Places To Visit In Sri Lanka

With the picturesque coastline and beaches of Sri Lanka, the rugged and amazing topography and the thickly rich forests of Sri Lanka, your trip to Sri Lanka is sure to take you away on one of the most memorable and bountiful times of your life. Over here in Sri Lanka, you will find a rich and immersive experience, amidst the super warm hospitality offered by the local people of Sri Lanka.

Most tourists to Sri Lanka prefer to travel only around the south of Sri Lanka, as it has the maximum number of tourist places, while the northern and central parts of the island are more chaotic and densely populated with residential and populated areas of the country for the most part. In the tourist places to visit in Sri Lanka, you will find that local food and transportation are very cheap, and this will allow you to splurge on the things you get the choice to spend on.

Amongst the best places to visit in Sri Lanka while on your trip, noteworthy names would be Yala National Park, Galle (which is a 16th century marvel), the architectural marvel of the Temple of Tooth at Kandy, Trincomalee beach and the magnificent Ravana Falls. The time you take out to visit these tourist attractions in Sri Lanka will surely be worth every minute you spend there in the form of memories you would forever keep close to your heart.

Sigiriya is one of the foremost valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka.
Referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World, this ancient palace and fortress complex has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists per annum. It is probably the foremost visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka 
The palace is found within the heart of the island between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane on a huge rocky plateau 370 meters above the ocean level.

 

 

History

Sigiriya rock plateau, formed from magma of an extinct volcano, is 200 meters above the encompassing jungles.
The fortress complex includes remnants of a ruined palace, surrounded by an in-depth network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals, alleys, and fountains. The surrounding territories of Sigiriya were inhibited for several thousand years.

Since the 3rd century BC, the rocky plateau of Sigiriya served as a monastery. In the last half of the 5th-century king, Kasyapa decided to construct a royal residence here.
After his death, Sigiriya again became a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century, when it had been abandoned.
The main entrance is found within the northern side of the rock.
It was designed within the sort of an enormous stone lion, whose feet have survived up to today but the upper parts of the body were destroyed.
Well, Thanks to this lion the palace was named Sigiriya. The term Sigiriya originates from the word Sihagri, which means Lion Rock.

The western wall of Sigiriya was almost entirely covered by frescoes, created during the reign of Kasyapa. Almost Eighteen frescoes have survived to this day.
The frescoes are a depiction of nude females and are considered to be either the portraits of Kasyapa’s wives and concubines or priestess performing religious rituals.
Despite the unknown identity of the females depicted within the frescoes, these unique ancient paintings are celebrating female beauty and have incredible historical significance.One of the foremost striking features of Sigiriya is its Mirror wall. In the old days, it had been polished so thoroughly that the king could see his reflection in it.
The Mirror wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors of Sigiriya.

The most ancient inscriptions are dated from the 8th century. These inscriptions are proving that Sigiriya was a tourist destination quite a thousand years ago. Today, painting on the wall is strictly prohibited. The buildings and gardens of Sigiriya show that the creators of this amazing architectural monument used unique and artistic technical skills and technologies.

The construction of such a monument on a huge rock approximately 200 meters higher from the encompassing landscape required advanced architectural and engineering skills. The gardens of Sigiriya are among the oldest landscaped gardens within the world.
It has Water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and also terrace gardens.
They are located within the western part of the rock and are with a posh mechanism, which consists of canals, locks, lakes, dams, bridges, fountains, also as surface and underground water pumps.
In the season, all channels are crammed with water, which begins to circulate through the entire area of Sigiriya. Fountains of Sigiriya inbuilt the V century, perhaps, are the oldest within the world.

The palace and fortress complex is recognized together of the best samples of ancient urban planning. Considering the individuality of Sigiriya UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1982. Sigiriya is an unmatched combination of urban planning, water engineering, horticulture, and humanities.

 

The golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth houses Sri Lanka’s most significant and important Buddhist relic – a tooth of Buddha . During puja (offerings or prayers), the heavily guarded room housing the tooth is open for devotees and tourists. However, you don’t actually see the tooth. It is safely kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba (stupa), which contains a series of six dagoba caskets of diminishing size.
As the revered main temple, the complex includes a number of smaller temples, shrines and museums.

