Sri Lanka


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History of Ceylon Tea

In the 1840 a Scotsman by the name of James Taylor read about the Jewel of an Island called Ceylon A typical tea estate in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and the opportunities existing there for growing coffee. A few months later he moved to the Hill Country area and planted not only coffee but also some tea seeds from India. The "ugly little shrub" was grown next to his acres of coffee and provided large yields. It wasn't till a couple of seasons later that a virulent leaf disease devastated his whole plantation but the "ugly little shrub" was immune and the Tea Industry came into being. Soon the perilously steep mountainside of the hill country were carpeted with the vibrant green of tea bushes. And Ceylon Tea became the worlds favorite beverage.
The origins of Tea was with the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung who was boiling water when the leaves from a nearby plant Camellia sinensis plant floated into the pot. The emperor drank the mixture and declared it gave one "vigor of body, contentment of mind, and determination of purpose." Perhaps as testament to the emperor's assessment, tea the potion he unwittingly brewed that day today is second only to water in worldwide consumption. The U.S. population is drinking its fair share of the brew; in 1994, Americans drank 2.25 billion gallons of tea in one form or another hot, iced, spiced, flavored, with or without sugar, honey, milk, cream, or lemon.

Cultivation
The Tea plant, Camellia Sansis, is cultivated variety of the tree originating from the region between India and China. A Tea Factory against the background of the beautiful highlands of Sri Lanka The tea leaves are mostly hand plucked. When the plant is plucked two leaves and a bud are cut. An experienced plucker can pluck up to 30 kg tea leaves per day. To make one kg black tea, approximately 4 kg tea leaves are needed. One tea plant produces about 70 kg black tea a year. In a warm climate the plant is plucked for the first time after 4 years and will produce tea for at least 50 years. A suitable climate for cultivation has a minimum annual rainfall of 45 to 50 inches (l, 140 to 1,270 millimeters). Tea soils must be acid; tea cannot be grown in alkaline soils. A desirable pH value is 5.8 to 5.4 or less.
Scented and spiced teas are made from black tea. "Scented teas look just like any other tea," says FDA chemist and tea expert Robert Dick, " because the scent is more or less sprayed on. They're flavored with just about anything peach, vanilla, cherry. The spiced teas, on the other hand, usually contain pieces of spices cinnamon or nutmeg or orange or lemon peel so you can see there's something in there."

Black Tea Blends
Like coffee plants, tea likes hot days, cool nights and plenty of rain, and also like coffee, most high quality tea is grown in mountainous regions. During the growing season, tea is harvested every seven days. Only  the two tender uppermost leaves and terminal buds are plucked by hand. After this gentle beginning, the leaves are left in a hot room to wither, then put into a machine that rolls the leaves and releases their juices. These juices react with the air (oxidation) giving black teas the color and flavor we love. The tea is then dried in ovens (fired) and graded according to size. (this grading process is what is responsible for all of those confusing letters: OP (Orange Pekoe), BP (Broken Pekoe), and even FTGFOP (Fancy Tippy Golden Flowery Pekoe). Generally the more initials the better the Tea.

Herbal Teas
Not tea at all. Dried flowers, roots and bark have been brewed into a consumable hot liquid for many centuries as folk medicines throughout the Orient and Europe. The European tradition is to use only one main herb, such as Chamomile. Americans, on the other hand, traditionally concoct potions containing many different herbs and flowers such as Rosehips and Hibiscus.

National Parks & Sanctuaries

The jungles of Sri Lanka abound in a variety of wildlife,which is surprising for an island of its size in the tropics.From ancient days the elephants and peacock from the Sri Lankan jungles were prize exports to the Kingdoms of East and West.But apart from these well known examples of the fauna, a visit to the Sri Lankan jungles is to enter a whole new world where nature has largely stayed still.There are four majour national parks.Of these the best known is Ruhunu National Park,at Yala,in the deep South of the island.The other well known national park,at Wilpattu,is at present closed due to the prevailing conditions in the North of the island.There are also two other national parks at Inginiyagala and Udawalawe.
 
Sri Lanka has a rich and exotic variety of wildlife and a long tradition of conservation rooted in its 2,230 year old Buddhist civilisation. The following are the most important sanctuaries in terms of attractions, accessibility and availability of facilities.
 
Animal Sanctuaries
The animals to be seen in Sri Lanka's national parks include elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, deer and monkeys, wild buffalo, wild boar (pig), porcupine, ant-eater, civet cat, jackal, mongoose, loris (unique to sri Lanka) several varieties of lizards, squirrels, reptiles and amphibians. Each park however has its own specialities.
 
Yala (Ruhuna) National Park
While the elephant is undoubtedly the best known attraction at Yala,Seen in small and large herds,what is the most appealing here is the overall mood of the undisturbed jungle.Large herds of spoted Deer are seen all over the Park,as are many Sambhur,and for those who are sharp eyed to observe,many of the endemoc Muntjac or Barking Deer.Monkeys-the pinkish Rhesus and the grey faced Langur Monkey,live and play on the tree-tops and the ground below. Wild Buffalo and Wild Boar could give you a good surprise and a great picture,while sight of a leopard sunning itself or drinking at a water hole could be a memorable experience,As dusk gathers,there is every chance of seeing the Ceylon Sloth Bear scampering with its young on it back.the progress of your vehicle could be held up by a Python across the track,and near the many waterholes will bee found whole colonies of Crocodiles.
 
The Peacock is easily the most famous of the birds at Yala.The mating dance of the male,with its colourful plumes fully spread,is a photographer's delight.While the Peacock has its fame,there are also many other species which attract those who are interested in bird life,and add to the mood and feel of nature.The Painted stork,many varities of heron,the poonbill,the bee-eater,many colourful parrots and parakeets,the hornbill,kingfisher and wood-pecker and hoopoe are all birds that can be seen by the observant in the jungles of Sri Lanka. There is accomodation in the national parks of Sri Lanka in special bungalows maintained by the Department of Wild Life Conservation.Dry rations are taken by the visitors and they are made for you by caretakers who are expert at turning quick,tasty meals.Travel inside the parks only by a vhicle.Four- wheel drive is recomended.Entry to the parks is by special
permit.
 
Situated 309 km. south of Colombo, Yala is approximately 1,259 sq.km. in extent and is located in the south eastern corner of the island. Its northern boundaries border on the Lahugala Elephant Sanctuary and it has the added bonus of a scenic ocean frontage. The terrain is varied flat plains alternating with rocky outcrops. The vegetation ranges from open parkland to dense jungle. Water holes, small lakes, lagoons and streams provide water for the animals and birds. The speciality here is the large numbers of elephants.
 
Wilpattu National Park
Situated 176 km. north of Colombo, Wilpattu is approximately 1,908 sq.km. in extent. It has a dense jungle cover which makes it a more exciting park where animals have to be tracked. There are numerous delightful little lakes - known as villus - and the leopard and sloth bear are the speciality rather than elephants.
 
Gal Oya National Park
Situated at Inginiyagala, the Gal Oya National Park is 314 km. from Colombo and is most renowned for its elephant population.
 
Uda Walawe National Park
Situated 170 km. South East of Colombo the Uda Walawe National Park is approximately 30,821 hectares in extent. This Park which lies within the Ratnapura and Monaragala Districts acts as the catchment to the Uda Walawe Reservoir and is located in the Dry Zone. This Park comprises grasslands and thorn scrubs and many valuable species of trees are found within it. Large herds of Elephants and Deer species such as spotted Deer, Sambhur, Barking deer and Langur, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo, Jackal are some of the prominent wild animals found in this Park and a variety of avifauna is seen.
 
Maduru Oya National Park
The Maduru Oya National Park is located in the Dry Zone and is 300 km. away from Colombo and 58,849 hectares in extent. A wide variety of wildlife including some endemic birds species and reptiles are found here. Maduru Oya is rich in ancient ruins found in different places and its southern parts provide veddhas, indigenous people their living environment. Endemic purple monkey is among the important animal species that can be seen in addition to Sambhur, a member of the cat family etc. There are some endemic avifauna also found within this Park.
 
Wasgamuwa National Park
Situated approximately 200 km. away from Colombo, the Wasgamuwa National Park lies within the Polonnaruwa and Matale Districts and have the Mahaweli river and Amban river as its eastern and western boundaries. Tropical intermediate dry mixed evergreen forest predominates its environment.
 
Horton Plains National Park
The Horton Plains National Park is the only National Park situated in the Hill Country and falls within the Nuwara Eliya district and is 200 km. away from Colombo. Panoramic scenic beauty of the Hill Country could be witnessed within the Park. The famous `Worlds End' is a major attraction within the Park. Endemic slender loris and endemic purple monkey are among the important animal species that could be seen in addition to sambhur, a member of the cat family etc. There are some endemic avifauna also found within this Park.
 
Bundala National Park 
Bundala National Park is the latest addition to the National Parks and is situated 260 km. away from Colombo. All species of waterbirds resident in the country and the migrant birds inhabit this Park.
 
Bird Sanctuaries
The sanctuaries at Kumana 312 km. from Colombo, Wirawila 261 km. Bundala 259 km. and Kalametiya 224 km. are all lagoon locations in Sri Lanka's extreme south eastern coast. The Giant's Tank in the north western corner of the island is a huge ancient irrigation reservoir of 3,800 hectares. The coastal sanctuaries are exotically picturesque with combinations of lagoon, swamp, river, jungle, lake and plain. Large flocks can be found here of both resident and migrant aquatic birds. The highland sanctuaries at Udawattakele 118 km. from Colombo and the Peak Wilderness 141 km. are quieter but equally picturesque with wooded hills and secluded streams and have the added bonus of rare flora such as our unique Wesak Orchid as well as numerous species of rare butterflies. The Udawattakele Sanctuary is in the suburbs of Kandy, our picturesque and fascinating hill capital. The Peak Wilderness is situated on the slopes of Adam's Peak (Sri Pada), Sri Lanka's sacred mountain.
 
National Zoological Gardens
Situated 11 km. from the Fort, the Zoo has a fine collection of animals, birds, reptiles and fish from all over the world. The aquarium is the only one of its kind in Asia and displays over 500 varieties of aquatic life. Also walk in through Aviary, Reptilium, Butterfly Park. There are daily elephant performance at 5.15 p.m. Open daily between 8.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. Entrance fees : Rs 90/- per adult and Rs.45/- per child.
 
Elephant Orphanage
An orphanage for elephants has been set up by the department of National Zoological Gardens, at Pinnawela, 90 km. from Colombo. It was established in 1975 and several animals brought here at the inception are now mature enough for breeding, which is the ultimate aim of the institution. Entrance fees : Rs.75 per adult and Rs.40 per child.
 

Some aspects of the Wildlife of Sri Lanka

 

Though Sri Lanka is very small in land area, the great diversity in habitats harbors are a rich and diverse fauna and flora, with many species endemic to the island. Historically as well as in the modern era, successive rulers and governments of Sri Lanka have strived to provide sanctuary and protection to our beautiful wildlife. Today the demands and aspirations of an expanding human population makes it difficult for the government to be solely responsible for the protection, preservation and management of this beguiled wild heritage of ours. Today, especially where human interest and wildlife interest are in direct conflict. It is imperative that private organizations with resources step into and fill the areas that need immediate attention: environmental education, long term research, and to develop integrated projects for community based conservation.
 
Of the four species of wild cats found in Sri Lanka, the leopard is the largest. No information exists for all the species of cats in regard to their population, distribution and status. There is also small scale poaching of all the species of cats for their skins, teeth and meat.
The sloth bear is the only species of bear found in Sri Lanka, further research is needed to find out more about its ecology, distribution and status.
Of the five species of deer found in Sri Lanka, the spotted deer and its cousin, the sambar, have the largest distribution. Though there are still large populations of spotted deer in some areas, all five species of deer are relentlessly poached for venison. Studies to ascertain their ecology, distribution and status are urgently needed.
Sri Lanka has more than 400 species of birds consisting of residents, visitors and migrants. Of this 26 species are endemic to the island. Large and small scale clearing of jungles and forests, causes local extinctions of the more specialized species, and threatens the survival of others. It is imperative to establish regional and urban wildlife sanctuaries for their long term survival.
The inland waters of Sri Lanka have more than 60 species of fresh water fish of which over 24 species are only found in Sri Lanka. Closer to a 1,000 species of fish are found in the coastal waters surrounding the island. Domestic and industrial affluents and pollutants discharged into rivers and other waterways are a threat to the survival of these fresh water and coastal fishes, and other marine ecosystems such as coral reefs. The territorial waters of the Indian Ocean is also home to a rich and varied marine life. Five species of sea turtles and 25 species of whales and dolphins inhabit these coastal waters.
 
Fifty three species of amphibians are found in Sri Lanka, of which over 25 species are endemic.
The cobra is one of the most well known snakes of the over 90 species of snakes found in Sri Lanka. There are also many species of lizards, two species of crocodiles and monitors, two species of aquatic turtles and one species of tortoise found in the island.
Of the diverse and amazing array of  invertebrates found in Sri Lanka, there are over 240 species of butterflies, of which 14 species are endemic.
Sri Lanka also has a wealth of plant life of which a majority are endemic to the island. Many species of colorful and rare orchids, ferns, ayurvedic herbs and plants, large trees, bromeliads and epiphytes creates colorful, exotic and rich habitats for other animal life, and a salubrious environment for humans.
 
 

Wildlife in Sri Lanka

Though Sri Lanka is very small in land area, the great diversity in habitats harbors are a rich and diverse fauna and flora, with many species endemic to the island. Historically as well as in the modern era, successive rulers and governments of Sri Lanka have strived to provide sanctuary and protection to our beautiful wildlife. Today the demands and aspirations of an expanding human population makes it difficult for the government to be solely responsible for the protection, preservation and management of this beguiled wild heritage of ours. Today, especially where human interest and wildlife interest are in direct conflict. It is imperative that private organizations with resources step into and fill the areas that need immediate attention: environmental education, long term research, and to develop integrated projects for community based conservation.
 
Of the four species of wild cats found in Sri Lanka, the leopard is the largest. No information exists for all the species of cats in regard to their population, distribution and status. There is also small scale poaching of all the species of cats for their skins, teeth and meat.
 
The sloth bear is the only species of bear found in Sri Lanka, further research is needed to find out more about its ecology, distribution and status.
Of the five species of deer found in Sri Lanka, the spotted deer and its cousin, the sambar, have the largest distribution. Though there are still large populations of spotted deer in some areas, all five species of deer are relentlessly poached for venison. Studies to ascertain their ecology, distribution and status are urgently needed.
 
Sri Lanka has more than 400 species of birds consisting of residents, visitors and migrants. Of this 26 species are endemic to the island. Large and small scale clearing of jungles and forests, causes local extinctions of the more specialized species, and threatens the survival of others. It is imperative to establish regional and urban wildlife sanctuaries for their long term survival.
The inland waters of Sri Lanka have more than 60 species of fresh water fish of which over 24 species are only found in Sri Lanka. Closer to a 1,000 species of fish are found in the coastal waters surrounding the island. Domestic and industrial affluents and pollutants discharged into rivers and other waterways are a threat to the survival of these fresh water and coastal fishes, and other marine ecosystems such as coral reefs.
 
The territorial waters of the Indian Ocean is also home to a rich and varied marine life. Five species of sea turtles and 25 species of whales and dolphins inhabit these coastal waters.
 
Fifty three species of amphibians are found in Sri Lanka, of which over 25 species are endemic.
The cobra is one of the most well known snakes of the over 90 species of snakes found in Sri Lanka. There are also many species of lizards, two species of crocodiles and monitors, two species of aquatic turtles and one species of tortoise found in the island.
Of the diverse and amazing array of  invertebrates found in Sri Lanka, there are over 240 species of butterflies, of which 14 species are endemic.
Sri Lanka also has a wealth of plant life of which a majority are endemic to the island. Many species of colorful and rare orchids, ferns, ayurvedic herbs and plants, large trees, bromeliads and epiphytes creates colorful, exotic and rich habitats for other animal life, and a salubrious environment for humans.

Yala National Park

Yala National Park
 
Yala (Ruhuna) National Park, situated in the south east corner of the island, is home to the greatest variety of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Its varying habitats, consisting of scrub plains, jungles, rocky outcrops, fresh water lakes, rivers and beaches, provides home to many species of animals including sloth bear, herds of elephants, buffalo, monkeys, sambar, deer, crocodiles and the endangered leopard sub-species, Panthera pardus kotiya, which found only in Sri Lanka.
 
Overview
Yala (Ruhuna) National Park is situated in the Arid Zone of Sri Lanka’s South East region.  Comprising of five blocks, this National Park covers an area of 151,778 hectares. Currently only Block I, covering 14,100 hectares, is open to the public. Yala’s historical significance dates back to 500 B.C and evidence shows that the park was inhabited in the past.  The area remained a free hunting area for sport until the 1900s, when it was declared a Game Reserve. In 1938 a section of the park was declared a National Park.
 
Being in the Arid Zone Yala receives an annual rainfall of less than 1,000 mm from the North East monsoon from about November to January. The rest of the year remains dry with the period from July to September showing severe drought conditions.  Mean temperature is around 27 c.  Yala National Park comprises of several major habitat types including dunes, scrub forest, riverine forests, rocky out-crops, secondary forests and coastal lagoons with mangrove forests.  This diverse collection of vegetation has resulted in many species of animals and birds being recorded in Yala National Park.
 
The dry months from May to September is the best time for viewing big game including Leopards and Sloth Bear. From October to April during the Northern Hemisphere winters, Yala becomes home to many species of migratory birds and is a hot spot for bird watching. The first few months of the year are also good for observing Leopard cubs.
 
Stats in Brief
Stratification: Dry Monsoon Forest, Shrub jungle, Grass lands
Size: 47,053ha
Status: National Park & Strict Natural Reserve
Altitude: 0m to 1,200m
Temperature: Mean annual temperature 27 (degree c)
Annual Rainfall: Mean annual rainfall varies between 900mm in the south to 1300mm in the North with the annual drought from May to September.
Best time of year to visit: Year around park – November to January can be rainy period. The park is usually closed from September 01 to 15 October yearly but this is subject to change.
Optimum duration of stay: 1 night up to 7/14 nights depending on interest
Accommodation Options: Yala Village, Elephant Reach, Tissamaharama Resort, Priyankara Hotel, Mandara Rosen Kataragama, Galapita Eco Lodge
Highlights: Yala Block 1 is known have the highest density of Leopards in the world
Over 230 species of birds recorded. All species of big game known from Sri Lanka are found here.

Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park consists of a complex of lakes called ‘Villus’ surrounded by grassy plains, set within scrub jungle. Many of the `big game’ found in Sri Lanka including elephant, sloth bear, water buffalo, and spotted dear can be seen here, though the biggest attraction at Wilpattu is Leopard. Wilpattu is among the oldest and most important protected areas in Sri Lanka and being situated away from the common tourist routs, this National Park is unspoilt and can be enjoyed in tranquil seclusion.
 
