SRI LANKA INTERESTING PLACES
Jaffna is situated on a flat, dry peninsula at the island's northern tip. Jaffna fell under Portuguese rule in 1619 and was their last possession in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) before its capture by the Dutch in 1658. The name Jaffna is a Portuguese adaptation of a Tamil word meaning "port of the lyre." A fort and a church remain from the Dutch period, and near the fort is a famous Hindu temple, Kandaswamy Kovil.
KALKUDAH & PASIKUDDAH
Kalkudah and Passekudah are two very fine beaches in the East Coast. Kalkudah Bay, a 2 km long wide stretch of beach-located 32 km north of Batticaloa-is well protected from the monsoon by an off shore reef. Passekudah Bay is another wide beach 4 km long, just south of Kalkudah. The two beaches form an ideal stretch for bathing, windsurfing and water skiing. The combined area of Passekudah and Kalkudah was declared a National Holiday Resort in 1973.
Trincomalee is a port city situated on the east coast of Sri Lanka, about 110 miles northeast of Kandy. The city is built on a peninsula which divides the inner and outer harbours. It is one of the main centers of Tamil speaking culture on the island. Historically referred to as 'Gokanna' or 'Gokarna' it has been a sea port that has played a major role in maritime and international trading history of Sri Lanka.
The Bay of Trincomalee's harbour is renowned for its large size and security; unlike every other in the Indian Sea, it is accessible to all types of craft in all weathers. The beaches are used for surfing, scuba diving, fishing and whale watching. The city also has the largest Dutch Fort in Sri Lanka. It is home to major Sri Lankan naval bases and a Sri Lankan Air Force base.
Ten miles inland off the East Coast town of Pottuvil in an area that belonged to the ancient kingdom of Ruhuna are three a tanks, the Mahawewa, Kitulana and Sengamuwa. The most famous of the trio, however, is the Mahawewa, which is more famously known as Lahugala. This is in fact the name of the little village about a mile from the tanks. Lahugala a tanks is about 600 acres in extent, and had a storage capacity of 2760-acre feet and a 3700-ft. long bund. The history of Lahugala is lost in the mists of time, but it is almost certain that it dates back to the hay day of that historic realm. The terrain around Lahugala is typically "dry zone", with secondary brush and forest. Between the main road and Heda Oya, however, it is deeply forested with giant trees, magnificent buttress roots and closely entwined undergrowth. The special vegetative feature in the Lahugala area is the beru (Oplismenus compostus). This tall succulent grass completely covers the three tanks and is a favorite among the elephants.
The beauty of Nuwara Eliya is breathtaking. The early British settlers favoured its mountainous landscape, cascading waterfalls and sleepy towns nestling into the mountainside. The abundant rainfall, sunshine, cold nights and mists provide the perfect climate for growing tea. As you climb higher the air grows cooler and the clouds get closer. This is one of the best holiday resorts with the most picturesque golf course in Asia.
Dating back to 247 BC, this is a monastic city of caves, temples and ruins where Buddhism first took a hold of the island. The then ruling King Devanampiyatissa, was a pen pal of Emperor Asoka of India. The Emperor sent his son, Arahat Mihindu Thera (a Buddhist Priest), to impart the Buddhist philosophy to his friend in Sri Lanka. It was at Mihintale that the King met Arahat Mihindu Thera and had his first introduction to Buddhism.
Kantaka Chaitiya is one of the earliest religious monuments on the island, excavated in 1934. The 130 m (425 ft) base consists of three giant steps of dressed stone, characteristic of Sinhalese stupas. The dome above has worn out reaching a mere 12 m (40 ft) height.
Dhatu Ghara is a relic house containing the Mihintale tablets that state the rules and regulations that governed the monks.
Assembly Hall is where the monks met to discuss matters of interest.
Monks Refectory is the central courtyard where the monks ate communally.
Aradhana Gala is the Rock of Convocation where Arahat Mihindu Thera preached his first sermon.
Dating back to the 1st century BC, is the largest stupa in Mihintale. It enshrines a single hair relic of the Lord Buddha.
Mihindu Seya is where a small golden reliquary was discovered along with a bronze statue. This resembles the earliest Indian stupas surmounted by an umbrella.
Arahat Mihindu Thera's bed was a smooth slab of stone. An enormous boulder towered above it and was its roof. This was where the Arahat reposed.
