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Colombo

The city of the sky-rising buildings, the federation of street sellers – the one-of-a-kind semi culture of trading, the city with the bustling business and places you could roam around all the way. Watch the sun drift down to the ocean while eating an authentic isso-wade (a prawn food item) at the beaches and you can name it The City of Lanka.

Mount Lavinia

Famed for its "Golden Mile" of beaches, it has often been a hot spot for tourism and laid back nightlife. It is one of the most liberal regions in Sri Lanka. The city's name is built up around the original residence of Sir Thomas Maitland who was the Governor of Ceylon from 1805–1811. The Village that surrounded the Governor’s mansion developed into a modern bustling city, the governor’s home, which he named "Mount Lavinia House" and his monuments that has been preserved within the walls and high ceilings of what is today the Mount Lavinia Hotel. The statue of 'Lady' Lavinia as the girl later became known, is still found in the middle of a water fountain at the entrance of the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Whatever the legends, the town came into official recognition when Governor Maitland used the postal address Mt. Lavinia, Ceylon, in 1805, while writing to the British Secretary of State, Lord Castlereagh.

Bentota

Bentota is a beach town in Sri Lanka, located in the Southern Province, about 7–8 kilometres (4.3–5.0 mi) south of Beruwala on the A2 highway. The name comes from a mythical story which dates back to kings time saying a demon called Bem ruled this river. Bentota is a tourist attraction, with handful of world-class hotels. It is a destination for watersports. Bentota also delivers an ancient art of healing calledAyurveda. Bentota is famous for its toddy production, an alcoholic beverage made out of coconut nectar.

Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka located in the Southern Province, about 17 km north-west of Galle. Arranged around the heavily trafficked main Galle to Colombo road which runs mostly parallel to the shore, Hikkaduwa's beach and night life make it a popular tourist destination. A well-known international destination for board-surfing, the town was featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain's television show No Reservations. And Hikkaduwa is a main City that gains Tourism income to the SriLanka. Many tourists visits Hikkaduwa as there are so many things they can enjoy there.

Unawatuna

Unawatuna is a coastal town in Galle district of Sri Lanka. Unawatuna is a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka and famous for its beautiful beach and corals. It is a suburb of Galle city which is situated about 5 km southeast to the city center. Off the coast of Unawatuna, beneath the Indian Ocean lies a number of coral reefs,shipwrecks, and a great variety of fish and turtles. The turtles still wade onto the shore to lay their nests and eggs, and at times, as if to lay first claim to the sandy shore now invaded by the tourists and dotted by restaurateurs, even go right into the beach frontrestaurants . The Rumassala coral reefs at the east end of the Galle Harbor attract divers, but are now endangered due to possible port development. Eco treks in the shrub jungles of Rumassala are also available.

Koggala

The place located in south of the country has finest beach and historicalMadol Duwa (island surrounded by lake) as mentioned in Sri Lankan literature. You can spot the very famous Stilt fishermans here, fishermans who sit on stilts and fish when there is a suitable tide.

Arugambay

The place located in south east of the country is a fine beach near associated with fishing villages. It has been identified as the best surfing beach in Sri Lanka and 4th best in south East Asia. It also comes with the ten best surfing beaches in the world. Wide sandy beaches and lagoons associated with neighbouring Kumana bird sanctuary are added values for visitors going to Arugam bay. Lahugala National Park and Yala East National Park are also located within 10–30 km radious from Arugambay centre. Magul Maha Viharaya (Buddhist temple), Kudumbigala Temple (Buddhist temple), Shastrwela Buddhist Temple, Okanda Hindu Temple are some of places with heritage values. In addition to beaches, wildlife, culture heritage and nature places of interest make Arugambay a unique tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.

Passekudaha

The place located in south east of the country is a fine beach near associated with fishing villages. It has been identified as the best surfing beach in Sri Lanka and 4th best in south East Asia. It also comes with the ten best surfing beaches in the world. Wide sandy beaches and lagoons associated with neighbouring Kumana bird sanctuary are added values for visitors going to Arugam bay. Lahugala National Park and Yala East National Park are also located within 10–30 km radious from Arugambay centre. Magul Maha Viharaya (Buddhist temple), Kudumbigala Temple (Buddhist temple), Shastrwela Buddhist Temple, Okanda Hindu Temple are some of places with heritage values. In addition to beaches, wildlife, culture heritage and nature places of interest make Arugambay a unique tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.

Nilaveli

Nilaveli is a coastal resort town located about 20 km North-West of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. The natural habour and beach is one of finest in the world. Nilaveli is ideal place for water sports like scuba diving.

