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Paradise, blessed land, the world of Buddhism, fragrant Ceylon tea and various spices – this is how the island of Sri Lanka appears to its guests. Despite the fact that this amazing island has a very tiny size, a whole scattering of miracles is concentrated here – these are the most diverse sights of Sri Lanka, on the basis of which your first acquaintance with this country will take place. Despite the fact that Sri Lanka, being an island nation, is famous for its beautiful beaches, there is something to see in Sri Lanka and beyond them. Everyone will find something interesting for themselves – both lovers of culture, art, nature, and fans of outdoor activities.
What to see in Sri Lanka in the first place
It is quite difficult to list all the famous sights of the country, and choosing what to see in Sri Lanka in 1 day is not an easy task at all. For this purpose, a rating of the most interesting sights was compiled with a brief description, which will be discussed later.
1. Dambulla Golden Temple
Museum Buddhism at the Golden Temple of Dambulla on the picturesque mountain top
The cave temple of Dambulla, carved directly into a high 300-meter rock, includes 5 caves connected to each other. In the main of the caves lies a large statue of the Buddha, as well as several other statues. In another room, you can observe an unusual phenomenon: water from a cave source flows upwards along the walls of the cave, refuting all the laws of physics. The age of the cave pagoda is more than 2 millennia, and its numerous statues are part of one of the greatest collections of Buddha sculptures.
General view of the majestic rock
In the central part of the island of Sri Lanka there is an important attraction that has become the hallmark of the country. This is Sigiriya, or “Lion Rock”, located on the site of a volcano that fell asleep millions of years ago. The frozen lava formed a plateau where an ancient castle was erected in the first centuries of our era. The ruins of this fortress have survived to this day, but even from the ruins one can judge the former grandeur of the structure. The entrance to the castle was once carved in the shape of a huge lion, but today only its paws can be seen – this is all that remains of the stone giant.
3. Peak Adam
View of the top of Butterfly Mountain
Among all the excursions in Sri Lanka, climbing the sacred mountain – Adam's Peak is especially popular. This place of worship, located at an altitude of 2.2 kilometers, has become an occasion for pilgrimage for representatives of four religions, including Christianity. On the first steps, the participants of the ascent are greeted by a Buddha statue, and then travelers will have a difficult path – about 6 thousand steps, which take about 4 hours to climb. The path, which begins closer to night, ends with a bewitching dawn, and at the top, visitors have the opportunity to see the footprint, which, according to legend, was left by the enlightened Buddha himself.
4. Kumana National Park
Animals by the pond in Kumana National Park
In the southeastern region of Sri Lanka there is a national park, which is famous for the variety of feathered inhabitants inhabiting it – about 250 different species in total, among which are different types of inhabitants of swamps, lakes and ponds, as well as land inhabitants. In addition to birds, there are many reptiles, as well as mammals, the largest of which is the Sri Lankan elephant. Extensive water and wetlands are surrounded by a drier zone of tropical forests. Those who wish can stay in the park for a few days – for this purpose there is a campsite in the park.
5. Kandy Valley
The picturesque valley of Kandy, surrounded on all sides by the Bernard Gagnon mountains
Reviews of connoisseurs of natural beauties indicate that one of the bewitching beauty places of Sri Lanka is located a hundred kilometers from the capital city of Colombo. We are talking about the beautiful Kandy Valley, in which the ancient city of the same name is located, which was once the legendary capital of the island kingdom. In its center is an artificial lake, and in the middle of it, an ancient palace rises on an island. Hiking is a convenient way to discover the original culture and natural beauty of Kandy, especially since there are many educational trekking routes in the area.
Watch the beautiful views of Sri Lanka in this breathtaking video!
6. Yala National Park
Elephants in Yala National Park
The special pride of the inhabitants of Sri Lanka is the nature reserves, the pearl among which is the Yala National Park. Among the 12 other reserves, Yala is considered the oldest, the second largest on the island. The territory of the park is a flat landscape, mostly dry soils with small oases. Only its western part is accessible to visitors, while the eastern part is reserved for the work of natural scientists. In total, the park is inhabited by more than 2 hundred species of birds and 44 species of mammals, among which the largest is the Ceylon elephant.
Official website: https://yala.national.park
7. Colombo Port
Colombo Port and Business Center Fort
Continuing the journey, it is worth paying attention to the city of Colombo on the west coast of Sri Lanka. It is the most populous city on the island and is best known for its seaport, the largest and oldest in all of South Asia. Just think – Colombo became a trading port more than 2 millennia ago, and to this day it is the busiest on the island. 24 hours a day, without any breaks, the port does not stop its work. Such a high responsibility in the work is also explained by the fact that Colombo also serves as a naval base in Sri Lanka.