 
Overview
Covering an area of 131,000 hectares that stretches from the Northwestern coast to the north-central province, the Wilpattu National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest wildlife parks. Wilpattu’s varying natural habitats; coastal belt, natural lakes (villus), cliff tops, scrublands, open grasslands and dense forest provide for numerous species of animals. Many of the `big game’ found in Sri Lanka including elephant, sloth bear, water buffalo, spotted dear and leopard can be seen here. The coastal belt and natural lakes attract many species of birds such as Painted Storks, Black-headed Ibis, Asian Open-bills, Whistling Teals, Eurasian Spoonbills, Little & Indian Cormorants and many species of kingfishers as well as water monitors and mugger crocodiles. It also contains a number of important cultural sites.
 
Flora & Fauna of Wilpattu
Three types of vegetation can be seen in the park, Littoral vegetation including salt grass and low scrub immediately adjacent to the beach; a 5-10 km coastal belt of monsoon scrub of very low stature. Further inland, is the monsoon forest with tall emergents such as Palu, Satin, Milla, Weera, Ebony and Wewarana. Some 73% of the park is dense forest or scrub and the rest is more open habitat.
 
Mammals
Over 31 species of Mammals have been recorded in Wilpattu. Some of the regular big game seen in here include the Asian Elephant, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Wild Buffalo, Spotted Deer, Muntjac/ Barking deer which is the most common herbivore.
 
Birds
Endemics spotted here include Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Brown-capped Babbler, Sri Lankan Woodshrike and Black-capped Bulbul. Wilpattu is also very good for migrating birds like waterfowl and waders. Some of the commoner migrants seen include Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Great Stone-curlew, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Curlew Sandpiper,Black-winged Stilt, Gargany & Northern Pintail. Forest birds include Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Small Cuckoo, Racket-tailed Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Coppersmith Barbet, Red-wattled Lapwing, Brown Fish Owl, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Crested Hawk Eagle and water birds include Painted Storks, Asian Open-bill, Eurasian Spoonbill, and Spot-billed Pelican.
 
Reptiles
Mugger Crocodiles are frequently seen in the Villus, with a few species of fresh water Terrapins are also found in the park. Indian Rock Python, Russell’s Viper, Indian Cobra, Sand Boa, Saw-scale Viper & Hump-nose Viper.
 
Butterflies
Some butterflies recorded include the Great Eggfly, Great Orange Tip, Glad-eye Bush-brown, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose and Crimson Rose.
 
Stats in Brief
Stratification: Lowland dry zone & Villus
Size: 131,693ha
Status: National Park
Altitude: 50-100m
Temperature: 27c
Annual Rainfall: 1,000mm
Best time of year to visit: All year round with
Optimum duration of stay: 2 to 4 nights
Accommodation Options: Anuradhapura, Habarana, Negombo & luxury camping
Highlights: Beautiful scenery, Leopards & Muntjac Deer

Wasgomuwa National Park

Wasgomuwa National Park located within the Central and North Central provinces, covers an area of approximately 39,000 hectares. This National Park consists of riverine and dry evergreen forests, grasslands and wetlands. Wasgomuwa is endowed with a number of canals and waterways springing up from the 470 metre high Sudu Kande near by. Famous for the elephants frequenting the Mahaweli River, which runs along one of the boundaries of the park, Wasgomuwa is also home to numerous other animals including sloth bear, sambur, spotted and barking deer, wild boar, the purple-faced leaf monkey, and 143 species of bird. Archaeological ruins of ancient settlements, dating back to the period of Sinhala kings, can be seen within this national park. Wasgomuwa can be accessed from the districts of Matale or Polonnaruwa.
 
Stats in Brief
Stratification: Moist monsoon forest & dry monsoon forest
Size: 31,649ha
Status: National Park
Altitude: 60-470m
Temperature: Average 27 (degree C)
Annual Rainfall: Average 1,750mm to 2,250mm
Best time of year to visit: February to September
Optimum duration of stay: 2 night up to 4 nights
Accommodation Options: Dunvilla Cottage, Willy’s Safari, Mahoora standard & luxury camping
Highlights: Sloth Bear, Asian Elephants, Leopard & many species of birds
 
Overview
Wasgomuwa was closed to visitors till 1948 when it was changed from a Strict Natural Reserve to a National Park. Being a relative ‘new’ park the animals are not very used to seeing people and your encounters can be very memorable! Climatic conditions here are typical of the Dry Zone and largely influenced by the North-East Monsoon from October to January.
 
The most important cultural site within the park is the Buduruwayaya in the southwest corner of the park near the Amban & Kalu Rivers. These ruins are estimated to be over 1800 years old and feature a Buddha reclining with stone pillars. There are also many other smaller ruins of Buddha statues and buildings dating back to the Polonnaruwa period.
 
Flora & fauna of Wasgomuwa
Wasgamuwa National park is situated mainly within the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka and extends to the Intermediate Zone of the island resulting in a varied combination of vegetation.   Tropical dry mixed evergreen forest predominates with trees such as Weera (Drypetes sepiaria) Ehala (C.Fistula), Palu (Manilkara Chloroxylon), Satinwood (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (vitex pinnata), and Ebony (Diospyros ebenum). Dense forests cover the hilly ridges and well-developed forests occupy the banks of the major rivers that run through the park; these riverine forests are dominated by Kumbuk trees (Terminalia arjuna). Some areas of the park also have extensive plains dominated by the Grass Illuk.
 
23 species of Mammals, 143 species of birds, 35 species of Reptiles, 15 species of Amphibians, 17 species of Fish and 52 species of Butterflies have been recorded at Wasgomuwa.
 
Mammals
Elephants are the main attraction of this park with over 150 Elephants inhabiting the park. These elephants seem to be much larger in size than the ones you will see in Uda Walawe. This is mainly due to the lush vegetation within Wasgomuwa that provides their varied diet. These Elephants are also known for their aggressive behaviour when confronted by humans. Since this park was only open to the public a few years back, the animals are much more unpredictable. Other mammals inhabiting this National Park include Leopard, Sloth Bear, Golden Jackal, Wild Boar, Wild Buffalo, Black-naped Hare, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Fishing Cat, Rusty-spotted Cat. Primates include the Grey Langer, the endemic Toque Monkey, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey and the nocturnal primate the Grey Slender Loris.
 
Birds
Wasgomuwa is also excellent for bird watching. Nearly 150 species of birds can be seen in the park and this includes migrants, forest birds, water birds and waders. Some of the highlights include the endemic Red-Faced Malkoha in the riverine habitats. Other endemics includes the Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Spur fowl, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler, Crimson Flamback, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet. Other species include the globally endangered Lesser Adjutant. Painted Storks, Black-headed Ibis, and Grey-headed fish Eagle. This is also a very good location to see the elusive Spot-bellied Eagle Owl also known as the Devil Bird. Other forest birds include Little Green Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Common Iora, Black-headed Cuckoo Shrike, Brown Shrike, Black-headed Munias, Indian Pitta, Forest Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Jungle Prinia, Ashy Prinia, White-rumped Shama, Malabar-pied Hornbill and the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater.
 
Butterflies
Hours can be spent in Wasgomuwa spotting the many species of Butterflies including the rare Five-bar Swordtail, Banded Peacock, Common Jezebel, Blue Mormon, and the Common Birdwing to name a few of the more colourful ones.
 
Reptiles & Amphibians
Wasgomuwa has both types of Crocodiles found in Sri Lanka, the Estuarine and Mugger Crocodiles along with land Monitors. If you are lucky you can also see the Indian Python crossing the jeep tracks in the early morning.

Wadduwa Beach

If a big part of your holiday revolves around the local beach life, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Wadduwa's stripe of golden sands is well worth writing home about. In fact, the shores here are said to be one of the most beautiful in the region, envied for its long sandy curve and gin-clear seas. It's also home to masses of palm trees, which provide welcome shade - and of course, up the ante in the paradise stakes.

 It's not all about sunbathing here, though. In the waves, you can give watersports like Windsurfing a go. And on terra firma, you've got games like beach volleyball going on. And as Wadduwa's still a working fishing village, nothing beats a stroll down to the boats as the fishermen bring in the day's catches.

Vihara Mahadevi Park (Victoria Park)

Viharamahadevi Park is the green lung of Colombo: the largest, oldest and most colourful park. It is at its best from March to May, when most of the flowers are in full bloom. The park is great for shaded walks and relaxation. There are small ponds, occasional elephants, and some interesting Buddha statues.

Originally called Victoria Park by the British, it has been renamed in honour of a famous historical Sinhalese queen, Viharamahadevi, of whom there is a large statue. The park is conveniently near other tourist sites such as the National Museum and the Town Hall. Furthermore, the Public Library adjoins the park.

There is a special children’s section with a small train ride and a zoo of baby animals. There are swings, see-saws, and other amusement activities for children. During certain times of the year, concerts, art exhibitions, garden shows, and flower exhibitions are held at the park.

Unawatuna Beach

Its beauty is  fittingly matched by  the equally famed  Srilankan smile and Srilankan hospitality. Experience it all at the Unawatuna Beach Resort with its unique theme concept of a Srilankan fishing village.
 

Udawattakele Bird Sanctuary

Two highland bird sanctuaries are Udawattakele and Peak Wilderness.Udawatta kale is situated just above the temple of Tooth Kandy.It supports many species of bird life. Some of the common birds are Layard’s Parakeet, Gold fronted and Blue winged Leafbirds etc.

Uda Walawe National Park

Uda Walawe, in Sri Lanka's south-central sector, is the area that most resembles an African game park. Wildlife reports say there are about 500 elephants in the park and they often roam in herds of up to 100. Leopards, buffalo, deer and sloth bears keep them company along with mongooses, bandicoots, foxes, water monitor lizards and crocodiles. A half-day tour in your own private jeep with driver and guide is the best way to see the 30,821 hectares of protected area parked on the Uda Walawe Reservoir.
 
Overview
Established in 1972 as Sri Lanka’s 5th National Park, Udawalawe is located in the Sabaragamuwa & Uva Provinces and includes the Udawalawe Reservoir. The park is approximately 30,821 hectares. Its altitude ranges from 100m on the plains to 373m at the top of Ulgala, the highest point within the park. The park is situated in the Dry Zone with its western sector lying in the Intermediate Zone. The park experiences an annual drought coinciding with the southwest monsoon commencing in May. The annual rainfall is about 1524 mm. Uda Walawe National Park is an all year round park with Elephants seen any time of the year. Bird watching is best during the Northern hemisphere winter (October to March) when the migrant birds can be seen in the park.
 
Flora & Fauna of Uda Walawe
The park is mainly thorny-shrub jungle with grasslands. The savannah grasslands are dominated by Mana, Illuk and pohon. There are remnants of the Teak plantations that were planted during the time the Uda Walawe Reservoir was built. In the riverine forest Kumbuk and the endemic mandorang trees are dominant.
 
Mammals
Udawalawe is undoubtedly the best place in Sri Lanka to see wild Asian Elephants throughout the year. Unlike other parks, Udawalawe does not have a seasonal variation in elephant numbers and it is easy to encounter a few of them at any time of the year. Morning and evenings are the best time to visit the park and late evenings give the best lighting for photography with amazing sun sets. Other mammals that can be seen include Wildboar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Jackal, Samber, Water Buffalo, Black-naped Hare, the endemic Toque Macaque and Gray Langers. If lucky, you can also see Leopard and some of the other smaller cats like Fishing cat & Jungle cat.
 
Birds
Udawalawe can be one of the best places to see the dry zone avifauna of Sri Lanka. By spending just two days in the park you can easily see over a 100 species during the migrant season. Udawalawe is specially known for its many species of Raptors. Some of the common birds seen include Spot-billed Pelican (Globally threatened) Little Cormorant, Grey Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Large Egret, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Painted Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Green Bee-eater, Crested Tree-swift; Common, White-throated, Pied and Stork-billed Kingfisher; Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Ceylon Green Pigeon, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Crimson-backed Woodpecker, Black-shouldered Kite, Brahaminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Serpent Eagle, migrants include Booted Eagle, Common Kestral, Harries, Rosy Starlings, Black-capped Kingfisher, Wood Sand Piper, Common Sand Piper, Little Ringed Plover, Whiskered Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Forest Wagtail & Citrain Wagtail.
 
Butterflies
Being in the Dry Zone Udawalawe is home to many species of butterflies of Sri Lanka including the beautiful Banded Peacock that is attracted to the host plant - the Satin Tree which is found in the park. Other species found here include the Common Jezebel, Common Indian Crow, many species of ‘Yellows and Whites’ Common Mormon, and in the riverine forest areas Common Blue-bottle can also be seen. Uda Walawe has become a haven for Butterflies in the resent past with the large number of ‘Lantan’ trees which have taken over the vegetation of the park. This being an invasive species to the park it is considered a pest; extensive work is being carried out by the park authorities husband this tree. It cannot be eaten by any of the herbivores in the park and competes with the endemic trees. However the flowers the Lantan are a big favourite of all the butterflies and the birds.
 
Stats in Brief
Stratification: Dry Monsoon forest
Size: 30,821 Ha
Status: National Park  (Department of Wildlife Conservation - DWLC)
Altitude: 100-400m
Temperature: Mean day & night temperature are 29 & 24 degrees centigrade respectively
Annual Rainfall: Mean annual rainfall is about 1520mm
Best time of year to visit: All year round park, November to March migrant birds can be observed.
Optimum duration of stay: 1-3 nights
Accommodation Options: Kalu’s Hideaway, Centuria Inn, Luxury camping with Kulu Safari & Leopards Safari. Standard camping with Mahoora.
Highlights: Guaranteed sightings of Asian Elephants all year round. One of the best places to see Raptors in Sri Lanka and especially good during the migrant season (Nov to March). Excellent for Photography.

St Clair’s Falls

Among the waterfalls in Sri Lanka, St Clair’s Falls are unusual as they comprise a double cascade from different water sources. The biggest waterfall among the two, the Maha Ella which is 80m high, is situated on the Kotmale Oya. This waterfall run over a rock ledge, divides into three cascades, and plunges into a pool, producing misty veils. The smaller fall of the two, the Kuda Ella which is 50m high, is situated on a branch of the Kotmale Oya.

Many visitors view these falls from the A7 road because St. Clair’s Falls are situated close to this road, just 3km from Talawakele. If you want to view the bigger waterfall, the Maha Ella, you should take the 500m footpath leading from the A7. The smaller one, the Kuda Ella, is situated close to the road and can be best seen on the bend near the 90km post.

Sri Lankan Beaches

Sri Lanka, an island floating in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Endowed with over a thousand miles of beautiful golden beaches fringed with coconut palms. A large percentage of Sri Lankan hotels and resorts are located along the seacoast. The main attraction for the most part is on the beaches and the resorts and less on the nearby towns and villages. However, some places like Galle on the west coast with its historical heritage, are included in the attraction even without the lure of the sun and sand. You can also stop on the drive down the west coast for interesting sidetrip like visiting a batik factory or a turtle hatchery, paying your respects at the local temple or sampling the local fruit and getting first hand knowledge on the art of toddy making.

The western and southern coast beaches begins from Negombo, 13kms north of Colombo and curves south along the coastline for 273kms up to Hambantota. This is definitely the better developed of the two circuits and accounts for most of the hotels and the resorts. South of Colombo it is called the Cold Coast? and the resorts stretch from Mt. Lavinia (a suburb of Colombo) along WadduwaKalutaraBeruwalaBentotaInduruwaKosgoda,AhungallaHikkaduwaGalleUnawatunaKoggalaWe-ligamaDickewallaTangalle and finally Hambantota. The southern beaches are sandier than the western ones and do not shelve steeply into the sea.

While the eastern and northern coast beaches stretches north in a gentle arc from Arugam Bay till Kuchchaveli approximately 275kms up on the eastern coastline. Fine beaches, typically wide stretches of sand and what seems like miles of clear, shallow water, pretty bays and coves, deep natural harbours, still lagoons and underwater coral gardens. The best ones are those of Nilaveli, Kuchchaveli, Marble Bay, Sweat Bay and Dead Man`s Cove, with its magnificent harbour, north of Trincomalee. The southern section includes the peaceful beaches of PassekudahKalkudah and Arugam Bay.

Access western and southern coast beaches by road start from Negombo Route A3, till Colombo. Then to A2, better known as Galle Road up to Galle, 117kms south of Colombo hugs the coast line all the way till Hambantota before veering away towards Wellawaya further inland. The Railway runs all the way down from Negombo to Matara, just short of Dondra Head, the southern most tip of Sri Lanka. From here Hambantota is 78 kms by road. By air, there are airports at Katunayake, which is the airport servicing Colombo and the only other international airport in Sri Lanka, Moratuwa and Koggala.

The eastern and northern coast beaches can be reach by road thru A4 cutting across the country from Colombo via the gem city of Ratnapura, passing the Central Highlands on the way before hitting the eastern coast at Pottuvil, 320kms from the capital. There it turns north to service the coastline Up toBatticaloa at a distance of 110kms. The 137kms stretch of coastline from Batticaloa to Trincornalee is serviced by the A15 and the last beach at Kuchchavelli some 35kms further up can be gained by a secondary road. Trincomalee is the only gateway by rail on the eastern coast. It is connected to all the major. Airports are at Batticaloa and Trincomalee.

Accommodation is not a problem. There is a wide choice, not only of locations, but of quality and price. As mentioned earlier, the most developed are resorts of the south and the west coasts, where luxurious comfort and all the five star amenities, adventure tours, animation and the kind of entertainment typical of the ?Club? concept are as much a part of the service as fine accommodation and international cuisine. There are also boarding, canoeing, sailing, boating, deep sea fishing, water polo, water gymnastics, water and jet scooter racing and Banana Boat riding. Seasonal bathing is available off the sea and river fronts of many hotels and of course there is always the fresh or sea water swimming pool.

The food is cosmopolitan. Of course, sea food is fresh and plentiful and most hotels innovate creatively with the wide variety available. There is a fairly extensive choice between spicy Sri Lankan food and standard international fare. An abundance of local tropical fruit and fruit juices is an essential feature of the buffet table.

Waterfalls in Sri Lanka

Dunhida Fall
The Dunhinda Falls is one of Sri Lanka's most beautiful waterfalls located about 5 km off Badulla town. The waterfall, which is 210 feet (64 m) high gets its name from the smoky dew drops spray, (Dun in sinhala means mist or smoke) which surrounds the area at the foot of the waterfall. The water fall is created by the river called

Badulu Oya which goes through the Badulla town.
To reach the water fall you have to walk more than 1 km distance along a foot path. Along this foot path you can see another small waterfall at a distance. However walking along this muddy foot path is really worth as the waterfall is so beautiful. Along this foot path there are many native venders selling herbal drinks to refresh and rest yourself. At the end of the path there is a secure stage constructed for viewers to see the waterfall. If you are brave enough you can reach the foot of the waterfall and cross the river and see the most beautiful view of the fall.

