Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Polonnurawa-located at a distance of 216 km from Colombo-was the capital of Sri Lanka in medieval times. Used by the Sri Lankan kings as a 'country residence' from the 7th century, Polonnurawa became Sri Lanka's capital in the 11th century AD.

During its time the city was fortified with three concentric walls, beautified with parks and gardens and sanctified by many a shrine and sacred place. The city and the surrounding area were watered by a unique irrigational complex known as the Sea of Parakrama (Parakrama Samudra).

Places to See

Parakarma Samudra: Parakarma Samudra is a man made irrigation tank spread over an area of 5940 acres, built by the King Parakramabahu. It is one of the most striking features of Polonnurawa.

Royal Citadel: The Citadel housed the palace and the administrative buildings of King Prakramabahu who ruled in12th century AD and is enclosed by a huge rampart more than a metre thick. It is an impressive building with fine stone carvings. The Royal Bath is outside the rampart with a flight of steps leading to it. The beautiful bath is made of stone with a small pavilion probably used as a changing room.

Gal Vihara: It is a rock cut Buddhist shrine dating back to 12th century AD. It contains magnificent images of Buddha carved out of stone.

Vata-Da-Ge: A circular relic chamber built enclosing a dagoba that had been a popular architectural style in ancient Sri Lanka.

Hatadage: A relic chamber built by King Parakramabahu I to house the sacred Tooth Relic.

Lotus Pond: A stone pond built in the shape of a lotus flower in eight parallel tiers probably to provide seating to the monks while bathing.


Located in the north-central province of Sri Lanka, Sigriya-a city, palace and garden complex centering a 200 metre high rock-is unofficially known as the 8th wonder of the world. Literally, the word Sigriya means the Lion Rock. Sigriya is Sri Lanka's most recognizable landmark and has been declared as a World Heritage Site.

Built in the 5 century AD, this magnificent complex of geometrically laid gardens, pools, fountains as well as oldest surviving murals of maidens was palace of the King Kasyapa. The Complex consists of the central rock, rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular precincts on the east (90 hectares) and the west (40 hectares), surrounded by two moats and three ramparts.

The 650 ft monolith was once a rock fortress and a royal citadel from 477 to 495 AD. The most significant feature of the Rock would have been the Lion staircase leading to the palace garden on the summit. All that remains now are the two colossal paws and a mass of brick masonry that surround the ancient limestone steps and the cuts and groves on the rock face give an idea of the size and shape of the lion figure. There are also remains of paintings in some of the caves at the foot of the rock. Of special significance is the painting on the roof of the Cobra Hood Cave. The cave with its unique shape dates back to the pre-Christian era.

The pleasure gardens on the western side of the rock are studded with ponds, fountains and promenades showing a glorious past. The miniature water garden just inside the inner wall of the western precinct consists of water pavilions, pools, cisterns, courtyards, conduits and watercourses. The largest water garden has a central island surrounded by water and linked to the main precinct by cardinally oriented causeways. The fountain garden is a narrow precinct on two levels. Western half has two long and deep pools, with shallow serpentine streams draining into the pools. These fountains are still active during the rainy season from November to January.

Climbing up the rock you will see the Mirror Wall, a highly polished rock surface that has weathered the times to shine and reflect even today. In a sheltered pocket are the famous frescoes of beautiful maidens, which appear to rise out of the clouds. A climb to the top is rewarded by a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.


Kandy-a major tourist destination-is also known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. Nestled in the hills at an altitude of 488 m, it is located at a distance of 115 km from Colombo.

Kandy has a rich history. It was originally known as Senkadagala pura after a hermit named Senkada who lived there. Many of Sinhalese people call it Mahanuwara meaning the Great City. The name Kandy was derived by the colonial rulers from the word Kanda in Sinhala, meaning a hill. Kandy was the stronghold of the Sinhalese kings, who promoted and protected the local culture until the city fell to the British in 1815.

Today a bustling commercial city, Kandy is famous for the Kandy Perahara-a huge cultural pageant that takes place in the month of July or August. It is one of the most colorful processions of the world. Thousands of drummers and dancers accompanying a parade of ornamented elephants perform in the streets of Kandy. The leading tusker carries the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, while the spectators pay homage to it. The procession moves along the streets for seven consecutive nights and concludes on the day of the August full moon.

City Travel Guide

The Temple of Tooth: Also known as Dalda Maligawa, it is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. Here, one of the Buddha's teeth is kept. The temple was built in the 17th century. A golden canopy has been added recently. Daily rituals are performed three times a day-at 4.30 a.m., 10.30 a.m., and 6.30 p.m. respectively.

