A history that is strewn with ancient legend, age old statues of undefined age dot the north central plains of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is synonymous with Buddhism and the north central plains are dotted with many Buddhist temples, sculptures, stupas and many ancient monasteries, some are over two thousand years old. An ancient civilization thrived, first in the ancient capital of Anuradhapura for over a thousand years then due to invasions from South India capital was moved to Polonnaruwa, under the guidance and influence of Buddhism. Many monolithic rock formations that dot the north central plains have been transformed into places of worship by the expert ancient sculptors, inspired by Buddhist way of life.
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.
This small town serves as a base for Sigiriya and safaris to Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks. There's a fast-expanding range of accommodation in the surrounding area including lots of new luxury places. Transport links are excellent: Habarana has the nearest train station to both Dambulla and Sigiriya and sits on a busy crossroads.
Elephant rides around the tank can be arranged for a pricey US$20 to US$30 per person per hour. In the creek near town you can watch mahouts scrubbing down their elephants; guides and most locals can point the way.
The 8th world wonder to be the glorious rock kingdom which was solely built basing a stand rock situated in the middle of a forest. The path is paved for you to explore the paintings of Sri Lankas ancient artists and architects, and 6th century engineers of water flow systems. Believe it or not and rate what Sigiriya would make you feel.
The second most ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka – a wide choice of places which once was the home to Kings and Queens, gave shelter to armies who fought to protect their motherland lies with the same glory. Gigantic tanks, palaces built on stories and hideouts of ancestors of Sri Lanka would allow you captures worth the walk.
This national park is one of the best places in the country to see wild elephants, which are often present in huge numbers, and wading birds. Dominated by the ancient Minneriya Tank, the park has plenty of scrub, forest and wetlands in its 88.9 sq km to also provide shelter for toque macaques, sambar deer, buffalo, crocodiles and leopards (the latter are very rarely seen however).
The dry season, from May to September, is reckoned to be the best time to visit (as by then water in the tank has dried up, exposing grasses and shoots to grazing animals). Elephants, which can number 200 or more, come to feed and bathe during what is known as ‘the Gathering’; and flocks of birds, such as little cormorants, painted storks, herons and large pelicans all fish in the shallow waters. However, it's also possible to see large numbers of elephants here at other times of year too; we saw over 100 in February when we visited.
The park entrance is on the Habarana–Polonnaruwa road. A visitor centre near the entrance sells tickets and has a few exhibits about the park’s natural history. The initial 40-minute drive (along a very poor dirt road) into the heart of the park is through dense forest, where wildlife sightings are rare. But then the landscape opens up dramatically, and the views across the tank are superb.
The temple of the tooth relic is The treasure of Sri Lankas 2500 year dated history and its traditions, customs and culture. The temple itself possesses an architecture, plus the Lord Buddhas left tooth relic which is worshipped according to a preserved set of customs, quite enchanting. And also the traditional dancing methods of four corners of the country is also presented while at the Paegent held every year as the Esela Perahera.
At one time these beautiful botanical gardens were reserved exclusively for Kandyan royalty. Today even commoners are allowed into what are, at 60 hectares, the largest and most impressive botanic gardens in Sri Lanka.
The many highlights include a fine collection of orchids and a stately avenue of royal palms. Another big hit is the giant Javan fig tree on the great lawn. Covering 2500 sq metres, it’s like a giant, living geodesic dome.
Kitulgala is the adrenalin-sports capital of Sri Lanka. For the moment most visitors are the young and energetic of Colombo, but more and more foreign visitors are starting to discover the delights of white-water rafting, jungle trekking, birdwatching and cave exploration.
The town’s other main claim to fame is that David Lean filmed his 1957 Oscar-winning epic Bridge on the River Kwai here. You can walk down a pathway to the filming site along the banks of the Kelaniya Ganga. The pathway is signposted on the main road, about 1km from Plantation Hotel in the direction of Adam’s Peak. It is virtually impossible to head down the path without attracting an entourage of ‘guides’ who expect a few rupees for their troubles. If you know the film you’ll recognise some of the places. Apparently the actual railway carriages used in the movie now lie at the bottom of the river, after being sunk in an explosive conclusion. You’ll have to bring your own scuba gear if you want a look.
A few kilometres from Kitulgala is a large cave system where the 28,500-year-old remains of early humans were discovered. Many hotels in the area can arrange a guide to the caves.
Sri Lanka is different from mile to mile and Nuwara Eliya could be the perfect example to show out what cold and mistiness is like inside the country. The beautiful flowers, strawberries and hiking and trekking sites around the location Nuwara Eliya offers a plenty of sites you could watch which may drag you to a deeper history.
Horton Plains is a beautiful, silent, strange world with some excellent hikes in the shadows of Sri Lanka’s second- and third-highest mountains, Kirigalpotta (2395m) and Totapola (2359m). The ‘plains’ themselves form an undulating plateau over 2000m high, covered by wild grasslands and interspersed with patches of thick forest, rocky outcrops, filigree waterfalls and misty lakes. The surprising diversity of the landscape is matched by the wide variety of wildlife.
The plateau comes to a sudden end at World’s End, a stunning escarpment that plunges 880m. Unless you get there early the view from World’s End is often obscured by mist, particularly during the rainy season from April to September. The early morning (between 6am and 10am) is the best time to visit, before the clouds roll in. That’s when you’ll spy toy-town tea plantation villages in the valley below, and an unencumbered view south towards the coast. In the evening and early morning you’ll need long trousers and a sweater, but the plains warm up quickly, so take a hat for sun protection. The weather is clearest January to March.
The most visited and the second largest wildlife observation park of the country. The reason why this is a must visit of any tourist is because of the large herds of elephants and leopards ruling the entire jungle zone with a much higher density than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Other than for the wild boars, butterfly species, reptiles and deer there are several other sites which one can visit such as the Sithulpauwwa Ancient Rock Temple which accommodated 12,000 monks. And the bridal stage of the Queen who devoted her life to the sea – Queen Vihara Maha Devi is also within the park premises. Out of all the 90 bird species within Yala Park range around 40 of them are migrant while the others are endemic and could be captured only on a serious travel-o-holic visit!
The big unmissable destination in the south. It's at once endlessly exotic, bursting with the scent of spices and salty winds, and yet also, with its wonderful collection of Dutch-colonial buildings, a town of great beauty. Classic architecture melds with a dramatic tropical setting to create a reality that is endlessly interesting. Wandering the old walls and streets at random yields one architectural surprise after another as you explore the amazing collection of structures dating back through the centuries.
You might expect an overrun and packed beach here, due all the luxury around –but the Bentota beach proves you wrong as the sublime stretch of golden sand could barely make you find another tourists footprint around. Experience the luxury and serenity of the golden beaches and green and blue oceans at Bentota.
Ambalangoda is a coastal town located in Galle District, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. Governed by Ambalangoda Urban Council, the town is famous for its ancient devil masks and devil dancers.
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.
Drop off at the airport for departure flight.