This the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province.
The park covers 979 square kilometres and is located about 300 kilometres from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals.
It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka.
Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.
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.
Sigiriya was designated as a world heritage site in 1982. Sigiriya is famous for it's palace ruins on top of a massive 200 meter high rock surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs and other structures.
The rock itself is a lava plug left over from an ancient long extinct volcano. It is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescoes), which are similar to those found at Ajanta Caves in India. It is generally agreed, however, that the Sigiriya Frescoes exhibit a uniquely Sri Lankan style. Sigiriya may have been inhabited through prehistoric times.
It was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees of the Buddhist Sangha. Sigiriya Museum shows photos of the excavation of Sigiriya, reproductions of the frescoes, examples and translations of some of the graffiti on the Mirror Wall, and artifacts excavated from the site.
Kandy’s main attraction is the Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th c. A.D., the sacred relic has ever since been the symbol of sovereignty for its rulers, it has been enshrined in great splendour from time immemorial.
Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa is a magnificent shrine, with decorative walls, moat, turrets,a golden roof and fine wood-work and its 16th – 19th century ambience remains vivid.
Three religious services (Pooja) with traditional music, held daily at dawn, mid-day and in the evening, can be viewed by visitors.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants located at Pinnawala village, 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of Kegalle town in Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka. Pinnawala has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. In 2011, there were 10965 elephants, including 4643 males and 968 females from 3 generations, living in Pinnawala.
The orphanage was founded to care and protect the many orphaned unweaned wild elephants found wandering in and near the forests of Sri Lanka. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The orphanage was established to feed, nurse and house young elephants found abandoned by their mothers. Young elephants sometimes fall into pits and ravines in their quest for water during drought period. Other orphans have been displaced from their wild habitat by development projects or have been found abandoned before weaning, diseased or wounded.
There are 48 mahouts (handlers) who take care of the elephants. The female and young elephants in Pinnawala range freely as a herd during the day in an area of a few acres. They are herded about .5 km (0.31 mi) twice a day to drink and be bathed in the river. At night, the females are individually chained in stalls. Adult males do some light work such as transporting feed. They are chained and managed individually. Calves born in Pinnawala are not bottle fed, but a few from ETH are kept at Pinnawala and bottle fed as a tourist attraction.
The elephants are fed in their stalls. There is very little food they can gather from the premises of the orphanage except some grass. Large quantities of jackfruit, coconut, kitul (sugar palm), tamarind and grass, brought in daily, form the bulk of the elephants food.
Each adult animal is given around 250 kilograms (550 lb) of this green matter per day and around 2 kg (4.4 lb) from a food bag containing rice bran and maize.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
It is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as at dry-zone national parks such as Yala.
There are about 3 elephants and the 15 or so leopards are rarely seen. The most common larger mammal is the endemic purple-faced langur.
Reptiles include the endemic green pit viper and hump-nosed vipers, and there are a large variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs. Invertebrates include the endemic common birdwing butterfly and the inevitable leeches.
Lake Gregory, sometimes also called Gregory Lake or Gregory Reservoir, is a reservoir in heart of the tea country hill city, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. Lake Gregory was constructed during the period of British Governor Sir William Gregory in 1873. The lake and the surrounding area make up the Gregory Lake Area.
The area was originally a swampy bog at the foot of the small hills that border the town. In 1873 Sir William Gregory authorised the damming of the Thalagala stream, which originates from Mount Pidurutalagala, in order to make more land available for the expansion of the town. In 1881 the lake was stocked with trout by Mr C. J. R. Le Mesurier (Assistant Government Agent for Nuwara Eliya).
In 1913 the waters of the lake were directed into a tunnel which flows to a hydro power station at 'Blackpool' between the town and Nanu Oya. The power station continues to supply electricity to the town to this day. In British times Lake Gregory was used for water sports and recreational activities.
This is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,300 metres is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region.
This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometres from Nuwara Eliya. The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe.
The plains’ vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains.
Hikkaduwa is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka located in the Southern Province, about 17 km (11 mi) north-west of Galle and 98 km (61 mi) south of Colombo.
Hikkaduwa's beach and night life make it a popular tourist destination. It is a well-known international destination for board-surfing.
* Hikkaduwa Beach - Reputed as the second best surfing spot in Sri Lanka.
* Hikkaduwa Coral Sanctuary - Located a few hundred metres offshore. The sanctuary has approximately seventy varieties of multi-coloured
Bentota is a resort town on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. Its long Bentota Beach stretches north, where it becomes a sandy strip known as Paradise Island, parallel to Bentota Lagoon.
The beaches are popular for wind surfing and water skiing. Coral-rich dive sites include Canoe Rock. On Bentota River, centuries-old Galapota Temple has a large Buddha statue. Southeast is Lunuganga, the estate and gardens of architect Geoffrey Bawa. Northeast is his brother Bevis's Brief Garden.
Trincomalee is sacred to Sri Lankan Tamils and Hindus around the world. The city has many Hindu sites of historical importance. These sites are sacred to the Hindus and some Buddhists also worship at these Hindu sites.
Prominent sites include the Koneswaram temple compound, its Bhadrakali temple on Konesar Road, and the Salli Muthumariamman Kovil of Uppuveli beach in the Trincomalee suburb of Sambalativu. The Koneswaram temple, with a recorded history from the 3rd century BCE and legends attesting to classical antiquity attracted pilgrims from all parts of India. The shrine itself was demolished in 1622 by the Portuguese (who called it the Temple of a Thousand Columns), and who fortified the heights with the materials derived from its destruction.
Some of the artefacts from the demolished temple were kept in the Lisbon Museum including the stone inscription by Kulakottan (Kunakottan).