 

 

History

After the parinirvana of the great Gautama Buddha, the tooth relic was preserved in Kalinga and smuggled to the island by Princess Hemamali and her husband, Prince Dantha on the instructions of her father King Guhasiva. They landed on the island in Lankapattana during the reign of Sirimeghavanna of Anuradhapura (301-328) and handed over the tooth relic. The king enshrined it Meghagiri Vihara (present day Isurumuniya) in Anuradhapura. Safeguarding the relic was a responsibility of the monarch, therefore over the years, the custodianship of relic came to symbolize the right to rule. Therefore, reigning monarchs built the tooth relic temples quite on the brink of their royal residences, as was the case during the days of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Kingdom of Polonnaruwa, and Kingdom of Dambadeniya. During the age of the dominion of Gampola, the relic was housed in Niyamgampaya Vihara. It is reported within the messenger poems like Hamsa, Gira, and Selalihini that the temple of tooth relic was situated within the town of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte when the Kingdom of Kotte was established there.
During the reign of Dharmapala of Kotte, the relic was kept hidden in Delgamuwa Vihara, Ratnapura, during a grinding stone. It was delivered to Kandy by Hiripitiye Diyawadana Rala and Devanagala Rathnalankara Thera. King Vimaladharmasuriya I built a two-storey building to deposit the tooth relic and therefore the building is now gone. In 1603 when the Portuguese invaded Kandy, it had been carried to Meda Mahanuwara in Dumbara. It was recovered within the time of Rajasinha II and it's been reported that he reinstated the first building or built a replacement temple. The present-day temple of the tooth was built by Vira Narendra Sinha.The octagonal Paththirippuwa and moat were added during the reign of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. The royal architect Devendra Moolacharya is credited with building the Paththirippuwa. Originally it had been employed by the king for recreational activities and later it had been offered to the tooth relic, it now houses the temple's library.
The temple has been attacked on twice , in 1989 by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and in 1998 by the militant organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

 

 

Why Is It Famous?

It houses the upper-canine tooth of the Lord Buddha and for being a heritage site. The temple was built during the 17th century.

This Udawalawe park is found at the borders of Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces in Sri Lanka . The main purpose of getting a park was to supply a sanctuary to the wild animals that lost their habitat thanks to the development of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River. This reserve had been built in the year 1972 and it covers an area of 30,821 hectares. It is a popular destination among the tourists and it is the 3rd most visited place in entire Sri Lanka.
Udawalawe is not only famous for the elephants but also for other animals like leopards as well as various species of birds. It is estimated that there are only 10-12 leopards in this National Park and due to this reason there are very rare chances to spot them.
There are numerous Sri Lankan elephants because of the Udawalawe Reservoir. It is a very important source of water for them. There are approximately 500-700 elephants and so the chances of spotting an elephant are nearly 100%.
There is a rich diversity in Udawalawe. There are 184 birds, 33 reptiles, 43 mammals and also 135 different species of butterflies. Other than leopards and elephants, there are even the chances of spotting water buffaloes, wild boars, crocodiles, peacocks and also spotted deer.

The Galle Fort, also referred to as the Dutch Fort or the "Ramparts of Galle", withstood the Boxing Day tsunami which damaged a part of coastal area Galle town. it's been since restored.
The Galle fort is one of the world heritage site and therefore the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. Experience the charms of Galle and Sri Lanka’s southwest coast on a one-day trip from Colombo. Enjoy looking at endangered turtles at the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery; and explore UNESCO-listed Galle Fort, where 17th-century ramparts enclose colonial buildings, museums and shops. You can study Galle’s maritime history, and visit Talwatte's simple-but-moving Tsunami Photo Museum to have an idea of the impact of the 2004 disaster.

 

