Cities

Negombo

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Negombo is a serene beach town which lies on the western coast of Sri Lanka, just a few kilometres north of Colombo. It is the closest major town to the airport and thus is a convenient place to either begin or end your trip to the country. 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 has a small port and its economy is mainly based on tourism and an age-old fishing industry, although its history began with spices. Even today it produces cinnamon, ceramics and brass ware. Sea food is very popular and is caught fresh daily by the town’s experienced fishermen. Negombo is considered to be an excellent destination for a family holiday to Sri Lanka. 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.

Things to do in Negombo

  • Take a boat ride down the Muthurajawela Marsh
  • Visit the Negombo Fish Market
  • Visit the Angurukaramulla Temple
  • Visit St. Mary’s Church
  • Take a boat ride down the Dutch Canal
  • Visit the Negombo Beach
  • Walk down Sea street
  • Visit the Dutch Fort
  • Go dolphin and whale watching
  • Take a dive or go snorkeling

Mullaitivu

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Mullaitivu is a small town which is chiefly known as a fishing settlement on the north eastern coast of Sri Lanka. During the early 20th century the town grew as an anchoring harbour of the small sailing vessels transporting goods between Colombo and Jaffna. The town was an LTTE controlled area, with the Tigers having a large military base in the center, and it has been the theatre of many battles fought since 1983 during the Sri Lankan Civil War against the Tamil Tigers. To add to its violent and bloody history, it was gravely damaged by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which caused a large loss of life and property. With these unfortunate occurrences, Mullaitivu is scarcely lucky. The environment has the potential to look pleasing however at the moment, negligence has ruined it many ways. Fortunately with the war over and new found peace within the country, there are hopes that this interesting town will develop into a prime tourist area due to its rich culture and historical value.

Things to do in Mullaitivu

  • Visit the Nanthikadal Lagoon
  • Pass by newly constructed temples and churches
  • See remains of war vessels
  • Visit a Shooting range
  • See the Swimming pool with a length of 82 feet
  • See unfinished submarines
  • See a Submarine testing pool

Mirissa

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Mirissa is set in a small fishing village in the southern region of the country with beautiful scenery and tranquil atmosphere. The peaceful, soft sandy beach is lined with green palms which wave in front of the crystal clear water of the Indian Ocean. It is famously known to be the best area for whale and dolphin watching and boats can be hired for fishing or coastal cruises. This crescent shaped beach boasts some of Sri Lanka’s best and most stunning sunrises which creep up from the horizon to greet you and back again on the other side to form a breathtaking and memorable sunset. Mirissa is a low-key, peaceful spot that was once limited to just backpackers but is now becoming a more popular destination as travelers seek out quieter alternatives in a tropical paradise which offers someof the best Sri Lanka vacations. It is the perfect place to sit back and relax as all the hotels and guest houses are set back from the beach, which was beneficial when the tsunami struck, giving the impression that you are on a deserted palm fringed island.

Things to do in Mirissa

  • Go Deep sea fishing and whale watching
  • Take a boat ride
  • Try scuba and snorkeling

Mihintale

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is a place that holds much significance to Buddhists especially during the month of Poson (June) as Buddhism is said to have been brought to Sri Lanka on a Poson Poya day and Mihintale was where it all began. It is on this rock that the historic meeting between King Devanampiyatissa and Arahath Mahinda, the son of Emperor Asoka of India, is said to have taken place in 247 BC. This meeting led to the King converting to Buddhism and the establishment and growth of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Leading to the top of the rock are 1840 granite steps. Among the many attractions for the visitor at Mihintale are the monks’ refectory (dining room) and relic house which on the second landing on the stairs. Here you will find two stone slabs which are known as the Mihintale tables, which are inscribed with rules laid down for the monks and the servants of the monastery. The assembly hall for the monks is located close by on the same level.

Among the many dagobas at Mihintale, one of the largest is Mahaseya Dagoba, which is thought to house the sacred relics of Arahath Mahinda.