Kalpitiya

Kalpitiya is located in Puttalam district, North Western province of Sri Lanka. It is known for its serene beauty. It is now developing as an attractive tourist destination. It is a marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. It provides nursing grounds for many species of fish and crustaceans. The coastal waters are also home to spinner, bottlenose and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and even the illusive dugong that are of great appeal to potential tourists.

Negombo

Negombo is a major city in Sri Lanka, located on the west coast of the island and at the mouth of the Negombo Lagoon. Negombo is the fifth largest city in the country after the capital Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna and Galle, and it is the second largest city in Western province after Colombo. It is one of the major commercial hubs in Sri Lanka of about 128,000 inhabitants in the city limits, approximately 37 km north of Colombo city. Negombo is known for its huge and old fishing industry with busy fish markets and sandy beaches. It`s only 7 km from island's main International Airport. The beauty of the beach and surrounding star class hotels gave more attraction of tourists.

Pinnawala

Get enchanted by the wilderness, the little baby elephants and their habitats would explain you everything – that the wild is not wild at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Be there the right time to see them enjoy the waters with the baby elephants and push them to drink their bottle of milk.

Kandy - Hill Country

Known as the Hill Capital, this city is situated deep within lush green hills near Sri Lanka's longest river, Mahaweli. The surroundings of Kandy are the perfect picture of a Tropical Landscape. Historically the Kandyan Kingdom originated in 1357 and was the last stronghold of the country's Royalty until 1815 when it came under the British rule. Places to be visited are; The Upper Lake Drive-from where you have a panoramic view of the enchanting city. Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya (67 ha), which began as a pleasure garden for the Kings of Kandy. The rich flora of the tropics is exhibited at its best here. The Peradeniya University.

Dalada Maligawa - Hill Country

Known as the Hill Capital, this city is situated deep within lush green hills near Sri Lanka's longest river, Mahaweli. The surroundings of Kandy are the perfect picture of a Tropical Landscape. Historically the Kandyan Kingdom originated in 1357 and was the last stronghold of the country's Royalty until 1815 when it came under the British rule.

Gadaladeniya Temple - Hill Country

The Buddhist temple is built on a rock 1 km from the main road. Influenced by the Indian temple architecture it has lacquered doors, carvings, frescoes and a moonstone at the entrance. The brick superstructure, shaped like a stupa, has an octagonal base. The inscriptions on the rock by Dharmakirti date it to 1344. The principal gilded image of the Buddha (18th century, which replace the original destroyed by the Portuguese) is framed by elaborate makara decoration.

Lankathilake Mahaviharaya - Hill Country

The second monument of the group sits on top of the rock Panhalgala. When a monk informed of the extraordinary vision of an elusive golden pot on the water of the tank the king saw this as a sign and had the temple built. He appears among the wall paintings. The inner image house contains fine gold plated images of the Buddha. The walls and ceiling have well preserved frescoes, some of the oldest and best examples of the Kandyan temple style. The west door has carved figures of Hindu gods. There is a large inscription dating the temple to the thirteenth century.

Embekka Devale - Hill Country

The Hindu temple with its Sanctuary, Dancing Hall and the Drummers’ Hall, is famous for its carved wooden pillars with vibrant figures of soldiers, wrestlers, dancers, musicians, mythical animals and birds. The patterned roof tiles are attractive too.

Ella

In the east of the Horton Plains, feature’s the island’s most charming villages – dotted with spectacular waterfalls like Ravana Falls, the widest of them all. Thrill seekers and nature lovers would find a range of activities such as canoeing, rock climbing and trekking. Perched on a hillside, surrounded by tea plantations, pine forests, pretty little bungalows and many more.

Nuwara Eliya - Hill Country

Situated at an elevation of 1890 Metres. This town was the most popular hill station of the British during their rule. The influence left behind by the British is very evident as you pass through areas very much reminiscent of the countryside of England which has earned Nuwara Eliya the name "Little England". This is also the very centre of the Tea Growing regions of the island. The Golf Club of Nuwara Eliya has an excellent 18 hole course. The surrounding area is known for its scenic beauty.

Bandarawela - Hill Country

This town is known for its salubrious climate. Surrounded by mountains at an elevation of 1230 metres, the town itself is busy with traders as it is a main market town in the area. The surrounding area has some good trails for trekking.

