Cities

Unawatuna

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

The beautiful beach town of Unawatuna lies in a bay just below Galle, located a few kilometres south of Hikkaduwa. Fringed with swaying green palms facing a clear blue bay protected by beautiful coral reefs, it is the ideal place for travelers in search of a quiet, authentic Sri Lankan beach resort. Unawatuna traces its roots to the great epic Ramayana. In the mythological epic, the great monkey king Hanuman was sent back to India to fetch the four medicinal herbs from the Himalayas in order to heal a fellow worrier who was wounded while trying to save the abducted Princess Sita from the demon king Ravana. Hanuman failed to identify these herbs, so he lifted the entire mountain and carried it to the battlefield to try to save the worrier, but in the process, a chunk of it “fell-down” in the location of the present day Unawatuna, the name of the village derives from “Una-watuna” meaning fell down. The bay is remarkably calm so swimming and snorkeling are very safe activities for tourists to enjoy. It is also a renowned location for scuba diving.

Things to do in Unawatuna

  • Visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda
  • Visit the Jungle Beach
  • Visit the Unawatuna Beach
  • Surf the waves
  • Snorkel
  • Take a dolphin and whale watching tour

Trincomalee

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Trincomalee is a peaceful old port city located on the North east coast of Sri Lanka. Once a very popular tourist destination, it was deserted for a while due to the Sri Lankan Civil War and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami which caused intense destruction. However, it is now slowly emerging as a favorite destination for utmost relaxation and is an ideal location for a family holiday to Sri Lanka, attracting tourists to warm, calm seas and white sandy beaches. 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. More seriously it is home to major Sri Lankan Naval bases and an Air Force base. Visitors are not to be discouraged by the infamous history and high security of Trincomalee. It is once again a safe sunny place to enjoy a memorable holiday!

Things to do in Trincomalee

  • Visit the Trincomalee War Cemetery
  • Visit the Koneswaram Temple
  • Visit the Marble Beach
  • Take a sailing tour
  • Visit the Kanniya Hot Springs
  • Visit the Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara
  • Visit Lanka Pattuna
  • Visit the Arisimale Beach

Tangalle

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Tangalle is a sandy beach town located on the southern tip of the island. Known for its tranquility, deserted beaches and the unique ecological system, Tangalle attracts the more individual travelers to Sri Lanka. One side of this town bears a small hillock, with a bird’s eye view of the surrounding bay up to the far horizon of the palm fringed beach and the shimmering sea. This hillock is what gave Tangalle its name which translates to ‘projected rock’ in Sinhalese. The protective bays and the picturesque coves are a natural treasure and have made the town a popular port from the ancient times of Dutch rule up till the modern day, when the area is an important fishing town, as well as a perfect place for those who desire a quiet, relaxed holiday with plenty of sun, sand and sea.

The most popular day excursion from Tangalle is to the stunning rock temple of Mulkirigala, 20km to the north where after ascending a series of rock steps you will reach few natural caves with numerous wall paintings and Buddha statues. Wildlife is also come by quite often as it is in close proximity to Yala National Park. Tangalle is so culturally, environmentally and leisurely diverse that it offers some of the best family holidays to Sri Lanka.

Things to do in Tangalle

  • Visit the Mulkirigala Rock Monastery
  • Visit the surrounding beaches
  • Turtle watching at Rekawa
  • Visit the Tangalle lagoon
  • Visit Madunagala Hermitage

Sigiriya (Lion’s rock)

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Sigiriya an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin encircled by the remains of a widespread network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. Sigiriya consists of an ancient castle built by king Kassapa during the 5th Century AD. It is a popular tourist destination. Sigiriya has it all and its prehistoric paintings (frescos), which are significant of the Ajanta Caves of India.

The Sigiriya rock is believed to be a hardened lump of granite from long-eroded volcano. The rock itself rises 370 m (1,214 ft) above the sea level and stands high above the surrounding plain, visible for miles in all directions. 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. Regardless of its age, the magnificence of the palace still furnishes an astonishing insight into the resourcefulness and imagination of its builders.