Hunas Fall
Hunas fall is located in Matale District, Elkaduwa Village. Apart from the main fall several water streams can be seen during rainy seasons. Many tourists visit this fall due to its proximity to both, Hunas Fall & Hunas Hotel. There are two routes to the Hunas Fall. One is coming from Matale to Elkaduwa. Other one is Watthegama to Elkaduwa.

Ravana Fall
Situated in the Ella -Wellawaya road, this beautiful water fall lies visible from the main road itself. The water rushing down over several steps adds more hues to it s sublime beauty. The main drop, however, is 30 ft. In height. It derives its name from the mythical king Ravana of the great Indian epic The Ramanya.

Bopath Fall
Just 15 kms from the Colombo- Ratnapura road, it falls from a height of 100ft into the Kurd gang river. The formation itself is a rare beauty with a perfectly heart shaped head, resembling the leaf of the sacred Bo tree, hence the name Bopath. Also a popular picnic spot, it is bound to take your breath away.

Devon Fall
This 280 ft high eye catcher is best sighted from the 20th milepost on the Talawakelle -Nawalapitiya road.

St. Clair's Fall
St. Clair's Fall is 80m in height and at 50m wide, and consists of two segments, known as 'Big St. Clair' and

'Small St. Clair'. Created by the Kotmale River, a tributary of the Mahaweli River, it flows down a slope through an abandoned tea estate. In the Nuwara Eliya District, the fall is located 1.5km from Talawakele.

Ramboda Fall
Take the Nuwara Eliya to Pusselawa road for 12km. The fall is located 1.6km from the highway at this point. It is near Pusselawa Resthouse.

Gerandi Fall
Between Pusselawa and Ramboda there are several waterfalls can be seen. Gerandi Fall situated in Nuwara Eliya district and visible from Gampola to Nuwara Eliya road.

Helboda Fall
Between Pusselawa and Ramboda there are several waterfalls, all of which are less than 30m in height. It is located near the 28th mileposts at the Pusselawa.

Anagimala Fall
Situated in Kanneliya Biosphere Reserve at Udugama in the Galle District

Diyaluma Fall
This is the third highest (171 M) water fall in Sri Lanka. The fall is located along the Koslande - Welawaya road in the Badulla District. Koslanda is the nearest town to the diyaluma fall.

Bakers Fall
Situated on the Horton Plains (Nuwara Eliya District), Baker's Fall is accessible from Pattipola or Ohiya town. From Pattipola take the well-signed footpath and either follow it to World's End and loop back to Baker's Fall or take the right fork at the beginning of the path straight there.

Duvili Fall
Situated in Batuwangala in Galle District, Neluwa. The watercourse reaching Thamalagama flows to Watala Canal River, where rapids had claimed many lives. Go along the Watawala Canal for about 12km.

Hathmale Fall
The fall is located 12km from Deniyaya in the Matara District, Deniyaya Pallegama area. Take the Deniyaya - Pallegama road and turn off near the Pallegama bridge. From here it is 8km to the fall. Hathmale Fall is 45m high and 10m wide.

Rahas Fall
The fall is in the Kandy District Pathadumbara Divisional Secretariat. Take the Wathegama - Panwilla road for 0.5km, to reach it. At the base of the fall is a deep cleft, which makes for dangerous bathing.

Puna Fall
Situated in Nuwara Eliya district and visible from Gampola to Nuwara Eliya road. Pussalewa is the nearest town to the punai fall.

Bambarakanda Fall
This is the highest (241 M) water fall in Sri Lanka. The fall is situated in the Badulla District, Belihul Oya area. From the Rathnapura - Balangoda road, turn left for Weerakoon village and continue for 5km to the fall.

Thudugala Fall
The fall is situated in the Kalutara District, From the Kalutara - Matugama road and turn left form Thudugala junction. Continue for another 5 km to reach the fall. A convenient place to stay and spend the day.

Bamarakiri Falls
The fall is situated in the Matale District, From the Matale - Rattota road and turn right form Rattota junction. Continue for another 8 km to reach the fall. At the base of the fall is a deep and which makes for dangerous bathing.

Kirindi Ella Fall
This water fall belongs to Rathnapura district. The height of this water fall is 117 metres. This water fall starts from Kuttapitiya mountain. This is created by Kirindi Oya. At the base of the fall, the water plunges into a deep pool called Diyagathwala. Rathnapura Pelmadulla road and turn from Kuttapitiya junction. Then there are 7 k.m. to reach this water fall.

Kuda Dunhinda Fall
Kuda Dunhinda Water Fall at UVA province On the way To the Dunhinda Waterfall at Badulla in the Uva Province . can be seen the "Kuda Dunhinda" ( "Kuda" means small in Sinhala ) which is the prologue to its mighty brother

Surathali Fall
Surathali fall is 60m in height, 2m wide and made up of three segments. It is named after a film that was shot in the area.Originating from the Sri Pada Reserve's Ellamana mountain range (948m), the fall is created by the Kadawath ganga, which flows along Sabaragamuwa, Uva and later into the Weli ganga. It is bordered by an untouched wildlife sanctuary. Take the Balangoda - Badulla road to the 169 - 170th mile posts, between Halpe and Marangawela.

Hunas Fall, Dunhida Fall,Ravana Fall,Bopath Fall,Devon Fal,St. Clair's Fall,Ramboda Fall,Gerandi Fall,Helboda Fall,Anagimala Fall,Diyaluma Fall,Bakers Fall,Duvili Fall,Hathmale Fall,Rahas Fall,Bakers Fall,Puna Fall,Bambarakanda Fall,Bamarakiri Falls,Kirindi Ella Fall,Kuda Dunhinda Fall,Surathali Fall,

Sri Lanka Birds

Sri Lanka is a tropical island situated close to the southern tip of India. The bird life of Sri Lanka is very rich for its size, and about 433 species have been recorded. In addition to the many resident birds, a considerable number of migratory species winter in the country to escape their northern breeding grounds. 233 species are resident, of which the most important are the 27 endemics, with 7 more proposed. The other resident species are also found in the adjacent Indian mainland, but over 80 have developed distinct Sri Lankan races. Some of these races are very different in their plumage characteristics from the related forms in India. bird distribution in Sri Lanka is largely determined by its climatic zones. The dry zone is largest of the three, covering more than half of the area of the island, with a prolonged dry and hot period and only one monsoon (the northeast monsoon from October to January). the wet zone, with two monsoons, is in the southwestern quarter of the island, where the few remaining rain forests are found and humidity is high. The central hill zone rises to over 2450 m (8-10,000 ft) and has a cool temperate climate. Most of the 26 endemic species are confined to the wet and the hill zones, with only a few extending into the dry zone as well.

List Of Birds:
Painted Francolin,Sri Lanka Spurfowl,Sri Lanka Junglefowl,Indian Pond-heron,Grey Heron,Great Egret,Little Egret,Common Sandpiper,Spotted Dove,Emerald Dove,Pompadour Green-pigeon,Green Imperial-pigeon,Sri Lanka Hanging-parrot,Plum-headed Parakeet,Malabar Trogon,Stork-billed Kingfisher,White-throated Kingfisher,Common Kingfisher,Little Green Bee-eater,Blue-tailed Bee-eater,Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill,Malabar Pied Hornbill,Brown-headed Barbet,Crimson-fronted Barbet,Common Woodshrike,Black-headed Cuckooshrike,Small Minivet,Scarlet Minivet,Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike,Brown Shrike,Black-hooded Oriole,White-bellied Drongo,Greater Racket-tailed Drongo,White-browed Fantail,Black-naped Monarch,Asian Paradise-flycatcher,Great Tit,,Zitting Cisticola,Grey-breasted Prinia,Jungle Prinia,Plain Prinia,Black-crested Bulbul,Red-vented Bulbul,Asian Black Bulbul,Common Tailorbird,Brown-capped Babbler,Hill Myna,Common Myna,White-rumped Shama,Indian Robin,Asian Brown Flycatcher,Tickell's Blue-flycatcher,Jerdon's Leafbird,Golden-fronted Leafbird,Thick-billed Flowerpecker,Purple-rumped Sunbird
 

Ravana Ella

The Ravana Ella at a height of 30 feet is one of the widest and fiercest falls in Sri Lanka, despite the fact that it is not too high. The falls relate to the legend of Ramayana. In fact, the cave hidden behind the falls is believed to be one of the places where Ravana hid Sita. The fall is fed by a tributary of River Kirindi and is visible from the Ella road, so it is easily accessible.

Rathna Ella

Rathna Ella waterfallIt is the 10th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, situated in Kandy District and is 111 feet in height. The term "Rathna Ella" translates to "field of gems. When going to the waterfall one can see a green environment all over. The main occupation of the villagers in Rathna Ella is paddy cultivation. Raihna Ella waterfall is very important to the villagers since it supplies water to the irrigation works and paddy cultivation. The people in the past built a small anicut to get water from Rathna Ella for their agricultural activities. From this Rathna Ella, 200 farmers earn money by doing paddy cultivation.
 

Ramboda Ella

The Ramboda Ella at 329 feet and Devon at 281 feet follow suit. To sit in proximity to these waterfalls and watch the simmering beauty of the waterfall and listen to the power it holds is compelling.

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

About 65km away from the busy capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, you can see a facility where a herd of more than 90 pachyderms peacefully graze in open lands and bathe in shallow water, giving the elephant lovers a close experience and rare photo opportunity. Drive about 6km from the Karandupana Junction on the Colombo-Kandy road towards Rambukkana to reach the facility, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (PEO)

Established in 1975, the orphanage cares for a group of orphaned, disabled, and confiscated wild Asian elephants (Elephans maximus) held in captivity over 25 acres of land. An enthusiast can observe behavior of free ranging animals at the orphanage and also at Ma Oya, the stream just opposite the main road, when they are bathing. Don’t miss capturing the fine moments of calves playing in water and mud. 10am-12 noon and 2pm-4pm are the scheduled bathing times. Note how careful are the adult females with the new borns in water and how protective their moves are in general.
Pinnawala elephants are fed with extra fodder (palm, jack, and fig leaves most often) and minerals while daily veterinary supervision is mandate. The orphanage has reported more than 20 births since 1984. Calves are bottle fed with cow’s milk for exhibition and photo requirements. Adult bulls are usually kept tethered, away from the females and the calves. During the musth period they are tied to trees continuously for several months for the convenience of the management.

There is a nice resting area for the tourist to escape from the hot sun of mid day and a cafeteria for refreshment. Kids can have a safe walk in the resting area. Always be mindful when you move around elephants.
PEO is a litter free zone. Please don’t tip and encourage anyone who brings wild animals to you for photo opportunities around the orphanage, a practice which is not uncommon. Also, Report to the management immediately, if you witnessed elephants being abused in the premises.

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens

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In Sri Lanka the botanical garden, if not a public one, was already in evidence with the royal founding of Peradeniya, near Kandy, in the 14th century. Since British times Peradeniya has become one of the finest botanical gardens in Asia. When the British eventually wrested control of the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815, the site at Peradeniya was a Royal Pleasure Garden, apparently being enjoyed by the last Queen of Kandy.  In typical fashion, the British were quick to establish their own indelible stamp on this lush corner that exists in the cradle of a deep bend in the wide and languid river, the Mahaweli. Initially managed by Alexander Moon, the gardens started as little more than a coffee and cinnamon plantation.  Today, spread over a sprawling 147 hectares, they are home to some 4,000 species from all corners of the earth. There is a pungent and fascinating spice garden which provides a fine introduction to the long-practiced medicinal science of Ayurveda and an exceptional orchid house sheltering some 300 varieties.
 
A number of the wider pathways are tree-lined, including the classic “Avenue of Palms” which has the aesthetic power to transform a simple stroll into an event.  One of the most entertaining segments of this botanical wonderland is the commemorative garden where royalty and other international dignitaries have planted trees marking their visits to the island. In the vein of rich history of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, it is worth noting that it acted as the operational headquarters of Lord Mountbatton, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces of the South East Asia Command during the rough and tumble years of World War II.  While it is quite proper that a trip to the botanical gardens opens up a world of vegetative delights, this is after all Sri Lanka where the existence of flora essentially guarantees the occurrence of one faunal treasure or the other. With the abundant wealth of trees, shrubs, fruits and flowers to explore, it is definitely of value to spend the entire day and meander about at a relaxed pace.  There is a small restaurant within the grounds for food and drink, the verandah of which affords lovely views across the neatly tended lawns.

Mt Lavinia Beach

The place located 12 km from Colombo is a historical city from British colonial period. The Governors House of Sir Thomas Maitland, built in 1805, has become a star class hotel today. The fantastic beach is crowded on holidays with local people who enjoy the beach sports activities such as swimming and surfing.
 

Mirissa

Six kilometres from Weligama lies the more relaxed, picturesque and secluded bay of Mirissa. Once a much sought-after hideaway, the last few years have seen an increase in visitors and some development, though nothing to the extent of spoiling its charm. Once a fisheries harbour, Mirissa features a wide stretch of golden sand fringed by palm trees and rolling surf.

A rocky headland covered with lush foliage can be seen in the western end of the bay. Cabanas appear through the green sea of trees. This whole length of bay, though never far from the main road, is really peaceful and tranquil. Sunbeds are laid out, and the palms leave spidery shaded patterns on the golden sand. Mirissa is popular for body boarding and surfing. Equipments and instructions would be given by the beachside restaurants. You should be sure about the safest place to surf before entering into the sea. You can have a Swim at the eastern end of the bayon the far side of Girigala rock.

Even if you never tire of relaxing on the beach, the beauty of the coastline and inland waterways of this southern coastal region should be explored. Mirissa Water Sports offers packages including sports fishing and coastal cruises that include snorkelling and sightseeing stops. They also rent out sea kayaks by the hour.

Minneriya National Park

Situated at the centre of the Cultural Triangle, Minneriya is a good alternative to the busier parks in the south and it's easy to weave in a day here between visiting the ancient cities. The dry season, from June to September, is the best time to visit the 8,890 hectare park when the ancient tank that dominates the area dries out and the grasses and shoots push through. During this time it is possible to see herds of up to 150 elephants feeding and washing, as well as toque macaques, sambar deer and leopards. The hungry bird flocks include cormorants and painted storks. Minneriya, closest by car to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, was upgraded from a Nature Reserve to a National Park because of the increased number of tourists coming to see the elephants.
 
Overview
The core of this National park is in an uninhabited area of the country’s most diverse natural systems, with intermediate forests, Bamboo stands, patanas and platoes. The tank within the park supports a variety of waterfowl while being of immense socio-economic value.
 
Flora & Fauna of Minneriya
The vegetation of the park consists of tropical dry mixed evergreen forests, abandoned chena lands, grasslands and wetlands. Large trees seen are Palu, Satin, Milla, Halmilla, Weera and Kalumediriya. The open grasslands and old chena lands are dominated by the many species of small shrub.
 
Mammals
24 species of Mammals have been recorded from the park. In addition to having a very large population of Elephants in the park, Minneriya also has all other big game like Leopards, Sloth Bear, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, Wild Buffalo, Wild Pig, Grey Langers, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, three species of Mongoose, Porcupine & Indian Pangolin.
 
In August and September each year during the dry season, wild elephants from the surrounding wilderness in search of food and water, makes their way to the shores of the Minneriya Lake inside the Minneriya National Park. Huge heard of elephants, sometimes numbering up to 300, converge together within a few square kilometers of the lake. This Elephant Gathering is a thrilling sight not to be missed.
 
Birds
Due to its different types of vegetation and habitats, both Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks have recorded over 170 species of birds. From Migrating waders like Woodsand Piper, Common Sandpiper & Kentish Plovers to forest birds like the Malabar-pied Hornbills, Rufus Woodpecker the globally endangered Lesser Adjutant and the endemics Sri Lanka Grey Horn-bill, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Brown-capped Babbler and Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl are some of the highlights. The Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Green Imperial Pigeon and migrating forest birds can be seen.
 
Amphibians & Reptiles
Nine species of Amphibians have been recorded in the park among them are the endemic and endangered Slender Wood Frog and the Common Tree Frog. Of the 25 species of reptiles recorded in the park 8 are endemic including the Red-lipped Lizard. Water and Land Monitors are also seen here. The Mugger Crocodile can be seen near the tank. Many species of fresh water fish are found in the Minneriya and Kaudulla tanks.
 
Stats in Brief
Stratification: Dry monsoon forest, tanks & grass lands
Size: 2,550ha
Status: National Park
Altitude: 100m
Temperature: Average 27.5 (Degree C)
Annual Rainfall: Average 1,150mm
Best time of year to visit: May to October for the 'Gathering' of Elephants
Optimum duration of stay: Minimum of 1 night
Accommodation Options: Deer Park, Chaaya Village, Cinnamon Lodge, Heritance Kandalama, Luxury camping
Highlands: The largest known 'Gathering' of Asian Elephants in the world occurs from May to October each year in Minneriya National Park

Lunugamvehera National Park

Lunugamvehera National Park is the immediate catchment of the Lunugamvehera reservoir. The Park serves as a link between the Yala Protected area complex on the east side and Udawalawe National Park to its west and facilitates the ranging of elephants to and from areas such as Haldummula and Koslands in the Uva and Southern region of Sri Lanka. Lunugamvehera can be accessed via Tissamaharama or Uda Walawe.
 
Flora and Fauna of Lunugamvehera
The flora of the park includes different stages of forest succession along the scrub and grasslands. The Chena cultivation has caused degradation of the forest communities to open thorny shrub and grasslands. The dense evergreen in the region forest is dominated by Weera, Palu, Kon, Hik, Kunumella, Kirikon and Kappetiya species. The main species in the grasslands include Illuke and Mayaruthana. The Lanana and Nidikumba are seen in the open scrub vegetation that is abandoned chena cultivations.
 
Mammals
43 species of Mammals have been recorded; mostly small mammals. Elephants are the main attraction to this park along with the Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, Wild Buffalos, Giant Squirrel, Palm cat, Grey, Brown and Striped-necked Mongoose, Sloth Bear and Leopards are also recorded but very rarely seen.
 
Birds
184 species of birds have been recorded in the park, this mostly includes forest birds and in the reservoir the water birds. Very recently the Marshall’s Iora, which was never recorded in Sri Lanka before, has been seen nesting in this park. Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Sri Lanka Woodshrike, Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babble and the Grey Hornbill are the only endemics you might see here. All other usual dry zone forest birds can be seen during the morning and evenings with midday being extremely hot and humid.
 
Amphibians & Reptiles
Mugger Crocodiles, Green Garden Lizards, Water and Land Monitors, Indian Python, Indian Cobra and Russell’s viper have been recorded in the park. This is in addition to the many species of Frog.
 