History

Galle’s earliest historical existence is traced to Ptolemy’s world map of 125–150 AD when it had been a busy port, trading with Greece, Arab countries, China. It is mentioned as a "port of call of the Levant" And is formed within the cosmography of Cosmas Indicopleustes. This is often the harbour where the Portuguese, under the leadership of Lourenço de Almeida, made their first landing in 1505 on the island and caused a notable change in developments on the island with their close friendship with Dharmaparakrama Bahu (1484–1514), the then king of the country. Before the Portuguese arrived here, Ibn Batuta had touched base at this port. This was the start of the fort’s history, which was built by the Portuguese, along side a Franciscan chapel (now mostly in ruins) inside the fort in 1541. The fort also, in later years, served as prison camp to incarcerate Sinhalese natives who opposed the Portuguese. The Portuguese had moved to Colombo from Galle as they preferred the latter. In 1588, however, they were attacked by the Sinhalese King Raja Singha I (1581–93) of Sitawaka, which forced the Portuguese to return to Galle. At Galle, they initially built a little fort out of palm trees and dirt. They called it the Santa Cruz, and later extended it with a watch tower and three bastions and a "fortalice" to protect the harbour.
In 1640, the events took a turn with the Dutch entering the fray joining hands with King Rajasinhe II to capture the Galle Fort. The Dutch, with a force of some 2,500 men under Koster, captured the fort from the Portuguese in 1640 itself. Although not a perfect situation for the Sinhalese, they were instrumental in building the fort as seen in its present form within the Dutch style of architecture . Fortifications were added up to the first 18th century. The establishment consisted of public administration buildings, warehouses and business houses and residential quarters. A Protestant Church (planned by Abraham Anthonisz) was also inbuilt baroque style in 1775 to cater to the colonists and therefore the local people that were converted to Christianity. the foremost prominent buildings within the fort complex were the Commandant's residence, the arsenal and therefore the gun house. Other buildings erected within the fort catered to trade and defense requirements like workshops for carpentry, smithy, rope making then forth. They also built an elaborate system of sewers that were flooded at high water , taking the sewage away to sea.
The British took over the fort on 23 February 1796, one week after Colombo was captured. Sri Lanka remained a British colony formally from 1815 till it became an independent island nation in 1948. The importance of Galle also declined after British developed Colombo as their capital and main port within the mid nineteenth century.

One of the most beautiful World Heritage Sites in the world is definitely the Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka. The park covers the 2 highest mountains within the area called Kirigalpotta and Totapola. The plateau-like structure along with plains on one end, thick forests and mountains on other make the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. You will find a number of waterfalls, lakes, rocky hills and views of the ocean in this part of the country. The forest is home to a number of wild animals and birds, however, most large animals remain elusive and unapproachable.

 

History

The original name of the area was Maha Eliya Thenna which means Great Open Plain. But within the British period, the plains were renamed after Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, British governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837, who travelled to the world to satisfy the Ratemahatmaya of Sabaragamuwa in 1836, in 1834 by Lt William Fisher of the 78th Regiment and Lt. Albert Watson of the 58th Regiment, who 'discovered' the plateau. Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The local population who resided within the lowlands ascended the mountains to mine gems, extract ore , construct an irrigational canal and fell trees for timber. A 6-metre (20 ft) pollen core extracted from a mire revealed that within the late Quaternary the world had a semi-arid climate and a species-restricted plant community.
Since Sri Lanka features a long non-written history, there's a big and logical folk story, which also goes with the epic 'Ramayana' with some deviations. It is believed that Thotupala mountain in Horton plain to be the place where King Rawana landed his aircraft, 'Dandumonaraya'. According to the story King Rawana kidnapped Sitha, who was the wife of Rama as a revenge for cutting King Rawana's sister, Suparnika's nose. It provoked Rama in India and he led an army that consisted of monkey like humans, whose leader was Hanuman. In the story, Hanuman set fire to Horton plains and that fire lasted for a long time. The original name, Maha Eliya Thenna carries the meaning, 'The hugely lighten ground'. Even now the upper layer of soil can be seem in a blackish grey colour. There had been some soil tests done by local universities,and it revealed that upper layer contains a high amount of carbonate and Potash. For Sri Lankans, Horton Plains is very significant in their History and Culture.
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker had advised British Government "to leave all Montane Forests above 5000 ft. undisturbed" and an administrative order to the present effect had been issued in 1873 that prevented clearing and felling of forests within the region. Horton Plains was designated as a wildlife sanctuary on 5 December 1969, and since of its biodiversity value, was elevated to a park on 18 March 1988. The Peak Wilderness Sanctuary which lies in west is contiguous with the park. The acreage covered by Horton Plains is 3,160 hectares (12.2 sq mi). Horton Plains contains the foremost extensive area of cloud forest still existing in Sri Lanka . On July 2010, the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka which includes Horton Plains park , Peak Wilderness Sanctuary and Knuckles range was inscribed on the planet Heritage List.

Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya is the oldest formal gardens in Sri Lanka. It is located 460 Meters above the mean sea level about 5 km to the west of the city of Kandy in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. Royal Botanic Gardens Peradeniya attracts approximately 2 million local and foreign visitors annually. The garden includes more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees and is renowned for its collection of orchids and the long, palm framed pathways. It is managed by the Division of National Botanic Gardens of the Department of Agriculture and the National Herbarium of Sri Lanka is attached to it as well. It encompasses a total area of 147 acres. Though the groundwork for the current gardens were laid in 1821 by Alexander Moon, the origins of the Botanic Gardens date as far back as 1371 when King Wickramabahu III ascended the throne and kept court at Peradeniya near the Mahaweli river.

