to improve its appearance. You can see ruins of a building constructed on stone slabs to link two boulders.

    It is believed that it was at this park where the Prince Saliya, the son of King Dutugemunu, had met his future bride Asokamala. The prince married her and this resulted in the prince being deprived of the throne.

     

    Isurumuniya Vihara


     

    Located close to the Tisa Wewa (a lake), Isurumuniya is a Buddhist rock temple built by King Devanapiyatissa to house 500 newly ordained monks. The temple was later renovated by King Kasyapa (473-491 AD). Isurumuniya is known for its fine carvings known as Lovers, Elephant Pond, and the Royal Family.

    Carved on a granite plaque, the sculpture of 'Lovers' which is of the Indian Gupta dynasty style of the 4th and 5th centuries, depicts a woman seated on the man's lap, lifting a warning finger probably as a manifestation n of her coyness; but the man cries on regardless.

    'The Royal Family' is also carved on a granite plaque and there are five human figures. The one who is in the centre with a tall crown on his head is believed to be King Dutugemunu.

    The Elephant Pond consists of elephant figures carved on the rock around the pond which is watered by Tisa Wewa. The elephants seem to be bathing playfully.

     

    Vessagiriya


    Vessagiriya is a cave monastery complex lying about a kilometre south of Isurumuni Vihara. The remains of the monastery that once housed over 500 monks include 25 caves, an image house, a dagoba, and a refectory.

     

    Kala Wewa


     

    Kala Wewa is a large reservoir of 18.1 km2 (at full capacity) built southwest of Kekirawa, a town south of the Anuradhapura City by King Datusena in the 5th century. The king then built another tank called Balalu Wewa adjacent to the Kala Wewa and connected the two together making Sri Lanka’s biggest ancient tank. An 87km-long canal called Jaya Ganga alias Yoda Ela was then built to feed the Tisa Wewa that lies close to the Anuradhapura City. Jaya Ganga is one which shows marvels of Sri Lankan irrigation engineering existed more than 1500 years ago. This is an ascending canal, the gradient of which measures to 6 inches per every mile. In addition to the Tisa Wewa, Jaya Ganga feeds the Nachchaduwa reservoir and the Abhaya Wewa too. The magnificent Kala Wewa feeds a large number of reservoirs and tanks lying around.

     

    Avukana Buddha Image


    Lying west of the famous serene Kala Wewa, Kekirawa and erected during the reign of King Datusena in the fifth century AD, this is a colossal standing image of Buddha hewn out of a boulder. The magnificent Avukana image which represents the Asisa Mudra, a variation of the Abhaya Mudra (blessing pose) stands 42 feet high and rests on a lotus carved separately. The robe worn tightly has elaborately been carved and the left hand of the image touches the robe at the left shoulder while right hand poses the mudra. The ruins around the image bear evidence to the fact that the image had been within an image house built of bricks and stones.

     

    Stone Bridges


     

    There are two ancient bridges constructed with stone columns and beams over Malwatu Oya and Yoda Ela (Giant Canal) at a location close to the famous Twin Ponds. Both bridges remain ruined today and only a part can be seen.

     

  • Ambalangoda City

    Mask carving is an indigenous tradition in Ambalangoda, a coastal town 34 km north of Galle. This is a privately-owned museum where a large collection of masks of various kinds is showcased. Nearby is the mask workshop where you can see artisans making masks step by step. There is a guide who will explain you everything about various kinds of masks. It was very interesting to learn about the masks and the history and cultural significance attached to different ones in the collection.


     


  • Colombo City

    Colombo stands as Sri Lanka's commercial capital and the largest city with a population of nearly five million. It was the legislative capital of Sri Lanka until 1982. Located on the western coast of the island, Colombo is one of the best destinations in Sri Lanka with scores of attractions in the metropolis and suburban areas.

     

     

    As an administrative district, Colombo remains as the smallest yet the most densely populated district of Sri Lanka. It is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins. Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. It was made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948. In 1978, when administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Like many cities, Colombo's urban area extends well beyond the boundaries of a single local authority, encompassing other municipal and urban councils such as Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte Municipal Council, Dehiwala Mount Lavinia Municipal Council, Kolonnawa Urban Council and Kotikawatte Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Sabha. The main city is home to a majority of Sri Lanka's corporate offices, restaurants and entertainment venues.

     

    When it comes to climate, Colombo features a tropical monsoon climate falling just short of a tropical rainforest climate. Colombo's climate is fairly temperate all throughout the year. From March to April the temperature averages around 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) maximum. The only major change in the Colombo weather occurs during the monsoon seasons from May to August and October to January. This is the time of year where heavy rains can be expected. Colombo sees little relative diurnal range of temperature, although this is more marked in the drier winter months, where minimum temperatures average 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall in the city averages around 2,400 millimetres (94 in) a year.

     

    Colombo boasts a lot of attractions such as the Galle Face Green, the Viharamahadevi Park, Mount Lavinia beach as well as the National Museum.

     

    The Galle Face Green

    The Galle Face Green is a ribbon of green space located in the heart of the city along the Indian Ocean coast, and is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. The Galle Face Hotel is a historic landmark on the southern edge of this promenade.

     

    Gangaramaya Temple


    is one of the most important temples in Colombo. The temple's architecture demonstrates an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture.

    Viharamahadevi Park

    Viharamahadevi Park (formerly Victoria Park) is an urban park located next to the National Museum of Colombo and the Town Hall. It is the oldest and largest park in Colombo and features a large Buddha statue, a children's park, etc.

     

    Beira Lake



     

    Beira Lake is one of the most distinctive landmarks of Colombo, and was used for centuries by colonists to defend the city. It remains a popular attraction, hosting regattas, and theatrical events on its shores. The Northern and North-Eastern border of the city of Colombo is formed by the Kelani River, which meets the sea in a part of the city known as the Modera which means river delta.

    As part of the Urban Regeneration Program of the Government of Sri Lanka, many old sites and buildings were revamped to modern public recreational spaces and shopping precincts. These include Independence Memorial Hall Square, Pettah Floating Market and Old Dutch Hospital among others.


  • Ella City

    Ella is a small village of quaint beauty, safely tucked-in amidst the towering peaks of Sri Lanka's central highlands of the Uva province. The sleepy village is nestled in a valley peering straight through Ella Gap to the plain nearly 1000m below and across to the coastline; where on a fine day, you could even catch a glimpse of the Great Basses lighthouse of Southern Sri Lanka. If the view alone wasn't good enough, Ella is also surrounded by hilly countryside perfect for walks; through tea plantations to ancient temples and waterfalls.


     

     

    Ella's landscape is a soothing eye-pleaser, mostly defined by a seemingly endless frill of blue-green misty mountains peering towards the bright blue skies. Between you and these hilly giants lay a wide stretch of neatly kept tea gardens, with borders vaguely defined by narrow brown pathways snaking across. On a clear day, if you gaze hard enough at the mountain range you would catch glimpses of several glistening trails of waterfalls gently gliding down. The remaining of Ella's landscape is strewn with clumps of soaring woods that hold an alluring mystery within.

     

    With a handful of shops, hotels and guesthouses, Ella still remains a remote hamlet and bequeaths a mysterious old-world charm to its visitors. This hidden sanctuary is probably one of the best kept secrets of the country and has an almost perfect climate. Ella holds in itself an enigmatic appeal that makes it an ideal holiday destination; mystifying enough to quench the curiosity of the adventurous and serene enough to appease romantics seeking retreat.

     

     

    What to do at Ella


    Ella is perhaps not your typical holiday destination, but it has plenty to offer that could keep you fascinated and occupied during a few nights' stay. Apart from simply unwinding in the cool climes with mesmerizing views of the wonders of nature that Ella is abundantly blessed with; one could also set out on a trekking adventure to discover and experience these delicate wonders up-close.

     

     

    The 'Little Adam's Peak' located a few miles across the famed 98 Acres Resort of Ella, is one of the most popular trekking sites of the area. You could even grab a bike from a place nearby to trail along the woods and get to the foot of the mountain. The climb is not too intimidating even for a first-timer especially since the view from the top is well worth the effort.

     

     

    A mid-day stroll amongst the lush tea plantations can be a therapeutic experience. Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory, the largest tea producer in the province welcomes visitors to an insightful factory tour, where they could observe the meticulous manufacturing process of this healing beverage.

     

     

    Ravana Falls is another must-visit while in Ella. This popular falls has its roots connected

     

     

  • Jaffna City

    Jaffna is the northernmost city in the tropical island of Sri Lanka located about 400 km north of Colombo and about 35 km from mainland India. It is a peninsula and the city of Jaffna stands as Sri Lanka's 12th largest city.

     

     

    Jaffna features a tropical rainforest climate with no true dry season month. Jaffna has the highest average temperature in Sri Lanka- 83 oF. The temperature is highest in the months of April- May and August- September. The temperature is lowest in December- January. The annual rainfall is brought in by the north-east monsoon and it varies from one place to the other and also from year to year. The average rainfall is 50 inches in the western part of Jaffna peninsula.

     

    Jaffna peninsula is made of limestone as it was submerged by sea during the Miocene period. The limestone is grey, yellow and white porous type. The entire land mass is flat and lies at sea level. Within one mile of the city centre is the island of Mandativu which is connected by a causeway. Palmyrah groves can be seen where land has not been used for construction.

     

    Jaffna is approximately six miles away from Kandarodai which served as a famous emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical antiquity. Jaffna's suburb, Nallur served as the capital of the four centuries-long medieval Jaffna kingdom. Prior to the Sri Lankan civil war, it was Sri Lanka's second most populated city after Colombo. But due to the Tamil insurgency, the city tended to depopulate.

     

    Historically, Jaffna has been a contested city. It was made into a colonial port town during the Portuguese occupation in the Jaffna peninsula in 1619. It changed hands after the Dutch lost to the British in 1796. After Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, the political relationship between the minority Sri Lankan Tamils and majority Sinhalese worsened. Riots erupted following the cold blooded killing of 13 soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army. Jaffna was occupied by the terrorists in 1986 and the Sri Lankan military gained control in 1995.

     

    Majority of the city's population are Sri Lankan Tamils, although there were a significant number of Sri Lankan Moors, Indian Tamils and Sinhalese present in the city in the past. Most Sri Lankan Tamils are Hindus followed by Christians, Muslims and a Buddhist minority. The city is home to a number of educational institutions established during the colonial and post-colonial period. It also has number of commercial institutions, minor industrial units, banks, hotels and other government institutions such as the hospital. It is home to the popular Jaffna library that was burnt down and rebuilt. The city is anchored by the Jaffna fort rebuilt during the Dutch colonial period.

     

    Excavations conducted by Sir Paul E. Pieris during 1918 and 1919 in the ancient Jaffna capital of Kandarodai and Vallipuram, a coastal town six kilometres from Point Pedro revealed coins called "puranas", and "kohl" sticks dating back to 2000 B.C. similar in style to the sticks used to paint pictures in Egypt, suggesting that the northern part of Sri Lanka was a "flourishing" settlement prior to the arrival of Prince Vijaya. In the chronicle Mahavamsa, around sixth century B.C, there are descriptions of exotic tribes such as the Yakkhas strictly inhabiting the centre of the island, and the Nagas who worshiped snakes inhabiting the northern, western and eastern parts of the island, which was historically referred to as "Nagadipa". Jaffna city, along with the rest of the Jaffna peninsula was part of the Kingdom of Tambapanni in 543 BC. Ancient Sinhala chronicles including Mahavamsa describe Jaffna city as a vital part of the island nation. It briefly came under the rule of south Indian kingdoms, but after several incursions it has been recaptured by Sinhalese Kings, the last of whom was Parakramabahu VI.

