| Sri Lanka Has been famous for its gems since antiquity-legend has it that a Sri Lankan ruby was given by king soloman to the queen of sheba.Rathnapura, ensconced in the verdant hills at the south western corner of the hill country, is the island’s richest source of gems. A trip to a working gem mine provides a fascinating glimpse into the mining process, which is still largely carried out by hand.From Rathnapura, it is also possible to visit Sinharaja Forest Reserve, A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the last extensive stretch of virgin rainforest on the island. Stretching for nearly 30Km across the wet Zone at the southern edge of the hill country, Sinharaja is a global biodiversity hotspot. Damp. Mysterious and teeming with life, it is a must visit for those seeking an authentic jungle experience.RathnapuraThe “City of Gems”, The gem industry is cantered here. Rubber plantations are mostly located around Rathnapura, Kalutara and Kegalle. In these areas you can see plantations and tea factories, too. Thousands of devotees visit Adam’s Peak from Rathnapura via Carney Estate, which is about an 8 km trek. You can see a glorious sunrise if you are at the top (Siripada/Adam’s Peak)in the early morning .This climb will take about 6-7 hours.Access to Sinharaja Rain Forest
There are many roads to access Sinharaja. From Rathnapura you have to travel via Kalawana. If you wish to visit this unique rain forest it’s always advisable to be accompanied by an experienced guide. Among the plants in the forest, over 60%are endemic .The forest spreads over 9000 hectares, and it’s world Heritage ecosystem
Budugala can be reached by traveling along the Balangoda-Kaltota road. Ruins of an ancient hermitage can be seen at the summit of a rock, and it is 5 km from Kapugala. Ruins of the foundation of two stone buildings belonging to the 1st century BC are found here. Among the ruins there are a frontispiece ,ancient toilet and a flight of steps can be seen.
Duwili Ella – Water Fall
This is one of the most beautiful waterfall in Sri lanka. It can be reached traveling about 25kms from Balangoda .This magnificent waterfall, which is a wonder creation of the Walawe River .The entrance to the Duwili Ella is closer to the main road, but you have to drive about 2 km down the hil, from the parking are you have to walk deep down 160 steps to the water fall.
Kuragala can be reached by traveling 23km along the Balangoda-Kaltota road. Ruins of an ancient Buddhist hermitage found here belonging to the 2nd century BC can be seen here. There are five caves with drip ledges and two cave inscriptions. There is a flight of steps leading to the top of the rock. Ruins of an ancient viharaya can be seen at the summit.Muslim devotees too perform religious rites at a shrine here known as Dafter Jailani. This is a beautiful place to visit.
Maha Saman Devale
This temple dedicated to the guardian deity of Adam’s Peak ,Saman ,is said to have been originally built in the 13th century before being rebuilt by King Parakramabahu – VI in the 15th century.It was, However, overrun by the Potuguese who coused substantial damage to the temple, though it has now been restored. The temple is characterized by an ornamental doorway and numerous wall painting inside. Vestiges of the Portuguese Occupation in the vicinity include the remain of a Portuguese Soldier.
Pelmadulla Raja Maha Viharaya
Pelmadulla Raja Maha Viharaya is situated on the Ratnapura – Balangoda road, just after the Pelmadulla town. There is a Tampita Vihara built on sixteen pillars and it is over 400 years old. Tampita Vihara is considered as the last architectural creation of locals. The main viharaya was constructed during the British period in 1819 and accommodates figures of 28 previous Buddhas and a large number of religious events in the form of murals. A rare feature is that the wall painting of the life of jesus Christ Including Virgin Marry is in the Temple .This is unusual for a Buddhist temple.
The National Museum of Ratnapura is housed in the famous 19th century Ehelapola Walawwa on the Colombo Road in Rathnapura. The museum displays to a great extent the prehistory of Ari Lanka. Rathnapura being famous for gems, the process of gem – mining is displayed here reflect the unique arts and culture of the Sabaragamuwa Province. Exhibits a variety of items connected with the paleontology of the country, including stone implements used by primitive man, remains of extinct fauna and fossilized items like elephant teeth.
Vavulpane Limestone cavern,Subterranean cavern
This Subterranean Cavern was discovered by a surveyor in 1938.you can reach there by traveling along Rathnapura – Embilipitiya road taking the turn at Tantota Junction. The cave is located in the hills surrounded by mountains. The length of the cave is 450m.Visitors can enter into the cave from one end and come out from the other end.If you wish to enter the cave you should take a high powered tourch. Researchers believe there are about one million bats in the cave. The origin of the cave is about 500 millions years at the time of the emergence of the earth and it is a unique creation of nature. A similar cavern is in the USA, the Luray Cavern Attracting thousands of tourists.
Sankapala Rajamaha Viharaya
Sankapala Rajamaha Viharaya is on the Pelmadulla – Embilipitiya main road,before the Udawalawe junction towards Pelmadulla. The paladin pussadeva offered this premise to Bhikkhus and also entered the order of monks. There is an inscription making a reference to pussadeva. This monastic complex contains a cave temple, stupa, stone pillars , and flight of steps to climb the rock. There are fourteen cavas with drip ledges engraved.
Udawalawe Elephant Orphanage
Elephant Orphanage located close to Udawalawa National Park 3km from the Udawalawa Reservoir .The Department of wild life Conservation is in charge of this orphanage with the objective of caring for the orphaned elephant, bringing them up and later releasing them to the jungle .This is a place of tourist attraction and provides visitors an idea of the care and concern that is being shown by the authorities