Sri Lanka Nature Travels Polonnaruwa
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Sri Lanka's capital up to recent times, Colombo, is a fascinating city, not only for a comfortable blend of east and west, but also for a cozy mixture of the past and present. It is still the commercial center of the country. Situated 34 km. from the International Airport, Colombo has been a flourishing seaport for centuries. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins and a city population of 647,100. The Colombo Metropolitan Region, defined by the districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara, has an estimated population of 5,648,000, and covers an area of 3,694.20 km. Today the bustle of the harbor mingles with the activity of its busy commercial, banking and shopping areas.
However it was only made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948. In 1978, when administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya.
From the 4th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka until the beginning of the 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 kmē).
The island's medieval capital (11th to 13th century A.D.) is situated 216 km. The largest of the man made reservoirs, the huge Parakrama Samudra, is larger in size than the Colombo harbor. See also the ruins of the King's Council Chamber, the Royal Citadel, the Kumara Pokuna, Royal Pavilion, the Vatadage Relic House lavished with moonstones, guard stones and sculptured railing, Kiri Vehera - the best preserved of all Sri Lanka's un-restored dagabas; Gal Vihare - the most impressive sculptures are the colossal Buddha images carved on the face of a granite boulder. The recumbent Buddha measures 14 meters and the standing figure is 7 meters in height.
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. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
This rock fortress was built by king Kashyapa in the 5th century A.D. and was a royal citadel for more than 18 years. In a sheltered pocket, approached by a spiral stairway, are the famous frescoes. The summit of the rock, with an area of nearly one hectare was the site of the palace, the outer wall of which was built on the very brink of the precipice.
The earliest evidence of human habitation at Sigiriya was found from the Aligala rock shelter to the east of Sigiriya rock, indicating that the area was occupied nearly five thousand years ago during the Mesolithic period. The UNESCO - sponsored Central Cultural Fund has restored Sigiriya's 5th century Water Gardens to their former glory
It is the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka.
Like Sigiriya, Dambulla is a vast isolated rock mass and it was here that King Valagambha took refuge in the 1st century B.C. He later turned the caves into a rock temple. Some of the frescoes are over 2,000 years old and there is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, some 14 meter long.
Dambula Cave
The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding. Major attractions are spread over 5 caves, which contain statues and paintings. This paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of srilankan kings and 4 statues of god and goddess. The latter 4 include two statues of Hindu gods, Vishnu and Ganesh. The murals cover an area of 2,100 mē. Depictions in the walls of the caves include Buddha's temptation by demon Mara and Buddha's first sermon.
Sri Lanka's hill capital, stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings, is our most beautiful town. In 1592 Kandy became the capital city of the last remaining independent kingdom in the island after the coastal regions had been conquered by the Portuguese. Several invasions by the Portuguese and the Dutch (16th, 17th and 18th century) and later by the British (most notably in 1803) were repelled. It is 488 meters above sea level and next to Colombo is Sri Lanka's most visited place. The highlight of the year is the Esala Perahera, when a replica of the relic casket is taken in procession accompanied by exotically costumed dancers, drummers and about 80 to 100 elephants during ten glittering nights in July/August.
Visit Kalapuraya in the beautiful Dumbara valley 8 km. from Kandy, where descendants of the ancient craftsmen still create items of rare elegance in metal and wood. There are many shrines and temples in and around Kandy, where you will see rare paintings, frescoes, wood and stone carvings. Kandy is an exciting place for shopping with souvenirs in wood, copper, silver, brass, ebony and bronze. Ceramics, lacquer work, handlooms, batiks, and rush and reed-ware can also be purchased.
Set in the heart of the tea-country, this beautiful town is where the British succeeded in creating an English countryside with homes in styles from Georgian to Queen Anne. Well-kept lawns with hedges, an Anglican church and the famous golf course and beautiful parks give the place an air of nostalgia. Situated at 1890 meters above sea level, the air here is cool and fresh - a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of Colombo. Close to Nuwara Eliya are Horton Plains, Sri Lanka’s highest and most isolated plateaus. Nature lovers will revel in this wide; patina grass covered plain, the haunt of many wild yet harmless animals and the home of many species of birds.