     

    From the 5th century BC, present day Mannar District was part of Rajarata until 13th century AD. During the 15th century AD and 17th century AD, it was ruled by Vanniar chieftains who paid tribute to the pre-colonial Jaffna kingdom. The district then came under Portuguese, Dutch and British control. In 1815 the British gained control of the entire island of Ceylon. They divided the island into three ethnic based administrative structures: Low Country Sinhalese, Kandyan Sinhalese and Tamil. In 1833, in accordance with the recommendations of the Colebrook-Cameron Commission, the ethnic based administrative structures were unified into a single administration divided into five geographic provinces.

     

    Majority of the people in the Northern Province earn their livelihood as farmers, fishers and professionals in the civil and business sectors. Small scale industry such as chemical, light manufacturing and textiles were present before the civil war. The Northern Province being an agricultural dominant province, where agricultural sector is 25.9% and trade sector comes next to it is 19.3%. Most of the people are engaged in service sector covering 31.2% of the total.

     

     

  • Badulla City

    The 'Thorana' of a unique design of six levels at the entrance of the temple is of an unknown period. First level includes the main entrance and above it on the second level is a typical Makara (dragon) head. On the sides of the head are two guard figures and at the corners are two lion figures. On the third level there are two 'Vamana' figures and at the edge two animals probably lions. These figures are not as clear as the lion figures on the second level. On the centre of the third level is a high stand which goes right up to the fourth level on it are two bulls and the special features of these bulls are that they are decorated and have large humps. Such bulls are a feature of Hinduism and this feature indicates some influence of Hinduism in making of this structure. Lastly and on top of the fifth level is a seated Buddha statue. The peacocks at the sixth level complete the outline of the structure. At the entrance is a colourful Makara Thorana (a dragon archway). Right above the entrance and below the dragon head is a figure of Maitre Bodhisattva. On the right hand side of the image house is a statue of Deity Indaka, the protector of the Mutiyangana sacred site and the Namunukula Mountain Range. On the right is the statue of Maitre Bodhisattva. Passing the image house you come to the most sacred structure of the temple, the Stupa. The initial stupa built by the Deity Indaka in the 5th century BCE has been extended by King Devanapiyatissa (250-210 BCE) of Anuradhapura Era.

     

     

    Dunhinda Falls

     

    One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sri Lanka, Dunhinda Falls which is 64m in height is located 5 kms north of Badulla town and 1 km from Badulla-Mahiyanganaya Road. The Sinhala word 'Dunhinda' means smoky vapour. This smoky vaporous waterfall is created by the river Badulu Oya that flows through the Badulla town. The fall looks quite breathtaking, with its water roaring over a rocky ledge and falling splashing with clouds of spray into a pool in the rocks below. That is why this water fall is called Dunhinda. However, the area around is said to have been inhabited by Bintenne Veddas long ago.

     

    Bogoda Wooden Bridge

     

    Believed to have been built in the late 16th century or early 17th century, the wooden roofed bridge at Bogoda has been built over the Gallanda Oya which flows to Uma Oya, a tributary of the Mahaveli River. One of Sri Lanka's oldest surviving wooden bridges, this ancient bridge lies across a footpath, 10 kilometres away from the Badulla town off the Haliela junction. The roofed bridge was also a resting place for weary travelers. It stands on a large wooden column 35 feet in height and thick wide wooden planks have been flung across the stream to form the platform. The roof has distinctly early Kandyan tiles placed on wooden pillars and beams.

     

     

  • Galle City

    Blessed with a variety of attractions such as pristine beaches, breathtaking coral reefs, virgin rainforests, the colossal fortress, Galle is a captivating tourist destination in Sri Lanka, situated on the southwestern tip of the island, 119 km south of Colombo. The administrative capital of Southern Province and the district capital of Galle District, Galle is the fourth largest city in Sri Lanka after the capital Colombo, Kandy and Jaffna. Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna are the nearby most popular tourist attractions.

     

     

    At a glance

     

     -Area : 16.52 km2
     -Population : Approx 100,000
     -Distance : 100 km south of Colombo (1-hr drive on Highway)
     -Province : Southern Province
     -Climate : Hot and humid over the year reaching max temperature up to 31oC and rainy from May to September.

     

    History of Galle dates back to 14th century; it was the ancient seaport of Tarshish and King Solomon used it to draw valuables like elephants, peacocks, gemstones. Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays, Indians and Chinese have also used Galle seaport for their business activities during the 14th century. The Galle seaport has played a pivotal role in exportation of spices specially cinnamon from Sri Lanka in early 1400 BC. However, modern history of Galle dates back to 16th century. Portuguese navigators arrived in Galle in 1505 with Lourenco de Almeida and they fortified the city to defend the peninsula on the northern landside. But they were overthrown by the Dutch who arrived in Galle in 1640. Galle saw the pinnacle of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. Most famous for its centuries old fort, Galle which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under 'cultural category' declared in 1988, today stands as a city of splendour attracting thousands of local and foreign tourists. Galle represents a perfect blend of European architectural styles and South Asian traditions. There are a number of things to see and do while holidaying in this fortified city of Galle.

     

    Getting to Galle

     

    Galle can be reached by bus, train or seaplanes. Buses to Galle (route No. 2) leave from the Colombo Central Bus Station (private and public) in Pettah and it takes about 31/2hours. Luxury buses through the Southern Expressway leave from Kaduwela and Maharagama and it takes only one hour. Galle-bound trains leave from the Fort Railway Station and it takes 21/2hours (inter-city express). Also you could reach Galle aboard a seaplane that leaves from the Kelani River at Peliyagoda. (Seaplanes have to be booked).

     

    Getting Around in Galle

     

    The main bus station of Galle is located in the city centre and buses (normal and A/C intercity buses) leave from the bus station to outlying areas, suburbs of Galle and the island's main cities such as Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhpura, Trincomalee, etc. Luxury buses to Colombo via the Southern Expressway leave from main bus station to Kaduwela and Maharagama. In addition, taxis are available for hire while three-wheelers (Tuk Tuks) are abundant in and around the metropolis. Tuk tuks that can accommodate only three persons are suitable for short distance journeys. Self-drive cars are also available.

     

    Dining in Galle

     

    Hotels (from star-class hotels to normal hotels), restaurants, cafeterias and other eateries in and around Galle offer typical Sri Lankan dishes as well as Western and Eastern dishes. Being a coastal city with a fishery harbour, most of the eateries offer spicy dishes of delicious seafood such as crabs, lobsters, shrimps, oysters, cuttlefish and a variety fish.

     

    Shopping in Galle

     

    Being the largest city in south Sri Lanka, Galle has scores of shops including shopping malls and complexes where could buy anything you want such as cloths, gift items, souvenirs, watches & clocks, handicrafts, electronics, antiques & furniture, gem & jewellery. Most of the shops are open till 20.00hrs and some up to midnight. Credit cards are accepted by many a shop other than boutiques and other small shops. All leading banks and ATM machines are located in and around the city.

     

    Main Attractions

     

    The Fort of Galle- A UNESCO World Heritage Site

     



     

    Built in 1588 by the Portuguese in a 52-ha area in the Bay of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, and then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century, the fort of Galle is a monument of great historical, archaeological and architectural value. This is the largest and the most secured fortress in Sri Lanka which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. It had been declared an archaeological reserve by the United Nations since 1969.

     

    The fort, being taken over by the Dutch in 1640 had extensive fortification because of which a bastioned stone wall was added to the fort in order to render it impregnable against the English, French, Danish, Spanish and Portuguese fleets who vied with the Dutch for the supremacy of the sea. During 1660s, the northern fortified gate and most of the curtain walls were built.

     

    It is during the 18th century that the fort of Galle had much of its development. Private houses, public administration buildings, business establishments and warehouses were located within the fort during this century.

     

    However, in 1796, the fort of Galle was handed over to the English after they took over Colombo. Since then Galle remained the administrative centre of the south of Ceylon and many inappropriate modifications were done affecting the historical and architectural value of the fort.

     

    Galle Lighthouse

     


     

    Another attraction in the historic city of Galle, the Lighthouse is a landmark erection rising above the Fort of Galle. This is Sri Lanka's oldest as well as most visited beacon dating back to 1848, but the original lighthouse was destroyed by fire in 1934. Therefore, the currently existing beacon that stands 18m tall was erected in 1938. The beacon that lies within the ramparts is really a breathtaking view.

     

    National Maritime Archaeology Museum

     



     

    Located at the Old Dutch Warehouse in the fort of Galle, National Maritime Archaeology Museum displays exhibits of marine artifacts discovered in explorations made in the ocean floor around Sri Lanka.

     

    The marine artifacts consist of maps, naval craft and a host of articles including artillery guns, ropes, earthenware, beer mugs, smoking pipes, barrels, shoes used by the sailors, and items recovered from the wreckages of ships sunk in the sea off the Southern coast nearly 800 years ago.

     

    The previous maritime museum in Galle was completely washed away by the 2004 Asian Tsunami and the present museum is established in a renovated massive old building constructed during the Dutch Era located within the historic rampart of Galle.

     

    Historical Mansion Museum

     



     

    Located at the Old Dutch Warehouse in the fort of Galle, National Maritime Archaeology Museum displays exhibits of marine artifacts discovered in explorations made in the ocean floor around Sri Lanka.

     

    The marine artifacts consist of maps, naval craft and a host of articles including artillery guns, ropes, earthenware, beer mugs, smoking pipes, barrels, shoes used by the sailors, and items recovered from the wreckages of ships sunk in the sea off the Southern coast nearly 800 years ago.

     

    The previous maritime museum in Galle was completely washed away by the 2004 Asian Tsunami and the present museum is established in a renovated massive old building constructed during the Dutch Era located within the historic rampart of Galle.

     

    Another museum lying within the Fort of Galle, Historical Mansion Museum is a privately-owned museum where miscellaneous artifacts are showcased. (The museum is open from 0900hrs-1700hrs/entrance free)

     

    Port of Galle

     

    The Port of Galle is a centuries-old historic port in Sri Lanka. History of Galle dates back to 14th century; it was the ancient seaport of Tarshish and King Solomon used it draw valuables like elephants, peacocks, gemstones. Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays, Indians and Chinese have also used Galle seaport for their business activities during the 14th century. The Galle seaport has played a pivotal role in exportation of spices specially cinnamon from Sri Lanka in early 1400 BC. Portuguese navigators arrived in Galle Port in 1505 with Lourenco de Almeida and the Dutch arrived in Galle in 1640.

     

    The Galle Port provides facilities for pleasure yachts and it is the only port that provides such a service in Sri Lanka. The Galle Port has been recognized by the International Yacht Society as one of the world's best attractions.