The site's ruins include an emblem including two fish and is engraved with a prophecy stating that, after the 16th century, westerners with different eye colours will rule the country for 500 years and, at the end of it, rule will revert to the northerners (Vadukkus. The Hindu temple was also documented in several medieval texts such as the Konesar Kalvettu and the Dakshina Kailasa Puranam.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya are about 5.5 km to the west of the city of Kandy in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. It attracts 2 million visitors annually. It is near the Mahaweli River (the longest in Sri Lanka).
It is renowned for its collection of orchids. The garden includes more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees. Attached to it is the National Herbarium of Sri Lanka.
The total area of the botanical garden is 147 acres (0.59 km2), at 460 meters above sea level, and with a 200-day annual rainfall. It is managed by the Division of National Botanic Gardens of the Department of Agriculture.
During World War II, the Botanic Garden was used by Lord Louis Mountbatten, the supreme commander of the allied forces in the South Asia, as the headquarters of the South East Asia Command.
Negombo is a major city in Sri Lanka, situated on the west coast and at the mouth of the Negombo Lagoon, in Western Province. Negombo is one of the major commercial hubs in the country and the administrative centre of Negombo Division. Negombo is known for its long sandy beaches and centuries old fishing industry.
Negombo offers one of the best sandy beaches and hotels and resorts on the west coast of Sri Lanka. It draws tourists who stop over for a day on their way to or from the airport. Some quiet stretches of the beach are maintained by the tourist hotels, while others are always busy with fishermen and their equipment.
Water-sports and diving are popular among visitors, with a few well-preserved coral reefs and a 50-year-old shipwreck that can be seen in the distance also known as Kudapaduwa (Ku-Da-Paa-Du-We) that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish. Mora Wala (Mo-Ra-Wa-La) and Beach Park are very interesting places.
There are local handicrafts, batiks and jewellery boutiques on the beaches and the shops.
Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka.
Udawalawe is an important habitat for Sri Lankan elephants, which are relatively hard to see in its open habitats. Many elephants are attracted to the park because of the Udawalawe reservoir, with a herd of about 250 believed to be permanently resident.
The Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home was established in 1995 for the purpose of looking after abandoned elephant calves within the park. A total of nine calves, on two occasions in 1998 and 2000, with another eight calves in 2002, were released in the park when old enough to fend for themselves.
The rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat and Sri Lankan leopard are members of the family Felidae present in Udawalawe. The Sri Lankan sloth bear is seldom seen because of its rarity. Sri Lankan sambar deer, Sri Lankan axis deer, Indian muntjac, Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain, wild boar and water buffalo are among other mammal species. Golden jackal, Asian palm civet, toque macaque, tufted grey langur and Indian hare also inhabit the park.
A study conducted in 1989 found that considerable numbers of golden palm civets inhabit the forests of Udawalawe. Five species of mice also have been recorded from the park. The endemic Ceylon spiny mouse, known from Yala National Park, was recorded in Udawalawe in 1989. Indian bush rat and three species of mongoose are also recorded in the national park.
Udawalawe is also a good birdwatching site. Endemics such as Sri Lanka spurfowl, red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, brown-capped babbler, and Sri Lanka junglefowl are among of the breeding resident birds. White wagtail and black-capped kingfisher are rare migrants. A variety of water birds visit the reservoir, including cormorants, the spot-billed pelican, Asian openbill, painted stork, black-headed ibis and Eurasian spoonbill.
The open parkland attracts birds of prey such as white-bellied sea eagle, crested serpent-eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, booted eagle, and changeable hawk-eagle. Landbirds are in abundance, and include Indian roller, Indian peafowl, Malabar pied hornbill and pied cuckoo.
Oriental garden lizards, painted-lip lizards, mugger crocodiles, Asian water monitors, Bengal monitors and 30 species of snake are found in the park. Garra ceylonensis is an endemic fish species recorded in park. Introduced Oreochromis spp., giant gourami, catla, and rohu are important food fish species found in the reservoir.
Galle Fort, in the Bay of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 423 years maintains a polished appearance, due to extensive reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka.
The fort has a colourful history, and today has a multi-ethnic and multi-religious population. The Sri Lankan government and many Dutch people who still own some of the properties inside the fort are looking at making this one of the modern wonders of the world.
The heritage value of the fort has been recognized by the UNESCO and the site has been inscribed as a cultural heritage UNESCO World Heritage Site under criteria iv, for its unique exposition of "an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries."
The Galle Fort, also known as the Dutch Fort or the "Ramparts of Galle", withstood the Boxing Day tsunami which damaged part of coastal area Galle town. It has been since restored.
The Ravana Falls is a popular sightseeing attraction in Sri Lanka. It currently ranks as one of the widest falls in the country.
The falls have been named after the legendary king Ravana, which is connected to the famous Indian epic, the Ramayana. According to legend, it is said that Ravana (who was the king of Sri Lanka at the time) had kidnapped princess Sita, and had hidden her in the caves behind this waterfall, now simply known as the Ravana Ella Cave.
The reason for the kidnapping is said to be a revenge for slicing off the nose of his sister by Rama (husband of Sita) and his brother Laxmana. At the time, the cave was surrounded with thick forests in the midst of wilderness. It is also believed that Rama’s queen bathed in a pool that accumulated the water falling from this waterfall.They believed that Ravana has played the Ravanahatha over here.
The famous Ravana Ella Cave lies 1,370 m (4,490 ft) above sea level on the foundation of a cliff. The cave is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, located 11 km (7 mi) away from Bandarawela. Excavations undertaken in the cave uncovered evidence of human habitation dating back to 25,000 years.
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