The Gardens of the Sigiriya city is one of the most important aspects of the site as it is among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The gardens are alienated into three isolated but linked forms; water gardens, cave and boulder gardens and the terraced gardens.

The Mirror Wall is made of a particular variety of porcelain, which was initially well polished that the King could see himself whilst he walked alongside it.

The Paintings sheltered an area of 140 m long and 40 m high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, many more are lost forever, having been wiped out when the palace once became a Monastery after King Kassapa’s death.

Things to do in Sigiriya

  • Visit the Sigiriya – Lion Rock
  • Visit the Pidurangala Rock
  • Visit the Sigiriya Museum
  • Take a Balooning tour

Ritigala

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Sri Lanka is blessed with so many varied archaeological sites of historical and cultural importance that the visitor is spoilt for choice. While the expansive ruins of the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa have a grandeur that is difficult to surpass, there are lesser-known sites that have an ambience all of their own. One such site is the monastic complex on the lower slopes of Ritigala – Kande.

The steep jungle – clad mountain rising imposingly to a height of 2,514 feet above the surrounding plain, believed to be highest Residual Mountain in the north central low lands. The most important natural aspects of this mountain is you can see 03 types of vegetation, which belong to 3 forest types. There is a huge variety of Flora & Fauna in the area with several endemic species. You can also see a Temple and ruins of a historical monastery.

The name Ritigala means ‘the rock as steep as a long pole,’ or it is so named on account of the numerous Riti trees in the jungle nearby.

When Buddhism became established in the island, Ritigala was selected as a suitable spot for the constructon of vihares, or temples. There are scores of natural caves on the slopes of the mountain that were donated by laymen to the priests for the practice of meditation. Many are small, but some are quite large. The path, which leads to the monastic complex proper, displays extraordinary craftsmanship, being beautifully laid with interlocking ashlar (irregular quadrilateral slabs of hewn stone) in patterns of two, three and four. In addition, it is edged with proportionate curb stones. There are three places in the ascent that incorporate a large circular platform bounded by perfectly curvy slabs of stone. These remarkable features were probably resting-places.

There are some extraordinary buildings known as double-platforms, which are characteristic of Ritigala and similar forest monasteries. A stone bridge connects two raised platforms, created by buildings retaining walls on the slope. One platform is rectangular and appears to have been open to the elements, while the other is square, and was quite likely roofed and divided into eight or nine rooms.

The Ritigala Mountain has been declared a Strict Natural Reserve in order to maintain its pristine environment.

Things to do in Ritigala

  • Visit the Ritigala Mountain
  • Visit the archaeological museum [ 5km away ]
  • Visit Buduruwagala [ 5km away ]

Puttalam

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Puttalam is a picturesque seaside town situated on the upper west coast of the island. Located in the northern dry zone, it is close to Wilpattu national park which provides the delightful opportunity to spot fauna and many species of remarkable flora, found nowhere else in the island. Famous for salt factories and fishing, it is actually bordered by an enormous lagoon rather than the ocean. Luxurious accommodation is unfortunately not an option here as the areas is rather undeveloped and used to be in close proximity to the war zone, however with new found peace in the country; this little town has a future as one of the best tourist destination for Sri Lanka holidays.

Things to do in Puttalam

Polonnaruwa

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

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, which have been preserved perfectly over the many centuries. 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. There is a halo round his head.

The standing Buddha with hands placed across the chest – rather rare pose- is believed to be portraying how He spent the second week after Enlightenment. The statue is 23 feet high. The 46 foot long reclining Buddha is a perfect piece of art showing Him in the state of ‘parinirvana’. Polonnaruwa is the 2nd largest city in north central province. The first Sri Lankan King who lived in Polonnaruwa Aggabodhi IV, and the town came gradually to become the ‘Country Residence’ of royalty.

One recent scientific observation is that of its climate changes. Historically Polonnaruwa had a tropical climate most of the year, although it was occationally chilly in December and January. But in recent years rain and chilliness has been increased noticeably.