     

    A development plan has been proposed to provide a fully-fledged Yacht Marina for the Galle Port to facilitate the calling yachts as well as to attract more yachts. This proposed development of the Port of Galle as a tourist destination will act as a catalyst to economic growth of Southern Region of Sri Lanka. At the next stage, berthing facilities will be for passenger cruise ships (Phase II). The yacht lifting facility & yacht repair workshop will be provided.

     

    Dutch Reformed Church

     



     

    This church was built in 1640 and re-modeled between 1752 and 1755. The church is paved with grave stones from the old Dutch cemetery. In the church is an old organ of 1760 vintage.

     

    Galle International Cricket Stadium

     



     

    Located next to the colossal Dutch Fortress and the Indian blue ocean seen either side, the international cricket stadium of Galle is considered one of the most picturesque stadiums in the world. It was at this stadium that Australian cricketer Shane Warne to his 500th Test wicket.

     

    Hiyare Reservoir Biodiversity Park/Sanctuary

     

    The Biodiversity Park lies in the area around the Hiyare Reservoir that was built about a century ago to provide water to the Galle Municipal area. The 600-acre Biodiversity Park that mostly consists of rainforest patches is gifted with a wealth of flora and fauna. The Park was developed by the Galle Municipal Council in collaboration with the Galle Wildlife Protection Society. "Biodiversity Conservation Effort" at Hiyare is a project carried out in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle, the Municipal Council of Galle and Nations Trust Bank. The project consists of a series of conservation activities centric to the Hiyare rainforest.

     

    (Open daily 0830hrs-1700hrs

    .

    Kottawa Arboretum

     

    Located on the Galle- Hiniduma Road, 16 km northeast of Galle, Kottawa Arboretum is an evergreen forest reserve of the lowland wet zone. The 35-acre arboretum is home to more than 170 species of trees, about 70 species of avifauna and a variety of reptiles, butterflies, snakes, lizards, arboreal animals etc. The forest reserve is a great place for those who are interested in wet evergreen forest vegetation.

     

    (Open daily 0830hrs-1700hrs/Entrance @ $ per adult, $ per child).

     

    NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

     

    North of Galle

     

    Telwatte Bird Sanctuary

     

    Declared as a national reserve in 1938, Telwatte Bird Sanctuary is a small lakeside bird sanctuary where waterfowls & shore-birds can mostly be spotted. In addition, the 1450-hectare sanctuary is home for endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. The sanctuary is located just inland at Telwatte 25 km north of the Galle city.

     

    Seenigama Devale

     



     

    An ancient Devale (shrine) dedicated to the Devol Deiyo, or God Devol, Seenigama Devale is located in an islet in the sea of Seenigama, a small village on the south-west coast close to Hikkaduwa. Usually victims of theft throng the Devale seeking retribution.

     

    Tsunami Photo Museum

     



     

    A glimpse at melancholy memories of the 2004 Asian tsunami catastrophe can be had at the Tsunami Photo Museum at Telwatte featuring a nice collection of photographs and newspaper features of the calamity. It was also at Telwatte that a commuter train was hit by tsunami claiming over 1200 lives of passengers.
    (Open daily from 0900hrs-1700hrs/entrance by donation)

     

    Hiniduma Calvary

     

    ` Located 45 km north of Galle, Mount Calvary at Hiniduma represents a series of scenes (sculptured) connected with the crucifixion of Christ.

     

     

    Madu Ganga Lake- Balapitiya

     



     

    Madu Ganga Lake is lying at Balapitiya, a coastal town 38 km north of Galle. This beautiful lake with its surrounding area has been developed as a tourist zone which is a popular attraction in the south Sri Lanka. Madu Ganga wetland, estuary and mangrove islets make a complex coastal wetland ecosystem. The lake is of high ecological, biological and aesthetic significance being home to over 300 species of plants and over 250 species of vertebrate animals. This might be one of the pristine mangrove forests in Sri Lanka. Tourist hotels in the area offer boat rides, rowing facilities etc. When travel in the south Sri Lanka, Madu Ganga Lake is worth-visiting.

     

    Kosgoda

     

    Kosgoda is yet another attraction in the south of the island. Lying 45 km north of Galle, Kosgoda promises a gorgeous palm-fringed beach, a lagoon and a turtle hatchery. You could have boat rides across the lagoon and watch birds occurring around.

     

    Kanneliya Forest Reserve

     

    6,114 hectares in extent located close to Udugama, 36 km north of Galle, Kanneliya is a large rainforest popular as a bird sanctuary. Covered mostly with secondary forest, but rich in biodiversity, Kanneliya is a rich habitat for many bird species.

     

    In this protected forest reserve are wide paths for a distance of about 2 km to walk and watch birds. A number of endemic bird species like Sri Lankan jungle & spur fowl, Ceylon grey hornbill, yellow-fronted barbet, green-billed coucal, chestnut-backed owlet etc., can be spotted when walking through the Kanneliya forest. Basic accommodation is available for overnight stay, but booking has to be made at the head office of the Forest Department.

     

    (Open daily 0830hrs-1800hrs

     

    Dooli Falls- Neluwa

     

    Located 68 km north of Galle, Dooli Falls or Dooli Ella (Falls of Dust) is a beautiful waterfall. The 200-foot waterfall lies in the western edge of the famous Sinharaja rainforest.

     

    Sinharaja Rainforest- a UNESCO World Heritage Site

     

    Located in the southwest lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka, 95 km northeast of Galle, Sinharaja Rainforest is Sri Lanka's only tropical rainforest reserve and it is a biodiversity hotspot of international significance and has been declared a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka's endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.

     

    Southeast of Galle

     

    Rumassala

     



     

    Rumassala is a forested mound located on the west end of the Unawatuna beach. Rich in biodiversity, Rumassala is home to a variety of flora and fauna. A variety of rare medicinal plants are found in the forest and according to Ramayana, Hanuman - the monkey god - dropped herbs here carried from Himalaya. A large dagoba (stupa) known as Japanese peace pagoda is seen atop the mound. A large statue of Hanuman is lying at the entrance to the temple which is on the promontory.

     

    Talpe

     

    A coastal township located 11 km south of Galle, Talpe is blessed with a palm-fringed tropical beach where you could engage in sunbathing, swimming, surfing and snorkeling.

     

    Sea Turtle Hatchery- Habaraduwa

     



     

    Sea turtle hatchery at Habaraduwa is an ideal place for nature lovers. This privately-owned hatchery that was established in 1986 in order to conserve this endangered species has so far released over 500,000 turtles to the ocean.

     

    Kataluwa Purwarama Temple

     

    Most famous for its fascinating paintings, the temple which is situated about 5 km east of Koggala, a town close to Galle and 16 km east of the Galle City, was built during the 13th century and some additions took place during the 19th century. These renowned Kandyan-style paintings found at the main shrine room provide evidence of the colonial influence of the time even on temple paintings. Most of the paintings have European figures and European style objects. Also Jataka tales or stories from the Buddha's lives have been painted.

     

    However, these paintings seem to be fading away at present. Copies of paintings from this temple are displayed at the Maritime Archaeology Museum, Galle.

     

    Stilt Fishing- Ahangama

     



     

    Stilt fishing at Ahangama is a unique attraction in Sri Lanka. Fishermen can be seen fishing perched on poles firmly embedded in the sea bottom. This form of fishing has been in existence from time immemorial and practised only in this area.

     

    Surfing at Ahangama and Midigama

     



     

    Ahangama is about 20 km south of Galle and further into south is Midigama. Both blessed with gorgeous beaches are known for surfing. Hotels in area around offer accommodation, food and surfing facilities.

     

     

  • Bandarawela City

    Located 200 km east of Colombo and 28 km south of Badulla town, Bandarawela is one of the key towns with tourist attractions. Bandarawela town had much development during the British colonial era and buildings such as 'Cargills Building', 'Bandarawela Hotel', and 'Tennis Club' bear evidence to their influences. Bandarawela is a town that has mild weather all year around because it is situated at a higher altitude. Bandarawela is one of the popular locations amongst local travellers as it is a destination that provides relaxing environmental conditions & soothing climate to make the family gatherings enjoyable and memorable.

     

     

    Historical references mention that King Valagamba found his perfect hideout at Dhowa area in Bandarawela to regroup his army to battle against the south Indian Chola invaders. Ancient 'Dhowa rock temple' is one of the historic places which you could visit. It is said that the temple was founded by 'King Valagamba' in the first century BC. Roman Catholic Church, St Anthony's Church & Methodist Church are some of the other historic places that belong to the colonial era.

     

    Bandarawela town has a mix population with a Sinhala majority. When the British introduced tea plantation to Sri Lanka, they hired south Indian Tamils as labourers to work on the tea estates. Hence, the central hills including Bandarawala started to be inhabited by immigrant Tamils.

     

    Bandarawela boasts of one of the healthiest climates in the world and average temperature of the region stands at 12oC in December and rises up to 27oC from May to June. This climatic condition suits perfectly for Tea plantation.

    Attractions in and around Bandarawela

     

    Lipton Seat

     

    Located 12 km away from Bandarawela town, Lipton Seats is a 360o view point where one can view the entire surrounding. It is said that this was the favourite view point of 'Thomas Lipton' who was a planter. Panoramic view of the area will be disturbed if it is a misty day, March to August is considered as the best season to enjoy 'Lipton Seats'.

     

    Ravana Falls, Caves & the Temple

     

    Ravana Falls is 82ft tall beautiful waterfall lying on the Ella-Wellawaya main road, 11 kilometres away from Bandarawela. It is believed that after taking Sita, 'King Ravana' kept her in the caves behind this waterfall. Ravana Cave located 1370m above sea level is one of the loveliest places that attract both local and foreign tourists.

     

    Ravana Temple is a cave temple built by King Valagamba in the 2nd century BC. The temple has paintings and sculptures that belong to Kandyan era as they show similar features. Though decayed, walls and canopy have been restored.

     

    Bambarakanda Falls

     

    With a height of 865 feet, Bambarakanda Falls stands the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. This breathtaking waterfall lies at Kalupahana, Haldummulla and could be reached via Haputale. The area around the falls is blessed with scenic beauty. It is best to see the falls from September to March as it becomes full during this period due to monsoonal rains.

     

    Diyaluma Falls

     

    Diyaluma Falls is another beautiful sight where locals and foreign tourists throng. With a height of 660 feet, Diyaluma Falls stands the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Created by Punagala Oya, a tributary of Kuda Oya, this beautiful waterfall lies close to Koslanda.

     

    Dowa Temple

     

    Lying 6 km east of Bandarawela on the Badulla Road, Dowa Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple believed to be founded by King Valagamba in the first century BC. You can witness the historic Kandyan era paintings of Jataka Stories of Buddha (Stories of Buddha's previous lives). A tall standing Buddha image sculptured on a rock can be seen at the temple.

     

    Adisham Bungalow

     

    Adisham Bungalow initially was a property of Sir Thomas Lester Villiers but now it has turned to be a monastery and is one of the only 18 monasteries in the world belonging to the Sylvester Congregation which is a suborder of Benedictine Fraternity. This will be a memorable experience for a visitor and an opportunity to get lost in the soothing surroundings.

