Sri Lanka was originally called Suvarnadvipa—the Golden Island. Mispronounced by the British as Serendip, it inspired Sir Horace Walpole to coin the term serendipity. Well, long after Walpole, Sri Lanka is not called the Emerald Island for nothing. Discovered by Marco Polo in 1271, Sri Lanka is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It is one of the magnificent islands with luscious green tea groves, swaying coconut palm trees, romantic landscapes, and golden sand beaches. Elephant sanctuaries, jungle safaris, whitewater rafting, beautiful train rides, spiritual temples, and scrumptious cuisine are some of the main attractions of Sri Lanka tourism.
The best time to visit Sri Lankan West, South coasts, and hill country is from December to March, and the Sri Lankan East Coast is April to September. Since Sri Lanka is close to the Equator, the temperatures remain constant throughout the year with high humidity. However, the temperature falls to freezing in the hill stations. Were you looking for range and variety? The plains beckon and the hills invite and tempt. Have a look:
1.Sigiriya or Sinhagiri
[Image Credits – pic2.me]
Sigiriya or Singhari tops the list of the absolutely must-see places in Sri Lanka. It is one of the most ancient rocks dating back to the formation of the Earth itself and is popularly known as the Lion Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the 5th century, King Kasyapa built his palace, an ancient citadel, on the top of Sigiriya and decked up its sides with vibrant frescoes. The entrance to this gorgeous palace resembles a Lion’s structure and hence the name Sinhagiri or Sigiriya. After the death of King Kasyapa, the citadel-palace was abandoned, and the Buddhists used it as a monastery till the 14th century. The site plan of Sigiriya is considered as one of the most brilliant and imaginative urban planning sites of the first millennium.
Now, Sigriya consists of ancient remnants of the upper palace surrounded by frescoes, shining mirror walls, water gardens, boulder gardens, terraced gardens, ponds, and fountains. From the top of the Rock, you get a panoramic view of this plateau with its stunning views of the jungles below and rolling hills in all directions. This rock-fortress is definitely one of those rare places which add meaning and richness to life simply with a visit.
2.Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
[Image Credits – bestoflanka.com]
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established in 1975 by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, getting its name from the Pinnawala Village in Sabaragamuwa Province. The main purpose of this orphanage was to nurture wild orphaned elephants but also includes breeding since 1982. Happily, it has been a great success, a heartwarming story in an otherwise dreary and depressing litany of wildlife extinction worldwide. As per the records, 78 elephants were living in the premises as of 2012. What can be more eye-filling than an elephant and more satisfying than their success due to human efforts?
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a major tourist attraction, and the income is used to maintain the orphanage. It is your lifelong satisfaction that you have been a part of this story in the lives of these magnificent beasts.
The sight of baby elephants gaily gambolling in the river is a sheer joy to watch. Visitors can also view bottle feeding of these unbearably endearing little calves and the daily routine care. In short, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an elephant paradise to steal your time—and you will be glad it is.
[Image Credits – lonelyplanetimages]
Nuwara Eliya is a hill station 6,100 feet above sea level and thus the coolest place of Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is known as ‘Little England’ with British colonial buildings like the General’s House and the Queen’s Cottage. Nuwara Eliya is covered with terraces growing carrots, leeks, potatoes, and roses mixed together with tea slopes.
The main attractions in this splendid place are the rail ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, the Victoria Park, boating and fishing in Lake Gregory, Galway’s Land Bird Sanctuary. ‘Lovers Leap’, a 30-meter long cascading waterfall is a visual treat amidst the mesmerising view of the hills. The other attractions include the inclined tea plantations, golf course and the magnificent view of Pidurutalagala famous as the tallest mountain of Sri Lanka.
Nuwara Eliya is the hallowed land for tea lovers producing the world-famous finest orange Pekeo tea and is the heart of the tea plantation: a veritable pilgrimage for the tea person. If you happen to visit this place, do not forget, even if you are a coffee person, to taste the aromatic cup of tea! Who knows, your taste buds may even switch loyalties.
4.Dambulla Cave Temple
[Image Credits – walkerstours.com]
Dambulla Cave Temple is the World Heritage spot in Sri Lanka. It is one of the best preserved and the largest cave temples in Sri Lanka. The Dambulla Temple has five caves of different sizes, all with a striking architecture. The first and the largest cave is the Cave of the Divine King, the second largest being the Cave of the Great Kings. Coming third is the Great New Monastery, and the other two caves are the Cave of the Western Temple and the Cave of Second New Temple. All the caves are carved, inspired by a great world-religion, with beautiful shrines and statues of Buddha with murals included. The total number of 153 Buddha statues and paintings depict the life of the Buddha, Compassionate One. Some of the other statues include Sri Lankan Kings, gods, and goddesses like Vishnu and Ganesha. Creative murals take up a space of about 2,100 square metres. The panoramic view of the adjacent flat lands and the mind-blowing view of Sigriya from Dumbella Golden Temple are some of the major highlights.
[Image Credits -timetravelturtle.com ]
Polonnaruwa is another gem of the Sri Lankan tourist attractions. It is located in the North Central Province, Sri Lanka. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa is the second largest of the ancient kingdoms of Sri Lanka. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is affirmed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. This ancient ruined city is a heaven for archaeologists. The amazing architecture and robust columns are the main attractions of Polonnaruwa. The archeological treasures which are full of ancient structures like temples and tombs, sculptures, and statues, are well preserved. It indeed shows the love of the Sinhalese for intense art and culture. Polonnaruwa is pretty close to Dambulla Temple and Sigriya. All you need to do is take a bus or a tuk-tuk (we call them Autorickshaw) to reach this fantastic place. If you love to explore this place inside out, hire a bike and zoom around the ancient relics.