Gadaladeniya Temple: Built in 1344, the temple is situated on a hilltop at a distance of 15 km from the town. The temple is inspired by Dravidian architecture and gives a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

Peradeniya Gardens: The garden-a paradise for nature lover- was built in 14th century during the reign of king Vikrama Bahu III. The best-known attraction of the garden is the orchid House, which houses more than 300 varieties of exquisite orchids. A spice garden located here gives you a first hand account of the trees and plants used in the traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

Embekke Temples: This 14th century temple is famous for the intricate wooden carvings dedicated to God Katargama. Almost the entire structures of some wooden buildings are decorated with dancers, musicians, wrestlers, legendary beasts and birds. Nearby are the ruins of an ancient rest house with similar pillars carved in stone.

Lankatilaka Temple: Lankatilaka temple dates back to 14th century. It is built on the summit of a rock called Panhalgala. The temple provides a magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding hills, paddy fields and the diverse vegetation around it.

Knuckle Mountains: The Knuckles range is about 90 square miles in extent and is a detached block of the central highlands separated from the main highlands by the the Dumbara Valley. There are 35 peaks rising to more than 3000 feet (915 m) in the Knuckles range. It has a rich variety of flora and fauna.

Hanthana Mountains: Hanthana Mountains are spread on the outskirts of Kandy and are a source of many rivulets and streams. They are an ideal destination for the trekkers.

Udawatte Kele: Udawatte Kele is a primeval forest located above the Dalada Maligawa. It is also known as the Forbidden Forest of the Kings of Kandy. It contains a variety of trees such as Talipot trees, cinnamon, olive, rattan cane, betel, bo-trees, kitul palms, jak, mara, betelnut and arecanut.

Hindu Shrines: There are four Hindu shrines dedicated to Gods Vishnu and Natha and Goddess Patthini in Kandy. Three of them are located adjacent to the Temple of Tooth, while the fourth one is towards the town.

Buddhist Temples: There are many Buddhist temples surrounding Kandy. Famous among them are Malwaththa and Asgiri temples located on the shores of the lake.


Matara, located 160km from Colombo in its southern part, attracts the tourists for its natural scenic beauty. In Matara, one can stroll through lush paddy fields, aromatic tea estates and and fragrant spice plantations. Matara is centreplace in the southern province of Sri Lanka. On excursions from Matara one can visit places like Weligama and Mulgirigala Rock Temple.
In past Matara was called 'Mahathota' which translates as 'Great Ferry'. Weerabamapanam made Matara is capital and named it 'Mapatuna'. From time to time Matara has been ruled by foriegn rulers. The Portuguese administered Matara from 1790 to 1795 while the British ruled it from 1796 to 1948. The Dutch were also dominant force in Matara for some time. 

 Matara is located on the banks of River Nilwala, the third longest river in Sri Lanka. It joins the Indian Ocean at Thotamuna. Main crops along this river are tea, rubber and paddy.

One can take train or buses for travelling from Colombo to Matara. Although number of trains is limited, buses are available at frequest intervals. The journey takes around four hours. The railway lines to south end in Matara. Bus stand is located about 500 m from railway station. For travelling within the city popular mode of tourist transport are Three Wheelers. Traditional mode of local transport are carts.

Hotels of various grades are available in Matara. As for communication, state post office as well as services of privatge agencies are available. Cyber Cafe facility is also available. All necessary things are available in shopping outlets. Phone facilities are also available.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nuwara Eliya

The city was founded by Samuel Baker, the discoverer of Lake Albert and the explorer of the Nile in 1846. Nuwara Eliya's climate lent itself to becoming the prime sanctuary of the British civil servants and planters in Ceylon. Nuwara Eliya, called Little England then, was also a hill country retreat where the British colonialists could immerse in their pastimes such as fox hunting, deer hunting,elephant hunting, polo, golf and cricket.
Although the town was founded in the 19th century by the British, the whole district is today visited by native travelers, specially during the month of April, the season of flowers, pony races, go cart races and auto rally.
Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period such as the Queen's Cottage, General's House, Grand Hotel, Hill Club, Town Post Office and even new hotels are often built and furnished in the colonial style. Anyone who visits the city can wallow in its nostalgia of bygone days by visiting these landmark buildings. Many private homes still maintain their old English-style lawns and gardens.
Due to the high altitude, Nuwara Eliya has a much cooler climate than the lowlands of Sri Lanka, with a mean annual temperature of 16 °C. But the temperature changes and sometimes it can be as low as 3°C. In the winter months it is quite cold at night, and there can even be frost. although it rapidly warms up as the tropical sun climbs higher during the day.
 There are so many good places in Nuwara Eliya with a better view of the entire city. I found one place with a better view and cheaper rates for both local and foreign tourists.

Hotel Hill Crest

Wasantha - 077-4832203
No13, Water Field Drive,
Under Bank,
Nuwara Eliya