     

    Thangamalai Bird Sanctuary

     

    Thangamalai Bird Sanctuary is situated in a peaceful surrounding closer to Adisham Monastery. Birds are limited to jungle and a walk though could be enjoyed.

     

     

  • Dambulla City

    Located 20 km south of Habarana and 55 km north of Matale, Dambulla is a commercial town with Sri Lanka's largest produce market and is most famous for the cave temples and also for the iconic golden temple. One of the eight world heritage sites in Sri Lanka, Dambulla heritage site with a history extending from prehistoric and proto-historic times, right down to the modern period, makes Sri Lanka's heritage really splendorous. On your way to Sigiriya, it is worth stopping over at Dambulla to catch a glimpse of these wonderful cave temples, ironwood forest, rose quartz mountain and megalithic cemetery.

     

     

    Cave Temples

     

    There are several cave temples scattered in two clusters facing the south and the west at the Dambulla Rock site which is located near the geographical centre of the island standing about 180 meters from the surrounding plain. The cave temples that date back to the 1st century BCE are one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. The caves are considered to be the finest storehouse of Sinhala art and sculpture. It has five caves under a vast overhanging rock, carved with a drip ledge to keep the interiors dry. In 1938 the architecture was inflated with arched walkways. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with complex patterns of religious images following the contours of the rock. There are images of Lord Buddha, and Bodhisattvas, as well as various gods and goddesses. Five caves are converted to shrine rooms. The caves, built at the base of a 150-metre high rock during the Anuradhapura period (1st Century BCE to 993 AD) and the Polonnaruwa period (1073 to 1250 AD), are the most inspiring of many cave temples in Sri Lanka.

     

     

    King Walagamba converted the caves into a temple in the 1st century BCE. Exiled from Anuradhapura, he sought refuge here from South Indian invaders for 15 years. After reclaiming his capital, the King built a temple in thankful worship. Many other kings added to it later and by the 11th century, the caves had become a major religious centre. King Nissankamalla gilded the caves and added about 70 Buddha statues in 1190 AD. During the 18th century, the caves were restored and painted by the Kandyan Kings.

     

    Cave No. 1 -Dev Raja Viharaya

     

    This is the first cave temple that you come across when entering the temple through the main gate. Dev Raja Viharaya means temple of the king of gods. In this cave is a 47-foot-long reclining Buddha image depicting the passing-away of Buddha. Also there are five other images, one of which is of arhat Ananda, Buddha's closest disciple lying at the foot of the reclining Buddha image. Yet another image held in a small shrine is said to be of the God Vishnu. Cave walls are decorated with paintings that are faded away almost beyond recognition.

     

    Cave No. 2 -Maha Raja Viharaya

     

    Maha Raja Viharaya or the temple of the great king is the most striking and the largest cave temple of the series of the cave temples at Dambulla. It is said that this 72-foot-long, 25-foot-wide, 21-foot-high cave temple was founded by the great king Vattagamini Abhaya. The cave holds 53 images that depict various Mudras or postures.

     

    A 18-foot-high dagoba lies at the right of the main entrance and its broad circular pedestal is ornamented with four figures of Buddha facing the four quarters. The cave is also home to a painted wooden statue of King Walagamba and another statue of King Nissankamalla who was one of the royal patrons of the temple. Within these shrine rooms is housed a collection of one hundred and fifty images of the Buddhist Order and the country's history. These statues and paintings represent many eras of Sinhala art and sculpture. In the cave are many more images of various deities as well.

     

    When it comes to walls of the cave, the entire wall surface is replete with colorful paintings that depict the life of Buddha before and after his enlightenment as well as the stories of his previous lives. Yellow seems to be predominant in these brilliantly colored paintings. There are many more paintings illustrating history of Sri Lanka.

     

    This cave is also famous for its vessel that collects water dripping continuously into the cave from the eastern end, even during droughts. Water collected into this vessel is used for sacred rituals.

     

    Cave No. 3 -Maha Alut Viharaya

     

    Maha Alut Viharaya or the great new temple which is said to have been used as a storeroom until the 18th century is a 90-foot-long, 81-foot-wide, and 36-foot-high cave and is the second largest cave which is separated from the cave no. 2 by a masonry wall. This cave also holds a large number of Buddha images and spectacular paintings. The 30-foot-long recumbent Buddha image sculpted brilliantly is quite a beautiful image in the cave. Kandyan period paintings depicting the Buddhist history and life of Buddha can be seen all over the rock surface.

     

    Cave No. 4 -Pachima Viharaya

     

    Pachima Viharaya or the western temple is a 50-foot-long, 20-foot-wide and 27-foot-high cave dipping steeply towards the back wall. The cave holds a number of figures of Buddha and the one lying at the Makara Thorana (a dragon archway) depicting the Dhyana Mudra or the meditation posture is very impressive.

     

    Cave No. 5 -Devana Alut Viharaya

     

    Devana Alut Viharaya or the second new temple which was once used as a storeroom holds a recumbent Buddha and a number of Hindu deities.

     

    Golden Temple

     

    This is a modern temple lying at the foot of the cave temples hill established as a monastery. A 30-metre high gilded Buddha image depicting the Dhammachakka Mudra lies atop this magnificent temple. This breathtaking gilded Buddha image was erected in 2001 with Japanese donations. The temple is called golden temple because of this gilded Buddha image.

     

     

    Buddhist Museum

     

    The newly built Buddhist museum lying close to the cave temples showcases an array of antiques and a striking collection of Buddha images pertaining to Thailand, Myanmar, China, Korea, and Singapore.

     

    Painting Museum

     

    Dambulla Painting Museum is Sri Lanka's only painting museum that exhibits history of paintings in Sri Lanka. By stepping into this newly established museum, one could look into the evolution of the island's painting tradition from its possible prehistoric origins.

     

    Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium

     

    Dambulla is also famous for its international cricket stadium known as Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. The stadium lies in a stunning setting close to the caves temples overlooking the Dambulla Tank and the Dambulla Rock. A number of international cricket matches have so far been played at this stadium which can accommodate about 30,000 spectators. The inaugural one day international match was played between Sri Lanka and England in the year 2000.

     

    Dambulla Dedicated Economic Centre

     

    Dambulla is home to Sri Lanka's largest produce market known as Dambulla Dedicated Economic Centre established in 1999. The economic centre consisting about 150 stalls serves as an entrepôt where farmers could meet traders and sell their produce at a fair price. Over 200 truckloads of agricultural produce are dispatched daily from this market to various parts of the island. Vegetables and fruits are grown in vast fields in and around Dambulla and it is quite a fascinating view.

     


  • Hambantota City

    When you proceed from Tangalle about 52 km eastwards, you come across the Hambantota city which is 241 km south of Colombo. Home to a number of tourist attractions, Hambantota saw much development in recent years; Sri Lanka's largest construction projects viz. Mattala International Airport and Magampura Port were carried out in Hambantota. Infrastructure facilities in the area have also been developed significantly. Under the Greater Hambantota Development Project, the city is being developed into one of Sri Lanka's five future 'metro cities' that are located in areas strategically selected for their potential high population concentration. The city now boasts an international airport, an international seaport, an international stadium, star-class tourist hotels, modern shopping complexes, and much more.

     

     

    When it comes to climate, Hambantota has a tropical wet and dry climate over the year with fewer rains from January to March and from June to August. During October and November, it experiences heavy rains. The average temperature lies between 25oC and 30oC throughout the year.

     

    Bundala National Park

     

    Located about 15 km east of the Hambantota city, Bundala National Park is known for avifauna most of which are migratory waders consisting of 197 species. Greater Flamingo, Pintail, Gargeny, Shoveller, Little Stint and Ruddy Turnstone are some of the birdlife that can be watched at this Ramsar status park. (More details appear under 'National Parks' and also under 'Bird Sanctuaries')

     

    Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary

     

    Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary is located about 24 km east of the Tangalle town. Replete with reed beds, water bodies, grass fields, marches etc., the sanctuary is home to a variety of birds both resident and migratory. It is also rich in marine. Glossy Ibis, Painted Snipe, Large Sand Plover and many more birdlife can be spotted in this sanctuary.

     

     

  • Hikkaduwa City

    Hikkaduwa is a small coastal town in the south situated 99 kms south of Colombo and 20 kms north of Galle. Well-known for its beach, subaqueous world of coral gardens with shoals of brightly coloured fish and nightlife, Hikkaduwa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. The coral sanctuary replete with colourful fish is quite fascinating and you can explore these fantasies in a glass-bottomed boat or by diving. This is also a better place for sunbathing, snorkeling, board-surfing and many other pastimes.

     

     

  • Kalpitiya City

    Located 167 km north of Colombo on the western coastal belt, Kalpitiya is an undiscovered destination in Sri Lanka. Kalpitiya, the long peninsula that separates Puttalam lagoon from the Indian Ocean, together with a string of offshore islands is emerging as a new tourist hotspot being blessed with a plethora of attractions as well as driven by the government's efforts to develop it as an attractive tourist destination.

     

    At a glance

    -Area : 16.73 km2 -Population : Approx 65,000
    -Distance : 167 km north of Colombo
    -Province : Northwestern Province
    -Climate : Hot and humid over the year reaching max temperature
    33oC and rainy during November and December.

     

    Most popular for its stunning pristine beaches and as a dolphin & whale watching hotspot, Kalpitiya is essentially a marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and gorgeous beaches in the tropics. Moreover, Kalpitiya offers you a host of activities to do both in the sea and in the air such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, paramotoring, dolphin & whale watching, and so on. What more.. this fantastic destination in the tropics offers you hot and spicy dishes of delicious sea foods like prawns, cuttlefish, crabs, oysters etc., prepared in natural way without additives.

     

    Getting to Kalpitiya

     

    You could get to Kalpitiya by bus. Buses to Kalpitiya (Route No. 6) leave from the Colombo Central Bus Station (private and public) in Pettah. On the other hand, you could get a Puttalam-bound bus and get down at the Puttalam town. Then take a bus at Puttalam town to Kalpitiya. Puttalam-bound Intercity A/C buses run to and from Colombo.

     

    What to do at Kalpitiya

     

    Windsurfing and Kitesurfing

     

     

    Kalpitiya is becoming a popular destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Enthusiasts of aquatic adventures around the world flock to the Kalpitiya lagoon to enjoy adventures like windsurfing, kitesurfing and other activities. The windsurfing and kitesurfing season at Kalpitiya lasts from May to September. Hotels and resorts in the area offer facilities for these activities.

     

    Paramotoring (Powered Paragliding)

     

     

    For those who are into aero adventures, there is an opportunity at Kalpitiya to enjoy paramotoring. Paramotoring service is available at Udappuwa, a village 70 km south of the Kalpitiya Town.

    Paramotoring is relatively easy to learn to fly, and being foot launched, do not need an airfield or runway. They can take off from an open, flat field with no need to find a hill site facing into wind, or even to wait for the wind to blow.

     

    Dolphin & Whale Watching

     

     

    Kalpitiya is one of the few places for dolphin and whale watching in Sri Lanka and it is only at Kalpitiya that dolphins and whales could be spotted without sailing out to deep seas. The dolphin watching season at Kalpitiya begins in November and lasts up to March. During this season, thousands of dolphins could be spotted. It is best for whale watching at Kalpitiya from November to December and from March to April and during these seasons, Blue whales, Minke whales, melon-headed and dwarf sperm whales could mostly be spotted. Alankuda beach is the most popular for dolphin and whale watching at Kalpitiya. Hotels and resorts in the area carry out dolphin/whale watching tours.

