Buduruwagala a jungle shrine with Buddha statues over a thousand years old. On the face of this tall Buduruwagala rock is carved in high relief, a unique assemblage of gigantic statuary. In the centre, flanked by two 13 meter statues of the Bodhisatvas stands dominantly, an 18 meter high image of the Buddha.More »
Chilaw, a fishing town 50 miles north of Colombo, is located at the mouth of the picturesque Chilaw Lake. The name is a corruption of the Tamil salabham, meaning the diving, which refers to the ancient pearl-fishery on the shallow banks in the Gulf of Mannar. Indeed, the name was commonly applied by the Portuguese to the whole aggregation of banks (Baixos de Chilao) in the Gulf.
An interesting excursion from Chilaw can be made to the Hindu Munnesvaram temple, the southernmost of Sri Lanka’s five Shaivite isvarams, or residences of the supreme god. It is claimed that god Vishnu worshipped here eons ago, and that the shrine was established by the epic hero Rama, himself an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu. The temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and restored during British times. Every September a colourful temple festival and fair is held, which attracts devotees and ordinary people from afar. This is followed by a festival in the nearby fishing village of Udappuwa. The village’s Hindu kovil (temple) is dedicated to the goddess Draupadi, and at the festival the entire population partakes in fire-walking ceremonies, euphemistically known as the Treading of the Flowers. This entails walking over a bed of raked and glowing coals some 7 metres in length. The fire-walkers evince no injury, which they attribute to the protection afforded by the flowing hair of the goddess, but which is now believed to be due to a quirk of physics. Whatever the reason for their lack of burns, this is an extraordinary spectacle for visitors to watch. For 18 days the devotees maintain a strict vegetarian diet. Then on the 18th night, after ritual washing at sea, men, women and children alike walk the bed of coals.More »
Colombo, the Commercial Capital of Sri Lanka with a population of a little over 04 million, boasts perfect co-ordination and co-existence of past and present, with the remarkable remnants of Dutch and English rule of the 18th & 19th combined with the present luxurious comforts. Speedy sports cars and latest automobiles have occupied the streets once ruled by human driven-rickshaws and tram cars. High-rise buildings stand side by side the monumental houses reflecting the bygone era. All religions mingle in unity with Buddhist Temples, Churches, Hindu Kovils and Mosques being built in close vicinity to each other. Nearly every visitor to Sri Lanka begins or ends his tour to Sri Lanka from Colombo, as the Bandaranaike International Airport is situated just 40 Kilometres away from Colombo and the harbour at the very heart of Colombo. The bustling port of Colombo is ranked no. 01 in South Asia and no. 26 in the World. The city premises may appear to be ridiculously small for its overflowing population of 04 million, yet there are 15 divisions within the city limits, named as Colombo 01, Colombo 02 etc. Many restaurants serve Local and International food and beverages. Shopping malls offer a range of fashionable clothing and street bazaars are found widely spread within the Colombo city limits.More »
Located north of Kandy and considered by most to be the center point of SriLanka, dambulla is a town built around a vast isolated rock mass 500 ft and a World Heritage City, declared by UNESCO.It was here that King Valagambahu took refuge in the 1st century B.C. The view from the top of this rock is breathtaking 350 ft. above are a series of five caves which was later turned into a magnificent rock temple by the King Valagambahu.In the first cave is recumbent image of the Buddha 47 ft, long , cut out from the rock. There are images of deities associated with Buddhism. The frescoes on the walls and ceiling could be dated to the 15th – 18th centuries. In the second cave, the finest and the largest of all, are not less than 150 life size statues of gods. There are numerous images of the Buddha as well. The ceiling too is covered with frescoes which depict great events in the life of the Buddha , and landmarks in the history of the Sinhala People.More »
“Eth Athuru Sevana” or the “Elephant Transit Home” is the Asia’s first rehabilitation center for elephants.
The elephant babies have all the required facilities and luxuries at the Elephant Transit Home and they are provided with safe and sufficient food and water. The elephants roam around freely and they are able to obtain food by grazing in an undisturbed and natural environment. This normally happens during the daytime and the feeding program has being schedule in intervals of three hours commencing at 6:00 a.m. daily. In addition to this the elephants have their freedom to play as well as the required facilities are available at the Elephant Transit Home.
Feeding Time is 9.00am / 12.pm / 3.00pm / 6.oo.pm and the entry time is half an hour before the feeding time !!