On the slope is the cave known as Mihindu Guhawa (Mahinda’s Cave) where Arahath Mahinda is said to have lived until he died in 200 BC. The Aradhana Gala or meditation rock is another site.

At the foot of the mountain are the ruins of an ancient hospital and other buildings. The hospital is believed to have consisted of many rooms. There is a beheth oruwa (medicine boat), the interior of which is carved in the shape of a human form, to facilitate a human to lie inside while being immersed in healing oils.

The nearby museum now houses the clay urns and grinding stones used to store and prepare medicines, which had been unearthed. The museum also displays a replica of the interior of an eighth century dagoba, a ninth century gold-plated ola leaf manuscript, pottery fragments from China and Persia, bronze figurines and fragments of frescoes.

Among the many ponds in Mihintale are the Sinha Pokuna (lion pond), Naga Pokuna (cobra pond) and Kaludiya Pokuna (dark water pond).

Things to do in Mihintale

  • Visit the Mihintale temple
  • Visit the Aradhana Gala
  • Visit the Ambasthale Dagoba
  • Visit the Mahaseya Dagoba
  • Visit the Sinha Pokuna (lion pond)
  • Visit the Naga Pokuna (cobra pond)
  • Visit the Kaludiya Pokuna (dark water pond)

Mawanella

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Mawanella is located a few kilometers from Kegalle as is equally famous the production of a variety spices and crops including rice, tea, rubber. It is also famous for its traditional handicrafts, especially the pottery, brass-ware and tobacco related industry. There are abundant shops which charmingly line the roadside. Mawanella is historically famous for Uthuwan Kande Soora Saradiel, a native who fiercely fought against the ruthless British colonialism. He is known as the Robin Hood of Sri Lanka as he looted the wealth from British officers and their local counterparts only to distribute it among the poor villagers. The natives were under heavy economical and political pressure from unfair taxes under British rule and were rebelling against as best way they could.

Things to do in Mawanella

  • Visit the spice gardens
  • Visit handicraft and gift shops

Kurunegala

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Kurunegala is an ancient royal capital located in the north western province of the country. It is a busy commercial and a transport hub, situated conveniently at the junction of several main roads linking to other important parts of the country. The picturesque town is surrounded by coconut plantations, marshy paddy fields and dense rubber estates and there are eight large rocky outcrops that encircle and dominate the city. The rocks rise from the plain below and characteristically resemble the form of various animals. According to folklore legend, when the animals threatened the city’s water supply during a period of severe drought, they were magically turned into stone by an old woman. The largest among them is Ethagala or the ‘Elephant Rock’ from which Kurunegala got its name. Nearby are three archeological cities with remains of an ancient moated palace and monasteries from the 12th century. This area is the ideal destination for those in search of a historical and cultural experience on a Sri Lanka vacation.

Things to do in Kurunegala

  • Visit the Ridi Viharaya
  • See the World’s tallest granite Samadhi Buddha statue
  • Visit the Himalaya Meditation Center

Kegalle

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Kegalle is an interesting town located between Colombo and Kandy in central highlands of Sri Lanka. The town itself is fascinatingly located at the bottom of a steep rock face. The surrounding area produces graphite, precious stones and agricultural products such as rice. Kegalle has an agricultural based economy and the cultivation of rubber has spread over most of the area. Minor export crops such as coffee, cocoa, pepper, clove and nutmeg also take an important place in the economy of the District. Nearby is the Pinnawala elephant orphanage where tourists can visit on day excursions to photograph, feed and watch the elephants bathe and play in the nearby river. It is a major tourist attraction which never disappoints. Next door rests a zoological garden where visitors can spend a relaxing day, enjoying the beauty of nature. It is an ideal location for a family holiday to Sri Lanka due to its rich cultural and environmental background.

Things to do in Kegalle

  • Visit the Pinnewala Elephant Sanctuary
  • Volunteer or experience to take care of orphaned elephants
  • Visit the Henerathgoda Botanical gardens

Kataragama

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Kataragama is a multi-religious sacred city as it contains an Islamic mosque within its temple complex as well. Kataragama is one of Sri Lanka’s holy places where Hindu, Buddhist and Muslims visit on religious pilgrimage. It is a large Complex with the ‘Mahadewala’ – Main Hindu shrine being the most important place. This shrine of God Skanda, the Hindu war God who is worshipped as the Kataragama Deviyo is venerated by pilgrims of all three religions.