     

    Snorkeling & Diving

     

     

    Kalpitiya is home to Sri Lanka's largest living coral reef "Bar Reef" which can be reached in a half an hour boat ride. Snorkeling and diving are done at the site of this spectacular Bar Reef in Kalpitiya. Hotels and resorts in the area provide facilities for snorkeling and diving.

     

    Kayaking

     

    If you are into kayaking, you can do it at Kalpitiya. Some hotels at Kalpitiya offer facilities for kayaking in the lagoon and coastline.

     

    Attractions in and around Kalpitiya

     

    Tropical Beaches

     

    Pristine tropical beaches at Kalpitiya attract hundreds of tourists from around the world. These undiscovered beaches in the tropics promise a host of recreational sports and adventures. Breathtaking coral reefs, giant marine mammals and coconut groves make these gorgeous beaches a heaven for holidaymakers.

     

    Dutch Fort

     

     

    Lying at the northern tip of the Kalpitiya peninsula, the fort built by the Dutch in 1666 and reconstructed in 1676 at the place where the Portuguese had a stockade and a Jesuit chapel is a landmark at Kalpitiya. The 4-metre tall rampart still remains in a good condition and the fort built of corals consists of a commander's house, barrack rooms, a prison, two tunnels and several go-downs. The Dutch logo at the entrance represents a palmyrah which indicates prosperity and an elephant; elephants were used to build the fort. The Fort is currently occupied by Sri Lanka Navy and permission to visit the site has to be obtained. A Navy guide explains everything about the age-old fort to the visitors.

     

    Fishery Harbour

     

     

    Close-by the Dutch Fort is the Kalpitiya fishery harbour operated by Sri Lanka Fisheries Corporation. Small boats as well as trawlers could be seen at the harbour. During off-season fishing is carried out in the lagoon whereas during the season, these multiday boats sail out to deep seas for fishing. Tuna is the mostly found fish and a variety of fish are harvested. All fishing details are recorded and fish is exported with such details. Therefore, the ultimate consumer may find where the particular fish was caught.

     

    Dutch Reformed Church

     

     

    Presently known as Christian Reformed Church, the Dutch Reformed Church is a Protestant church built by Dutch in 1706. One of the oldest Protestant churches in Sri Lanka, the church is located at Mutuwella Road, Kalpitiya a few metres west of the Kalpitiya town. The church is currently abandoned yet it is remaining in a good condition. The original Dutch tombstones can still be found on the church's floor and belfry is also visible beside the church.

     

    Bar Reef - Spectacular Coral Reefs

     

     

    It is a complex of reefs stretching parallel to the coast from the northern end of the Kalpitiya peninsula to the islands. It has high ecological, biological and aesthetic significance, being home to 156 species of coral and 283 species of fish.

     

    Talawila St Anne's Church

     

     

    The Catholic shrine dedicated to St Anne lies in a beautiful location beside the seafront at Talawila, a township 17 km south of Kalpitiya town. Thousands of devotees throng here during the main feasts held in March and July.


  • Koggala City

    A small coastal town 135 kms south of Colombo and 16 kms south of Galle, Koggala is a popular yet uncrowded tourist attraction. The beach the longest in Sri Lanka, the lake and the folk museum are some of the attractions in Koggala. The endless pristine sandy beach which is less crowded and where you could do sunbathing, surfing etc., will undoubtedly make your holiday wonderful. Koggala is an ideal place either for a relaxing holiday or an adventurous holiday. Hotels area around offer you all the facilities for your vacation.

     

     

    Koggala Beach

     

    The longest in Sri Lanka, the Koggala beach is a very attractive tropical sandy beach which is good for windsurfing. The road passes a domestic airport and nearby is a small turtle hatchery.



     

    Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum

     

    The house of Martin Wickremasinghe, one of the greatest novelists of Sri Lanka, has now turned to be a folk museum. Surrounded by a restored ecosystem comprising of hundreds of varieties of indigenous trees and shrubs in which birdlife abounds, this folk museum is essentially a repository of artifacts depicting the history of Sri Lankan folk culture, from ancient to modern times in order to remind the people of Sri Lanka of their living roots.



     

    The museum consists of a number of artifacts, from Buddhist artifacts to those which portray the development of rural technology in agriculture, agro industry, fishing, pottery and metal craft artifacts, various artifacts from folk dances and religious ceremonies and many others. Tastefully presented, the museum offers visitors rare insights into Sri Lankan folk culture.
    (Open daily 0830hrs-1800hrs).

     

    Koggala Airport

     

    Koggala Airport, the inception of which dates back to the second world, is a domestic airport operated by the Sri Lanka Air Force. The current runway is capable of handling domestic aircraft like the Dash-8 and ATR-72. The Government of Sri Lanka has planned to upgrade the Koggala airport to international standards as an alternative airport to the Bandaranaike International Airport.

     

    Catalina Grill Restaurant

     

    ` Housed in an Avro Aircraft on the seafront at Sri Lanka Air Force Unit in Koggala, Catalina Grill Restaurant is a unique restaurant in Sri Lanka. The restaurant that serves delicious food & drinks, could accommodate 30 guests at a time. The alluring environment together with pipe music provided at the restaurant attracts many holidaymakers.

     

    Koggala Lake & Its Surroundings

     

    Koggala Lake together with its surroundings is one of the popular attractions in Koggala. The Lake is replete with small islands that abound with mangrove swamps and birds like herons. Among these islands is the famous island 'Madol Duva'. Boat rides are available and you a have a ride across the lake and explore these beautiful small islands in the lake and watch birds.

     

  • Kitulgala City

    If you are into water sports specially white-water rafting, Kitulgala is the place you should visit. Kitulgala is a township lying on the western slope of the central hills belonging to the Kegalle District. You could reach this picturesque area in two-hour drive on the Colombo-Hatton Road when you proceed from Colombo. It lies in the wet zone rainforest, which gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest places in the country. Nevertheless, it comes alive in the first three months of the year, especially in February, the driest month.

     

     

     

    It is Kelani River that flows fast for few kilometres across Kitulgala with lots of rapids leaving it best for white water rafting. Many a hotel in the area offers all the facilities for white-water rafting under well-trained rafters. Should you need to enjoy an adventurous holiday, Kitulgala makes it happen without doubt. Hundreds of thousands of local and foreign tourists visit this fine destination to enjoy a wonderful holiday replete with adventures and recreations.

     

    Apart from white-water rafting, Kitulgala promises you a number of other adventurous as well as recreational activities such as bird watching, walking in the jungle, trekking to waterfalls, jumping and sliding into natural pools, river expeditions, flat water rafting and mountain biking.

     

     

    Kitulgala came to international fame due to the fact that the academy award-winning “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was filmed on the Kelani River near Kitulgala 1950s, although nothing remains now except the concrete foundations for the bridge.

     

     

  • Kurunegala City

    Located 93 km northeast of Colombo, Kurunegala is a commercial town as well as a transport hub connecting a number of main cities in Sri Lanka such as Negombo, Colombo, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Kandy. Kurunegala remained the royal capital of Sri Lanka for about 50 years during 13th and 14th centuries. Though not a main tourist destination, suburban towns and villages of Kurunegala offer many heritage and cultural attractions.

     

     

    At a glance

     

     -Area : 11 km2
     -Population : Approx 30,000
     -Distance : 93 km northeast of Colombo (2-hr drive)
     -Province : Northwestern Province
     -Climate : Hot and humid throughout the year, max temperature 35oC in April, rainy from May to August and from October to January.

    Main Attractions

     

    Ridi Vihara

     

     

     

     

    110 kms from Colombo, Ridi Vihara is located in Ridigama, a small village 20 kms northeast of Kurunegala town. This temple is believed to be built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BCE, as a monument to the place where he found a silver (Ridi) ore mine which was used to finance the building of the gigantic Ruwanweli Seya in Anuradhapura.

     

    This area was part of the Kandyan Kingdom during European occupation and King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha has made major renovations on this temple. Therefore most of the paintings and statues seen today belong to the Kandyan Era. On the way to the main cave is a curious image house built entirely of stone. This is said to be the cave where the Indragupta Maha Thero consumed the Jak fruit offered by a merchant. Inside this image house is a seated Buddha statue and all the walls have Buddhist paintings belonging to the Kandyan period.

     

    The design of this building strangely resembles a Devale. There is also a hallway to enter the shrine similar to Devale Design. The 8-stone pillars holding the main roof of the hallway have carvings of female dancers which are not generally found in the Buddha image houses. Therefore it could be that this building was built during a period where the Hindu beliefs were strongly present in the country such as the Polonnaruwa or Kandyan period.

     

    Passing this image house you would enter an entrance hall of the main Vihara complex. Here you would see a massive arms bowl which is said to have been used for Buddha Puja in the ancient times.

     

    The Maha Vihara is located inside a spacious rock cave and contains a 9 metre recumbent Buddha image and the original gold plated Buddha Image donated by King Dutugemunu. At the feet of recumbent Buddha image is a statue of Ananda Thero, a statue of a Maitree Bodhisattva and then statues of some deities

     

    Entrance to the Uda Vihara is through a side door in the Maha Vihara. Here you will pass a protected door frame decorated with ivory carvings. Door frames decorated with ivory are an extremely rare feature for ancient buildings. This door has been subject to vandalism and the lower parts of the ivory are now missing. At the top centre of the decorations is what looks like a vase but closer inspection reveals it a carving of 5 females interwoven together. Besides this is a carving of 2 lions. Around these are fragments of the ivory designs covering the rest of the frame.

     

    At the end of the cave, outside the shrine room, there is a painting of "Navanari Kunjaraya", the figures of nine women arranged in such a way to create the image of an elephant. Inside the temple are stupas. One beside a cave behind the Uda Maluwa and the other is on an altogether separate hill called "Sarasum Gala".

     

    The Citadel of Yapahuwa

     

     

    Lying midway between Kurunegala and Anuradhapura, the citadel of Yapahuwa was built by King Buvanekabahu I during 13th century. This magnificent rock fortress rises up to about 100 metres from the surrounding plain and is complemented with a steep ornamental staircase.

     

    Remains of a stupa, a Bodhi tree enclosure, and a rock cave believed to be used by Buddhist monks can be seen atop the rock. The base of the rock is comprised of several caves in one of which is a shrine with Buddha images. One cave bears a Brahmi script inscription. A fortification with two moats and bulwarks is visible at the southern base of the rock.

     

    Etkanda Vihara

     

     

    Located on the Kurunegala-Kandy Road, 150 metres away from the Kurunegala city, Etkanda Vihara is essentially a monastery where the five hundred and fifty birth tales of Buddha was translated to Sinhala during the reign of Parakramabahu IV. The original Ola leaf version of this great work can still seen well-preserved at this monastery.

     

    Padeniya Vihara

    Padeniya Vihara lies at Padeniya 25 km northwest of Kurunegala. This Kandyan-style Buddhist temple records its inception with the planting of a sapling of Sri Maha Bodhi of Anuradhapura at this place during the reign of King Devanapiyatissa. The main shrine is supported by 28 magnificent carved pillars and its door has been elaborately decorated. The Vihara has an ancient clay image house, a library and a preaching hall.