Ella, situated at 1,050 metres, is famous for the view from its mountain gap, its towering rock, and mysterious cave. Although Sri Lanka has many scenic delights, there are few places to equal Ella. The view from the front garden of the rest house is particularly awe-inspiring. The terrain falls away precipitously down a ravine and then over miles of jungle to the shimmering expanse of the sea in the far distance, a scene enhanced by the looming Ella Rock on the right and a jungly ridge on the left.
Ella Rock is remarkable for the cave popularly known as the Cave of Ravana, because legend has it that it was here that Ravana, the demon villain of the Ramayana, hid his captive, the beautiful Sita. Properly known as Rattaran Guhava, it was in this cave that the Sri Lankan paleontologist, Dr Paul Deraniyagala, discovered ten skeletons of the cannibalistic Balangoda Man, Homo sapiens balangodensis. A visit to the cave requires a rope or rope ladder for entry as the floor is below the mouth. The cave has not been explored beyond the lake that fills it only a short way from the entrance.
Ravana Ella Falls, about 5 km from Ella, are also associated with the Ramayana. Ravana The stream plunges
with a foaming spray over a series of ledges into the valley close to the road. Wide but not very high (9m) this waterfall has been described as the wildest looking in Sri Lanka. It is certainly one of the most beautiful.
Located near the southern end of the country, Galle enjoys a nice coast line. And it’s a district that enjoys a great variance of scenarios, from beaches to marsh lands to dry planes to hills.
To add to the natural beauty, Galle has a great history too. The history goes in to King Solomon’s time. It is believed that Galle is the ancient seaport “Tarshish”, from which king Solomon drew the ivory and other valuables. It’s been the most prominent seaport before the western rule of the country. Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays and Indians were doing business through Galle port. The ‘modern’ history of Galle starts in 1505, when the first Portuguese ship was drawn by a storm and the captain Lourenzo de Almeida came near Galle. But he did not land. Later they occupied many Sri Lankan Coastal towns, and by 1597, built a small fortification in Galle.
Later, Portuguese had to surrender to the Dutch armies. In 1640, the Dutch took over Galle. It was them who built the Fort in the year 1663, in the way it’s seen now. They built a fortified wall, using solid granite, and built three bastions, sun, moon and star. There was a developed town center, and a whole lot of buildings.
After the British took over the country from the Dutch, in year 1796, they kept the Fort in the same way, and had it as the administration center of Galle.Galle is also famous for handicrafts and, mostly, jewelry.
The first area to be developed fro tourism , this is still one of the most popular of the beach resorts . Hikkaduwa is famous for its coral and sub topical fish .The reef ,which runs parallel to the shore and is only a few meters below the water, can be investigated with snorkel and flippers , or in a glass –bottomed boat. There are several wrecks in the area which offer interesting dives .Scuba equipment and the services of licensed instructors are on hire from PADI centers. A little further down the coast , there is a good surf for board or body –surfing . There is generally a community of international surfers in and around Hikkaduwa .More »
This is the only national park in Sri Lanka where visitors are permitted to walk on their own (on designated trails only). The walk to World’s End is 4km, but the trail loops back to Baker’s Falls (2km) and continues back to the entrance (another 3.5km). The round trip is 9.5km and takes a leisurely three hours. Note that around 9am to 10am the mist usually comes down. All you can expect to see from World’s End after this time is a swirling white wall. If you aim for a 5.30am departure from Nuwara Eliya or Haputale and get to World’s End around 7am, you’ll have a good chance of spectacular views.More »
Jaffna is special for several reasons, one being that it was denied – or was it spared? – tourism for two decades. In fact more aid workers than tourists travel to Jaffna nowadays. But after three years of ceasefire, and with the undeniable fact that the north is a magnetic destination, this situation should change. In anticipation, we asked our travel correspondent to pack her bag.
Jaffna is many things, so many in fact that it cannot be done justice to in a short travel article. From its rich history to colourful cultural traditions to unique landscape to delicious mangoes and other Jaffna specialities – there is too much to discuss. The images in my mind of Jaffna are its tall, straight palmyrah palm trees; women riding bicycles equally straight and tall; and the beaming unconditional smiles that readily come to people’s faces, especially if you smile first.
It is unfortunate that Jaffna’s recent chequered history overshadows its much more glorious ancient history. However there is no ignoring the effect the civil conflict has had on Jaffna and its surrounds. It is evident throughout the town and the peninsula. While the conflict has had a devastating impact, some say the fact Jaffna was cut off from the rest of the island for 20 years has helped preserve some of its distinct cultural traditions.More »