Places of Interest
The city of Anuradhapura, the first capital of Sri Lanka, was founded by king Pandukabaya around 900 BC and the seat of government was an uninterrupted, stable and powerful base of power for more than thirteen centuries. Anuradhapura, a site with one of the most extensive ruins in the world, is a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO, with its stupas rising to be among some of the greatest achievements of the ancient world. The three great stupas of Anuradhapura, namely the Jetavana, Abayagiri and Ruvanvelisaya stand at 404, 370 and 300 feet respectively. These monuments today still match the grandeur of their original stature as a symbol of the religious aspirations and the scientific, engineering and economic achievements of the people of this island civilization.
The Jetavana stupa in Anuradhapura, built in the 3rd century is the tallest brick structure in the world, built in keeping with the engineering principles, which are followed even today. Religious and secular art and architecture, marvellous carvings and sculpture, paintings and mystic inscriptions that have survived the elements for over 15 centuries, enables the traveler to fathom the glory of the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura.
The commercial capital has long been the traditional gateway to the Orient. Today Colombo is a fascinating city with a charm of its own and a blend of east & west combined with past & present. The main seaport of Sri Lanka is in Colombo and adjoining it is Pettah, which is the local bazaar and trading area. Other places of interest are the beautiful and serene Buddhist temples, Hindu temples, the historic Wolfendhal church, the main residential area – Cinnamon Gardens, the Independence Square, the international conference hall – BMICH and the replica of the Avukana statue in Polonnaruwa which is right opposite it.
Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka that rose to fame after the decline of Anuradhapura. From a period between the 11th to the 13th centuries AD, it flourished as a prosperous kingdom. Today the entire landscape of the region is punctuated by huge man-made reservoirs, veritable inland seas, of which the most famous is the Parakrama Samudra, or the “Sea of Parakrama” larger in size than the Colombo Harbour and constructed during the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great (1153 – 1186 AD) Among the monuments of this World Heritage City are the ruins of storied palaces, large monastic establishments, and fine sculptures of the Buddha in stone as seen at the Gal Viharaya.
The 5th century AD rock fortress about 33 feet high, built by the fugitive King Kasyapa, yet another World Heritage Site is among the oldest landscaped gardens in Asia. Its marvellous compositions of water gardens, terraced gardens and the boulder gardens bear testimony to the ultimate expression of organic architecture. In a sheltered pocket of one side of the rock are the world famous frescoes of the fair maidens amidst the clouds.
Sri Lanka’s last royal citadel with an exotic oriental atmosphere, situated surrounded by picturesque mountains, lakes and rivers. Kandy was founded in the 14th century, the city became a capital in the 16th century. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was the last king to rule Kandy until the British captured him in 1815. It is a cultural sanctuary for age-old customs, arts & crafts. The sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic, which enshrines the Tooth Relic of the Buddha, is the center of attraction in Kandy. The city is also renown for its exquisite silver and gems and Kandyan jewellery and handicrafts of wood and silver. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya, adjoining Kandy, is famed for its rare collection of Orchids and herb gardens.
1,890 feet above sea level, this picturesque hill resort of Sri Lanka is renowned for its perennial spring like climate and carpets of lush green tea. You will also be able to visit one of Asia’s finest golf courses and the Haggala Botanical Gardens, famous for its superb collection of roses and rare fernery. En-route to Nuwara Eliya a visit to a tea factory is a must.
Sri Lanka’s foremost National Park is located to the southeast of the island. Sand dunes, lagoons, dry river/stream beds, rocky outcrops and scrub/thorn forest are its main physical characteristics. It is home to herds of elephants, deer and a number of small animals. Crocodiles are found in almost all the water holes in the park. It is also rich in bird life. Pride of place goes to the peacock and the jungle fowl, the latter being endemic to Sri Lanka. Common birds are Peafowl, Flycatchers, Hornbills, Bee-eaters, Minivets, Orioles and Woodpeckers to name a few.
Nestling on a wild and windswept saddle high up in the central hills at an elevation of 7,200 feet is one of Sri Lanka’s most forbidding yet fascinating and magnificently beautiful regions.
The Horton Plains grips the visitor with its unique atmosphere and ever changing character. Two of the main attractions are “World’s End” and “Bakers Falls”. World’s End gives the visitor a spectacular view where the plateau plunges 2,900 feet in a vertical drop. Because of the high elevation and the wind swept areas Horton Plains has unique vegetation and is famous for many rare and endemic highland birds.
Dating from the 5th century AD this colossal statue of the Buddha is sculptured out of sheer rock and stands 39 feet in height and is considered as one of the finest stone statues in Asia.
A World Heritage Site, it dates back to the 1st century BC, this 500-foot rock mass consists of a series of caves which have been converted into shrines with numerous life-size images of the Buddha and other gods. The most impressive of all is the 17-foot long statue of the Buddha.
Known as the “Gem City”, it is the most famous gem-mining locality in Sri Lanka located 100 km away from Colombo and at the foothills of the 2,243 feet high Adam’s Peak. Sri Lanka is famous for its precious gemstones such as Rubies, Sapphires, Cat’s Eyes, Alexandrites, Aquamarines, Tourmalines, Garnets, Amethysts, Topaz etc.
64 km from Colombo, facing the river and the sea, a famous beach resort with a 100-acre National Holiday Resort Complex containing several major tourist hotels, a market place, shopping center, cultural displays and exhibitions. The sea at Bentota is best from October to April.
99 km from Colombo, it caters to low-budget travelers as well as visitors staying at its luxury hotels. A haven for surfers and underwater explorers, Hikkaduwa is a must for all water sports enthusiasts.
This mountain rising to a height of 7,353 ft. could be the most venerated mountain in the world. The Buddhists believe that Lord Buddhas footprint is on the summit of the mountain and call it “Sri Pada” (holy footprint). To the Christians the mountain is “Adam’s Peak” where Adam & Eve resided. According to Arab traditions when Adam was expelled God placed Adam and Eve in the summit of this mountain. The sunrise seen from the top of the mountain is considered to be one of the most spectacular natural phenomenons in the world.
A World Heritage Site, Galle is the Port where the Portuguese first landed in Sri Lanka. Fortified by the Dutch who ruled maritime Sri Lanka in the 17th & 18th centuries the city still retains the air of old Holland. One can also make a pick of exquisite handmade lace, ivory carvings and moonstone jewellery.