8. St. Clair's Falls
St. Clair Falls among the green tea plantations
Choosing what to visit in Sri Lanka from natural beauties, it is impossible to pass by one of the treasures of the island – St. Clair Falls. Until some time, St. Clair was the widest waterfall in Sri Lanka, but with the opening of the hydroelectric project, the volume of water has noticeably decreased in it. But despite this, the width of the falling cascade is impressive and is about 50 meters. Flowing through picturesque tea plantations, St. Clair is divided into two segments – large and small. Going down from the main tourist road to the plantation, you can find a bewitching view of the falling water stream.
9. Temple of the Tooth Relic
Temple of the Tooth Relic, in which houses the sacred relic of Sri Lanka
One of the most important relics of the island is the tooth of the Buddha, kept in the city of Kandy, in the temple of the same name. This relic was brought to the island from India in the 4th century AD, and to this day miraculous properties are attributed to it. Detractors, having learned about the amazing properties of the shrine, repeatedly tried to destroy the tooth, and with it the Buddhist faith. But none of these plans was ever realized, the tooth remained intact. The temple itself rises on the shore of a beautiful lake, has a rich decoration, and every day several times a day a demonstration of the sacred tooth is held here for the believing parishioners.
Official website: http://sridaladamaligawa< /p>
10. Colombo World Trade Center
Twin towers in Fort business district
The largest and most developed city in Sri Lanka, Colombo, offers great opportunities for purchasing quality products – souvenirs, food, textiles and other groups of goods at minimal prices. And it is not surprising that the World Trade Center is located in Colombo. This is the tallest building on the island, its height exceeds one and a half hundred meters, and its execution meets the highest international standards. The complex consists of 2 high-rise buildings and a connecting block, it houses shopping centers, offices, upscale hotels in Sri Lanka and many restaurants.
Official website: http://www.wtc .lk/
11. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
A herd of elephants bathes in the river at Pinnawala
The turbulent political situation and many years of internecine war in Sri Lanka also affected nature – war and famine contributed to the reduction of the elephant population. Caring people took on the mission to save these large mammals, and in 1975 the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was founded. Elephants, left without mothers, and adults, crippled by explosions and injured by poachers, got here. The elephant orphanage today has become one of the best attractions in Sri Lanka, where visitors willingly come to see the elephant care procedure and even participate in this process.
Official website: http://nationalzoo.gov.lk/
12. Pinnawala Zoo
Sri Lankan Leopard at Pinnawala Zoo
If you happen to be in the town of Pinnawala, then you will definitely find where to go in Sri Lanka, in addition to the elephant nursery. Indeed, quite recently, in 2015, a zoo with open enclosures appeared here. Due to the proximity of the well-known elephant orphanage, this attraction quickly gained popularity. Despite the fact that living conditions are created for animals that are close to natural, and they are allowed to roam almost freely over a spacious area of several hectares, all areas of the zoo are equipped with strict safety standards.
Official website : http://nationalzoo.gov.lk/pin
13. Paradeniya Royal Botanical Garden
A delightful corner of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Paradeniya Koshy Koshy
The most lush and spacious botanical garden in Sri Lanka – Peradeniya – appeared back in the distant 18th century. Its territory of 60 hectares is replete with a wide variety of exotic plants, in total there are more than 4 thousand species. Trees, shrubs, flowers are marked with introductory signs, and at the entrance there is a bright guide map, by which you can find out the location of the gardens and other necessary information. Walking in Peradeniya is an opportunity to walk through the heavenly fragrant land, getting acquainted with different cultures and eras of gardening.
Official website: http://www.botanicgardens
14. Nuwara Eliya Tea Plantations
The hilly area around Nuwara Eliya is planted with tea bushes
Once upon a time, a wild tropical forest grew on the site of Nuwara Eliya plantations. Later, having found out that in these parts there are extremely favorable conditions for growing tea, the English colonialists brought the first tea bushes here. For centuries, the traditional technology of growing, collecting and processing high-quality tea has been sacredly observed here. Guides from Sri Lanka will take you to the best plantations of Nuwara Eliya, take you to a tea factory, where you can see with your own eyes the step-by-step process of making tea. In addition, here you can visit a museum where you can get acquainted with various tea varieties, or a shop where you can buy any of the presented varieties.
15. Victoria Dam
Victoria Dam – an arched dam on the Mahaweli River
In 1978, the construction of the highest dam in Sri Lanka began on the Mahaweli River, the main tasks of which were to supply the region with water and generate hydroelectric power. After 7 years, the grandiose construction was completed, and the 122-meter Victoria Dam contributed to the formation of a large reservoir. You can see the incredible, impressive water release from the top of the dam: an automatic system regularly opens the locks when the waters of the reservoir reach the upper allowable threshold, and then the dam turns into an incredible artificial waterfall.