     

    Hattikuchchi Vihara

     

     

    Hattikuchchi Vihara, located in a picturesque setting at Galgamuwa, is an ancient temple of great historical and archaeological value. According to historians, this is believed to be the temple where King Sirisanga Bo, a righteous king, donated his head cut off to a pheasant. A large number ruins including a circular relic house, a chapter house, an image house, an alms hall, dagobas, and 16 ponds can be seen spread over a 300-acre area.

     

     

  • Matara City

    Matara is essentially a busy coastal city located 160 km south of Colombo and 44 km south of Galle. Though not a major tourist destination as much as Galle, Matara offers a fine tropical destination with gorgeous sandy beaches and several other attractions such as the Dutch rampart and Veherahena Temple in the south Sri Lanka.

     

     

    At a glance

     

    -Area : Approx 13 km2
    -Population : Approx 830,000
    -Distance : 160 km south of Colombo (2 -hr drive on Expressway)
    -Province : Southern Province
    -Climate : Hot and humid with an average annual


    temperature of 27oC, January the coldest, February
    the driest, May the warmest and October the wettest.

     

    Matara was under the Portuguese and the Dutch rule in the 16th and 18th century respectively and the fort located at the city centre was built by the Dutch. It was one of the most important forts for the Dutch as a commanding base in the southern maritime provinces and for certain inland forts.

    Main Attractions

     

    Dutch Fort (Rampart)

     

    Originally built by the Portuguese in 1560 and rebuilt by the Dutch in 1645 to protect the administrative office of Dutch East India Company (VOC), the Matara Fort ads much splendour to the coastal city of Matara. The year inscribed on the entrance is 1789, but it could be the year the fort was repaired. In 1796, the Dutch handed over the fort to the British.

     

    The fort with a large stone rampart occupies the promontory separating the Nilwala River lagoon and the sea. Built with granite and limestones, most of the fort still remains in good condition, particularly the gateway and the rampart. During the Dutch occupation, the fort accommodated an elephant kraal, the government agent's official residence, a church, a cinnamon store, and a gunpowder store.

     

    Star Fort

     

    Yet another fort in Matara, located about 350 m from the Dutch Fort, star fort is a small star-shaped fort built by the Dutch in 1763 as the Dutch rampart was indefensible. It was Van Eck who built the star fort after the Matara revolt. Within the fort is a well and the entrance gates are flanked by carved lions. The walls of the fort were originally defended by 8-metre wide earth banks. Between these walls and earth banks, a moat has been built. However, currently, the fort is home to a museum.

     

    Parei Duwa

     

    Parei Duwa is a small islet in the sea off the city of Matara. A cable-stayed bridge leads to this tiny island which is home to a small Buddhist temple. The temple is set in attractive gardens and it houses a number of statues of Buddha and a replica of the Buddha's footprint found at Adam's Peak or Sri Pada. Nearby gorgeous beach is good for leisure walks.

     

    Polhena Beach

     

    Polhena is a popular beach lying four kilometers off the Matara city. This gorgeous busy beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, scuba diving, surfing, evening walks, and seeing coral reefs. It's a highly famed destination due to its natural swimming pool created by spectacular coral reefs.

     

    Mirissa

     

    Mirissa is a beautiful small rocky beach which is calm, relaxing and almost private located nearby Weligama Bay. Whale and dolphin watching, river trips, snorkeling and bird watching are some of the activities you could do while being in Mirissa. The best time for whale watching in the sea off the Mirissa harbour is from November to April.

     

    Weligama

     

    Yet another tourist hotspot in the south, Weligama is a unique bay beach and popular for scuba diving and surfing. It is a fantastic experience to see stilt fishing just few meters off-shore. Weligama is also famous for its lace weaving industry which was introduced by Portuguese in the 16th century. This beach destination lies about 19 km north of Matara and hosts a number of boutique hotels and resorts; Taprobane is a popular islet in the Weligama Bay which houses a small French villa.

     

    East of Matara

     

    Veherahena Temple

     

    Veherahena is a beautiful Buddhist temple popular among pilgrims, located just east of the Matara City. The temple holds a large seated Buddha image painted with bright colours. A lot of paintings depicting the Buddha's life can be seen on walls and roofs of the temple which has three underground storeys.

     

    Dondra Head Lighthouse

     

    Located near the southernmost point of the country known as Dondra Head, 6 km southeast of the Matara city, Dondra Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka with a height of 49 metres and seven floors. Designed by Sir James Nicholas Douglass, this beautiful lighthouse was erected in 1889 by William Douglass. One can reach to the top of the lighthouse through the flight of 196 steps and see the spectacular views of the area around.

     

    Wewurukannala Vihara

     

    Located on the Beliatta Road close to Dickwella, a town 22 km off Matara, Wewurukannala Temple is a fine attraction in south Sri Lanka. The temple houses a large 50-metre-high seated Buddha image depicting the meditation posture. Wewurukannala Temple also holds a large number of beautiful paintings that depict various events of the Buddha's life.

     

    Blowhole or Hummanaya

     

    Hummanaya or the blowhole is one of the best attractions in south Sri Lanka. Located in Kudawella 7 km northeast of Dickwella, this wonderful blowhole is the second largest of such in the world. The Hummanaya is created by sea waves gushed through a hole in a rock and blasted into the air forming an impressive, powerful jet of water. A platform has been set up so that tourists can view this spectacular blowhole conveniently. Nearby is a tourist information centre. During the southwest monsoon, the Hummanaya soars up to about 30 metres. When you travel around south Sri Lanka, it is worth visiting.

     

     

  • Negombo City

    Negombo is essentially a beach destination located on the west coast of the island 34 km north of Colombo and 6 km north of Sri Lanka's main international airport. Over the decades, Negombo has been quite a tourist hub just as much as other coastal cities like Galle and Trincomalee. One of the largest commercial cities in Sri Lanka, Negombo promises a fine destination in the tropics. Negombo is famous for its gorgeous sandy beach as well as the old fishing industry.

     

     

    At a glance

     

    -Area : 34 km2 (Metro)
    -Population : Approx 165,000 (Metro)


    -Distance : 35 km north of Colombo (1/2-hr drive on expressway), -Province : Western Province -Climate : Hot and humid over the year, average temperature lies between 24oC and 30oC and rainy from May to August and from October to January.

     

    Negombo has one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka and this tropical sandy beach coupled with the surrounding star-class hotels attracts scores of tourists around the world. "Beach Park" of Negombo also attracts visitors. Among activities in Negombo water sports and diving are popular among the vacationers.

     

    Being a fishing town and home to Sri Lanka's second largest fish market, Negombo is popular as a paradise of fresh seafood. Auctions of fish are held daily and visitors have opportunity to buy fish and even go fishing in the lagoon or deep seas with local fishermen

     

    Negombo Fort

     

    Initially built by the Portuguese to defend Colombo, the fort of Negombo was destroyed and rebuilt by the Dutch in 1640 on a pentagonal pattern with four bulwarks near the lagoon. Moats had been built to protect the fort and the gate was accessible through a drawbridge. Today, a few walls and the fine arched gateway inscribed with the date 1678 of this old Dutch fort can be seen and most of the fort remains ruined.

     

    Muturajawela Marsh

     

    Lying in the Negombo lagoon towards south of the Negombo city, Muturajawela is a 6,000-hectare marshy land which is home to a variety of flora and fauna numerically 192 flora and 209 fauna. Considering the rich biodiversity of this marsh, it has been declared as s sanctuary by the government since 1996. More popular among birders, Muturajawela abounds with a large number of avifauna specially waterfowls such as herons and egrets. Sri Lanka Slender Loris can very rarely be spotted at Muturajawela which is also home to a number of ichthyofauna.

     

    Muturajawela Marsh Centre provides much assistance to visitors in terms of education, boat rides etc. It is best to visit this beautiful march early in the morning or evening.

     

    Marawila

     

    Yet another beach destination in the tropics, Marawila is a town located 27 km north of Negombo and 22 km south of Chilaw. The long golden beach with palm-fringed terrain has made Marawila a paradise of beach-loving vacationers from around the world. Hotels and resorts in the area offer accommodation, dining and facilities for water sports.

     

     

  • Nuwara-Eliya City

    Nuwara-Eliya is one of the cities that lie at the highest altitude of Sri Lanka and is popular as a paradise holiday destination. Located in the central hills, 180km away from Colombo, Nuwara-Eliya is a classic example of climate diversity of Sri Lanka. It is also a city where the influence of the British-Colonial architecture is visible.

     

     

    Covered and cornered from three of the highest mountains of the country that is Piduruthalagala, the Great Western & Haggala, it becomes a paradise of its own isolating itself from other bustling cities and towns. However, it offers many activities for tourists such as hiking, pony riding, boating, golfing, visits to the tea plantations and the lovely landscapes & parks.

     

    Nuwara-Eliya boasts a cool climate but gets warmer and is considered as the summer season during the period from March to May.

     

    It is believed that King Rawana had a capital in the region of Nuwara-Eliya. It is said that King Rawana kept Sita in a place called 'Sita-Eliya' where we can now find a Hindu Kovil known as Sita Amman Kovil (a Hindu Temple) lying close to the Haggala Botanic Garden. It is also said that King Rawana punished Hanuman when the Monkey-Leader together with his monkey army came to save Sita and lit Hanuman's tail on fire. Hanuman used his swift movement ability and burnt King Rawana's entire city, legend says that the black soil found in the Nuwara-Eliya region is a result of this burning and that it is the only ruins left of the capital of King Rawana.

     

    Ancient Kings kept Nuwara-Eliya as a treasure; they did not construct any building in the region to keep the natural beauty as well as to protect the natural resources. However, they knew about the resource availability and then used footpaths to collect gems & materials to produce arms.

     

    Dr John Davy led his hunting party into the region when he rediscovered Nuwara-Eliya in the year 1818. He had a vision & plans as the British Governor that he discussed together with his fellow colonialist Sir Samuel Baker to turn Nuwara-Eliya into an English Village. Since many of the colonialists resided at this region, you are still able to see the remaining British architectural grandeur. Even the modern buildings are built using the same style of architecture to keep the uniqueness of the region.

     

    Dr John Davy also expressed his amazement of the huge Elephant gathering, wild animals, gems & trees. Oliphant Estate is enjoyed by all travellers, and is the Elephant Plane where a huge number of Elephants gathering was witnessed by Dr John Davy. There were two elephant killers during the colonial ruling whose grave yards can still be seen. It is said that Major William Tomas Rogers killed over 1500 Elephants until his death.

     

    It is said that Sir Edward Barnes who was later named 'the father of Nuwara-Eliya' is responsible for most of the constructions and also to the state that Nuwara-Eliya is today. After constructing many roads and shelters, he built a holiday-home spending £8000 which was earlier called 'Barnes Hall' and now it is known as the famous 'Grand Hotel of Nuwara-Eliya' with more than 150 rooms to stay.

