Sri Lanka known as the ‘Wonder of Asia’ lives up to its tag to the fullest with a rich historical heritage, pristine beaches, scenic beauty and its thrills of adventure and wilderness! The island nation located in the Indian Ocean, south of India boasts of diverse landscapes ranging from rainforests and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches. This Pearl of the Indian Ocean provides a welcome respite to tourists from all over the world with eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites and nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates along with the above.
Sights in Sri Lanka
Dambulla Cave Temple
Also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla the Cave temple is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka, situated in the central part of the country. This cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries is the largest and best-preserved sacred pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka since 22 centuries. The Buddhist mural paintings covering an area of around 2,100 sqm as well as the 157 statues are of particular importance and are related to Gautama Buddha and his life.
The Holy Temple of the Tooth
The Holy Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa), Kandy is the prime monument of the Sinhalese Buddhist populace of Sri Lanka and also of the Buddhists around the world. It is considered as the most sacred shrine of Buddhism and has great historical significance. The original three storied temple was built in 1687 AD by King Wimaladharma Suriya the 2nd (1686-1704) which was destroyed and rebuilt quite a few times by a number of reigning kings in the years that followed.
Located within the Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve the Hakgala Botanical Gardens is one of the five botanical gardens in Sri Lanka and the second largest among them. The Gardens lie beneath the towering Hakgala Rock around 10 km south of Nuwara Eliya (Little England) with majestic views of the hills. Established in 1860 as an experimental Cinchona plantation the gardens now host a myriad collection of roses, shrubs and ferns. The serene ambience makes it a pleasurable visit amid nature.
Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens
The largest of the botanical gardens of Sri Lanka the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens are located near Kandy at an elevation of 500 meters above sea-level. Peradeniya is believed to be a combination of Sinhalese names Pera (guava) and Deniya (a plain). The gardens are dedicated towards floriculture conservation, birdlife conservation, butterfly conservation, biodiversity and sustainability of the island of Sri Lanka. There are around ten thousand plants and trees inclusive of 4000 labeled species in the garden.
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
Get up close to the famous African Penguins just outside Cape Town at the Boulders Beach, the only place in the world where one can do so. Camp at the Boulder Beach and take a stroll on the boardwalks around Foxy beach to get a wonderful view of these cute birds. South Africa’s penguins are under threat from the loss of habitat, declining fish and marine pollution. But steady conservation efforts by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, and SANParks help these precious penguins survive.
Yala & Kumana National Parks
The Yala and Kumana National Parks are a part of the Ruhuna Yala Group of National Reserves which covers over 1 lakh hectares. The Reserve is divided into 5 blocks of which only block 1 is open to the public.
Located on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka the Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Yala West is said to have probably one of the world’s densest leopard populations. Presence of elephants, sambhar deer, spotted deer, wild boars, wild buffaloes, langur monkeys and occasionally even sloth bears makes it an interesting place to visit for animal lovers.
Popularly known as Yala East, the Kumana National Park is renowned for its avifauna, particularly its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. The Kumana Bird Sanctuary is included within the park. Considered to be one of the most important bird nesting and breeding grounds in Sri Lanka, over 255 bird species have been recorded in the park.
Best time to visit
Blessed with a warm weather and plenty of sunshine, Sri Lanka is marked by two monsoon seasons. One is the South-West monsoon between May and July and the other is North-East monsoon during October and January. So, if you avoid the coastline complementing the monsoon period you can enjoy Sri Lanka almost all round the year!