Naga Pokuna is a long pool in the shadow of a large low rock. It is carved with a mythical five-headed cobra. This is the pond of the serpent. The Naga (Cobra) is supposed to be the guardian of treasure, protector of water and maker of rain. The carving on the rock emphasizes its association with water. It is said that the Naga's tail reaches down to the bottom of the pool.
Sinha Pokuna (Pond Of The Lion)
The Lion gargoyle spurts water into a square bath surrounded by a wide step carved with a frieze.
Kaludiya Pokuna(Pond Of Black Water)
An artificial pond at the foot of the Western slope of Mihintale. It served a monastery of the 10th or 11th century.
Indikatuseya Dagaba (Stupa Of The Needle)
Only the base of the stupa exists now, adorned only with broad bands of dressed stone.
Dates back to the third century AD, some 400 years before the earliest hospital in Europe. Among the remnants of the walls and pillars are the basins for bathing the sick. These medicinal boats were hewn from a single rock and the internal cavern was shaped to immerse a recumbent body.
The port town of Galle is Sri Lanka's fourth biggest town with 80,000 people. The history of Galle dates back to 1505 when a Portuguese fleet bound for Maldives was blown off course and took shelter in the Galle Harbour. This arrival drastically changed the course of Sri Lankan history. In 1598, the Portuguese built a small fort which was later extended. However, when the Dutch took over in 1640, they destroyed all traces of the Portuguese presence. In 1663, the Dutch built the 36-hectare Fort, which is now a World Heritage Site.
DAMBULLA- WORLD -HERITAGE SITE
Dating back to the 1st Century BC, this is the most impressive cave temple in Sri Lanka. It has five caves under a vast overhanging rock, carved with a drip line to keep the interiors dry. In 1938 the architecture was embellished with arched colonnades and gabled entrances. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with intricate patterns of religious images, following the contours of the rock. There are images of the Lord Buddha and bodhisattvas, as well as various gods and goddesses.
Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka. It is also the financial and commercial capita,l and almost all the major economic activity is centered around the city. Places of interest include a century-old Clock Tower, British colonial buildings, the old Parliament in Fort, and Buddhist and Hindu temples.
The Temple of the ToothKandy is the famous city of Sinhala history, culture, religion and pageantry. The Kandyan Kingdom was the last independent state in Sri Lanka. It withstood the onslaught of three invading European armies for over two centuries. Kandy can be explored on foot, with the higher altitude making the climate conducive to long walks. The city is visually rich with its narrow streets lined with old buildings full of character, and crowded with people. The Municipal Market has colourful displays of fruit and vegetables, textiles and clothing. The Kandy Lake provides an attractive focal point to the town.
The Temple of the Tooth
The Temple of the Tooth houses the most sacred Buddhist relic, the Tooth of Lord Buddha
The shady path surrounding the lake provides a view of the hills and the town. The last Sinhalese King created the lake in 1806.
A nightlong ceremony to honour the God Kohomba became the focus of a style of dance perfected in Kandy under royal patronage. The religious performances require about 50 male dancers dressed in silver belts, beaded breastplates, anklets and headdresses jangling as they swirl and skip to the rhythm of 10 drums. Today, the Kandyan dances are often performed by women, and tend to emphasise the graceful rather than the acrobatic elements of the dance.
Gadaladeniya Vehera was built on a hilltop around the 14th Century. Faded paintings provide many clues as to the manner in which the temple was built. The art is believed to be South Indian.
Lankathilaka Vehera is of the same period as Gadaladeniya Vehera (14th Century), but more in the traditional Sinhalese style. There is elaborate stone and woodwork in the shrine rooms for the four guardian deities.
Kataragama Devale at Embekke
Kataragama Devale at Embekke was also built in the 14th Century to house an image of the God Skanda, the Kataragama deity. The entire wooden structure is carved with mythical and other figures.
Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
Peradeniya Botanical Gardens is a 60 hectare (147 acre) garden and is the largest in Sri Lanka. Ideal for walkers, you can also bike or drive through it.
BEACH RESORTS (SOUTH)
Negombo is famous for its lagoon, cinnamon and fishing. It is a bustling town where many interesting historical events took place. Its beach however, does not boast the same fineness as the other Sri Lankan beaches. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating town for exploration.
The Bentota seas are ideal for snorkelling, sailing, wind surfing, water skiing and deep-sea fishing. This area is populated with a large number of hotels and guesthouses along the coast.
The Hikkaduwa surfing and diving scene is popular with the tourists because of its atmosphere. There are also a large number of beach restaurants, bars and shops.