Nature is not ours. We must protect Nature to see future generation.
Sri Lanka's `City of Gems' and the center of its gemming industry. The gems found include sapphire, ruby, cat's eye, alexandrite, topaz, amethyst, aquamarine, tourmaline, garnet and zircon. Visits to gem mines may be arranged through travel agents. Gem collections can be seen at the National Museum, Ratnapura and a number of private museums, rubber and tea estates and scenic landscape are found in plenty.
Rathapura Gems
Galle is the most important southern town with an old-world charm. Believed to be “Tar shish” of the Bible, its natural harbor was a famous fort in days gone by. Famous for its Dutch Fort, lace-making, ebony carving and gem polishing.
Trincomalee, one of the largest deep water harbors in the world, is located on the north-east part of Sri Lanka. Trincomalee has served Sri Lanka as an important seaport since the times of ancient days. On the Swami Rock stands one of the oldest Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. In Second World War, Trinco was the headquarters of Allied South-East Asia Command.
Nilaweli and Uppuveli, considered among the best beaches in Sri Lanka, are very good for activities like snorekelling and sunbathing. Both the beaches are located 16 km and 6km off the town respectively. Those are among the best beaches in Sri Lanka.
Yala National Park
Situated 309 km. south of Colombo, one of the s best known wildlife reserves approximately an area of 1300 square km (500 square miles). It is divided into Yala West and Yala East. In this national Park there is diversity of jungle habitats like, tanks, brackish lagoons and riverside habitats. Yala is popular as the best park for viewing animals and birds. Animals include the elephant, leopard, sloth bear, and spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, sambhur, grey langur, toque monkey, stripe-necked mongoose, ruddy mongoose, wild pig, jackal, water monitor, marsh crocodile and estuarine crocodile.
128 species of birds have been recorded. Bird life includes Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Brown-capped Babbler, Stone Curlew, Greater Thick-knee, Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, Sirkeer Malkoha, Blue-faced Malkoha, Green Bee-eater, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Blue-faced Malkoha, Green Bee-eater Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Brahminya Myna and Rose-coloured Starling.
Udawalawe National Park
This Park covers 30,818 hectares mainly consists of abandoned teak plantations, grassland and scrub jungle. Acts as the catchments to the Uda Walawe Reservoir and is located in the Dry Zone. Generally popular for elephants. Other animals are spotted deer, sambhur, water buffaloes, mongoose, bandicoots, foxes, water monitor lizards, crocodiles, wild boars, Toque Monkeys, Grey Langur, leopards and 30 varieties of snakes.
Bird life includes Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Wooly-necked Stork, Black-headed Ibis, Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Shikrs, Sirkeer Malkoha, Blue-faced Malkoha.
Bundala National Park
Bundala National park is situated 260 Km from Colombo. Bundala consists of scrub jungle along the east coast of Hambanthota . This beach is an important breeding site of turtles.
This park is a home of elephants, spotted deer, grey langur, jackal, water monitor, crocodiles, the olive ridley and leatherback turtles, the hawksbill and green turtles.Among the 150 species of birds found here are the Flamingo, Brown-capped Babbler, Ceylon Junglefowl, Cattle Egret, Median Egret, Large Egret, Openbill, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, etc. Migrants include Asiatic Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lesser Sand, Large Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, etc
Wasgamuwa National Park
This National Park situated in the districts of Matale and Polonnaruwa. Mahaweli river and Amban river covers its eastern and western boundaries. The vegetation consists of primary forests, secondary forests, and riverine forests, scrublands and grasslands. Common animals are elephants, wild buffaloes, spotted deer, leopards, sloth bears, water monitors and crocodiles.