     

    Baker's Farm of Nuwara-Eliya is another creation of colonialist Sir Samuel Baker. At first instance of transporting all the labour he had including his brothers. He somehow achieved his mission creating the farm and the stone pillars placed as a memory can be still seen. He continued his mission brewing his own beer, and tried growing grapes, oats, barley & wheat which were failed experiments. After constructing a hospital ward which still lies in the base hospital in Nuwara-Eliya at Hawa-Eliya, he returned to England after closing down the farm. Sri Lanka's broadest waterfall 'Bakers Fall' is named after him.

     

    Gregory Lake

     

     

    Governor William Gregory constructed the lake during his rule from 1872 to 1877 utilising water from Nanu Oya which runs across the town. It is about 91.2 hectares in extent and was used for water sports and recreational activities at the time of the British rule. Lake Gregory is a significant tourist attraction loved locals and foreigners alike. Boat Yard offers boating for people who love & enjoy being with the water.

     

    Galway's Land & Bird Sanctuary

     

    Beautiful escapade of 27 hectares was gazetted as a 'Bird Sanctuary' in the year 1938. Sanctuary attracts around 20 very rare foreign birds and about 30 different types of Sri Lankan birds. In addition to attracting most of the endemic birds as well as migrant birds you can find valuable trees in here as well.

     

    Galway's Land & Bird Sanctuary is now under the purview of 'Department of Wildlife Conservation' and a permit is required to enter the sanctuary.

     

    Golf Club

     

    It is said that this is the only 'Golf Club' where golfers are able to see all the holes from the club house and accessible from car. Rear of the club house you are able to see the memorial of Major William Rogers who is notorious for gunning hundreds of elephants down. The Golf Club is located walking distance from the town centre and is a beautiful landscape of more than 90 acres. It is considered as one of the biggest attractions in Nuwara-Eliya.

     

    Oliphant Estate

     

    Entrance to the estate is closer if you enter Nuwara-Eliya from the Ramboda Pass end and is important as it is in this estate where Mr Laurence Oliphant planted the first thirty tea plants sent from China. This planting increased Mr Oliphant's tea acreage to 100. This is also known as the old elephant plain where number of elephant's refuge till they were ruthlessly killed by the elephant killers.

     

    Mount Piduruthalagala -Trekking & Hiking

     

    The tallest point of Sri Lanka and the Piduruthalagala Mountain covers and stands tall from the northern end of the Nuwara-Eliya city at 2524m. This is also known as Mount Pedro in English. Central communication towers are visible at the top of the mountain; this is a very important communication point of the country and also is an important point of the country's radar system.

     

    Peak of the mountain is therefore considered as an 'Ultra High Security Zone', secured by a large military base. All adventure enthusiastic travellers can enjoy a hike up to the 7000 ft limit.

     

    Shanthipura -City view

     

    With many small villages and the vibrating culture, Nuwara-Eliya provide travellers with landscapes that never get them bored. One such small village that is in the highest point is Shanthipura.

     

    Single Tree Hill

     

    Another great place to enjoy the beauty of Nuwara-Eliya, from here you are able to view all three mountain ranges that covers the beautiful city of Nuwara-Eliya.

     

    Pedro Tea Factory

     

    Closest Tea Factory to the town of Nuwara-Eliya and produces high quality tea. This is also considered one of the most modern tea factories in Nuwara-Eliya.

     

    Ceylon Breweries

     

    Sir Samuel Baker started brewing beer in Nuwara-Eliya in 1881 at Lover's Leap. Ceylon brewery is also an interesting place to visit as it is one of the finest in the country. They have been in the business since 1884.

     

    Horton Plains

     

    Horton Plains is the only national park that is based in the hill country. It is the best escapade for nature & adventure lovers. Beautiful grassy land provides stay to many wild animals such as Leopard, Sambar and the endemic Purple-faced Langur. Endemic highland birds include Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye, and Yellow-eared Bulbul.

     

    All travellers enjoy their travel by visiting 'World's End' where 'Horton Plains' suddenly stops with a steep of 1050 metres as if the whole world ends there. Misty surrounding makes it so real.

     

    Flora -744 flowering plants, 112 endemic and 78 identified as endangered, 50 different grasses most of which are endemic to the island.

     

    Fauna -460 Birds, 33 endemic, 100 confined to Horton Plains, 10 types of mammals, some reptiles, amphibians and butterflies.

     

    Victoria Park

     

    Originally used as a research field. 1897 it was declared 'Victoria Park' in commemoration of the 60th Jubilee Coronation. It is said that this was established as a park after a German Princess planting an Oak tree here. It is a beautiful landscape of more than 27 acres with 90% of trees being not indigenous.

     

    Number of lakes within the park including the Nanu Oya which flows across the park makes the park even more attractive. It is also a paradise for bird watchers at quieter times when they are able to see Indian Blue Robin, Pled Thrush, Scaly Thrush, and Kashmir Flycatcher.

     

    Haggala Botanic Garden

     

     

     

    This was established under the curatorship of three Britishers -William Nock, J K Nock, & J J Nock. It is a beautiful experience to have when you visit Nuwara-Eliya which lies below the mountain range of Haggala. It is located at 5000-6000 ft high and is said to be the highest set botanical garden in the world.

     

    (More details appear under “National Botanic Gardens of Sri Lanka).

     

    Kotmale and Sri Lanka's second largest power station

     

    A small town, Kotmale was inhabited during the reign of King Kawantissa (205 -161BC). It was also the beginning of Anuradhapura Kingdom. Son of King Kawantissa, Gemunu found his comfort and getaway in Kotmale after running away from the palace because of the fall-out with his father.

     

    Kotmale Dam which is the second largest hydroelectric power station in the island was completed in the year 1985. Construction of this project started in the year 1979.

     

    Ramboda and Ramboda Falls

     

    Ramboda is one of the small towns near 'Nuwara-Eliya and renown waterfall in the town makes it a worthy place to visit. Ramboda falls is the 11th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka and it is the 729th highest of the world.

     

     

  • Polonnaruwa City

    Located 218 km north of Colombo, Polonnaruwa alias Pulastipura is an ancient city which was home to Sri Lanka's second kingdom. When the Anuradhapura Kingdom fell to the South Indian invaders in 993, the Sinhalese royal capital was relocated to Polonnaruwa as the second capital of Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa was also the royal capital of the south Indian Chola dynasty but they were warded off in 1070 by King Vijayabhahu I and then he kept Polonnaruwa as his capital.

     

     

    Polonnaruwa at a glance

     

    Area: Approx 7,000 km2 Population: Approx 63,000 Distance: 218 km north of Colombo (3 1/2-hr drive) Province: North-central Province Climate: A tropical climate prevails throughout the year and the average temperature remains between 25oC and 32oC. April is the warmest with an average temperature of 29oC, which could get up to 34oC. January is the coldest when the average temperature is 25oC and it drops down to a minimum of 21oC.

     

     

    However, Polonnaruwa had its brightest era during the reign of King Parakramahahu I (r 1153-86) who built colossal buildings, spectacular parks, huge reservoirs and tanks. The reign of King Parakramahahu I is considered a golden age during which trade and agriculture flourished. Parakrama Samudra, a colossal reservoir, is one of the greatest creations of King Parakramabahu I.

     

    Polonnaruwa after its golden age faced many hardships and was conquered by the south Indian Tamils and Maghas in the 13th century. Then Polonnaruwa was abandoned and the Sinhalese kingdom was relocated to Yapahuwa in 1272 by King Bhuvanekabahu. Being an ancient kingdom under great kings like Parakramabahu I, Polonnaruwa stands as one of the greatest historical and archaeological sites in Sri Lanka and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Visit historical Polonnaruwa and catch a glimpse of Sri Lanka's glorious history.

     

    Attractions in and around Polonnaruwa

     

    Archaeological Museum

     

    The archaeological museum in Polonnaruwa displays an array of artifacts discovered in archaeological excavations in and around the ancient city of Polonnaruwa and various other exhibits. A striking collection of bronzes is also on display.

     

    Parakrama Samudra

     

    Parakrama Samudra is a colossal reservoir lying over 5000 acres of land built by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century. Parakrama Samudra which means 'sea of Parakrama' has been built combining several tanks such as Topa Wewa, Eramudu Wewa, and Dumbutula Wewa. The dam of the reservoir runs 14 km long while standing 40 feet high. Over 20,000 acres of paddy fields are irrigated by this huge ancient reservoir.


     

    Royal Palace

     

    The royal palace of King Parakramabahu I who was the greatest king of the Polonnaruwa period, is a magnificent construction lying in the centre of the royal palace complex. Measuring 31m x 13m, the palace known as Vijayanta Prasada once had seven stories, four upper floors of which were wooden. Only the 3-metre thick huge walls up to 3 floors of the palace can be seen today. These brick walls have large holes which may have held huge wooden beams of the structures of the upper floors.

     

    According to Mahavamsa, the great chronicle, this majestic palace had 1000 chambers. Around the palace, ruins of a number of structures including the audience hall and Kumara Pokuna can be seen. It is said that this palace was set fire by the south Indian invaders once they conquered Polonnaruwa.

     

    Audience Hall

     

    The audience hall is a fine attraction within the royal palace premises of King Parakramabahu I. Entrance to the audience hall is through stone steps atop which two sculptured lions stay seated. Its frieze of elephants is also eye-catching. A number of stone pillars stand on the hall encircling it.

     

    Kumara Pokuna

     

    Lying in the southeast corner of the royal palace grounds near the audience hall, Kumara Pokuna is a bathing pond made out of smoothed stone slabs. This stone pond with was built in the 12th century to be used by royals. Water to the pond is supplied through an underground stone pipeline and water flows into the pond through two crocodile mouth sprouts. Nearby lie ruins of a changing room.

     

    Vatadage

     

    Located in the southeast of the Quadrangle or Dalada Maluwa (a rectangular walled enclosure built on a raised terrace that accommodates a number of ancient structures and monuments like Vatadage, Atadage, Nissanka Latha Mandapaya, etc.), Vatadage is a circular structure erected during the Polonnaruwa period to house the tooth relic of Buddha. Decorated with elaborate stone carvings, this magnificent structure lies on a raised platform and has two terraces: outermost and innermost. The outermost terrace is entered through a single entrance facing the north. This entrance is made of elegantly carved stone steps and enriched with a moonstone and two guardstones but only one guardstone remains today while the innermost terrace which is surrounded by a brick wall is entered through four entrances at the cardinal points. These entrances are also made of beautifully carved stone steps and flanked by guardstones and led by moonstones, northern one of which stands unique. Four 5-foot tall seated images of Buddha depicting the Dhyana Mudra carved out of solid stone lie facing each of these entrances. In the centre is a small dagoba in which relics of Buddha may have been enshrined. Three concentric rows of stone columns are positioned in the terraces; probably they were to support a wooden roof.

     


     

    However, there is no evidence to the fact that who built this magnificent structure. However, it can be supposed that this has been built either by King Parakramabahu or King Nissanka Malla. The Vatadage in Polonnaruwa is a classic example for architectural expertise of the Polonnaruwa Era.

