Discover Sri Lanka
Sigiriya – The Lion Rock
The ruins of the capital built by the parricidal King Kassapa I (477–95) lie on the steep slopes and at the summit of a granite peak standing some 180m high (the ‘Lion’s Rock’, which dominates the jungle from all sides). A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster provide access to the site.
Anuradhapura – Ancient City
This sacred city was established around a cutting from the ‘tree of enlightenment’, the Buddha’s fig tree, brought there in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Anuradhapura, a Ceylonese political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years, was abandoned after an invasion in 993. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, is now accessible once again.
The Temple of the Tooth Relic – Kandy
The golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha. During puja (offerings or prayers), the heavily guarded room housing the tooth is open to devotees and tourists. However, you don’t actually see the tooth. It’s kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba (stupa), which contains a series of six dagoba caskets of diminishing size.
Elephant Orphanage – Pinnawala
See baby jumbos wondering around their cramped foster home or bottle fed and bathed by their human foster fathers at Pinnawala, about 90Km from Colombo towards Kandy is the home to some 100 or more elephant orphans. A place you will really enjoy and never forget. Most orphans are accustomed to their curious human visitors are harmless. Pinnawala is the most popular and accessible place to see large numbers of these lovable animals in a natural habitat. It is the most popular elephant ‘attraction’ with tourists because nowhere else, except at the splendid ‘pereheras’ will you see so many elephants at such close quarters.
Tea Estate, Nuwara Eliya
Nestled amidst the picturesque hills along the road from Kandy to Nuwara-Eliya lies the charming Mackwoods Labookellie (pronounced as “labookelle” or “labukele”) Tea Centre. It is popular for a freshly brewed premium cuppa from the misty hills, enjoyed with a piece of rich home-made chocolate cake beside a magical view. The Centre offers true ‘tea culture’ with an instructive tour around the factory to understand the finer points of production and its proud heritage.
Yala National Park
Yala combines a strict nature reserve with a national park. Divided into 5 blocks, the park has a protected area of nearly 130,000 hectares of land consisting of light forests, scrubs, grasslands, tanks and lagoons. Two blocks are currently opened to the public. Situated in Sri Lanka’s south-east hugging the panoramic Indian Ocean, Yala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and was designated a national park in 1938. Ironically, the park was initially used as a hunting ground for the elite under British rule.
Hikkaduwa is one of the most enchanted and beautiful cities in Sri Lanka and is the island’s most developed beach resort. It has a range of accommodation, good restaurants and pleasant cafe-lined beaches. Hikkaduwa is surrounded by a lot of natural resources and her beauty has attracted so many local and foreign visitors throughout the year. It has a great surf scene as well as other beach parties and festivities.
Golden Temple of Dambulla
A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist mural paintings (covering an area of 2,100 m2 ) are of particular importance, as are the 157 statues.