It is believed that King Dutugemunu the warrior king and Sinhala folk hero built a shrine here for worship of the Kataragama God in the 2nd century BC. There is also a first century BC Buddhist Dagoba – ‘Kiri vehera’ at this site. According to the legend, Lord Buddha, on his third and the last visit to Sri Lanka, was believed to have met the King Mahasena who ruled over the Kataragama area in 580 BC.

Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka and South Indian refer to the place as Kathirkamam and it has a famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Kathirkaman. The presiding Deity is Lord Murugan or Skanda. Out of love for Lord Murugan and to lessen bad fate, bhakters pierce their cheeks and tongues with vels, pull large chariots carrying Murthi of Murugan with large hooks that have been pierced through the skin of their backs. This practice is known as Kavadi. The annual Hindu Kataragama festival is held in July and August.

The local river namely Manik Ganga (River of Gems) is a sacred place where the pilgrims take a bath to purify oneself. Local residents declare that one can be healed of ailments by bathing in it not only from its high gem content but also the medicinal properties of the roots of various trees that line the river through the jungle.

In spite of the differences of caste and creed, many Sri Lankans show great reverence to God Kataragama. They honour him as a very powerful deity and beg divine help to overcome their personal problems or for success in business enterprise.

Things to do in Kataragama

  • Visit the Kataragama Temple
  • Visit the Kirivehera
  • Visit the Maha Devale
  • Take part of view the Kataragama Festival

Kalutara

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Kalutara is one of the most pleasant beach holiday resorts in Sri Lanka located on the western coast which was once an important spice trading center. The city’s name is derived from the Kalu Ganga River which translates directly to ‘the Black River’. In the 11th Century, the town was temporarily made a capital on the orders of a South Indian Prince. The region was later planted with coconut trees, whose produce are still used in internal and external trading markets. Along with luxurious resorts and boutique hotels, the town also houses fortifications dating back from the times when the Portuguese, Dutch and British fought for control of the area and made it one of the country’s many spice capitals. It is a picturesque area with the scenic views of a golden beach, fringed with abundant palms, facing the Indian Ocean, with a rich historical and cultural heritage making it an important and ideal location for tourism. Kalutara is also a perfect place for bargain shopping as it is famously known for quality bamboo basket, mats and other wicker products as well as the finest tasting mangosteens in the country.

Things to do in Kalutara

  • Visit the Kalutara Bodhiya
  • Visit the Richmond Castle
  • Visit the Kalutara Beach

Kalpitiya

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Kalpitiya lies on the sharp tip of Puttalam and is bestowed with unspoilt, natural beauty, however it is fairly untouched by tourism and is surrounded by a close-knit fishing community. The beach is a famous spot for whale and dolphin watching and the largest coral reef in Sri Lanka, the Bar reef is just an hour’s boat ride away from the coast. This breathtakingly beautiful reef is home to numerous species of tropical fish including manta rays, sharks, turtles and other forms of marine life protected by colourful layers or coral. Further out is Turtle Point Lodge which consists of two underwater ridges, and the stunning Pearl Banks which is a protected home to rare pearl oysters. The underwater currents here are rather faint making swimming, snorkeling and diving safe and pleasant activities. The warm, golden sand stretches out a great distance and is ideal for relaxation and sunbathing. Boat rides around the lagoons are perfect ways to explore the hidden wonders around the beach and visitors can even canoe down the river. This is also the only place on the west coast where tourists can enjoy a 4WD jeep ride along the deserted sand dunes between the ocean and inland, offering a unique way to enjoy the evening sunsets.

Things to do in Kalpitiya

  • Go windsurfing or kitesurfing
  • Take a Dolphin watching tour
  • Visit the Dutch Fort of Kalpitiya
  • Go diving
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