Anuradhapura - Ancient Cities

The ancient first capital city. Anuradhapura flourished as a center of political power, and created a unique culture in South Asia from 400 BC to 1100 AC that was known as far as the Mediterranean Civilizations. As you walk through this sacred city of Buddhism with its monasteries, temples, dagabas and palaces you will notice a very intricate but refined style of art and architecture that probably evolved with the influence of the gentle doctrine of Buddhism and the inspiring beauty of the land itself.
Great kings, philosophers, sages and brave warriors lived here and it is here that Buddhism was introduced to the country by the Buddhist monk, Mahinda Thera in the 3rd century BC.
Remarkable achievements in the technical development of hydraulic engineering for irrigation are also a strong factor of this ancient civilization. The highlights of sightseeing will be, the sacred Bo-tree, a sapling of the Bo-tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, Historically authenticated as the oldest tree in the world it is venerated by all Buddhists.
Thuparama, built in 300 BC this stupa the first to be build on this island is said to enshrine the collar bone relic of the Buddha. Ruwanveliseye, built by the great folk hero, the warrior king Dutugemunu between 161-137 BC. Lovamahapaya, the great copper roofed mansion - the site where a massive 7 storeyed mansion with a thousand chambers built by the kind for the Buddhist monks during 161-137 BC. Isurumuniya Rock Cave Temple, the beautiful rock carving of the lovers. Royal Pleasure Gardens. Moonstone Carving a unique stone carving. Abhagiri Dagaba, presently 235 feet high this monument built by King Vattegamini in 100 BC according to the history books was Four Hundred feet high. Jetawana Dagaba, originally 400 feet in height it still remains the tallest brick monument in the world.

Polonnaruwa - Ancient Cities

The medieval capital city of the island. Polonnaruwa. After the demise of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa became the capital city from 11th to the 13th century. Here you will see both Buddhist and Hindu Temples located close to one another indicating the harmony that existed between Sinhalese and South Indian Tamil kings who lived in this city.
Parakramabahu the great, the Sinhala hero-king ruled this Kingdom for 30 years.
His wise rule brought back stability and strength to the country and as conqueror he captured kingdoms from south India and as far as Cambodia. This period another golden era of the country with great achievements in huge man made reservoirs and other architectural wonders.

Yapahuwa - Ancient Cities

Yapahuwa, the ‘excellent mountain’, rising 100 m from a plain, similar in concept to the better known Sigiriya, was built in the early 1200s as a fortress against the invading south Indian armies. Between 1272 and 1284 it was the capital of King Bhuvanekabahu I. It is believed that invading Indians carried away the sacred tooth-relic, (now in Kandy) from Yapahuwa at that time, only for it to be recovered in 1288 by Parakraabhu I.
The magnificently carved ornamental staircase, which led up to the ledge holding its royal palace, is its best feature. The porch on the stairway had very fine pierced-stone windows, one of which is now in the museum in Colombo. Reliefs of dancers, musicians and animals are evidence of south Indian influence. Although climbing to the top of the rock is not feasible as it is very overgrown, the view from the top of the staircase is wonderful.
There is a small fairly modern museum on the site. On display are stone sculptures and pottery fragments. Behind the museum is a cave temple that contains some very old frescoes, wooden Buddha images and interestingly, one image made of bronze.

Sigiriya - Ancient Cities

Sigiriya The "Lion Rock" the "Fortress in the Sky". King Kasyapa built this legendary Citadel during his reign 477 - 495 AC. After passing through the remains of the beautiful water Gardens at the foot of the rock, your ascent to the summit will reveal; The Mirror Wall -possessing over 700 Sinhala verses written by visitors from the 5th to the 13th century, Frescoes; the famous exquisite rock cave paintings of the "Cloud Damsels".
The Lion Stairway - A stairway where the last lap of your ascent starts between the huge paws of a colossal Lion statue and takes you through what was once the mouth of the Lion, up to the summit of the rock where the remains of the Kings Palace, ponds, and other structures can be seen.
The legend of Kasyapa is a story of tragedy and political intrigue. Kasyapa was the Kings son by a non royal consort who plotted against his father and became king after executing him. Fearing the wrath of the crown prince he is said to have built this palace like an impregnable fortress on this rock. Later the two half brothers met in battle and by a unexpected turn of events was abandoned by his own army and took his own life. After the demise of this Kingdom it once again returned to its original state of a Buddhist monastry

Mihintale - Ancient Cities

Mihintale is of enormous spiritual significance to the Sinhalese because it is here that Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka. In 247 BC King Devanampiyatissa of Anuiradhapura, while deer hunting around the hill at Mihintale, met Mahinda, the son of the great Indian Buddhist emperor, Ashoka, and was converted to Buddhism. Usually in June, on the Poson Full Moon day a great religious festival is held to celebrate this momentous occasion.