[Image Credits – atlasandboots.com]
Adam’s Peak is, quite simply, an awe-inspiring place to view the sunrise at dawn. The Peak is a 2,243-metre tall precipice positioned right in the centre of Sri Lanka—what better for a heart? The Southern and Eastern regions of Adam’s Peak are famous for precious stones like emeralds, sapphires, and rubies preserved from ancient times.
Adam’s Peak is popularly known as Sri Pada which has an impression of a sacred footprint measuring 5 feet and 11 inches. Hindus consider it to be Lord Shiva’s footprint, Buddhists consider it to be Buddha’s footprint, and Muslims and Christians consider the footprint to be that of Adam or Saint Thomas respectively. It has something for everyone.
For Buddhists, this is a pilgrimage as it is believed to have an impression of Buddha’s footprint on the rock. Climbing the hill to reach the peak, early in the morning will give a spectacular view of sunrise. At the top of the hill is a bell and people follow a ritual to ring this bell to match the number of times they have visited the summit. The view of the sunrise from Adam’s Peak is for sure an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.
[Image Credits -wikimedia.org ]
Mirissa is the most attractive beach hideaways in Sri Lanka. Mirissa is a small village located on the southern coast, in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It takes about 150 km of travel from Colombo to reach Mirissa. Some of the must-do things in the islands of Mirissa include sunbathing in a hammock and watching the whales and dolphins. Mirissa is recently featured as the best whale watching destination in the world.
Mirissa is one of the largest fishing ports on the entire south coast. Fishing on the ports of islands is also the most favourite pastime for tourists.
Sri Sunandarama Temple in Mirissa is one of the sacred Buddhists places in town. The temple features a gorgeous collection of traditional masks. During festivals, masked dancers put up enthusiastic and inspired performances to offer their respects to the Presiding Deity. Mirissa’s never-ending beach and lively nightlife make the place all the more alluring. In sum, Mirissa is a charming fishing village and an awesome place for an amazing holiday.
8.Yala National park
[Image Credits – blogspot.com]
Yala National Park is the second largest national park in Sri Lanka. It is also known to be the most visited national park. Yala National Park, lapped by the waves of the Indian Ocean includes five blocks and is just 300 km from Colombo. Of the five blocks, two are open to the general public namely Ruhuna National Park and Kumana National Park. Ruhuna National Park is known to have the highest number of leopards in the world. Ruhuna National Park also shelters majestic peacocks and jumbos. Yala National Park is home to both wildlife and a lot of birds. Tourists can opt for safari drives in the thick forests to spot the elephants bathing in the water or view a leopard sitting and lazing on a tree, its feline grace, majestic and fearsome at once. Tourists also camp at Yala to enjoy the night view of the twinkling stars of the great Milky Way in the sky, while pampering their taste buds with fresh barbecue. On the whole, Yala National Park dazzles the visitors with the dense forest, blue lagoons on the coastline and grassy plains. The highlight of Yala is that it is a big cat paradise nestling in the heart of Mother Nature.
[Image Credits – bestoflanka.com]
Sri Lanka has a coastline of about 1600 km, and Arugam Bay is positioned on the southeast coast. Sri Lanka is a turquoise heaven for surfers, underwater photographers, and adventure lovers. The country is best suited for windsurfing, water sports, and speed boating. Blue skies and leaning coconut trees are the highlight of Arugam Bay. Well, if you love water adventures, then Arugam Bay must top your checklist of places to visit. The Bay is about 320 km from Colombo. It is also a popular destination to host competitions for surfing and is known to be the best surfing spot in the world. Arugam Bay is also the access to the Yala East National Park. Tourists can also enjoy elephant watching, bird watching, lagoon tour, and a lot more.
If you are yearning to get soaked in the sun, head straight to this place. It is a perfect to enjoy the fragrance of jasmines and to sip the fresh tender coconut while you get tanned in the sun. If you can wrench yourself from these magnificent temptations of the sea, sports, and sights, you can visit the nearby Kudumbigala Monastery, Kumana National Park, archaeological sites and ancient ruins.
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Anuradhapura is a major capital city in the district that bears its name—Anuradhapura district. It is majestically located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. This city was a hub for Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. Anuradhapura is famous for the ancient ruins of Sri Lankan civilization—in fact, it was the capital of ancient Sri Lanka. It is about 205 km from Colombo. Anuradhapura is a primeval and pleasant city with a huge collection of archaeological and architectural heritage. This City has beautiful temples and primordial pools. Some of the major tourist attractions in Anuradhapura of Sri Lanka are:
iii. Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is one of the oldest and most sacred fig trees in the world. This tree was planted in 288 BC and valued by Buddhists all over the globe.
vii. Isurumuniya is a temple situated near Tisa Tank built by King Devanampiya Tissa. The Elephant Pond, Isurumuniya Lovers, and The Royal Family are some of the four carvings.
viii. Thuparama Dagoba is a prehistoric Buddhist temple. It is constructed in the form of a bell. King Agbo II restored the demolished dome during his reign in 1842 AD.
Sri Lanka Tourism: The Wonder of Asia
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