Stats in Brief
Stratification: Dry zone forest
Size: 23,498ha
Status: National Park
Altitude: 90m with highest peak being 290m
Temperature: 30 (degree c)
Annual Rainfall: 1000m
Best time of year to visit: All year round, rainy period from November to January
Optimum duration of stay: Day visit
Accommodation Options: Tissa & Udawalawe
Highlights: Elephants & bird life
 

Lakshapana Falls

Lakshapana Falls, at 126m the seventh highest in Sri Lanka, are situated on the Maskeliya Oya. Whereas the water once flowed copiously, the construction of a dam has reduced the flow. Nevertheless, this waterfall is still a magnificent sight. The waters have to wend their way through big boulders before gushing over a ledge and falling down a sheer rock face set amidst tall trees.

The Lakshapana Falls is traditionally called Veddah hiti Ella, or “The Falls Where the Veddah Lived.” The modern name may be derived from the Sinhala lakshaya, which means “100,000” and pahana, which means “stone.” On the other hand, it may be derived from lakshana or “beautiful,” i.e. “beautiful stone.”

Travel the road from Maskeliya to Norton Bridge for 13km where a small road leads to Kottalenna, a settlement close to the waterfall, which can be seen at the bottom of the valley. A steep path will lead you down to the pool.

Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park is a 6,656ha section of dry evergreen monsoonal forest centered on the Kaudulla tank in the Polonnaruwa District.  Opened on September 21, 2002, it is one of Sri Lanka’s newest parks and forms the central link in the chain of protected elephant (Elephas maximus) habitat that extends from the long, western arm of Somawathie Chaitiya National Park in the north to Minneriya National Park in the south.

September and October are the best times to visit Kaudulla for it is then, at the end of the dry season, when the forest has been forced to shed its verdant cloak and stands naked and emaciated, and water sources have become concentrated into fewer and deeper depressions, that the elephants congregate. The numerous small herds that inhabit the surrounding region for most of the year gather together on the open bed of the main tank to graze, drink, bathe and socialize. When the numbers have swelled and the evening sun filters through the cloud-flecked sky, glinting off the surface of the wewa and bathing the assembled herds in its gentle glow, it is a heart-swelling, dizzying sight like no other.  At other times of the year Kaudulla offers different wilderness experiences to savour.  Always an excellent area for bird-watching, the usual dry zone denizens of forest, field and stream are to be seen.

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains is an undulating 2000m high plateau 28km south of Nuwara Eliya. The grassy plains, which are interspersed with small patches of forest, are home to leopards, sambur, deer, bear, monkeys and a rich array of birds, including some endemic species. The most dramatic feature of the National Park is `World’s End’ where the plateau comes to an abrupt end and drops nearly 1000m vertically. The best way to explore the park is on foot, though the plains can also be explored by jeep, preferably from early morning as the mist often falls by lunchtime.
 
Overview
Horton Plains comprises a gently undulating highland plateau at the southern end of the central montain massif of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s second and third highest peaks, Kirigalpotha (2,395m) and Thotupola Kanda (2,357m) are found here. Three important rivers; the Mahawali, Kelani and Walawe originate from the Horton Plains. The highlight for walkers is the trek to World’s End and Baker’s Falls.

Hakgala Botanic Gardens


				

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Founded by the eminent British botanist, Dr G.H.K. Thwaites in 1860, Hakgala was established at the height of imperial botany to supply the British Empire with cinchona to fight the scourge of malaria. The cinchona is long gone and instead Hakgala has plantations of roses, shrubs, orchids, ferns, camphor, eucalyptus, and montane woodland. Situated 10km from Nuwara Eliya at an elevation of 1,670m, it enjoys magnificent views east to the steep hills of the Uva Province. Hakgala has many special features and attractions. As you walk from the lower gardens near to the entrance and past the pond you can admire the lotus lilies and make your way up to the Rose Garden through paths marked with camellias, scented by jasmine and brightened by yellow marigolds. Trees provide shade though they are high enough above and far enough in-between for you to have an open view of the valley below. In keeping with the horticultural theme of Nuwara Eliya there is a Fruit Garden that you can visit, while an outside path leads to an old tea plantation, and also to a camphor plantation. There is an Orchid section at the top of the gardens, with many montane orchids endemic to Sri Lanka, a Japanese Garden and Scented Herb Garden. The Glass House is worth a look as it is beautifully arranged around a mossy tree with familiarly scented geraniums, and the blues, mauves and purples of the primula plants. Looking down the mountainside from here you will see the beautifully adorned curator’s bungalow bordered by many daisies, foxgloves, cornflowers and asters. It is at the Fernery next to this rock garden that you can appreciate the weird and wonderful aspects of nature. Pink and purple wildflowers make a pretty covering on the ground among spongy moss and white lichen, and orchids cover the bark. The air is damp and little streams can be seen running amongst the rocks. The garden is aesthetically pleasing in every way and you experience an enchanting and magical part of Sri Lanka that you never dreamed could exist

Gems of Sri Lanka

A gemstone is the naturally occurring crystalline form of a mineral which is desirable for its beauty, valuable in its rarity, and durable enough to be enjoyed for generations. There are more than 30 popular gem varieties and many more rare collector gemstones. Some varieties also come in a range of colors.

The Gem industry in Sri Lanka (also known as Ceylon, Serendib, etc..) has been in existence for over 2500 years. Some of the rarest of gem stones of exquisite beauty have taken pride of place, in the Crown jewels of Kings and Queens from time of Great Roamn Emperors.
Sapphire
Sapphire is an aluminum oxide. Its colour varies from very light to dark blue to violetish-blue, bluish-green, yellow, slightly reddish-orange, brown, nearly opaque black, colourless, pink, violet and the pinkish-orange padparadscha (lotus flower).
 
Varieties
Coloured varieties, star sapphire, alexandrite-like sapphire.
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Kashmir (India), Burma, Thailand, Australia, Tanzania, Kenya, Montana, Madagascar
 
Toughness
Excellent, except in laminated or fractured stones.
 
Precautions
Sapphires may fade if heated
 
Treatments
Sapphires can be x-rayed to intensify their colour. Natural sapphires undergo heat and diffusion treatments in Thailand. With the first method, sapphires with latent chemical components for good colour are "ripened" to a desirable colour through heating. In diffusion treatment, sapphires that lack the components for good colour are placed in a bath of colouring oxides that penetrate the outer layers of the stone. Treatment of blue stones is permanent.
 
History
According to an ancient Persian legend, the earth rested on a great sapphire whose reflection was seen in the sky. The stone also appears in the Promethean legend. Prometheus was chained to a rock by Zeus for having stolen fire from the gods. After being rescued by Hercules, a link of the chain remained on his finger, and attached to it was a piece of rock. Zeus agreed to grant Prometheus his freedom if he wore the link as a reminder of his sin. Later a ring set with a sapphire replaced the link and stone. Sapphire symbolizes truth, sincerity and constancy. It was believed to protect the wearer against capture by an enemy, and to win the favour of princesses. It also protected against poison. It was said that if a poisonous snake were put in a vessel with a sapphire, the rays from the gem would kill it. The name sapphire originally comes from Sanskrit. It became sappheiros in Greek, meaning blue. Before the value of sapphire was known to them, villages in the Zanzkar mountains of Kashmir (India) used the gem as a flint to start fires.
 
Cuts & Uses
Faceted and en cabochon, usually mixed cut, beads, carved (poor quality). Synthetic sapphire is used in watches, precision instruments and electronic equipment.
 
Ceylon Sapphires
The Ceylon Blue Sapphire is known for its beauty ? possessing the glorious cornflower blue shade ? as well as for being one of the few sapphires in the world that can be sold as a completely natural stone without heat treatment. The blues aside, Ceylon sapphires also come in beautiful hues including pink, yellow, orange, green, purple, lavender and of course, the inimitable padparadscha sapphire ? named after the lotus flower. All these highly marketable qualities of Ceylon sapphire has created brand recognition world wide - a brand not created by the producers of the stone, but by the sellers and consumers.
 
Sapphires that show a star-like light effect are called star sapphires; the most famous star sapphire from
Sri Lanka is displayed in the Museum of Natural History in New York. Star sapphires or star rubies display a star-like marking and this effect, commonly known as asterism, occurs when light falls on the cut stone, cut in the cabochon form, and three rays appear giving a six-point star. However, stones with six rays have also been known to occur.
 
Lastly, there is milky corundum, a white opaque form of corundum also called geuda, which for many years was regarded as useless and discarded, often ending up lining fish tanks in some gemstone merchant's house. This happened until dealers in Thailand learned to heat-treat geudas to change the colour of the stone from an unattractive cloudy grey-white to a bright, sparkling blue. They completed the work nature began and ended up with a blue sapphire - of much greater value than a useless pebble. The colour of heat-treated blue sapphires are stable and the chemical composition of the stone is that of a sapphire, although prices are lower than for a similar quality stone with natural colour.
 
Choosing a Sapphire
The most famous sources for sapphire are Kashmir and Burma, (now known as Myanmar). Kashmir sapphire, which was discovered in 1881 when a landslide in the Himalayas uncovered beautiful blue pebbles, has a rich velvety colour prized by connoisseurs. Burma sapphires, from the same region that produces fabulous rubies, are also very fine. However, today, these two sources account for a very small quantity of the sapphire on the market.
 
Most fine sapphire on the market today comes from Sri Lanka, which produces a wide range of beautiful blues from delicate sky blue colours to rich saturated hues. Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Pailin in Cambodia are renowned for deep blue, even colours. Two relatively new mining localities are showing promise: Madagascar, which has produced some exceptionally fine stones in small sizes but has no organized mining yet, and Tanzania, which has long produced sapphire in other colours but is starting to produce blue colours as well from a new deposit in the south.
 
The most valuable sapphires have a medium intense, vivid blue colour. The best sapphires hold the brightness of their colour under all different types of lighting. Any black, grey, or green overtones mixed in with the blue will reduce a stone's value. In general, a more pastel blue would be less preferred than a vivid blue but would be priced higher than an overly dark blackish-blue colour. As with all gemstones, sapphires, which are "clean" and have few visible inclusions or tiny flaws are the most valuable.
 
Sapphires are most often cut in a cushion shape - a rounded rectangle - or an oval shape. You can also find smaller sapphires in round brilliant cuts or a wide variety of fancy shapes, including triangles, squares, emerald cuts, marquises, pear shapes, baguette shapes, cabochon cuts and smooth domes.
 
Ruby
Ruby is an aluminum oxide, a variety of corundum; it occurs in medium to dark tones of red and violetish-red to brownish-red
 
Varieties
Star ruby
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Africa (Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania), India.
 
Toughness
Excellent, except in laminated or fractured stones.
 
Treatments
The Burmese believed that "blazing red" stones could be found in a "bottomless" valley. Natives threw pieces of meat into the valley, hoping that some stones could then be recovered by killing the vultures. In the Royal Collection of England, you can view a gold ring set with a pale but nearly flawless ruby into which a portrait of Louis XII of France is carved.
 
Cuts & Uses
Faceted or en cabochon, usually mixed cut (brilliant crown, step-cut pavilion), beads, carved (poor quality).
 
Choosing a Ruby
The most important factor in the value of a ruby is colour. The top qualities are as red as you can imagine: a saturated pure spectral hue without any overtones of brown or blue. The word red is derived from the Latin word for ruby, ruber, which is derived from similar words in Persian, Hebrew, and Sanskrit. The intensity of colour of a fine ruby is like a glowing coal, probably the most intensely coloured substance our ancestors ever saw. It is no wonder they ascribed magical powers to these fires that burned perpetually and never extinguished themselves.
 
Besides colour, other factors that influence the value of a ruby are clarity, cut, and size. Rubies that are perfectly transparent, with no tiny flaws, are more valuable than those with inclusions, which are visible to the eye. Cut can make a big difference in how attractive and lively a ruby appears to the eye. A well-cut stone should reflect backlight evenly across the surface without a dark or washed-out area in the centre that can result from a stone that is too deep or shallow. The shape should also be symmetrical and there should not be any nicks or scratches in the polish. Rubies and other gemstones are sold per carat, a unit of weight equal to one-fifth of a gram. Larger rubies, because they are more rare, will cost more per carat than smaller stones of the same quality.
 
The Ruby sometimes displays a three-ray, six-point star. These star rubies are cut in a smooth domed cabochon cut to display the effect. The star is most visible when illuminated with a single light source: it moves across the stone as the light moves. This effect, called asterism, is caused by light reflecting off tiny rutile needles, called "silk," which are oriented along the crystal faces.
 
The value of star rubies and sapphires are influenced by two factors: the intensity and attractiveness of the body colour and the strength and sharpness of the star. All six legs should be straight and equally prominent. Star rubies rarely have the combination of a fine translucent or transparent colour and a sharp prominent star. These gems are valuable and expensive.
 
The most famous source of fine rubies is Burma, which is now called Myanmar. The ruby mines of Myanmar date back to centuries ago: stone age and bronze age mining tools have been found in the mining area of Mogok. Rubies from the legendary mines in Mogok often have a pure red colour, sometimes described as "pigeon's-blood", although that term is more fanciful than an actual practical standard in the trade today. Myanmar also produces intense pinkish red rubies, which are vivid and extremely beautiful. Many of the rubies from Burma have a strong fluorescence when exposed to ultraviolet rays like those in sunlight, which layers on extra colour. Burma rubies have a reputation of holding their vivid colour under all lighting conditions.
 
Sri Lankan stones are often pinkish in hue and many are pastel in tone. Some, however, resemble the vivid pinkish red hues from Burma. Rubies from Kenya and Tanzania surprised the world when they were discovered in the sixties because their colour rivals the world's best. Unfortunately, most of the ruby production from these countries has many inclusions, tiny flaws that diminish transparency. Rubies from the African mines are rarely transparent enough to facet. However, their fantastic colour is displayed to full advantage when cut in the cabochon style. A few rare clean stones of top quality have been seen.
 
Occasionally a few fine, top-quality rubies appear on the market from Afghanistan, Pakistan or the Pamir Mountains of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The terrain in these areas has made exploration for gemstones very difficult but someday they may produce significant quantities for the world market.
 
Alexandrite
Alexandrite is a variety of chrysoberyl, which ideally shows a distinct colour change from green in fluorescent light or daylight to red in incandescent light.
 
Varieties
A very small amount of alexandrite shows a cat's eye effect (chatoyancy).
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Soviet Russia, Brazil, Zimbabwe - Rhodesia, Burma.
 
Toughness
Excellent
 
History
Alexandrite received its name because it was discovered on the birthday of
Czar Alexander II of Russia in 1830. Red and green are also the colours of the Russian Imperial Guard.
 
Cuts & Uses
Alexandrite is usually faceted. Chrysoberyl cat's eyes must be cut en cabochon to display a chatoyant effect.
 
Star stones
Star stones of the corundum family are either star sapphires or rubies. When light falls on these stones, a star effect is visible (known as asterism).
 
Sri Lanka is the best known source for star sapphires and star rubies. Star sapphires range in colour from grey to bluish-grey and from medium blue to medium dark blue. The very slightly purplish medium dark blue is the best colour grade for star sapphires. Star rubies range from light pink-red to purple-red through deep purple-red. The intense red star rubies are extremely rare. A good quality star stone should have a high degree of transparency and a well defined star with no weak or missing rays. It should be reasonably clean and in the face-up position, no distracting inclusions or cracks should be seen. There should be no excess weight at the bottom of the stone.
 
Star sapphires and rubies are hard stones (9 on the Moh?s scale), which can take a high degree of polish and retain the shinefor a long time. The special optical phenomenon of a well-defined six-ray star is a fascinating sight. The wearable qualities of the star stones make them suitable for men's rings.
 
Chrysoberyl
The species name chrysoberyl is given to a transparent, faceted gemstone that does not show a colour change between daylight and artificial light (the chrysoberyl which shows a colour change is called alexandrite). The ideal colours of chrysoberyl are green and yellowish-green. In addition, due to strong dichroism, one may see an
attractive bi-coloured chrysoberyl occasionally. Hardness is 8.5 on the Moh's scale. The high refractive index of the stone makes it very lively when properly cut and polished
 
Cat's eye
A cat's eye like effect, known as 'chatoyancy', appears to move on this stone's surface. Cat's eye is a gem variety of chrysoberyl.
 
Hardness: 8.5 on the Mohs' scale.
 
There are generally two varieties of cat?s eye ? the alexandrite cat?s-eye and the chrysoberyl cat?s-eye, which is very popular in the Far East, particularly in Japan. The ideal colours of the chrysoberyl cat?s-eye are yellowish-brown, which is called the honey colour, and the yellow-green, which is called the apple green colour. A very good cat?s eye, apart from being of ideal colour, should have a high degree of transparency and a well-defined unbroken ray. It should be free from any distracting inclusions visible to the unaided eye. The chrysoberyl cat?s-eye is one of the most beautiful gemstones because of the ?chatoyancy? or the eye effect.
 
Description
A translucent variety of chrysoberyl (beryllium aluminum oxide) which exhibits a silvery white line across the stone. This moves as the stone, the light source or the observer moves and may appear to open and close like an eye. The finest quality has a sharp eye that appears to open and close as the stone is rotated, and exhibits a strong "milk and honey" effect (stone on one side of the eye appears lighter than the other). These colours switch as the stone or light source is moved. The most highly prized body colours are greenish-yellow and brownish-yellow (honey colour).
 
Varieties
Rare specimens also exhibit change of colour.
 
Sources Sri Lanka, Brazil.
 
Phenomena
Chatoyancy caused by the reflection of light off minute, parallel, needle-like rutile crystals or hollow tubes.
 
Toughness
Excellent
 
Miscellaneous
When a gem specimen exhibits both chatoyancy and change of colour, one or both phenomena will suffer. It is more common to find a good eye with poor change of colour. The conditions necessary for one phenomenon conflict with those needed for the other. The term cat's eye when used alone refers to chrysoberyl. Other minerals exhibiting chatoyancy must be qualified, e.g. tourmaline cat's eye.
 
History
Cat's eye has been regarded as a preserver of good fortune. The natives of Sri Lanka still consider it a charm against evil spirits. British royalty often use it as an engagement stone.
 
Cuts & Uses
Must be cut in a cabochon to produce cat's eye effect. This should be cut so that the long portion of the cabochon is 90 degrees to the direction of the needles.
 
Quartz
Quartz is the most common mineral on the face of the Earth. Gem varieties include amethyst (purple), citrine (yellow), milky quartz (cloudy, white variety), rock crystal (clear variety), rose quartz (pink to reddish-pink variety), and smokey quartz (brown to grey variety).
Gem varieties of quartz include: citrine, amethyst, rock crystal, rose quartz, and smokey quartz. There are also varieties of Quartz cat's eye.
Colours: citrine (yellow); amethyst (purple); rock crystal (colourless); rose quartz (pink); and smokey quartz (purplish-brown).
 