The Hospital - Ancient Cities

A ruined ‘hospital’ and the remains of a quincunx of buildings, laid out like the five dots on a dice, flank the roadway before you reach the base of the steps. A large stone trough with the interior in the shape of the human form, sits among the ruins. Grinding stones and clay urns for storing herbs found at the site can be seen in the museum. Inscriptions reveal that the hospital had its specialists – there is reference to a mandova, a bone and muscle specialist, and to a puhunda vedek, a leech doctor.

The Stairway - Ancient Cities

1840 ancient granite slab steps lead majestically up to the hillside.

Kantaka Chetiya - Ancient Cities

At the first landing a smaller flight of steps leads to a partly ruined dagoba off to the right. It is 12m high and 130 m around its base. This is one of the oldest dagobas at Mihintale. It is noteworthy for its friezes. Four stone flower altars stand at each of the cardinal points, and surrounding these are well preserved sculptures of dwarfs, geese and other figures.

The Relic House and Monks’ Refectory

At the top of the next flight of steps, on the second landing, is the monks’ refectory with huge stone trough which the lay followers kept filled with rice for monks. Nearby, at a place identified as the monastery’s relic house, are two 10th century AD inscribed stone slabs erected during the reign of King Mahinda IV (975-991 AD)
These inscriptions lay down the rules relating to the relic house and the conduct of those responsible for it. One clearly states that nothing belonging to the relic house shall be lent or sold. Another confirms the amount of land to be given in exchange for a reliable supply of oil and wicks for lamps and flowers for offerings. Also known as the Mihintale tablets, the tablets, define the duties of the monastery’s many servants There are also rules for monks.

The Relic House and Monks’ Refectory

The Assembly Hall or the Convocation Hall, is where monks met to discuss matters of common interest. The senior monk who presided over the discussions would have sat at the raised dais in the middle of the hall. Sixty four stone pillars once supported the roof.

Sinha Pokuna

Just below the monks’ refectory on the second landing is this small pool surmounted by a 2m high rampant lion reckoned to be one of the best pieces of animal carving in the country. Anyone placing one hand on each paw would be right in line for the stream of water from the lion’s mouth.

Ambasthale Dagoba

The final narrow steep stairway leads to the place where Mahinda and the King met. The Dagoba is built where Mahinda stood and there is a statue of the king where he stood. Opposite side of the dagoba from the statue is a cloister and behind that a large sitting Buddha. The stone pillars that surround the temple once supported a roof. Nearby is the Sela Chetiya, which has stone rendering of the Buddha’s footprint, surrounded by a railing festooned with prayer flags left by pilgrims.

Mahaseya Dagoba

A bath south-west of the Ambasthale Dagoba leads up to a higher dagoba, the largest at Mihintale, thought to have been built to house relics of Mahinda. From here you can get an excellent view of Anuradhapura. Mahinda’s Cave A path leads north-east from the Ambasthale Dagoda down to a cave where there is a large flat stone. This is said to be where Mahinda lived and the stone is claimed to be where he rested.

Naga Pokuna

Halfway down the steep flight of steps from the Ambasthale Dagoba, a bath lead to the left around the side of the hill by the Mahaseya Dagoba. Here is the Naga Pokuna, or ‘snake pool’, so called because of the five headed cobra carved in low relief on the rock face of the pool. Its tail is said to reach down to the bottom of the pool.

Et Vehera

At an even higher elevation (309m) than the Mahaseya Dagoba are the remains of a stupa called Et Vehera, literally, the stupa of the elephant. The origin of the name is open to conjecture, however, the Mihintale tablets mention Et Vehera and its image house.

Dambulla

The Rock Cave Temple of Dambulla. the history of this temple dates back to 1st century BC during the reign of King Valagam Bahu. Famous for its ancient Buddhist paintings and images depicting important events in the life of the Buddha as well as significant moments in the history of Sri Lanka the five main caves contain almost 150 images of the Buddha. There is also a panoramic view of the surrounding areas from top of this rock.

Aukana

One of the most elegant and perfect statues, the Aukana Buddha, to the west of the large Kalawewa has gained even more significance to Buddhists since the destruction of the similar but much larger statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan. Here is a magnificent, undamaged 12-m high free-standing statue of the Abhayamudra Buddha, showing superhuman qualities, carved out of a single rock. It has been ascribed to King Dhatusena (459-77) who was responsible for the building of several tanks.

Nalanda (Gedige)

This small reconstructed Gedige (Buddha image house) has features common with the Hindu Temples of Southern India. Originally dates from 7th – 10th Century. Some carvings have been found which combines Hindu and Buddhist features.

