For a country as small as Sri Lanka, it has an amazing number of historical and nature attractions. This ‘tear drop’ nation — nicknamed for its unique shape — is a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. It also has several national parks and reserves where you can lose yourself in the cradle of nature. From a thousand-year-old capital city to a paradise for surfers, Sri Lanka has it all. Here is our list of 10 attractions that make Sri Lanka so special.
Located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa is a royal ancient city. It served as the capital of the island nation after the destruction of its first capital – Anuradhapura. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was once a fabulous garden city with beautiful Brahmanic sculptures. The city is considered as one of the most beautiful and cleanest in Sri Lanka. It was featured in the 1982 music video of Duran Duran – Save A Prayer. Once in Polonnaruwa, you can easily see the ancient site on foot as most of it is clustered in a small area. Attractions of the ancient capital include the ruins of the Buddhist temples, Royal Palace, and the Topa Wewa Lake. The Polonnaruwa Museum has a vast treasure of ancient artifacts.
Located 135 km east of the capital Colombo, the city of Kandy is the second largest in Sri Lanka. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was the last capital of the Sinhalese monarchs. Today, it is regarded as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka and has a thriving commercial and financial center. It is also one of the holiest sites for Buddhism, being home to the Temple of the Tooth of Buddha. There are many attractions in Kandy ranging from ancient temples to modern-day parks. The Knuckle Mountains and the Hanthana Mountains are scenic and serene places for a hike.
8. Adam’s Peak
Located amidst forested hills, the Adam’s Peak – Sri Pada to the locals – is a 2243m high mountain that is a famous pilgrim site for all religions. A rock formation in the shape of a footprint is worshipped as that of the Buddha by Buddhists, of Shiva by Hindus, and of Adam by t Muslims and Christians. The ascent to the mountain top that has picturesque views of the sunrise and sunset. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hrs. There are 6 trails to the top, with the most popular being the ones from Nallathanni and Palabaddala.
Galle is a major city that is located almost 119 km from Colombo. It was officially founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese and was used as one of their prominent ports on the Indian Ocean. There are numerous examples of Portuguese architecture dotted all across the Old Town. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be easily seen by foot. There are a number of historical sites that are major attractions in Galle. Some of the prominent attractions include the Galle Fort and Kalutara Bodhiya Temple.
Batticaloa is a must-visit for its pristine beaches and scenic ocean views. The year-round warm weather, shallow lagoons, and inexpensive lodging facilities make it a very popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka. The Arugam Bay is its most popular site. The bay has a natural charm that attracts the tourists from all corners of the globe. It is a surfers’ paradise and hosts many international surfing competitions. Pasikudah is another coastal resort town that is famous for its shallow coastline – one of the longest in the world. You can also visit the 17th century Batticaloa Fort that was built by the Portuguese. You must visit the Manning Bridge to experience the sounds of the shellfish which got Batticaloa its famous nickname – Land of the Singing Fish.
5. Sinharaja Forest Reserve
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a designated World Biosphere Reserve and is part of the lowland rainforest eco-region of Sri Lanka. The low accessibility saved this virgin rainforest from commercial logging. It is today home to numerous endemic flora and fauna species making it a treasure trove for nature lovers. This national park has 3 access ways – the Kudawa Entrance (from Colombo through Kalwana); the Pitadeniya Entrance (from Galle through Deniyaya); and the Morning Side Entrance (from Galle through Morning Side Estate).
4. Yala National Park
The Yala National Park is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka. It is made up of 5 blocks – each a park in itself like the Ruhuna National Park and the Kumana National Park – 2 of which are open to the public. The Park is important for the conservation of elephants. It is also home to hundreds of exotic flora and fauna, some of which are endemic to the island nation. The pilgrim sites of Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara are located within the Park boundary. Block 1 and 3 are the main tourist draws.
3. Beaches of Sri Lanka
Being an island nation, it is but obvious that Sri Lanka has a number of beaches along its 1600 km of palm-tree-lined coastline. The Unawatuna Beach near Galle is a paradise for scuba divers. The Bentota Beach is a pristine location for a romantic getaway. It is also popular for water skiing and wind surfing. The Arugam Bay is popular for its scenic beauty. The small and rocky beach of Mirissa is popular for whale and dolphin watching. It is also a favorite with bird watchers. The Weligama Beach is famous for the stilt fishing, entertainment shows, and the delicious seafood on offer.
Located on the west coast of the island, the city of Colombo is the administrative capital of Sri Lanka. It is the largest and most vibrant city of the island nation. Although Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (or simply Kotte) is the parliament capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is popularly called the capital as Kotte is a satellite town of Colombo. Colombo is the financial and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. This has subsequently led to a huge growth of hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues throughout the city. Coupled with the rich history and heritage sites, Colombo is a leading tourist destination in Sri Lanka. The city has many attractions ranging from ancient temples to beaches and museums that one can choose from.
Anuradhapura is the ancient capital of Sri Lanka. It is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its magnificent historic ruins. Founded in 900BC, it served as the Sri Lankan capital from the 4th century BC to the 11th century AD. Anuradhapura is regarded as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city is one of the major Buddhist destinations on the island. The importance comes from the Bodhi Tree Temple that has a tree from one of the 32 samplings from the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree, guarded and worshiped for over 2000 years, is the oldest authenticated tree in the world.
Originally posted 2017-04-24 06:35:25.