Amethyst
Description
A variety of quartz, silicon dioxide, which appears to be dark purple in transparent light.
Sources
Sri Lanka, Brazil, Uruguay, Russia, Mexico, Zimbabwe - Rhodesia, Zambia, Arizona.
Toughness
Good
 
History
The word amethyst comes from the Greek amethustos meaning "not drunk". Therefore, it has been considered a charm against intoxication. A legend accounts for the origin of the stone. Supposedly, Bacchus, the god of wine and conviviality, grew angry at a slight and swore revenge. He decreed that the first mortal to come across his path was to be eaten by tigers. Amethyst, a beautiful maiden on her way to worship at the shrine of Diana, happened to be the victim. Diana, the huntress, changed Amethyst into colourless quartz to protect her from the tigers. When Bacchus witnessed the miracle, he repented and poured wine over the stone, staining it purple. The wine failed to cover the entire stone evenly, and the feet and part of the legs remained clear crystal. So, in keeping with the legend, amethyst crystals are usually uneven in colour with a colourless base.
Cuts & Uses Must be cut in a cabochon to produce cat's eye effect. This should be cut so that the long portion of the cabochon is 90 degrees to the direction of the needles.
 
Citrine
Description
A transparent variety of quartz, silicon dioxide, occurring in yellow to red-orange to orange-brown. The name is derived from citron, which is French for lemon.
 
Varieties
Madeira (deep, bright reddish-brown) and Palmyra (medium yellowish-brown) are terms used in the trade.
 
Sources
Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Sri Lanka.
 
Toughness
Good
 
Treatments
Poor quality amethyst is often heat-treated to achieve a desirable citrine colour.
 
Cuts & Uses
Usually fashioned into ring and pendant stones. The per carat value of cut citrine usually decreases beyond the size of an average ring stone.
 
Aquamarine
Aquamarine is a blue to greenish-blue or bluish-green variety of beryl.
 
Varieties
May occasionally exhibit a cat's eye effect (chatoyancy).
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Brazil, Madagascar (only historically), Tanzania, Russia, Kenya, Afghanistan, Nigeria.
 
Toughness
Good
 
Treatments
Almost all aquamarine is heat-treated to enhance its blue colour. Irradiation with neutron, gamma rays or with x-rays. Colour change is permanent and is an accepted practice. A morganite (pink beryl) turns deep purple blue (Maxixe type) upon ultraviolet irradiation, though the colour is not stable.
 
History
The word aquamarine comes from the Latin for sea water. In 1910 a 243 lb. crystal was found in Brazil. The outside was greenish and the inside was blue. It sold for $25,000 and was cut into many high quality gems. The American Museum of Natural History has a 13 lb. uncut piece of the green outside portion.
 
Cuts & Uses
The step-cut is the most popular because it accentuates the colour. As it is often found in large, flawless, even-colored crystals, it is frequently used in pendants and rings. Given a piece of rough with a certain colour intensity, the larger stones cut from it will exhibit deeper colour.
Other Information Aquamarine is the blue, or perhaps more correctly, blue-green or aqua variety of the mineral beryl. Other gemstone colour varieties that belong to beryl include emerald, morganite, and heliodor. Other colours of beryl are simply referred to by their colour, such as red beryl. Most gem aquamarines have been heat treated to produce the popular blue-green varieties from less desirable yellow or pale stones.
 
Garnet
A group of gemstones occurring in every colour but blue. One of earth's most common minerals, though only a small portion is considered gem quality.
 
Species
Rhodolite- violet to purplish-red;
Almandite - red, brownish-red, violetish-red or purple;
Pyrope ? red;
Grossularite - green, yellow, brown, white, colourless, light violet, red, orangey-red; Varieties: hessonite (orange to brown), transparent, green, grossularite (tsavorite);
Some show a colour change from a mauve-brown to orange-red.
Andradite - green, yellow, black. Green called demantoid (high lustre and dispersion);
Spessartite - yellow to yellow-brown, dark orangey-brown, reddish-orange, orange;
Uvarovite - emerald green, found only in tiny sizes, usually opaque.
 
Sources
Rhodolite - Sri Lanka, North Carolina, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil.
Almandite - Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, star from Idaho - USA.
Pyrope - Czechoslovakia, South Africa, Zimbabwe - Rhodesia, Brazil, Arizona.
Grossularite - Sri Lanka, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Canada.
Andradite - demantoid: Russia, Italy; translucent yellowish or greenish-brown, Arizona.
Spessartite - Sri Lanka, Burma, Brazil, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya.
Uvarovite - Russia, Finland (hardly mined at all).
 
Toughness
Fair to good
 
History
Since earliest times garnets have been carried as amulets against accidents in travel. Asiatic peoples and even our Southwest Indians used them as bullets, believing that their rich, glowing colour might cause more deadly wounds. The Persians have given the garnet a favoured place as a royal stone, allowing it to bear their sovereign's image. Red garnet was once used to relieve fever, yellow garnet to cure jaundice. If the powder failed, the apothecary was accused of using a substitute.
 
Cuts & Uses
Usually faceted. Sometimes carved into intaglios.
 
Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a group of minerals comprised of a complex boron-aluminum silicate with one or more of the following: magnesium, sodium, lithium, iron, potassium or other metals. It appears in light from dark red to purple as well as brownish variations of these hues - light to dark green, yellowish-green, greenish-yellow, brownish-orange. It also grows bi-coloured.
 
Varieties
Bi-coloured, watermelon, cat's eye, alexandrite-like (rare) .
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Brazil, USA (California, Maine), Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan (prime new source).
 
History
Dutch children played with tourmaline because of its ability to attract light objects. The stones were called "aschentrekkers" (ash drawers).
 
Cuts & Uses
Any cut may be used. Some are carved, some fashioned into beads. Cat's eye are always cut en cabochon. Sometimes carved to make use of more than one colour.
 
Spinel
A magnesium aluminum oxide which occurs in all colours, ruby-red being the most popular. Most colours are greyed out. Gahno-spinel is a dark blue or greenish-blue spinel with high zinc content.
 
Varieties
Star material is very rare.
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Burma, Minor-Anatolia, Afghanistan, Brazil, Thailand, Australia.
Toughness Good
 
History
Two of the stones among the Crown Jewels of England are spinels, although they were once thought to be rubies. They are the Black Prince's Ruby and the Timur Ruby. The 361 carat Timur Ruby is the world's most famous spinel. Spinel was recognized as a separate species as early as 1587 in Burma.
 
Cuts & Uses
Usually faceted.
 
Topaz
Topaz is a fluosilicate of aluminum, occurring in transparent yellow, yellow-brown, orange-brown, light to almost medium red, very light to light blue, very light green and violet colours.
 
Varieties
Coloured varieties, Imperial (reddish-orange), chatoyant material (very rare).
 
Sources
Prime source is Brazil. Sri Lanka (blue), Mexico (mostly poor quality, brownish-yellow), Russia, South Africa (blue), Utah, Afghanistan.
 
Toughness
Poor, extremely easy basal cleavage - treat with care.
 
History
The stone began to be used in Marco Polo's time (13th century). Topaz mounted in gold and hung around the neck was believed to dispel enchantment. When the powdered stone was put in wine, it was considered a cure for asthma, insomnia, burns and haemorrhages. Topaz was supposed to become obscure in contact with poison and to quench the heat of boiling water. All these powers were believed to be increased or decreased with the changes of the moon.
 
Cuts & Uses
Usually faceted, often mixed cut due to long prismatic shape of crystal; some stones cut as longish oval or pendeloque stones. The moderately rich colored stones are emerald cut.
 
Moonstone
Moonstones are usually colourless to white, semi-transparent to translucent, and characterised by a glowing light effect known as adularescence, the visibility of which is confined to a restricted angle of view. The most valuable of the feldspar gems.
 
Varieties
Some may exhibit cat's eye effect.
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Burma, United States, Madagascar, Tanzania.
Phenomena Adularescence- a glowing effect, the finest of which is bluish. Finest quality moonstone is semi-transparent; poorest is translucent. Occasionally a sharp cat's eye may be present.
 
Toughness
Poor
 
History
Considered a love charm, moonstone has been attributed the power to arouse tender passions and foretell the future. Therapeutic qualities include protection from lunacy, appeaser of anger and relief from fever.
 
Cuts & Uses
Usually en cabochon, sometimes carved into cameos. Generally used as an inexpensive stone for rings, pendants, etc.
 
Zircon
Zircon is a zirconium silicate, occurring in colourless, light blue, brownish-orange, yellow, yellowish-green, brownish-green, dark red or light red-violet. Blue is the most valuable. This stone is usually heat-treated.
 
Varieties
High, medium and low property.
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand.
Precautions Avoid heat. Boiling and steaming not recommended.
 
History
The terms hyacinth or jacinth were often applied to the reddish-brown zircon. During the Middle Ages, hyacinth was claimed to have the power of inducing sleep, of promoting riches, honour and wisdom and of driving away plagues and evil spirits. The pale yellow to colourless stones from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) were called jargoons.
 
Cuts & Uses
The round brilliant cut is most successful, standard 57-facets with no culet.
 
Peridot
Peridot is a silicate of magnesium and iron, occurring in yellowish-green, green, greenish-yellow, brownish-green and brown (all transparent).
 
Varieties
Peridot top grades: medium to dark, slightly yellowish-green. Chrysolite ? greenish-yellow, light to dark yellowish-green to brownish-green to almost brown.
 
Sources
Sri Lanka, Island of Zeberget (Egypt), Burma, USA, Mexico.
 
Toughness
Fair to good
 
History
The ancients called it the "gem of the sun." They attributed to it the power to dispel enchantment and evil spirits due to its association with the sun (which drives away darkness). In order to be worn as a talisman, it had to be set in gold. The Red Sea island of Zeberget, off the southern tip of Egypt, was worked for this stone as early as 1500 B.C. At that time, the island was known as "The Island of Serpents," because it was infested with poisonous snakes. Later, the reigning Egyptian king had the snakes destroyed to facilitate prospecting for peridot. Prospecting was done at night because the gem could not be seen in sunlight. The workers would mark the spots and return the next day to dig them out.
 
Cuts & Uses
Usually faceted. Step-cut is best; oval, round and pendeloque cuts are common. Very suitable for brooches, pendants, earrings, but not for rings or bracelets because it abrades easily.
 
Blue Giant of the Orient (466 carats)
Mined in Kuruwita in 1907, this giant blue sapphire is one of the world's most valuable gemstones. In rough, it was said to have been over 600 carats and was fashioned into a jewel of 466 carats. It is the largest blue sapphire in the world. This gem is in the collection of an American gem and art collector.
 
Logan Blue Sapphire (423 carats)
Considered to be the second largest blue sapphire in the world on record. A flawless specimen with a rich deep blue, the stone was gifted to The Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC by John Logan.
 
Star of India (563 carats)
The second largest star sapphire in the world was discovered in Sri Lanka. It is almost flawless and unusual in that it has stars on both sides of the stone. Part of the collection of the American Museum of Natural history.
 
Star of Lanka (362 carats)
Third largest star sapphire on record. The phenomenal stone is a rich deep-blue in colour and has a well-defined six-ray star. Owned by the National Gem & Jewellery Authority in Sri Lanka.
 
Rosser Reeves Star Ruby (138 carats)
The world's largest star ruby combining excellent colour, good transparency and a well-defined star. Part of the United States National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian Institute.
 
Hope Cat's Eye (over 500 carats)
Probably the largest chrysoberyl cat's eye in the world, it was previously part of the collection of Thomas Hope, the wealthy British banker and gem investor. This cat's eye is carved to represent an alter surmounted by a torch. Exhibited at the British Museum of Natural History.
 
Ray of Treasure (103 carats)
The stone displays the most desirable qualities of a "milk and honey" effect, with good transparency and a well-defined silvery star. An almost flawless specimen, its cut and proportions are excellent. It is part of the collection of the Sri Lanka National Gem & Jewellery Authority.

Galle Face

Galle Face Green is a beautiful stretch of land of around 1/2km by the sea, that’s mostly used as a public walk way, located at the heart of Colombo. It’s situated right in front of the old Parliament of Sri Lanka and most of the best star class hotels are situated around it, complimenting this famous site a little bit more. This promenade is the biggest open space to be seen in this congested city.

Young lovers walking hand in hand or sitting closer to each other on the benches placed on the side of the promenade is a common site to be seen. It’s truly a romantic place to be watching the sun going down in many colours and finally fading away to the ocean. Galle Face Green is most of the time filled on weekends with families who come to fly kites or just to enjoy the nice sea breeze while they sit on the nice green carpet of grass that is neatly laid and maintained by the Urban Development Authority.
For a brisk walk in the evenings, this would be the perfect place for you and if you are staying in one of the star class hotels nearby you have the advantage of not needing separate transportation to get here. There are many developments to be seen at present and a separate extension was made towards the sea for a better view of the ocean to the people who visit Galle Face Green.
Red Bull X fighters, a motorcycle stunt show is held annually in Colombo is held at Galle Face Green, bringing over 100,000 spectators to this field.
At the side of the promenade they sell the yummiest snacks that you can try outdoors in Sri Lanka. They have fruits like, mango and pineapple mixed with salt and chilli powder or pepper or you can try the Galle Face Green specialities, the Prawn Wades that is better known as, Isso Wade or the Naan Rottis with delicious curries to be sold and mostly on weekends you will be able to see children crying or nagging to their parents asking for ice cream and toys sold by the mobile vendors visiting this place every day.

Flora and Fauna in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is the paradise of flora and fauna. The country has over 90 species of mammal (including elephant, leopard, bear and monkeys), hundreds of butterflies, over 80 snake species (including deadly cobras and vipers), and about 435 species of birds.

Sri Lanka has the distinction of having the world's oldest recorded wildlife preserve. More than 2000 years ago, in the 3rd century BC, a region in north central Sri Lanka was set aside by royal decree to be free of all hunting. Today, more than 8% of the land is preserved as national park or nature preserve.

Birds
Birds are numerous, many varieties from colder countries wintering on the island. Sri Lanka has well-organized game and bird sanctuaries. Of the 431 recorded species 251 are resident and no less than 21 are endemic to the island. Most of the endemic birds are restricted to the wet zone, e.g. the Ceylon Grackle or to the hill - country, e.g. the Ceylon Whistling Thrush, the Yellow-eared Bulbul etc. Some, such as the striking Redfaced Malkoha and the shy brown-capped Babbler can be found through out the island although confined to small areas of forests, National Parks and Forest Reserves. Among the best areas for these birds are the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary.

The large 'tanks' (reservoirs) in the dry zone attract numerous types of ducks, while the large water birds - the storks, herons and egrets - can be easily spotted in the National Parks. The Kumana Bird Sanctuary in the Eastern Province and Bundala, Kalametiya and Wirawila in the south, abound in these aquatic birds. Bundala is especially famous for its flocks of visiting flamingoes. The Ceylon elk ( sambhur ) and the polonga snake are unique to Sri Lanka. Insects abound and numerous fish are found in the shallow offshore waters.
An interesting place to visit for more bird life is the Muthurajawela marshes, just outside the northern border of the Colombo city.

Mammals
Sri Lanka has 90 species of mammals including leopards, monkey and the pride of place goes to the majestic elephant. Although rapid destruction of its habitat has depleted the elephant population, sizeable numbers can be seen in Gal Oya and Udawalawe National Parks and at Handapangala. Extinction also threatens the island's biggest cat - the leopard, although Wilpattu National Park is justifiably proud of its leopard population. Many species of deer - the Sambhur, the Hog Deer, the Mouse deer can also be seen in the Parks.
Other mammals include the Sloth Bear, the protected Dugong, the Wild Boar, the Porcupine and Monkeys, especially the Grey Langur, which are common throughout the island. Of special interest is the endemic purple faced Leaf Monkey, found in the higher hill regions.

Flora of Sri Lanka
Tropical rainforest covers much of the southwestern part of the island, where teak and ebony grow.The plant life ranges from that of the equatorial rain forest to that of the dry zone and the more temperate Climate of the highlands. Tree ferns, bamboo, palm, satinwood, ebony, and jak trees abound. Orchids abound in the lush forest.

Well-preserved rainforests, exotic gardens areas provide an enriching insight of how rich Sri Lanka is with her natural resources. With the emphasis on preservation of the environment, Sri Lanka ensures that its natural assets are maintained in their original state. These assets, combined with the island's tourist attractions, make a winning combination. From March to May numerous flowering trees such as the fiery Poinciana Regia, the white Mesua Ferrea, the cherry blossom-like Tabebuia, burst into bloom. Flowering orchids include endemic varieties such as the protected Daffodil and Wesak Orchids.

The hills in central Sri Lanka have the perfect climate for tea cultivation and whole hillsides are dedicated to growing this compact, dark-leafed camellia for its fragrant leaves. It is in the cool hills that most of the commercial vegetables such as peppers, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce are grown. The coasts are more arid, with low scrub and grasslands, and it's here you'll see tall coconut palms lining the roads. Outside of the city, most homes have their own stands of papaya and mango trees, banana plants, breadfruit and jackfruit trees. Many of the ornamental plants that adorn temples and homes are not native to the Indian Sub-continent but are so familiar now that their origins seem unimportant. Indeed lantana, with its clusters of red and orange blossoms on a prickly shrub, is a native of the Americas but now grows in almost impenetrable thickets in parts of Sri Lanka. The fragrant frangipani, originally from the West Indies, with its white/yellow or pink flowers, is a common tree found outside homes and temples throughout the country.

Dunhinda Falls

Sri Lanka, in comparison to its size, has perhaps the largest number of waterfalls of any country in the world. Indeed, there are nearly 100 in Sri Lanka over 5-10 metres, the largest being no less than 263 metres high. Several factors are necessary for such an abundance of waterfalls. First, the geological formation of the land has to be such that there is a sharp upthrust of the earth’s surface. Second, the rivers should flow over a hard rock face to minimise erosion. Third, there should be plenty of rainfall to swell the rivers. In Sri Lanka all these factors are satisfied in the central highlands.

Dunhinda Falls is the highest waterfall on the Badulu Oya, at 63 metres, a river that rises in the mountains on the border of the Uva highlands and runs into the Mahaweli river. The fall looks breathtaking, with its water roaring over a rocky ledge and falling splashing with clouds of spray into a pool in the rocks below. It is because of this reason that his water fall is named as Dunhinda Falls in Sinhala meaning “spraying” or “vapor waterfall.”

 The Dunhinda Falls are located on the Badulla – Taldena Road 5 km north of Badulla. From the main road, you have to walk a kilometre to the waterfall. This path follows the course of the Badulu Oya, which flows at the bottom of the valley through the thick forest. Although clearly defined, the path is sometimes quite rocky, and so the travelers should remember to wear suitable footwear. A good observation spot is available at the end of the path. There is also an ancient cave close to the fall where once was occupied by the Veddas (natives of  Sri Lanka) from Bintenne.

Diyaluma Ella

Just a few kilometres south of Wellawaya is Diyaluma, a towering waterfall – indeed the second tallest in the island – which like so many waterfalls has a tragic legend attached.Diyaluma, Sri Lanka’s second highest waterfall at 220m, features a cascade of water falling in a single slender streak into the wooded valley below. These magnificent falls are fed by the water of the Punagala Oya, a tributary of the Kirindi Ganga, and are the last of a series on this river.