Yala

Located in the south east part of the Island, the total protected area covers 98,000 hectares. Certain parts are strict natural reserves. Yala west with its scrub jungle, rock outcrops, tanks and lagoons is the area for Jeep safaris. Wild Elephant, sloth Bear, Leopard, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Wild Buffalo, Wild Boar, Monkey, Porcupine and Jackal can be sighted here. Many migratory Birds frequent this area, over 135 species have been recorded in Yala. The remains of an ancient settlement are also evident in its vicinity with ruins dating back as far as 1st century BC. Situated around the Uda Walawe reservoir south of the central hills of the island this park spreads over an area of 30,800 hectares. Consisting mainly of grassland this park is famous for its Herds of Wild Elephant, with an estimated population of over 500 living within the park. Sambar, Wild Buffalo, Sloth Bear, Crocodile as well as Leopard are the other larger animals that live here. It is also abundant in its Bird and Reptile variety.

Udawalawe

Situated around the Uda Walawe reservoir south of the central hills of the island this park spreads over an area of 30,800 hectares. Consisting mainly of grassland this park is famous for its Herds of Wild Elephant, with an estimated population of over 500 living within the park. Sambar, Wild Buffalo, Sloth Bear, Crocodile as well as Leopard are the other larger animals that live here. It is also abundant in its Bird and Reptile variety

Bundala

Located in the low country wet zone near to the town of Hambantota in the south, Bundala is an excell ent place for Bird Watching. 6300 Hectares in extent, it has five large brackish water lagoons. This park is one out of two wetland in the country to be listed under the RAMSAR convention and is visited by many migratory birds in addition to its large population of resident species.. Elephant, Wild Boar and Deer are also found here.

Horton Plains

Spread over 3160 hectares these quiet and mysterious wet zone plains in the south central hills are a paradise for Treks. Forming a plateau within some of the highest mountain peaks in Sri Lanka, the south part of the plains comes to an abrupt end, dropping over 700 metres straight down. This spectacular place is called the "World's End". Leopard, Herds of Sambar & Bear Monkey live in the plains. A variety of birds can also be seen here. Grassland dominates the plains with pockets of forest cover with unusual vegetation spread out in areas. Horton Plains is a place of a very special desolate type of beauty.

Wasgamuwa

This was a sanctuary that has been declared as a National Park somewhat recently. The area of the park is 37,000 hectares. Situated close to the Polonnaruwa area, Wasgamuwa has Wild Elephant, Deer, Sloth Bear, Monkey, Wild Boar and Crocodile.

Udawattekale Sanctuary

This was once the ‘forbidden forest’ of the kings of Kandy. The sanctuary covers 257 acres and has many endemic species of flora and fauna, with over 150 species of birds. There are also a number of meditation centres. The Pond is the original bathing place of the court and Gold coins are said to be concealed within. Lady Horton’s Drive goes into the tropical rainforest.

Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve

In 1989 UNESCO recognized Sinharaja as an international biosphere reserve and became a World Heritage Site. Sinharaja, the last significant stretch of rainforest on the island to be left largely undisturbed, maintains enormous national importance. It is home to a remarkable array of endemic species. For example, 95% of the endemic birds of Sri Lanka and more than half of its mammals and butterflies have been recorded here. In the dense forest animals can be heard although game spotting on the level of Yala is not possible. The purple-faced leaf money is the most commonly seen mammal and others include giant squirrel, dusky squirrel and sambar. Although there are leopards, the chances are that you will not see them. Rare endemics include red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka magpie, white headed starling and even green-billed coucal and plenty of others. The most commonly seen reptile is the green garden lizard, while snakes include the endemic Green pit viper and the Hump-nosed viper, and there are several endemic amphibian species, including the torrent toad, wrinkled frog and Sri Lanka reed frog.

White Water Rafting

Rafting or white water rafting is a challenging recreational outdoor activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. It is considered an extreme sport, as it can be dangerous. Some of the rivers of Sri Lanka afford the opportunity for the recreational activists and water sport enthusiast to enjoy whitewater rafting. Kitulgala in the hill country is the most famous whitewater rafting location in Sri Lanka. Whitewater rafting at Kitulgala holds out the chance to enjoy the stunning tropical scenery of the region. This high adventure is suitable for first time rafters and experts alike. Along one ride you can pass the scenic location outside. Rafting has become a very popular exciting get safe adventure sport option.

Kithulagala

Knuckles Mountain Range and its forest trails are the most suitable for trekking and mountaineering in Sri Lanka. Also there are interconnected footpaths of cardamom planters, toddy tappers, tea plantation workers, farmers and villages.