The greeny environment, amazing ancient constructions, the greatest of these systems is the Parakrama Samudraya (a huge lake built in 1200 A.C.), or the sea of Parakrama, a tank so vast that it is often mistaken for the ocean. King Parakramabahu raised Polonnaruwa to its heights. He erected huge buildings, drained swamps and planted vast areas with crops; planned beautiful parks and created wildlife sanctuaries. Parakramabahu was the last great king of Sri Lanka.

Things to do in Polonnaruwa

  • Visit the ancient ruins and monuments
    • The Gal Vihara
    • The Polonnaruwa Vatadage
    • The Lankathilaka Image House
    • The Sandakada Pahana
    • The Somawathiya Chaitya
    • The Statue of Parakramabahu I
    • The Nissanka Latha Mandapaya
  • Take a safari to Wasgamuwa National Park
  • Visit the  archaeological museum

 

Passikudah

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Passikudah is picturesque fishing village located in the lagoon enclosed region of the east coast of Sri Lanka. It is budding as a popular tourist destination with the emergence of many modern hotels. The soft, sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing and the bay is ideal for wind surfing. Passikudah is also characterized by a shallow fringing coral reef towards the outer bay which protects the inner line of the bay. It is one of the best known reef systems in the east. The bay was endangered due to coral mining and bleaching, fortunately it is now proposed as a Marine Sanctuary by NARA. Branching, tabulate, massive and encrusting coral forms are common, with the healthiest corals being found along the outer reef slope.

Fishing has been a traditional activity for inhabitants of this quiet area for many years. The calm conditions and clear waters that prevail within the inner reef lagoon make it ideal for swimming and exploring the shallow waters. However this small town is rarely visited due to the volatile security situation. Hopefully post war conditions will improve further and make this town safe once again for travel to Sri Lanka.

Things to do in Passikuda

  • Visit the Passikuda Bay
  • Visit the Batticaloa Lagoon
  • Visit the Batticaloa Lighthouse

Nuwara Eliya

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Nuwara is a cozy town located 6200 ft above sea level in the midst of the tea plantations of the central highlands. It was developed by British planters in the late 1800s. 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’. The town is most famous for its race course and world renowned golf club and is particularly well-kept and neat. It was built entirely during the 19th century and its architecture mimics that of an English country town which was adopted during the British colonial era.

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. One of the distinctive features of Nuwara Eliya’s countryside is the widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with temperate Europe. This “Little England” is covered with terraces growing potatoes, carrots, leeks, strawberries and roses, interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes.

Things to do in Nuwara Eliya

    • Take a waterfalls tour
    • Visit the world’s end
    • Play golf at the Nuwara Eliya golf courses
    • Visit a tea estate and tea factory
    • Visit the strawberry farms
    • Visit the race course for pony rides
    • Visit the Victoria Park
    • Visit the Hakgala Botanical Gardens
    • Go boating or fishing on Lake Gregory

Nilaveli

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Nilaveli is an extremely popular coastal fishing town which provides clear blue oceans ideal for swimming and snorkeling, located on the tsunami battered east coast of Sri Lanka, about 18 kilometres north of Trincomalee, the direct translation of its exotic name is ‘open-land of moonshine’. Majority of the population residing in the town are Tamil Hindus which explains the presence of many large and beautifully painted Kovils. The beaches are vast, soft sandy sheets emerging from under a calm blue ocean. It is a perfect location for swimming, sunbathing and even camping if you do not mind the strong gusts of wind which occasionally rise up from the sea.

Pigeon Island is just a 15 minute boat ride away from the coast. With every inch of ground covered with beautiful white corals, the tiny island is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to sunbathe, snorkel and scuba dive! Further out from the coast,whale and dolphin watching is another activity which makes Nilaveli truly unique.

Things to do in Nilaveli

  • Visit the Nilaveli Beach
  • Visit the Pigeon Island National Park
  • Take a boat ride or go diving
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