Sri Lanka may be a tiny island yet it extremely diverse and is home to some of the most beautiful places in the world. Sri Lanka, an island in the Indian Ocean, has an area of 65,610 sq. km. The country is bordered by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The country is famous for satinwood, ebony, ironwood, mahogany and teak. Varied water birds like storks, pelicans, ibis and spoonbills inhabit the country.
Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, distinguished for its well-preserved ruins of ancient civilization. In this sacred city, there are eight main places of worship known as Athamasthana. They are: Sri Maha Bodhiya, Ruwanwelisaya, Thuparamaya, Lovamahapaya, Abhayagiriya, Jetavanaramaya, Mirisawatiya and Lankaramaya. In the vicinity of Anuradhapura there are a large number of ruins consisting of three classes of buildings, dagobas, basic buildings, and pokunas. The dagobas are bell-shaped masses of stonework, altering from a few feet to over 1100 ft in circumference. The most famous is the Brazen Palace erected by King Dutugamunu about 164 BC. One of the best specimen of bathing tanks or pools in ancient Sri Lanka is the pair of pools known as “Kuttam pokuna” (Twin ponds). The city also contains a sacred Bo-Tree, Sri Mahabodhiya, it is said that Sanghamitta Their brought with her a branch of the Bodhi tree under which prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment. This is the oldest living tree in documented history.
Colombo is the commercial capital of the country, but was once only a small sea port that catered to trading vessels. It came into the limelight with the arrival of the Portuguese and the Dutch who used it as a hub port and blossomed into what it is today with the British developing it as a major port and the centre of influence. Chaotic as it can be at times, Colombo has a strange mix of the old and the new, giving it a charm of its own.
The historic garrison town of Galle is the capital of the Southern region. Galle combines a rich history with golden beaches and is arguably the country’s leading boutique hotel destination. Its rich heritage is derived from the colonial influences of the Portuguese, Dutch and the British respectively, spanning four centuries. The Dutch influence remains predominant in Galle, with its distinctive architecture highly prevalent, much of it since lovingly restored! The beaches around Galle are among the very best that the coastline has to offer, contributing to this region being one of the most popular and favoured destinations in Sri Lanka.
Jaffna is an ancient port city located in the northernmost region of Sri Lanka. It is also the driest place in the country and one of the oldest habitation sites in lower south Asia. About a million people call this picturesque, lagoon filled peninsula home. Jaffna is the heart of Sri Lanka’s Tamil culture and still thrives with traditional Hindu kovils and Catholic churches. The flat Jaffna Peninsula is almost an island, though attached to the main land by just a strip of sand called Elephant Pass. The Peninsula is made of limestone, unlike most other parts of Sri Lanka and the porous stone absorbs the rain very quickly and conveys it to the water table.
Kandy lies nestled within a ring of mountains and sits on the banks of the island’s longest river, the Mahaweli. Being the hill capital of Sri Lanka, it is a city of proud people as it was the last bastion of Sinhala Royalty until the British captured the town in 1815. It is also home to Buddhism’s pinnacle of worship, the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha which lies in the Dalada Maligawa making it the centre of religion and culture in the island. Recognising its cultural significance, Kandy is designated a World Heritage Site and is one of only seven in Sri Lanka.
Negombo is a serene beach town which lies on the western coast of Sri Lanka, just a few kilometres north of Colombo. In earlier times, Negombo was ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonizers. Remnants of their influence present evidence in many places, such as the beautiful canals built by the Dutch and the churches built by the Portuguese. Negombo produces cinnamon, ceramics and brass ware. Sea food is very popular and is caught fresh daily by the town’s experienced fishermen. Tourists can relax and sunbathe on the beautiful, golden beach and experience incredible sunsets while enjoying a plate of fresh seafood, sitting under the cool shade of palms.
Nuwara is a cozy town located 6200 ft above sea level in the midst of the tea plantations of the central highlands. Nuwara Eliya is an area of great natural beauty and pleasant climate similar to that of Britain’s; this has earned it the nickname ‘Little England’. Blessed with a salubrious climate, breathtaking views of valleys, meadows, mountains and greenery, it is hard to imagine that Nuwara Eliya is located in a hot and humid tropical island. The town’s main attractions include the golf course, the race course and pony rides, trout streams, Victoria Park and boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. The town also provides the opportunity to enjoy Sri Lanka’s unique bird watching experiences as it is home to many endemic species of birdlife. It is a base for visits to Horton PlainsNational Park which is a key wildlife area of open grassy woodland.
Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned Archeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the kingdom’s first rulers. Some of the finest collections of Buddhist sculpture can be seen at Galvihara (Rock Monastery) in Polonnaruwa. Polonaruwa is known for its large rock cut images. The unique set of statues cut out from a single granite wall with supreme esteem. The Samadhi image Buddha is in deep meditaion sitting on a seat adorned with lions and thunderbolts. The greeny environment, amazing ancient constructions, the greatest of these systems is the Parakrama Samudraya, or the sea of Parakrama, a tank so vast that it is often mistaken for the ocean.
Sigiriya (Lion’s rock)
Sigiriya an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin encircled by the remains of a widespread network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. The Sigiriya rock is believed to be a hardened lump of granite from long-eroded volcano. The Sigiriya site has the ruins of an upper palace sited on the top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its frescoes, the lower palace that clings to the slopes below the rock, and the walls and gardens that extend for some hundreds of meters out from the base of the rock. The Gardens of the Sigiriya city is the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.
Trincomalee is a peaceful old port city located on the North east coast of Sri Lanka. One of the most significant features found here is the natural harbour, as the city played a major role in the maritime and international trading history of Sri Lanka, along with the largest Dutch fort in the country. The beaches are ideal for sunbathing, surfing, scuba diving, fishing and whale watching.
Due to the location of Sri Lanka, within the tropics between 5o 55' to 9o 51' North latitude and between 79o 42' to 81o 53' East longitude, the climate of the island could be characterized as tropical.