     

    Moonstone at Vatadage

     

    Moonstones or Sandakada Pahana of the Polonnaruwa period differ largely from those of the Anuradhapura period. The moonstone lying at the northern entrance of the Polonnaruwa Vatadage is one of the greatest moonstones of the Polonnaruwa period. One salient feature of this moonstone is that elephants, lions, and horses are carved in separate bands whereas figures of elephants, lions, horses, and bulls are carved in a single band on those of Anuradhapura period. Figures of bull cannot be seen on the moonstones of the Polonnaruwa era and it is believed that this is because of the influence of Hinduism; Polonnaruwa was conquered by the south Indian invaders.


     

    Thuparama Gedige

     

    Gedige is a hollow structure with thick walls and gediges are found in historical sites in the island. Thuparama Gedige is one such fine structure made out of bricks lying at the southern end of the Quadrangle. The smallest gedige in Polonnaruwa, Thuparama Gedige which is thought to be built during the reign of King Parakramabahu I, remains well-preserved. In the Gedige are some Buddha images.

     

    Gal Pota (Stone Book)

     

    Gal Pota or stone book is a 26-foot long 4-foot wide stone slab lying close to Hetadage in the Quadrangle. This ancient stone book contains inscriptions that affirm it was a publication of King Nissanka Malla whose virtues as a king are inscribed on this colossal stone book. The inscription itself says that this 25-ton stone book brought from Mihintale which is 100 km away. This is the longest stone inscription of that kind in Sri Lanka.


     

    Hetadage

     

    Another magnificent construction erected during the Polonnaruwa period, Hetadage is a large building built by King Nissanka Malla to house the tooth relic of Buddha. This resembles Atadage but larger in size. It once had a wooden upper floor, stone steps to which can still be visible and also three standing Buddha images can be seen lying on the ground floor. It is said that this building was erected in 60 days as it name Hetadage means the house of 60 days. At the entrance to the Hetadage is moonstone which is different from the typical moonstones of the Polonnaruwa period as it contains a lion figure.

     


     

    Nissanka Lata Mandapa

     

    Built by King Nissanka Malla and named after him, Nissanka Lata Mandapa is a unique structure located close to the western entrance of the Dalada Maligawa. This stone Mandapa is like a platform which is enclosed by a latticed stone fence and in the centre is a bubble-shaped small stupa encircled by lotus-stalk-like stone columns tops of which are shaped like lotus buds. Entrance to the Mandapa is through a stone door. An inscription at the Mandapa affirms that King Nissanka Malla used to listen to Pirith (chanting of Buddhist scriptures).


     

    Satmahal Prasada (Demala Maha Seya)

     

    Located at the northeastern corner of the Quadrangle, Satmahal Prasada alias Demala Maha Seya is a 32-foot high square, pyramid-type edifice with seven diminishing storeys. It is believed that this ancient edifice that resembles the eighth-century Square Chedi at Lamphun, Thailand is a work of King Parakramabahu I, during whose reign Polonnaruwa saw its pinnacle of prosperity.

     

    Pabalu Vehera

     

    Pabalu Vehera is a dagoba of unusual shape made out of bricks believed to be built by King Parakramabahu I. It is also said that the dagoba was built by Rupavati, the wife of King Parakramabahu. The third largest dagoba in Polonnaruwa, Pabalu Vehera is surrounded by four image houses with sitting and standing images of Buddha sculptured in limestone.

     

    Rankot Vehera

     

    The largest dagoba in Polonnaruwa and the fourth largest in the island, Rankot Vehera is a 180-foot high colossal dagoba made out of bricks and modeled after Anuradhapura era dagobas like Ruwanweliseya Dagoba. Rankot Vehera, the girth of which measures 550 feet was built by King Nissanka Malla (1157-1196) and it belongs to a monastic complex known as Alahana Pirivena.


     

    The dagoba is surrounded by four image houses and flower altars made out of bricks. An inscription on the stone seat in front of the dagoba affirms that King Nissanka Malla oversaw the construction of the Vehera.

     

    Buddha Seema Prasada

     

    Buddha Seema Prasada is an ancient monastic university extending over an area of about 80 hectares. It is the highest building in the group of Alahana Pirivena, a monastic complex built by King Parakramabahu. The Prasada features a raised platform with decorative pillars. It is said that King Parakramabahu built this Prasada in order to maintain rules and order of Buddhist monks, after he united all Buddhist monks of the country under one sect.

     

    Lankatilaka

     

    Lankatilaka is a gedige-type roofless hollow structure made of bricks. This 12th-century fantastic structure was built by King Parakramabahu I and later restored by King Vijayabahu IV. The structure has 55-foot tall walls with elaborate carvings and the entrance is flanked by two beautifully carved guardstones. Inside the structure is a colossal headless image of Buddha with a height of 41 feet.

     

    Kiri Vihara

     

    Built by Subhadra, the queen of King Parakramabahu I, Kiri Vihara is an 80ft tall large dagoba which was originally known as Rupavati Dagoba. Kiri Vihara means milk white dagoba and it still remains in good condition without any restoration though it was built in the 12th century.

     

    Gal Vihara

     

    The most visited and celebrated attraction in Polonnaruwa, Gal Vihara, originally known as Uttararama, is an ancient rock temple in Polonnaruwa with a group of magnificent Buddha images, all carved into a single long granite rock. The group consists of four colossal Buddha images; two seated, one standing and another reclining. Erected by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century, these colossal Buddha images portray the best of the Sinhalese expertise in rock carving.

     

    The 7-metre-tall standing Buddha image is the finest of the four Buddha images. This image poses a sorrowful facial expression and arms folded across the chest and therefore some archaeologists say that it is of Ananda Thera, the disciple of Buddha, who is grieving for the Parinirvana (passing-way) of Buddha while some other archaeologists suggest that it is of Buddha who is showing his supreme compassion towards the suffering.

     

    Lying on a leveled bare rock next to the standing image, the reclining Buddha image is a 14.12-metre long image carved into the solid rock and the largest in Gal Vihara. The image depicts the Parinirvana (passing-away) of Buddha who is lying on his right hand side with the right arm supporting the head on a bolster while the left arm lies along the body.

     

    4.6-metre-tall seated image is the largest of the two seated images. The image poses the Dhyana Mudra (the meditation posture) and Buddha is seated on a lotus. The background rock is nicely decorated with carvings. Another seated Buddha image is smaller than the other and stands 15 feet tall lying in a cavern.

     

    Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond)

     

    Located about 500 metres north of the Demala Maha Seya, Nelum Pokuna or Lotus Pond is a lotus-shaped pond with five concentric, descending rings of eight petals each built by King Parakramabahu I to be used by monks.

     

    Tivanka Image House

     

    Built by King Parakramabahu I, Tivanka Image House is a fascinating image house lying 400 metres north of the famous Lotus Pond. The word Tivanka refers to three curves and the image house is so called as the only image of Buddha in the image house has three curves at knees, waist and shoulders. This Buddha image stands eight metres high and is headless being ruined.

     

    With 7 - 12ft thick walls, the image house is 133ft long and 67.6ft wide. Tivanka Image House represents ancient classical art and delightful sculpture of the Polonnaruwa era. Both sides of the walls are exquisitely decorated; the outer walls are beautified with many decorative sculptures and paintings of happy-looking figures of ganas, dwarfs, etc., and inner walls are filled with unique murals depicting Buddha's previous lives. These murals show stylistic trends of the 12th and 13th centuries. However, the murals at the entrance lack in detail and illustrational quality whereas the paintings on the inner walls seem to have been painted carefully.

     

    Pulasti Statue

     

    This is an 11-foot 2-inch high statue carved on a boulder during the Polonnaruwa period. This 12th century statue which lies close to the eastern bank of Parakrama Samudra and 100 metres north of the ancient Potgul Vihara depicts a majestic figure with a grave expression, holding a book-like object in his hands. There is no evidence to the fact that who built this statue and who appears in it. It is said that this statue is of King Parakramabahu I, the greatest king of the Polonnaruwa period while archaeologists suggest it is of Pulasti, a sage who was in Sri Lanka.

     

    Potgul Vihara

     

    Potgul Vihara is a thick-walled structure in the shape of a gedige built by King Parakramabahu I, near the Pulasti statue in the archaeological site of Polonnaruwa. It is essentially a Buddhist library complex considered to be the oldest library complex in Sri Lanka. This brick structure surrounded by four smaller dagobas at the four corners has four terraces. It is believed that the King used to listen to Jataka stories of Buddha related by a teacher at this Vihara.

     

    Medirigiriya Vatadage

     

    Lying in a beautiful surrounding in Medirigiriya, a town 31 km north of the Polonnaruwa city, Medirigiriya Vatadage is considered the best of Vatadages in Sri Lanka. A Vatadage is a unique circular structure built around a dagoba where sacred relics are enshrined.


     

    This magnificent Vatadage has been built on a raised stone platform and the entrance is from north with three flights of steps. In the middle of the innermost terrace is a small dagoba while four seated Buddha statues with meditation posture lie facing cardinal directions of the four entrances. There are three concentric circles of 68 stone columns most of which still remain in original condition. The columns of the innermost circle stand 17 feet tall and of the other two circles, 16 and 9 feet. These stone columns that are topped with elaborate carvings and figures of dwarfs and lions have been built to support a roof which has disappeared now.

     

    Somawathiya Temple & National Park

     

    Somawathiya is a large dagoba built on the left bank of the Mahaweli River 40 km northeast of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Built by the Prince Abhaya to enshrine a tooth relic of Buddha that was possessed by Arhat Mahinda, Somawathiya is a popular tourist and pilgrimage attraction in the Polonnaruwa district. The dagoba has been named after Princess Somawathi who was sister of King Kavantissa and wife of Prince Abhaya.

     

    Somawathiya is surrounded by the Somawathiya National Park, one of the four national parks designated under the Mahaweli River development project in 1986. The park is famous for elephants, herds of which can be seen wandering around the Somawathiya Dagoba. In addition, the park is home to a variety of mammalian species such as jackal, fishing cat and leopard, and avifauna.

     

    Dimbulagala Vihara

     

    Dimbulagala Vihara is an ancient cave temple located in a breathtaking hilly setting, 16 km southeast of Polonnaruwa, off the Polonnaruwa-Batticoloa Road. The temple consists of a number of rock caves, on drip edges of which Brahmi inscriptions appear. A dagoba lies atop a boulder and being on the rocky mountain one can see spectacular panoramic views of the area around. It is said that Prince Pandukabhaya who founded the Anuradhapura city making it the first capital of Sri Lanka in 380 BC, lived in a cave at Dimbulagala with Swarnapali for years.

     

     

  • Passekudah And Kalkudah Cities

    Both are wonderful beach destinations located north of Batticoloa on the east coast of the island and can easily be reached via Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, and Batticoloa. These two coastal resort towns were affected by the 30-year civil war and also by the 2004 Asian tsunami both of which impacted greatly on public life and infrastructure of the island. The civil war left these towns hidden away from both local and foreign tourists for over three decades.

     


     

    Passekudah is renowned for its long-stretched shallow coastline which is also considered as one of the longest in the world. You could walk in the sea as much as you like for kilometres into the water since the sea is shallow and free from currents. Located a few kilometers from Passekudah, Kalkudahis also a small resort town blessed with a palm-fringed beach of stunning beauty. With the dawn of peace to the war-torn island, the two destinations are booming as top destinations on the east coast of Sri Lanka.