Renowned for its mangosteens and basketwear, Kalutara got its name from 'Kalu Ganga' or 'Black River' and was once a busy spice port. As you cross the bridge you see the Buddhist temple, Gangatilaka Vehera built in the 1960s. It is the only hollow dagaba in the world and the interior painting is fascinating.
It is one of the largest and best-sheltered harbours in the world located on the East Coast of Sri Lanka. Its warm, clear water and tranquil beach make for solitude and breathtaking scenery. A special attraction are the natural hot springs.
Unawatuna is a small beach resort overlooking the Unawatuna Bay. It has golden beaches, clear, calm waters and an offshore reef ideal for younger tourists who frequent its beach front cafes and guest houses.
Located in the North-Central part of the island, Anuradhapura was originally founded by a King\'s minister named Anuradha in 500 BC. Anuradhapura is acclaimed as the greatest monastic city of the ancient world and has served as the royal capital of 113 kings. In 1073, Anuradhapura was fought over and abandoned when the capital was moved to Polonnaruwa. Explorers re-discovered the crumbling ruins in the 19th Century and an effort to restore and re-build this city has since begun. It is an important historical and archaeological site and continues to attract both Sri Lankan and foreign visitors as well as pilgrims.
Sri Maha Bodhi
Sri Maha Bodhi (the sacred Bo Tree) was brought to Sri Lanka as a sapling and planted in Anuradhapura. It is believed to be a sapling of the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhi Gaya in India. The tree is over 2,200 years old and is the oldest historically documented tree in the world.
Brazen Palace (Lovamahapaya) was a dwelling for the Buddhist monks built by King Dutugamunu over 2000 years ago. From the once ten-storeyed, thousand-roomed building, only 1,600 stone columns remain.
Ruvanveliseya (Great Stupa) was built by King Dutugamunu in the 2nd Century BC. It is a dagaba consisting of a dome top with a pinnacle, standing on a square base. Its shape was inspired by a water bubble floating on water. Within the dome is a chamber containing sacred relics of the Buddha.
Thuparamaya is the oldest dagaba (stupa) on the island and is believed to enshrine the right collarbone of Lord Buddha. It was built in the 3rd Century BC by King Devanampiyatissa.
Jetavanaramaya is the largest stupa in Sri Lanka with a 113 m (367 ft) base. It raises 122 m (400 ft) in height and its perimeter walls enclose 8 acres. It is the 2nd largest monument in the world – 2nd only to the Pyramids of Egypt. It was built in the 3rd Century AD.
Dalada Maligawa (Tooth Relic Temple) first housed the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha when it was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD.
Nakha Vihara is a square dagaba decorated with stucco figures.
This statue depicts the Buddha in a state of Samadhi or deep meditation
Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Ponds) are two impressive pools used by the ancient monks for bathing.
King Mahasen's Palace
King Mahasen\'s Palace was built in the 3rd Century. All that remains now of this palace are the remnants of a few standing pillars. However, the semi-circular doorstep elaborately adorned with symbolic carvings is a testament to the grandeur of the structure that must have once stood there.
Ratnaprasada (Gem Palace) is the preaching hall of a Buddhist monastery.
>Lankarama is a stupa belonging to the Abhayagiri Vihara complex built in the 1st Century.
Anuradhapura Museum occupies a British colonial building and contains unique finds from Anuradhapura.
Mirisaweti Dagaba is a Buddhist shrine built by King Dutugamunu between 161 – 158 BC. To the north of it you will find a refectory with a food trough. This holds enough for 1,000 individual servings.
Basawakkulama – it is a tank built around the 4th Century BC identified with King Pandukabhaya.
Tissa Wewa (lake) built during the 2nd Century BC covers 65 hectares (160 acres). The water travels 85 km (54 miles) from the Kala Wewa, feeding 70 tanks on its way. The cool shore of the tank is ideal to watch the sunset.
Nuwara Wewa is the largest tank in Anuradhapura created in the 2nd century AD. It is 7 km (4 ½ miles) across and 12 m (40 ft) deep.
Royal Pleasure Gardens
Royal Pleasure Gardens also known as the \'Park of the Goldfish" covered 160 hectares (400 acres). A network of pipes channelled water all over the gardens.
Isurumuniya Rock Temple
Dating from the 3rd century BC is well known for its rock carvings.
Isurumuniya Lovers is a famous sculpture carved in the 6th century AD in the Indian Gupta style.
Vessagiriya Ruins and Caves
Vessagiriya Ruins and Caves consist of three large outcrops of rocks and is said to have housed 500 members of the vaisya caste, a group ordained by Mahinda