16. Ravana Waterfall
Ravana multi-cascade waterfall
One of the popular tourist destinations is excursions in Sri Lanka to numerous waterfalls, and the best time to visit them is the monsoon period, when they become the most full-flowing. Despite the wide variety of waterfalls on the island, reaching a height of 270 meters, tourists fell in love with the relatively small 40-meter Ravana waterfall. The thing is that this picturesque attraction has its own interesting legend, according to which, a pot filled with gold is stored right under the water cascade, and on certain days, when the water recedes a little, this vessel comes to the surface.
17. Beaches of Bentota
Wide sandy strip of Bentota beach
The coastal city of Bentota is located in the Southern Province of the island, 65 kilometers from Colombo. Any tourist who arrives here will appreciate the main advantage of this place – its clean sandy beaches with high-end and middle-class hotels located right on the sea. It is worth emphasizing the convenient geographical location of Bentota – a small distance from the modern metropolis of Colombo allows, without delving too far into the wilds of pristine nature, to enjoy a paradise vacation on the sea coast, but at the same time there is always the opportunity to comfortably get to the nearest civilization.
Sights of Sri Lanka: what else to visit in Sri Lanka
The main attractions of Sri Lanka were briefly listed above, but of course, this is not all – those who wish to continue their acquaintance with these lands can endlessly find more and more interesting places.
18. Negombo Beach
Beach in Negombo
At the mouth of the Negombo lagoon is the beach of the same name, the main one on the west coast of the island. It is also a popular resort, which is often used as an intermediate point for trips around the island. This is explained by a very convenient location – the airport is within easy reach from here, only some 7 kilometers. Hotels along the beach offer different levels of services to suit all budgets, making this place accessible to any traveler. Of the entertainment, various water sports are very popular and, of course, diving among the well-preserved coral reefs. Local restaurants offer delicious dishes of the freshest seafood.
19. Dutch Fort in Galle
Ancient architecture of the Dutch fort in Galle
Vacationers on the southern beaches of Sri Lanka are advised to visit the world-famous historical landmark of the island – Galle Fort, the largest fortification in Asia. Initially, the fortress was built by the Portuguese at the end of the 16th century, but with the arrival of the Dutch it was almost completely rebuilt, and since then for 2 centuries it has served as the main port of Sri Lanka. Today it is a whole tourist area of the city of Galle, where there are many shops, restaurants, offices and a market. But despite this, a calm atmosphere always reigns here, conducive to a quiet unhurried walk.
20. The sacred city of Anuradhapura
Snow-white dagoba (bell-shaped stupa) Ruanveli in the sacred city of Anuradhapura
A very significant attraction in the world of Buddhism in Sri Lanka is the city of Anuradhapura, once the former capital of the ancient Sinhalese state. The holy city has experienced a lot in its lifetime – both prosperity and plunder by the invaders. And only in 1980 began the restoration of its ancient ruins. Buddhist pilgrims to Anuradhapura are attracted by the ancient cave temple of Isurumuniya, built in the 4th-3rd centuries BC. Numerous tourists who do not profess Buddhism also find a lot of interesting places for themselves: these are numerous ancient monuments – statues, sanctuaries-stupas, palaces, artificial reservoirs that have become part of the glorious history of the city.
21. Mihintale Mountain Park< /h3>
Beautiful scenery of the mountain park Mihintale
Just a dozen kilometers from Anuradhapura there is another historical place – the Mihintale mountain range, where a lot of ancient Buddhist buildings are concentrated – more precisely, what remains of them today. Having overcome about 2 thousand steps, you can see many structures that were once part of a large monastic complex: several stupas, a statue of Buddha, a hall of alms and a hall of relics, caves, museums and monasteries. A walk through the sacred places of Mihintale invariably conveys the atmosphere of peace and grandeur that these monuments have carried through the millennia.
Official website: https://lanka.com/
22. Polonnaruwa Ancient City
Terrace of the Tooth of the Buddha in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa
Another historical place that will be affected by the recommendations of this rating is located two hundred kilometers from Colombo. This is the medieval capital of Sri Lanka, the city of Polonnaruwa, the first settlements of which began to form as early as the 2nd century BC. The main monument of Polonnaruwa is the Gal Vihara temple with 4 giant Buddha statues carved out of the rock. In the ancient Pakakrambahu Palace, the royal residence was located: three-story ruins are all that remains of it today. Among the several stupas located here, the Rankotvihara Dagoba stands out – the highest in Polonnaruwa and the fourth largest on the island.
In this article, we have presented the main attractions of Sri Lanka with photos with names and descriptions: each of the places mentioned will add something something new in the piggy bank of your impressions and will become a guide to this amazing land of extraordinary nature, multifaceted culture, ancient relics and bright exotics.