 

History

The Royal Botanic Garden at Peradeniya was formally established in 1843 with plants brought from Kew Garden in London, Slave Island, Colombo, and the Kalutara Garden in Kalutara and it was made more independent and expanded under George Gardner as superintendent in 1844, after which it was controlled under a few superintendents till it was taken under the control of the Department of Agriculture in 1912. The Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya was used as the South East Asian Headquarters of the Allied Forces during the Second World War as well. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya was listed in the “10 great botanical gardens around the world” published by The Guardian in 2018. Big pergolas and wire arches are covered with glamorous climber plants with hard-to-pronounce names like Beaumontia and Saritaea, intertwined with the beautiful lilac-blue petraea, which are said to have grown more beautifully than in the Kew gardens itself. A small and neat orchid house built inside the Royal Botanical Gardens exhibits a number of the exquisite orchid species and therefore the entrance is decorated with beds of red Salvia coccinea and scarlet poinsettias, with the main Broad Walk being created with fine evergreen trees, underneath which there are beds of the pretty “Prickly Bush” and “Blue Sky” flora. The National Herbarium of Sri Lanka – the leading institute for authentication of plants in Sri Lanka, is also located inside the Peradeniya Gardens.

The main beach at Unawatuna is quite popular amongst both tourists and locals. The wide stretched beaches offer some good swimming and a neighborhood of the beach is occupied with sunbeds to rent. On the West End of the beach, there's a little walk to a pagoda statue overlooking the bay.
The beach is directly connected to the town center with a lot of little restaurants and bars. There is an excellent beach vibe happening here even after sunset.

These are some of the most popular beaches in Unawatuna, that you can pay a visit during your trip to Unawatuna:
1. Unawatuna Bay Beach - This is the main beach which is quite popular. You can go swimming here or you can just rent a Sunbed and take rest.
2. Wijaya Beach: This is one of the most photographed beach of Sri Lanka. This beach is also referred ad the Beach Swing because of the rope attached to the coconut tree. You can swing around and enjoy the picturesque beach.
3. Dalawella Beach: This beach is surrounded by huge rocks. This is one of the most Secluded and quiet beaches of Sri Lanka. You can enjoy some alone time just with the nature surrounding you.
4. Jungle Beach: Situated right opposite to the main beach, this secluded beach offers some great adventures. You can take a boat ride upto this beach and indulge yourself in the activities like snorkeling, horse riding and also admiring the colonial bungalows built by the Dutch commanders and merchants living in Galle.
5. Mihiripenna Beach: This beach, too, is quiet and secluded and is close to the Ocean's shoreline. You can enjoy the sunrise and the sunset at this picturesque beach.

 

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Unawatuna Beach would be between December – April, and between July until the end of September.

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FAQs

A visit of 4-5 days can take you to a number of major places to visit in Sri Lanka. However, it is advisable to focus your trip to the southern part of Sri Lanka if you are visiting for such a duration. If you wish to visit the northern and central parts of Sri Lanka too, then your stay in Sri Lanka needs to be longer depending on your preferences for the trip.
Temples of the Tooth at Kandy, Adam’s Peak, Mirissa Beach, Galle Dutch Fort and Yala National Park are the notable tourist spots in Sri Lanka. In addition, you will find a number of modern and historical tourist attractions and several things to do in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka.
Arugam Bay and Trincomalee are attractive places to visit at nighttime. They offer a range of watersports, beaches, greenery and palm trees and are sites for significant temples. Dambulla Cave Temple and Temple of Tooth at Kandy city are amongst other major tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is famous for its number of beautiful temples, Buddhist monasteries, mosques and cathedrals, due to its diverse culture. There are historical places to visit in Sri Lanka too and modern towers and landmarks in places like Colombo. There are also several vast beaches which are popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.
Galle Dutch Fort is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka for couples. Sigiriya offers canals, water fountains and gardens. Nuwara Eliya or Mini England of Sri Lanka and Mirissa Beach are other top romantic destinations in Sri Lanka,
You can engage in fun activities like scuba diving, river rafting, surfing, camping in the forests, visiting the wildlife reserves and trekking during your stay in Sri Lanka. You can of course do a lot of sightseeing at the numerous temples and iconic modern landmarks in Sri Lanka.
The staple food in Sri Lanka is rice and curry. The curries in Sri Lanka are made of items like chicken, fish and dal. Tea is a super popular drink in Sri Lanka.