145 species of bird can be found here, including the Red Faced Malkoha, Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Lesser Adjutant, Yellow Fronted Barbet, Ceylon Spur Fowl and Ceylon Frogmouth.
8 species of amphibians are reported to live in this park. These include the endangered skink, lizards like the Red Lipped Lizard and Earless Lizard. In addition, 17 species of fish and 50 species of butterflies are found here.
Minneriya National Park
The extent of the Minneriya National Park is about 8890 hectares. There are wet lands in this National Park. Which have International importance, animals and plant species, which are plenty in dry zone are found in this park. Wild elephants, various amphibians , local and immigrant bird species are plenty here. About 160 species of birds , 09 amphibians, 25 reptile species, 26 fish species and more than 75 butterfly species have been found here. There are bamboo trees which are rare in other parks and wild elephants can been seen conveniently. The significant feature is that elephants can be seen going close to them.
Horton Plains
The Horton Plains is a plateau more than 200 m high. It consists of grasslands interspersed with areas of forest and some unusual vegetation that grows only in high altitudes. From here rise Sri Lanka's second and third highest mountains. The plains afford a excellent track for nature lovers...
The most attractive feature of the Horton Plains is the World's End where the southern part of the plains comes to a sudden end and drops almost straight down for 700 m. Dawn is the ideal time to view this site. The mountains are free of mist and the sun is just rising.
Horton Plains
The dense forests are home to deer, jackal, the shaggy bear-monkey, sambhur and the occasional leopard. Purple monkey.
The plains are popular with bird watchers. Birds include Ceylon Junglefowl, Ceylon Wood Pigeon, Orange-billed Babbler, Ceylon Blue Magpie, Ceylon Hill Munia, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Pied Bush-Chat, Grey Tit and Ceylon Whistling Thrush.
Peradeniya Royal Botanic Garden
The Peradeniya Royal Botanic Gardens are situated at Peradeniya, 6 kilometres from Kandy, on a tongue of land bounded on three sides by the banks of the Mahaweli Ganga. This beautiful garden has some 62 hectares in extent and located at an altitude of 550 metres. Peradeniya takes its name from pera (guava) and deniya (plain), which would suggest an early connection with the introduction or the cultivation of fruits, as the guava is not indigenous to the island. The site was originally the royal pleasure gardens of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1780) of Kandy.
Peradeniya Botanic Garden
Include all of Sri Lanka's flora, and representative species from all over the tropical world. In fact the gardens main attraction today is the 50-acre (20-hectare) arboretum of some 10,000 trees, including a palm garden illustrating the variety of this particular species. In addition, there is an impressive and graceful avenue of royal palms, planted in 1905. Massive bamboos thrive along the banks of the Mahaweli, including the largest species, the Giant Bamboo of Burma, which can grow as much as 2 feet (60 centimeters) in a single day. Another remarkable feature is the enormous Java fig tree that sprawls across the main lawn, its long branches judiciously propped up in many places. There is also a herb garden, where herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine are grown, and a most important orchid house that reflects the amazing variety of species to be found in Sri Lanka.
Pinanawala - Elephant Orphanage
Pinnawela orphanage is situated northwest of the town Kegalla, halfways between the present capitol Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy in the hills of central Sri Lanka. It was established 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife department. This 24 acres large elephant orphanage is a also breeding pace for elephants, twenty elephants were born since 1984, and it has the greatest herd of elephants in captivity in the world. The difference between the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala and Ath Athuru Sevena Transit Home at Uda Walawe is that at the Transit Home these baby elephants once cared for are released to the wilds when they reach a certain age.
Pinanawala - Elephant Orphanage
At Pinnawela an attempt was made to simulate, in a limited way, the conditions in the wild. Animals are allowed to roam freely during the day and a herd structure allowed to form.
08.00 The babies are fed on milk in the mornings and allowed to range freely on the 12 acres large grassland.
10.00 Each morning and afternoon 14.00 the animals are walked 400 meters to the river Maha Oya for a two-hour bath.
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