The legend begins with a young chieftain being banished from his clan and made to live in the mountains above the plains. He was betrothed to a lady of high standing who, while remaining stranded from her lover on lower ground, was determined to join him.As the passes leading to the mountains were guarded, the lady realised that escape by way of these routes would be impossible, so she had to devise an alternative plan. Whilst looking at the steep cliffs surrounding the plains she had an idea and sent news of it to her lover in the highlands.On an appointed day she arrived at the base of the precipice to find a dangling rope of twisted creepers as she had arranged. Her plan was to scale the escarpment aided by her lover, who would meet her at the top. However, when she neared the top of the cliff the rope became caught and with no way to free it the maiden eventually died and was left dangling in mid-air.It is said that the gods were so moved to pity by this tragic love story that they commanded a stream of water to gush from the mountain and veil evidence of the accident in a watery light or diya luma.

You can walk to the top of the waterfall following a one-kilometre path that begins from a small rubber factory by the side of the road. On reaching the top you will be rewarded with breathtaking views and the chance to have a refreshing dip in the rock pools to be found there.

Devon Falls

Sri Lanka that is also known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean is a tourist’s paradise. As a island nation that boasts crystal clear blue waters, pristine beaches, stunning lakes & rivers as well as magnificent mountains, the remarkable waterfalls of Sri Lanka further compliments the sheer natural beauty of the land. One such remarkable waterfall that is worth mentioning is the Devon Falls.

Named after a pioneer coffee planter, The Devon Falls is one of the most prominent waterfalls of Sri Lanka which is situated in Talawakele.  It is a massive waterfall which is 318 feet high and has several continuous cascades. Positioned in the Devon Estate, this spectacular fall lies in close proximity to the St. Clairs waterfalls as well as the Radalla waterfall.

Travellers who wish to see the magnificence of Mother Nature through this great waterfall can do so by taking a drive through Avissawella from the Colombo. The Devon Falls can also be reached via the Hatton- Nuwaraeliya road. Howerve, many state that the best position to view the splendour of this unique waterfall is from the 20th milepost of the Talawakele highway where parking facilities and a special viewing area available.

The wide open space in front of the waterfall makes it look even more gigantic. The Devon Falls occupies a superb location close to Nuwaraeliya, Hatton Main road. Therefore, many local and international travellers visiting Nuwaraeliya during the April season make it a point to stop at this stunning roadside waterfall and take in its beauty. Those who travel by train on the Kandy Nuwaraeliya rail line can also catch a glimpse of the impressive Devon Falls.

The Devon Falls is located within close proximity to many attractions such as a kovil as well as many accommodation options that include the likes of a beautiful bungalow built by a British governor in the 1920s, as well as numerous hotels and guesthouses.

This exceptionally picturesque waterfall can be witnessed at ease, and it is renowned for offering its viewers a picture that will be etched in their minds forever.
 

Dehiwela Zoo / National Zoological Gardens

National Zoological Garden situated only 9.5 kilometres from Colombo City is a place that will excite both young and the old when they explore through gardens filled with beautiful birds and fierce animals. Dehiwala Zoo is open usually from 8:30am to 6pm, all 365 days a year.

If you like to use public transport, the easiest way to get to the Zoo is by train. You can get in the from the train station at Colombo Fort and get down from Dehiwala station which is very close to the zoo and get the Bus Route Number 176 or 118 from there to reach the zoo or you can take the Bus Route Number 101 from Colombo Fort that stops at Dehiwala junction, and get the Bus Route Number 176 or 118 or simply get a cab or a tuk tuk since it’s not so far away from the main city.
If you are a foreign adult you will have to pay Rs.2000 as the entrance fee and if you have children coming with you Rs. 1000 will be charged for each foreign child. If you are from a SAARC country as an adult you will have to pay Rs.500 and a child only Rs. 250. Locals have to pay lesser than that for a wonderful experience inside the zoo.
There are so many types of animals that will surely take your whole day to look around. Seeing all the Mammals, reptiles, birds & butterflies and the pretty aquarium itself will be one of the best experiences you’ll ever have in Colombo. They have a great Zoo Museum as well with great descriptions which are very informative and staff will also be very helpful to give out more information about the animal skeletons to be seen at this great place.
Elephant Rides are entertained on Saturdays 2:30pm to 4:00pm and pony rides are given on Sundays at the same time. You will be able to catch up on an exciting lion show and the elephant shows every day between 4 – 4:15pm and 4:30 to 4:55pm which will amuse for sure.
This will be a perfect place for your families to hang out during day time and since it’s usually sunny it’s better for you to be wearing light clothes and bring an umbrella or a hat to stay safe from the sun.

Dances of Sri Lanka

The origin of the dances of Sri Lanka lies with the indigenous people of Sri Lanka, The dance call 'Thelme' was from King 'Rawana' over 5000 years ago. According to a Sinhalese legend, Kandyan dances originate, 2500 years ago, from a magic ritual that broke the spell on a bewitched king. An ancient chronicle, the Mahavamsa, states that when the Vijaya landed in Sri Lanka in 543 BCE, he heard the sounds of music and dancing from a wedding ceremony. (This vijaya is an invader from northern India and he had captured an area called 'Thammanna' of Sri Lanka. But after some times later those area recaptured by 'Pandukabhaya' who was from real owners of the country (Yak, Rakus [this rakus meant Rak + Kus > cultivators)

Classical Dances
There are three main styles of Sri Lankan classical dance:
The Kandyan dances of the Hill Country, known as Uda Rata Natum;
The low country dances of the southern plains, known as Pahatha Rata Natum;
Sabaragamuwa dances, or Sabaragamuwa Natum.

Kandyan dance takes its name from Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka, which is situated about 120 kilometers from the modern capital at Colombo. This genre is today considered the classical dance of Sri Lanka. In Sanskrit terminology it is considered pure dance (nrtta); it features a highly developed system of "tala" (rhythm), provided by cymbals called "thalampataa". There are five distinct types; the ves, naiyandi, uddekki, pantheru, and vannams.

The three classical dance forms differ in their styles of body-movements and gestures, in the costumes worn by the performers, and in the shape and size of the drums use to provide rhythmic sound patterns to accompany the dancing.

The drum used in Kandyan dancing is known as the Geta Bera, the drum in Ruhunu dancing as the "Yak Bera", and drum in Sabaragamu dancing as the "Davula" (the word Bera or Bereya in Sinhale means "Drum") The Geta Bera is beaten with the hands as is also Yak Bera, while the Davula is played with a stick on one side and with one hand on the other side; the Geta Bera has a body which tapers on both sides while the Yak Bera and the Davula both have cylindrical bodies.
 The main distinguishing feature between Kandyan and Saparagamu dancing, and Ruhunu dancing, is that Ruhunu dancers wear masks 
 
Dance Styles - Kandyan dances (Uda Rata Netum)

Ves dance
"Ves" dance, the most popular, originated from an ancient purification ritual, the Kohomba Yakuma or Kohomba Kankariya. The dance was propitiatory, never secular, and performed only by males. The elaborate ves costume, particularly the headgear, is considered sacred and is believed to belong to the deity Kohomba.

Only toward the end of the nineteenth century were ves dancers first invited to perform outside the precincts of the Kankariya Temple at the annual Kandy Perahera festival. Today the elaborately costumed ves dancer epitomizes Kandyan dance.

Naiyandi dance
Dancers in Naiyandi costume perform during the initial preparations of the Kohomba Kankariya festival, during the lighting of the lamps and the preparation of foods for the demons. The dancer wears a white cloth and white rurban, beadwork decorations on his chest, a waistband, rows of beads around his neck, silver chains, brass shoulder plates, anklets, and jingles. This is a graceful dance, also performed in Maha Visnu (Vishnu) and Kataragama Devales temples on ceremonial occasions.

Uddekki dance
Uddekki is a very prestigious dance. Its name comes from the uddekki, a small lacquered hand drum in the shape of an hourglass, about seven and half inches (18 centimeters) high, believed to have been given to people by the gods. The two drumskins are believed to have been given by the god Iswara, and the sound by Visnu; the instrument is said to have been constructed according to the instructions of Sakra and was played in the heavenly palace of the gods. It is a very difficult instruments to play. The dancer sings as he plays, tightening the strings to obtain variations of pitch.

Pantheru dance
The pantheruwa is an instrument dedicated to the goddess Pattini. It resembles a tambourine (without the skin) and has small cymbals attached at intervals around its circumference. The dance is said to have originated in the days of Prince Siddhartha, who became Buddha. The gods were believed to use this instrument to celebrate victories in war, and Sinhala kings employed pantheru dancers to celebrate victories in the battlefield. The costume is similar to that of the uddekki dancer, but the pantheru dancer wears no beaded jacket and substitutes a silk handkerchief at the waist for the elaborate frills of the uddekki dancer.

Vannams
The word "vannam" comes from the Sinhala word "varnana" (descriptive praise). Ancient Sinhala texts refer to a considerable number of "vannams" that were only sung; later they were adapted to solo dances, each expressing a dominant idea. History reveals that the Kandyan king Sri Weeraparakrama Narendrasinghe gave considerable encouragement to dance and music. In this Kavikara Maduwa (a decorated dance arena) there were song and poetry contests. It is said that the kavi (poetry sung to music) for the eighteen principal vannams were composed by an old sage named Ganithalankara, with the help of a Buddhist priest from the Kandy temple. The vannams were inspired by nature, history, legend, folk religion, folk art, and sacred lore, and each is composed and iterpreted in a certain mood (rasaya) or expression of sentiment. The eighteen classical vannams are gajaga ("elephant"), thuranga ("hourse") , mayura ("peacock"), gahaka ("conch shell"), uranga ("crawling animals"), mussaladi ("hare"), ukkussa ("eagle"), vyrodi ("precious stone"), hanuma ("monkey"), savula ("cock"), sinharaja ("lion"), naga ("cobra"), kirala ("red-wattled lapwing"), eeradi ("arrow"), Surapathi (in praise of the goddess Surapathi), Ganapathi (in praise of the god Ganapathi), uduhara (expressing the pomp and majesty of the king), and assadhrusa (extolling the merit of Buddha). To these were added samanala ("Butterfly"),bo (the sacred bo tree at Anuradhapura, a sapling of the original bo tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment), and hansa vannama ("swan"). The vannama dance tradition has seven components.

Slow Country Dances (Pahatharata Netum) -  abaragamu dances (Sabaragamuwa Netum)

Devil Dances
The "Devil Dances" are an attempt to respond to the common belief that certain ailments are caused by unseen hands and that they should be chased away for the patient to get cured. If an individual or a family is not doing well, the village-folk believe that it's because that person or the family is being harassed by unseen hands. A 'thovil' ceremony is the answer.

The 'thovil' can be a simple ritualistic ceremony at home restricted to family and immediate neighbours or involving the whole village like the 'gam-maduva' or the 'devol-maduva' which is closely linked to the worship of gods. Masked dancers take part in at least two of the well-known 'thovil' ceremonies referred to as the 'Maha Sohon Samayama' and the 'Gara Yakuma'. The mention of 'Maha Sohona' frightens the people since he is believed to be the demon of the graveyards.

The performer disguises himself as a bear and wears a mask and a dress to resemble one. Often the 'thovil' involves the 'sanni' dances where all the dancers wear masks. The 'daha ata sanniya' refers to sixteen ailments with a demon being responsible for each one of them.

Dancers wearing masks take part in processions while at certain ceremonies, masks are used to depict different characters. Of later origin are the masks worn by children and teenagers at street performances during Vesak. Popularly known as 'olu bakko' for the simple reason that oversize masks are worn, these performances keep the younger-folk, in particular, entertained.

Folk dances
Apart from the classical dance forms there are also folk dances, which are associated with folk activities and festivities. Leekeli (stick dance), Kalageldi (pot dance) and Raban (a hand drum) folk dances prevalent at the present time.

Dance drama
There is also in the low country a dance-drama called Kolam in which the performers wear masks depicting animals or people such as kings or high officials, and provides amusement and social satire. It has been suggested by scholars that Kolam may have developed from the ritual known as Sanni Yakuma and had later become a dance-drama independent of ritual elements.

Dances today and then
The classical dance forms are associated with performance of various rituals and ceremonies which are centuries old and are based on folk religion and folk beliefs going back to before the advent and of Buddhism and its acceptance by the Sinhalese people in the third century B.C. These rituals and ceremonies reflect the values, beliefs and customs of an agricultural civilisation.
The pre-Buddhistic folk religion consisted of the belief in a variety of deities and demons who were supposed to be capable of awarding benefits and blessings but also causing afflictions and diseases. Accordingly they had to be either propitiated or exorcised with offerings and the performance of rituals and ceremonies.
The repertoire of Dances in Kandyan dancing has its origins in the ritual known as the Kohomba Kankariya, which is performed to propitiate the deity known as Kohomba for the purpose of obtaining relief from personal afflictions or from communal calamities such as pestilence. Although this ritual is rarely performed at the present the various dances associated with its performance could be seen in the Kandy Perahera, and annual religion-cultural event which takes place in the city of Kandy in honour of the sacred tooth-relic of the Buddha housed in the Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth.
The repertoire of Ruhunu dancing has its origins in the rituals of the Devol Maduwa - used to propitiate the Deity/demon Devol - and in exorcistic rituals known as the Rata Yakuma and the Sanni Yakuma - associated with various demons who are supposed to cause a variety of afflictions and incurable illnesses.
Saparagamu dancing is associated with the ritual known as the Gam Maduwa, which is performed to propitiate the goddess Pattini. The purpose is to obtain a good harvest or to ward off evil or to be rid of and infectious disease.

Bopath Ella

Yet another wonderful waterfall, Bopath Ella with a height of 30m, is situated on the Kuru Ganga. The name Bopath is derived from Bo – the ficus religiosa, the sacred tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment - and from Pata – which means “leaf.” This is because this waterfall has three cascades that gives the appearance of the shape of the leaf of the Bo tree.

Travel through Avissawella on the A4 to Dehipala. There turn left and go on to Agalawatte. Turn to the right at the junction in the town, and the small road will take you through a rubber plantation. When you drive out of the plantation you will see the waterfall, which is a short distance away.

Bambarakanda Ella

The highest waterfall in Sri Lanka is the Bambarakanda Ella, with a height of 865 feet. The main access to the falls is via Haputale and the force of the winds causes the gushing waters to quiver and sway. The white flow amidst wilderness is a sight worth watching. Bambarakanda Ella of Sri Lanka is a kind of natural beauty that touches our inner eye and flashes in our minds for a long period of time.

Baker’s Falls

With a height of 20m, Baker’s Falls, are situated on the Belihul Oya within the Horton Plains National Park. Baker’s Falls plunge over a wide rock into a gorge filled with rhododendrons. This waterfall is named after Sir Samuel Baker, who resided on the island from 1847 to 1855. He supported to popularize an emerging resort of Nuwara Eliya. He did it partly by importing the livestock from England to establish an English-style farm in the hill country of the new and underdeveloped colony.

Baker used to explore to find the best hunting grounds to be found on the island - the Horton Plains – and the waterfall he used to stop at frequently was named after him. Starting from the Farr Inn Information Centre there is a 3-km footpath to Baker’s Falls within the Horton Plain.

Arugam Bay

The place located in south east of the country 116 km from Colombo is a fine beach near associated with fishing villages. It has been identified as the best surfing beach in Sri Lanka and 4th best in south east Asia. It also comes with the ten best surfing beaches in the world. Wide sandy beaches and lagoons associated with neighbouring Kumana bird sactuary are added values for visitors going to Arugam bay. Lahugal National Park are Yala East National Park are also located within 10–30 km radious from Arugambay centre. Magul Maha Viharaya (Buddhist temple), Kudumbigala Temple (Buddhist temple), Shastrwela Buddhist Temple, Okanda Hindu Temple are some of places with heritage values. In addition to beaches, wildlife, culture heritage and nature places of interest make Arugambay a unique tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. There is no LTTE threat in and around Arugam bay.

Aberdeen Falls

Aberdeen Falls, 98m high, are situated on the Kehelgomu Oya, which flows out of the Castlereagh Reservoir near Dickoya. The name is derived from the former Aberdeen Estate, where the waterfall is situated. Sometimes the Aberdeen Falls get confused with the nearby Lakshapana Falls, which are also situated on the former Aberdeen Estate. The Aberdeen Falls are notable for the three cascades that plunge past a rock wall containing caves into a large, deep pool set within big boulders.

To reach Aberdeen Falls travel the road to Norton Bridge From Dickoya, and then take the road to Green Hayes. About 5km from Norton Bridge you can hear the sound of the water fall.

 

 

Outdoor Activities

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Yoga & Medatation

From ancient times human beings have searched for "wisdom" and tried to connect with a "higher consciousness". Different names have been given to this search. Wars have been fought over the differences. Countries have united over the similarities. In the philosophies of the East, one strand has consistently run through the different schools of thought. This strand is the instinctive knowledge that we need to discipline the body, still the mind and look within us to find a higher consciousness.

Yoga with its postures and breathing techniques, and Meditation with its myriad ways of achieving inner awareness bring with it the possibility of accessing the energy that seem to bind all things in the universe together. Millions of people worldwide are discovering the ancient Asian tradition of yoga and meditation, and see for themselves on the real medical benefits.

What is Meditation?
The mention of Meditation usually brings about images of old men humming away, or should it be “oomming” away the whole afternoon. Now, humming away doesn’t seem to be helpful, right? Research, however, has proven that Meditation helps us relax and develop our power of concentration.

How it Work?
Meditation is the art of focusing your mind, restraining your thoughts and looking deep into yourself. Practicing it can give you a better understanding of your purpose in life and of the divine, as well as provide you with certain physical and mental health benefits. But how exactly does Meditation work? Here you will find out more about the mechanics of Meditation and its effects on your mind and body.

As you go along with your Meditation, you will eventually experience a development in your physical and mental health. According to some studies, this is manifested by a generalized reduction in multiple physiological and biochemical markers, such as decreased heart rate, decreased respiration rate, decreased plasma cortisolwhich is a major stress hormone, decreased pulse rate, and increased EEG (electroencephalogram) alpha which is a brain wave associated with relaxation. During Meditation, one goes through a state of deep relaxation, while his mind’s awareness level is increased. This results in faster reactions, greater creativity, and improved comprehension.
Other benefits are:
increased lung capacity,improved immune system,recharged nervous systemmedatation,reduced stress,improved memory,aids in the treatment of some diseases like asthma,open-mindedness,amplified moral virtues such as patience and compassion,awareness towards sin, temptation and guilt,increased faith in one’s religio

Twelve Principles of Meditation
Set aside a special place for Meditation.
Choose a time when your mind is free from everyday concerns.
Using the same time and place each day, condition the mind to slow down more quickly.
Sit with your back, neck, and head in a straight line, facing North or East.
Instruct your mind to remain quiet for the duration of your session.
Regulate your breathing – start with 5 minutes of deep breathing, then slow it down.
Establish a rhythmic breathing pattern – inhaling then exhaling for about three seconds.
At first, let your mind wander – it will only grow restless if you force it to concentrate.
Now bring the mind to rest on the focal point of choice – either the Anja or the Anahata Chakra.
Applying your chosen technique, hold your object of concentration at this focal point throughout your session.
Meditation comes when you reach a state of pure thought, but still retain your awareness of duality.
After long practice, duality disappears and Samadhi, the superconscious state, is attained.

Who can practice Yoga?
Yoga is a series of exercises that is performed to improve health and flexibility. People of any age, sex or any fitness level can practice yoga. The beauty of yoga is that it is highly flexible, so you can modify yoga techniques to meet your need. If you have mobility problems, use chair to perform yoga. Office-goers can try the deep-breathing practices to relieve their stress.

Types of yoga’s
Although people associate yoga with only exercises or asanas as they are commonly called, yoga is of many types. The most popular type is Hatha Yoga. This type of yoga contains various types of asanas and is beneficial in improving the body strength and flexibility. Karma yoga teaches you the way of right action without expecting the fruits of labour and offering the activity as the service to almighty. You learn devotion and unconditional love for the divine by Bhakti Yoga. Answer to your deeper questions like: who am I, Where do I come from, - come from Jnana Yoga. Control your mind and be free from worldly attachments by practicing Raja Yoga. Kundalini Yoga releases the energy present in the chakras or energy centers in your body by teaching you deep breathing. Tantric Yoga worships the feminine energy and teaches you to look at your body as a source of divine.

Benefits of yoga
Unlike modern day exercises, which concentrate only on the body or on the mind, yoga techniques provide a holistic approach towards your welfare. Asanas help you to improve your strength and flexibility, so that you can carry out your daily activities unhindered. Deep breathing techniques help in removal of toxins in the body and aid in relaxation. Yoga can be a great weight loss and toning tool. It helps in healing and nourishing the body. Meditation calms your mind and gives you clarity of thought.

The major benefit of yoga is that it doesn’t need any special place or equipment or clothes. All you need is mat and loose fitting clothes. Thus you can practice yoga even when you are away from your home.

Water Rafting

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The island’s premier spot for whitewater rafting is around Kitulgala where the Kelani Ganga river comes tumbling out of the hill country, creating boulder – strewn grade 3 – 4 rapids. You can either arrange trips locally or plan to something in advance.

Surfing

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Many of the waves which crash against the Sri Lanka coast have travelled all the way from Antarctica, and not surprisingly there are several excellent surfing sports. The outstanding destination is Arugambay on the east coast, the one place in Sri Lanka with an international reputation amongst surfheads. The low – key south coast village of Midigama is another good spot, while Hikkduwa is also popular. Boards are available to rent at all three places. Surf Lanka Tours at Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna and various places in Auragam Bay arrange surfing trips around the coast, sometimes combined with visites to other attractions. The surfing season runs from April to October at Arugam Bay, and from November at Midigama and Hikkaduwa.

She surfing season in Hikkaduwa starts in November and ends in April. Average water temperature: 28 degrees - Average air temperature: 30 degrees

Surfspots in Hikkaduwa
North Jetty. Coral bottom, a right wave that requires a great swell that breaks. When this wave behaves as expected it can be a wonderful ride, it’s a long wave with very hollow sections. Benny´s. Coral bottom. A fast left wave and quite dangerous that breaks over a very sharp reef and with shallow water. Only surf here if you really know what you are doing and at your own risk. Main Reef. Coral bottom. Right and left waves that offer fun and relaxed surfing. Inside Reef. Coral bottom. Breaking fast hollow waves from left and right that can be quite intense at times. Beach Break. Sand bottom. South of the inside Reef there is a number of thin sand over which several types of waves break. This area is recommended for the inexperienced surfer.

Wind Surf in Negombo
Negombo is suitable for windsurfers of grade 4 and up. The shore break in the months January – March requires some experience. On good days you’ll get up to 6 beaufort with an average of 4-5 beaufort.

Surf in east coast
Sri Lanka’s equivalent of the Maldives, with never-ending white sandy beaches, coral islands and shimmering blue seas, the east coast is distinctly different from the coastal areas of the rest of the island.  This region is best visited from March to October when the seas are at their best.   For windsurfing, head to the waters of north of Trincomalee in Nilaveli & Uppuveli.

Hiking & Trekking

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For the keen hiker, there is a plethora of opportunities awaiting in Sri Lanka's diverse and luscious hill country. The beautiful area of Belihuloya, located in the hill country of Sri Lanka, provides a superb base from which to try out a wide variety of hiking and trekking tours through jungle, across paddy fields and up mountains. The river and numerous waterfalls in Sri Lanka are another key attraction that allows hikers and trekkers to enjoy a refreshing dip en-route! In the same area the mysterious. We have compiled a list of hiking and trekking tours in Sri Lanka. If you are interested in any of these hiking and trekking tours and vacations. 

The attractive area of Bandarawela, in Sri Lanka's mountainous terrain and the nearby town of Ella are renowned for their many walks, including Little Adam's Peak, Ella Rock and the Namunukula Mountain Range. If youre in the Kandy vicinity, don't miss out on exploring the beautiful Knuckles Mountain Range The region stretches an impressive 155 sq km, with five major forest formations, a wide variety of rare and endemic flora and fauna and some breathtaking mountain scenery. It is a real paradise for hikers, offering numerous trails that journey across clear rivers, through dense forests, past flowing waterfalls and lush tea plantations, and alongside terraced paddy fields and colourful Kandyan home gardens. A hiking tour in Sri Lanka wouldn't be complete without a visit to the fascinating Sinharaja Rainforest where a variety of trails can be tailor-made to meet the specific interests/fitness levels of the group.

 

For the keen hiker, there is a plethora of opportunities awaiting in Sri Lanka 's diverse and luscious hill country. The beautiful area of BELIHULOYA , located in the hill country of Sri Lanka , provides a superb base from which to try out a wide variety of hiking and trekking tours through jungle, across paddy fields and up mountains. The river and numerous waterfalls in Sri Lanka are another key attraction that allows hikers and trekkers to enjoy a refreshing dip en-route! In the same area the mysterious HORTON PLAINS NATIONAL PARK offers some excellent hikes in an unusual environment, characterised by forest patches, grasslands and some high-altitude vegetation. Highlights include the dramatic 880 metre drop at World's End and the beautiful Baker's Falls. When climbing the infamous ADAM'S PEAK WILDERNESS SANCTURY (SRI PADA) , its best to begin your ascent at night in order to arrive at the top in time for a magical sunrise when the mystical shadow of the peak is perfectly cast across the clouds. It is one of those truly unique moments that will live on in your memory long after the aches and pains from the hiking have gone! The attractive area of BANDARAWELA , in Sri Lanka 's mountainous terrain and the nearby town of Ella are renowned for their many walks, including Little Adam's Peak, Ella Rock and the Namunukula Mountain Range.
 
If you're in the Kandy vicinity, don't miss out on exploring the beautiful KNUCKLES MOUNTAIN RANGE . The region stretches an impressive 155 sq km, with five major forest formations, a wide variety of rare and endemic flora and fauna and some breathtaking mountain scenery. It is a real paradise for hikers, offering numerous trails that journey across clear rivers, through dense forests, past flowing waterfalls and lush tea plantations, and alongside terraced paddy fields and colourful Kandyan home gardens. A hiking tour in Sri Lanka wouldn't be complete without a visit to the fascinating SINHARAJA RAINFOREST where a variety of trails can be tailor-made to meet the specific interests/fitness levels of the group.

Eco Tourism

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Sri Lanka’s small but growing number of eco – lodges and eco – hotels makes good bases for natureactivity holidays, and offer a more interactive experience than sitting in the back of a jeep and being driven around a national park. A few of these lodes – Tree Tops, Galapita and Tasks Safari Camp are very remote and rustic and offer a real wildness experience, if few fivestar comforts.

Bird watching is well established, and even if you’re never previously looked at a feathered creature in your life, the island’s outstanding range of colorful birdlife can prove surprisingly fascinating. A number of companies run specialist tours while bird – spotting usually forms significant parts of tips to the island’s national – parks although you’ll see birds pretty much everywhere you go, even in the middle of Colombo.

Elephant can be seen in virtually every national park in the country, at the famous Pinnaewala Elephant Orphanage and in temples and at work on roads around the country. For leopards, the place to head for is Yala national park.sri Lanka is an important nesting site for sea turtle; there are various hatcheries along the west coast, but the only turtle – watching site currently accessible is the ad hoc operation at Rekawa similarly, the island’s significant whale watching potential remains untapped – recent studies have discovered seven whale species in the waters around Sri Lanka, including blue, sperm, humpback and the rare melon – headed whale. Unfortunately, no operators have yet succeeded in setting up tips, though this may change in future. The main centers are likely to be Kirinda and Trincomalee.

Cycling in Sri Lanka

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Explore the natural beauty of Sri Lanka, use cycling as the mode of transport. There are four major cycle trails along the country which will cover most of the beautiful and interesting places of Sri Lanka. The ancient route which is more than 150 km, along the cultural triangle. This route falls along the world heritage cities such as Anuradhapura.

The costal route which is about 240 km long along the scenic southern cost line. Enjoy the breeze of the Indian ocean while you travel explore the popular cities such as Hikkaduwa, Benthota etc. The Sabaragamuwa Trail which is about 200 km along the Colombo Dadulla main road which is a picturesque route passing the world famous gem city Ratnapura. Along the way you can evident the most scenic waterfalls, gem museums, tea estates and many more.

Among all of the trails hill country trail is the most beautiful and most challenging rout. The natural beauty of this trail is unimaginable. Passing through beautiful tea estates, waterfalls and vegetable crops is worth for lifetime. Nature of elevation of the land make the trail as challenging.
Negombo to Dambulla (130km)..

From Negombo we took a secondary road through Badalagama and Narammala. This avoids most of the busy A6 from Colombo to Kurunegala. There is (like on many other roads) a constant flow of traffic. The second half has some hilly sections. Accommodation is available in Narammala. From Kurunegala it’s only 60 km to Dambulla with plenty of accommodation and the famous rock temples.

Dambulla - Anuradapura (130km)..
The A9 north to Anuradhapura is quiet and in good condition. At Kekirawa (Resthouse) we took a small detour travelling along the rural B64. This road is bumpy and narrow and winds through villages and rice fields. The B64 ends on the A28 leading directly to the Anuradhapura Ancient City area.
anuradapura to dabulla

Getting arround Anuradapura by bike........
A bicycle is without doubt the best way to visit the sp rawling temple complex. Distances between the various ruins are at least 3 kilometres. A good place to lunch is the Tissa Wewa Resthouse. Inside the ancient city area only cold drinks are available. Signposting can be erratic; we had difficulties locating some of the more remote sites. Some hotels and guesthouses have bikes for rent. Tip: It’s nice to ride around the Tissa Wewa tank on the traffic free gravel road.

Anuradapura to Sigiriya (80km)..

Highway A9 south is well paved and carries few traffic. There is accommodation at Galkulama and Tirappane. The A11 from Maradankadawala to Habarana is a narrow very bumpy rural road. Habarana has all facilities, including a Resthouse. About 2.5 km east of Habarana is the signposted turn-off to Sigiriya. This very narrow road leads directly to the Sigirya Rock (13 Km). The last kilometers are in bad shape. There is a chance to see elephants here.

Polonnaruwa to Arugam Bay (230km)..

Once you’ve crossed the large and well guarded Mahavelli bridge you enter a different Sri Lanka. There are numerous fortified military camps along the very narrow and quiet road, leading east. There are some well marked mine fields on this section. Beyond the busy village of Velachanai is the coast. Basic accommodation can be found at the villages of Kalkudah and Passekudah. This once was Sri Lanka number one beach resort. All that is left now are the burned out ruins of the hotels and guesthouses. The beach is white, lined with palm trees and completely deserted.

Getting around Polonnaruwa by bike......
A bicycle is without doubt the best way to visit the sprawling temple complex. To visit all major sites you’ll cover at least 15 km. Signposting is good; it’s easy to find everything without the help of a guide.

Diving & Snorkeling

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Sri Lanka isn’t usually thought of as one of Asia’s premier diving destination, and although you probably wouldn’t come here specifically to dive, there are enough underwater attractions to make couple of days’ diving worthwhile part of a visit. Sri Lanka is also a good and cheap place to learn to dive, with schools in Colombo, Negombo, Bentota, BeruwalaHikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Tangalla, WeligamaNilaveli and Uppaveil.

cuttle fishUnfortunately, however, Sri Lanka’s marine environment, and a significant proportion of its coral, has been adversely affected by a host of factors: dynamite fishing; the collection of coral for souvenirs and limestone production; damage caused to reef by boats; and the EI Nino effect of 1998. The west coast has relatively little living coral but, in compensation, boats plenty of marine life, including big fish such as barracuda, whale shark, tuna and seer plus various smaller pelagic species such as angel,  lion, Koran, scorpion, parrot and butterfly fish. In addition, the diving here is three – dimensional and technically challenge, with deep dives, swim – though cave complexes, drop – offs and various wreck dives. Popular targets include the wreck of an old steam – driven oil tanker from 1860s known as the conch, near Hikkaduwa, which is favorite amongst less experienced drives. The most impressive wreck currently dividable in Sri Lanka lies 9km offshore from Colombo, and comprises the remains of a car ferry,  sunk by the Japanese in World war II and lying at a depth of around 40m, with cars and trucks scattered all over the seabed around.

TurtleBy contrast, Trincomalee on the east coast offers better coral but a relative paucity of marine life. Diving here is more two-dimensional, with shallow, flat coral beds. No wrecks have yet been opened up for divers along the east coast, although there are some excellent possibilities near Batticaloa, including the wreck of the Hermes, a 270m – long aircraft cattier sunk during world war II and lying at a depth of 60m. During the Snake has a plane to open up a centure thre depending on the progress of the peace process, although at the time of writing there were no organized trips.

The diving season on the west coast runs roughly from October to April, and on the east coast from May to September; pretty much all the island‘s divine schools shut up out of season, although if you’re really keen and don’t mind diving in rough seas with poor visibility you might be able to find someone willing to take you out off – season. Diving packages and courses are extremely cheap

There’s not a lot of really good snorkeling around Sri Lanka: little coral survives close to the shore, although this lack is compensated by the abundant shoals of tropical fish which frequent the coast. The island’s one outstanding snorkeling spot is around coral island ant Nilaveli; other decent places include the Coral Gardens at Hikkaduwa and the beach at Polhena.

 

Diving Sites in Sri Lanka
 
Hikkaduwa - With its impressive coral reefs and abundance of tropical fish, HIKKADUWA is recognised as one of the best places for Snorkelling and diving on the Southwest coast (in the southwest season of November to April).  With a reputed and long-running diving school located in the town itself, PADI diving instructors are available throughout the season for training and certification as well as leading more experienced divers in some of the country's best ship wreck and reef dives.
 
Kalpitiya - Despite its natural beauty, the western peninsular area of KALPITIYA in the Puttalam district of Sri Lanka is remarkably untouched by tourism. For keen scuba divers and snorkellers, the largest coral reef in Sri Lanka (‘Bar reef') is only an hour's boat trip from Kalpitiya.  This beautiful reef is home to an incredible variety of tropical fish as well as offering sighting of manta rays, reef sharks and the occasional turtle! Diving and Snorkelling are not possible during the southwest monsoon period (May to November).  The best times are therefore between late November and early May. Transportation to dive/Snorkelling sites is by a fibre glass dinghy of 25 horse power engine. For the more serious divers who want more detailed information on the area, please refer to Nautical Map 1586 (Pamban to Cape Cormorin).
The underwater currents in the seas off Kalpitiya are generally not strong, but are influenced by small tide changes of two high water and two low water tides.  The underwater temperature is approximately 75°F so no wetsuits are required (but thin wetsuits could be worn to protect from any bruising from the coral).
 
Kirinda - On the southeast coast, approximately 10km south of Tissa, lies the pretty village of kirinda. The village itself boasts a superb beach and an interesting Buddhist shrine on the rocks.   However, it is best known as a base from which to experience some excellent diving at the famous ‘Great Basses' wreck and the Great and Little Basses reefs (southeast of Kirinda). The famous Arthur C Clarke also put Kirinda on the map when he used it as his base for his diving exploration in order to write his book ‘The Treasure of the Reef'.  A particularly unique feature of the Great Basses is the light-house that was actually constructed on the reef in 1860.
 
Weligama - Also known as ‘sandy village' WELIGAMA is located approximately 30 km east of Galle.  As well as having an attractive sandy bay, this fishing town is also an ideal base for SNORKELLING and DIVING, with many fascinating sites to explore.  For those who'd rather stay above the surface of the water, catarmaran rides are a pleasant way to venture out on the sea.  You can also go out further to the deeper waters to see a variety of dolphins and sharks. Possible Period Early November to Mid April.
 
Trincomalee - (more commonly known as ‘Trinco') is a prime eco tourism venue which is located on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka and offers some of the country's most attractive beaches such as ‘Uppuveli' and ‘Nilaveli'. Fine white-sand and crystal clear water provides an irresistible combination that won't fail to disappoint any visitor who loves the beach!.
 
Snorkelling around the famous Pigeon island just off Nilaveli beach is widely recognised to be a ‘must-do' activity during a stay in Trinco.
 

Sri Lanka Cricket

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Of all the legacies of the British colonial period, the game cricket is probably held dearest by the average Sri Lankan. As in India, Pakistan, cricket is undoubtedly king in the Sir Lankan sporting pantheon. Kids play it on any patch of spare ground, improvising balls, bats and wickets out of rolled up bites of cloth and discarded sticks, whilst the country virtually grinds to a halt during international matches, with excitable crowds clustered around every available radio or television set.

Hot Air Ballooning in Sri Lanka

 

Ballooning has begun to take off in a big way in Sri Lanka, offering hot-air enthusiasts the chance to enjoy spectacular trips around Sigiriya, near Dambulla and over Uda-Walawe National Park - you can even get married during the flight. Several companies have recently begun arranging trips, and things are still a bit up in the air at the moment.
 
Hot Air Ballooning is unique from all other forms of flight as there is little sensation of motion or perception of height. Balloons travel with the wind & at the same speed, which makes for one of the magical sensations of the flight. “Sensational tranquility” … is how many describe it whilst others as “surreal, peaceful and quiet”.
 
Floating at heights of 500 to 2000 feet on average, this feeling of peace and tranquility is apparent from the extent of sighs & smiles as the earth seems to slowly descend & rotate below you whilst the views rapidly expand. After the excitement of the takeoff (and its preparations with the inflation of the balloon), within moments you are at ease & in awe of the lofty spectacle while you effortlessly drift over the treetops, wildlife, lakes & rivers, cultural sites, local urban homesteads & landmarks like Sigiriya Rock. Ballooning adds an intimacy with the landscape & people that most guests volunteer as “an experience of a lifetime” whilst floating over the Sri Lankan countryside in gentle, panoramic harmony with nature. Apart from the occasional burst of the burners there is little to disturb the unusual noiseless environment.

 

 

Tourist Regions

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About South cost

In many ways, the south encapsulates all that is most traditional about Sri Lanka. Stretched out long great arc of sun baked coastline from Galle in the west to Tissamaharama in the east, the area remains essentially rural; a land of a thousand sleepy villages, sheltered under innumerable palms, where the laid back pace of life still revolves around coconut farming, rice cultivation and fishing. Culturally, too, the south remains relatively conservative and inward looking, a bastion of Sinhalese traditions exemplified by the string of temples and giant Buddha statues which dot the coast, and by the colourful peraheras and festivals celebrated throughout the region, which culminate in the exuberant religious ceremonies which are enacted nightly at the ancient shrine ofKathragama.

The south’s physical distances from the rest of the island, and from waves of Indian invaders who periodically overran the north, meant that ancient kingdom of Ruhunu – a name still often used to describe the region acted as a bastion of traditional Sinhalese values, exemplified by the legendary King Dutugamunu, who lunched his reconquest of island and explusion of the Indian invaders from his base in the southern city of Mahagama. In later centuries, despite the brief importance of the of the southern ports of Galle and Mathara in the colonial Indian Ocean trade, Ruhunu preserved this separation, and with the rise of Colombo and the commercial decline Galle and Mathara in the late nineteenth century, the south become a relative backwater –as it remains, despite the more recent incursion of tourism.

The region’s varied attractions make it one of Sri Lanka’s most rewarding areas to visit. Gateway to the south and one of the highlights is the atmospheric old port of Galle, Sri Lanka’s best – preserved colonial town and a wonderful places idle away a couple of somnolent days. Beyond Galle stretch a string of picture perfect beaches Unawatuna, Weligama, Mirassa and Tangalla whose relative inaccessibility has protected them from the swarms of package tourist who inundate the west coast. There’s plenty to do besides lounging on beaches, though. The little – visited town of Mathara, with its quaint Dutch fort and rambling streets of old British villas, offers a further taste of Sri Lanka’s colonial past, while ancient Tissamaharama makes good base from which to visit two of the country’s finest national parks: the placid lagoons and wetlands of Bundala, home to crocodiles, moneys and myriad species of birdlife, and Yala, famous for its elephants and elusive leopard. Beyond Tissamaharama lies the fascinating religious centre of kataragama, whose various shrines are held sacred by Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims alike, and whose nightly temple ceremonies offer one of Sri Lanka’s most colourful religious spectacles.

Getting around the south is straightforward: most of places covered in this chapter are strung out along main costal highway, whose prin capil towns are served by innumerable buses; in addition, the southern coastal railway connects Galle, Wligama and Mathara with Colombo. Most of the south, from Galle to just east of Tangalla, lies in the wet zone and shares broadly the same climate as the west coast south of Colombo, meaning that the best time to visit is form mid October to mid April, outside the monsoon season. Tissamaharama, kataragama and Yala and Bundala national parks lie in the dry zone and experience relatively little rainfall year round.
 

Colombo and the West

Sri Lanka's west coast is the island's front door, and the point of arrival for all visitors to the country - indeed, until the long-awaited ferry service   from   India   finally   resumes,   the   international   airport  at Katunayake, just outside Colombo, provides the only link between Sri Lanka and the outside world. This is Sri Lanka at its most developed and populous - the busiest, brashest, noisiest and most westernized region in the country, home to the capital city and the principal coastal resorts, which have now all but fused into an unbroken ribbon of concrete and traffic which meanders along the seaboard for over a hundred kilometers. The west coast's beaches have long been at the heart of Sri Lanka's tourist industry, though relends development has now overwhelmed much of the idyllic Indian Ocean scenery which brought the tourists here in the first place, and for most independent travelers, the region is largely a place to be negotiated en route to less spoilt parts of the island. A few oases survive amidst the development, however, and if you're after a touch of barefoot beachside luxury, the west coast has Sri Lanka's best selection of top-end places to stay, both large and small, many of which combine serenity with considerable style.

Situated about two-thirds of the way down the west coast, Sri Lanka's sprawling capital, Colombo, is usually low on visitors' list of priorities, but beneath the unprepossessing surface lies an intriguing and characterful city which offers a fascinating microcosm of contemporary Sri Lanka. North of Colombo is the lackluster resort of Negombo, whose proximity to the airport makes it a popular first or last stop on many itineraries. The coast north of Negombo remains little visited and relatively undeveloped, punctuated by the workaday towns of Chilaw and Puttalam and bounded at its northern end by the vast natural wilderness of the Wilpattu National Park, only recently reopened after many years off limits due to its position near the frondine of the civil war. South of the capital lie the island's main beach resorts. The principal areas Kalutara, Beruwala and Bentota are home to endless oversize hotels catering to vacationing Europeans on two-week packages. Pockets of serenity remain, even so, along with some characterful hotels and guest houses, while the lively little coastal town of Aluthgama, sandwiched between Beruwala and Bentota, offers a refreshing budget alternative to the big resorts at a fraction of the price. Further south lays shabby Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka's original hippy hangout. Now all but choked on its own success, it does retain pertain down at heel charm and (by sleepy Sri Lankan standards at any rate) a refreshingly upbeat atmosphere, thanks to the backpackers who still flock here for cheap sun, sand and surf.
The best time to visit is from mid-October to mid-April, when the coast is blessed with uh perfect blue skies, rainfall is minimal, and swimming and divine conditions are good, during the rest, of the year the monsoon downpours roll in. It’s perfectly possible to visit during the monsoon months (the rain tends to come in short sharp bursts for no more than a few hours a day), but skies can be grey, many hotels and restaurants shut up shop, and swimming and diving become difficult some places, such as Hikkaduwa, virtually go to sleep for the duration. Getting around the west coast is straightforward enough. There are regular train services along the coast, while endless buses ply the main coastal highway, the Galle Road - though the clogged traffic and antiquated trains mean that it can take a surprisingly long time to cover relatively short distances.

The Ancient Cities - Introduction

During the golden age of Sinhalese civilization, it was called Rajarata - the Land of Kings. For 1500 years of dynasties, wars, invasions and religious missions to Asia, increasingly ambitious dams and irrigation systems supported two great cities  Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa and many other magnificent examples of the region's Buddhist culture. For almost a thousand years the jungle did its best to reclaim them, but major archaeological excavations over the past century have partially restored their glory. Engineers, too, have patched the irrigation system, marvelling at the skill of the original builders.

A long-running partnership between the Sri Lankan government and Unesco continues to restore the region's ancient sites. The Cultural Triangle project centres on the old capitals of Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, which are the focus of much local and international tourism.

Kandy and the hill country

Occupying the island's southern heartlands the sublime green heights of the hill country are a world away from the sweltering coastal lowlands indeed nothing encapsulates the scenic diversity of Sri Lanka as much as the short journey by road or rail from the humid urban melee of Colombo to the cool altitudes ofKandy or Nuwara Elia.
The landscape here is a beguiling mixture of nature and nurture. In places the mountainous green hills rise to surprisingly rugged and dramatic peaks, whose craggy grandeur belies the islands modest dimensions; in others' the slopes are covered in carefully manicured tea gardens whose neatly trimmed lines of bushes add a toy-like quality, while the mist and clouds which frequently blanket the hills add a further layer of mystery.
The hill country has been shaped by two very different historical forces. The northern portion, around the historic city of Kandy, was home to Sri Lanka's last independent kingdom, which survived two centuries of colonial incursions before finally falling to the British at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The cultural legacy of this independent Sinhalese tradition lives on today in the city's distinctive music, dance and architecture, encapsulated by the Temple of the Tooth, home to the islands most revered Buddhist relic, and the exuberant Kandy Esala Perahera, one of Asia's most spectacular festivals. To the south lies Adam's Peak, whose rugged summit, bearing the imprint of what is claimed to be the Buddha's footprint, remains an object of pilgrimage for devotees of all four of the island's principal religions?
In contrast, the character of the southern hill country is largely a product of the British colonial era, when tea was introduced to the island, an industry which continues to shape the economy and scenery of the entire region. At the heart of the tea-growing uplands lies the town of Nuwara Eliya, which preserves a few quaint traces of its British colonial heritage and provides the best base for visiting the misty uplands of Horton Plains and world's End. To the south, in Uva Province, a string of small towns - Ella ,Bandarawela and Haputale - offer marvelous views and walks through the hills and tea Plantations. At the southwestern corner of the hill country lies the town or Ratnapura, the island's gem-mining centre and a possible base for visits to the national parks of Sinharaja, a rare and remarkable pocket of surviving tropical rainforest, and Uda Walawe, home to one of the island's largest elephant populations.

 

 

What to do.

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Religious Activities and Pilgrimags

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Buddhism
Sri Lanka is considered by many to be the only country to have practiced Buddhism continually for the past 2500 years. Theravada Buddhism has been the major religion since it was officially introduced to the island in 247 BC. It was during the historic meeting at Mihintale between King Devanampiya-Tissa and Venerable Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka of India, that Buddhism in Sri Lanka found its roots. Following her brother's footsteps, Venerable Nun Sanghamitta brought a sapling of the original Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) under which Prince Siddharta attained enlightenment and gained Buddhahood). The sapling was planted at Anuradhapura and is known as the Sri Maha Bodhi, the oldest historically known tree in the world. To this day Buddhists and non-Buddhists pay the utmost reverence and homage to the sacred tree. Perhaps the most important Buddhist relic can be found in the Royal City of Kandy. In 4th century AD Tooth Relic of Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka and eventually enshrined in the Temple of the Tooth. Annually, from July thru August, the tooth ( a symbolic relic casket ) is taken on procession during the world’s largest and longest religious pageant; the Kandy Perahera. Over one hundred gaily caparisoned elephants, drummers, dancers and religious Buddhist dignitaries take part in this celebration to honor the sacred tooth relic.
 
Here are the 16 most sacred Buddhist sites that are venerated daily by Buddhists of Sri Lanka.
Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya, Badulta District  - Nagadipa Purana Vihara, Jaffna District - Kelaniya Raja Maha Vibara, Colombo DistrictSri Pada, Ratnapura District - Diva Guhava, place unknown - Dighavapi Raja Maha Vihara, Ampara District - Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara, Badulla - Tissamaharama Raja MahaVihara, Hambantota District - Sri Maha Bodhiya, Anuradhapura - Mirisawetiya Vihara, Anuradhapura - Swarnamali Vihara (Ruwanveliseya), Anuradhapura - Thuparama Vihara, Anuradhapura - Abhayagiri Vihara, Anuradhapura - Jetavanarama, Anuradhapura - Sela Cetiya (Stupa) Mihintale Raja Maha Vihara, Mihintale - Kiri Vehera, Moneragala District
 
Christianity
Since its introduction by the Dutch in 1505, Christianity in Sri Lanka has managed to lay tenuous roots. With colonization by various European countries, many denominations of the faith have cropped up; Anglican, Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed Church, and Protestantism are just a few of the denominations found around the country. Like the other faiths residing in Sri Lanka, Christianity has its fair share of religiously pertinent architecture. Perhaps the most well known is theWolvendaal Church in the city of Colombo. This is recognized as one of the oldest churches in the city complete with an astute air of reverence surrounding its premises. Set high atop a hill, the church features an exclusive Doric architectural style that is a mute representation of Dutch colonial architecture. The coral and lime plaster that compose the strong walls of the church were all sourced locally. Also located in Colombo is the Church of St. Anthony. Although the saint has had many churches erected in his honor throughout Sri Lanka, this particular church in Kochchikade still has scores of Christians and non-Christians of every cast, creed and race seeking the assistance of the patron saint. The history surrounding the founding of the church is one steeped with faith and miracles. During the persecution of Christians by the Dutch East Indian Company, Friar Antonio sought refuge among a group of fishermen who were concerned with the erosion of their land caused by the sea. In return for their protection, Friar Antonio prayed fervently to God to cause the waters to recede back far enough to expose an extensive sand back. This miracle was performed in view of the Dutch government who expressed their gratitude by allowing the friar to live and die near the location of the miracle. Eventually a chapel was built in honor of his patron, St. Anthony of Padua, transforming over the years to become the church it is today.
The shrine of Our Lady Madhu, in North Sri Lanka, is a centre of pilgrimage for Catholics from all around the globe. The shrine symbolises unity of the different religions in Sri Lanka and is visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year, especially in mid-August when a Catholic festival is celebrated.
 
Hinduism
Following the events of the legendary epic poem, the Ramayana, which supposedly took place in Sri Lanka, will take you to an extraordinary number of places. Jungle shrines, mountains, plains, streams, ponds, and hot springs have all been associated with the epic! Start with a visit to the only Hanuman temple in Colombo, in Kalubowila. Hanuman is said to be the foremost among Rama’s devotees, the one who managed to leap from India to Sri Lanka in one bound to locate Sita, before Rama built a bridge to cross over. From there, venture on to Ashok Vatika in Sita Eliya, a garden in which Sita was held captive and at which there is a temple dedicated to her. Visit the site of Ravana's fall at Laggala, the highest point in the Northern region of the country. Be sure not to miss Devurumpola in Welimada where Sita is said to have undergone a fire test to prove her purity and chastity after being held as Ravana’s captive.
 
Kataragama 
Kataragama is a regionally popular place of pilgrimage for devotees of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and indigenous Vedda communities of Sri Lanka and South India. Hindus refer to this place as Katirkaman, and it is famous for the Hindu shrine which is presided over the by the diety Lord Murugan. To show their devotion to Lord Murugan, bhaktars practicekavadi. What occurs are seemingly feats of superhuman strength where vels are are pierced through their tongues and cheeks and large chariots carrying murthi of Murugan are pulled with large hooks that have been pierced through the skin of their backs; definitely an eye opening experience. Kataragama is one of the 16 principal places of Buddhist pilgrimage to be visited in Sri Lanka. According to Sri Lankan history, when the sapling of the bo tree under which Gotama Buddha attained enlightenment in North India was brought to the city of Anuradhapura 2,300 years ago, the warriors or Kshatriyas from Kataragama were present on the occasion to pay homage and respect.
 
& Sri Pada
Sri Pada, or Adam's Peak is another site shared by members of different religious groups. It is well-known for the Sri Pada "sacred footprint", a 1.8m rock formation near the summit, in Buddhist tradition held to be the footprint of the Buddha, in Hindu tradition that of Shiva and in Muslim and Christian tradition that of Adam. It is still an important religious site to anyone, regardless of faith. The peak pilgrimage season is in April when pilgrims embark on the several hour journey up the mountain taking any variety of routes up thousands of steps. The goal: to be on the top of the mountain at sunrise, when the distinctive shape of the mountain casts a triangular shadow on the surrounding plain. Alternatively, climbing up at night with a vast canopy of stars overhead to guide you is a truly remarkable experience.
 
Festivals
With four major religions represented in Sri Lanka, there is definitely no shortage of elaborate festivals for the eyes and soul! The months of June to August are the most festive months, where all religions perform various festivals such as Kandy Perahera and Pada Yatra (foot pilgrimage) from Jaffna to Kataragama. In the months of October or November, Hindus celebrate the festival of lights, Deepavali, with equal fervor as their compatriots in India. Moving onwards in the calendar, Sri Pada sees the most activity during December-April when the weather is ideal for the pilgrimage to the peak. The most common festival is Poya day belonging to the Buddhist faith. On the full moon day of every month, practicing Buddhists will visit the temples for the rituals of worship. Depending on the month in question, the name and purpose of each celebration will change. For example, Vesak day in May is a triple anniversary curtailing the the day Buddha was born, when he attained supreme enlightenment, and the day he passed away. Unduvap in December is celebrated as they day the bo-tree sapling arrived in Sri Lanka.

Windsurfing in Sri Lanka

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For a real wind-surfer's paradise, head down to BENTOTA on the south-west coast of Sri Lanka where the exhilaration of cruising across the azure water overlooking the idyllic beach won't fail to disappoint. For beginners of windsurfing, the more tranquil waters of the Bentota river or any of Sri Lanka 's many tanks and lakes offer an ideal training zone before heading out to the challenge of the ocean. North of TRINCOMALEE , in the west coast of Sri Lanka , the sea off Nilaveli beach provides a fantastic east coast alternative for when the Yala monsoon brings strong winds and rough seas to the west. So whatever your level of experience, leave your wetsuit at the door and make the most of what Sri Lanka has to offer this exciting sport.

N.B. If venturing out on the south-west coastline, grab your sail and board between November and April before the monsoon hits. To ensure the best wind and water conditions on the east coast, go from May-October.

Wildlife Safaris in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka’s conservation efforts for fauna and flora dates back to 3rd century BC with the first recorded protected reserve in Mihintale, which believed to be the birth place of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, despite being a small Island it is gifted with many wildlife attractions such as Big Games Parks, Rain Forests and Scenic Forests & Mountainous Reserves. Some of these offer easy safari game viewing by Jeeps while others required to be explored only by walking/trekking.
Sri Lanka is popular for its large population of Leopards and Elephants. But there are many other species like Sloth BearsCrocodiles, Different verities ofDeersMonkeys, and over 400 verities of Birds which over 200 are resident and 26 are endemic.

Following are the most visited and most popular National parks and Protected Reserves in Sri Lanka,
Yala National Park – Located in the southernmost part of Sri Lanka and it’s a 6 to 8 hours of drive from Colombo/Airport. Popular for its Leopards density. This is the most visited and most popular National Park in the country.

Udawalawe National Park – Famous for its large Elephant population and the best and the easiest place to watch Elephants. It’s a 4 hours drive from Colombo/Airport.

Wilpattu National Park – The largest National park of Sri Lanka and it was very popular for its Leopards population. But the Park was closed for nearly 20 years due to recently ended war. Now it is opened for the public. The Jungle is very beautiful and very wild. The thickness of the jungle makes it little difficult to spot the animals. It is located in the North-West province of Sri Lanka and its 4 to 5 hours of drive from Colombo/Airport.

Sinharaja Rain Forest – UNESCO named a World Heritage site of the world. A natural rain forest and a very important bio diversity area. Though you cannot spot big mammals it is a beautiful place to see Flora, Reptiles, insects, birds and butterflies. To explore Sinharaja Rain Forest you must walk and cannot go by jeeps or any other vehicle.

Horton Plains National Park – A scenic plain in the Central highlands of Sri Lanka is another World Heritage site and undoubtedly one of the world’s best nature reserves. It was a home for large number Elephant population but they were killed during the colonial era. Horton Plains is the birth place of many rivers in Sri Lanka. Horton Plains can be accessed from Nuwara Eliya and