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Tourist Places To Visit In Sri Lanka
The island nation of Sri Lanka is nothing short of glorious - abundant with picturesque landscapes, magnificent mountains, lush green tea gardens, and romantic beaches. It is an island paradise with no shortage of awe-inspiring sights, natural, cultural and historical beauty. And there are some places which are worth visiting at least once in a lifetime, be it the capital city Colombo and its hustle bustle, or the little plateau town of Nuwara Eliya, be it Kandy or the colonial town of Galle. Here are the tourist places you must visit in Sri Lanka.
It's a place heavily engraved with ruins, making it hard not to wonder about the ancient city life at the ruins of Polonnaruwa. It is well preserved and full of archaeological treasures including hundreds of historical structures like temples and tombs, stupas and statues. If you are a history or art lover, then this is THE place for you in Sri Lanka.
Get entranced by the splendid panorama through Ella Gap, magnifying a spectacular gap in the southern mountain wall. Build in the middle of the gorgeous countryside, with petit vegetable plots, tea plantations on the hill slopes and forests on the top, this hill station is nothing less than spectacular. Ella is most definitely one of the most alluring places to visit in Sri Lanka.
This alluring hill station with a prominent colonial ambiance of a golf course, mock Tudor buildings, and a gentlemen's club, still has a spiritual vibe. It also features Sri Lanka's most scenic rail ride. Ride the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya to enjoy the magnificent views of the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, and tea plantations.
Dambulla Cave Temple
The breathtaking murals and statues in this beautifully preserved cave with over 150 statues of Buddha will leave you stunned. Experience the calm and peace in this gritty cave temple epitomized by the extraordinary cultural artifacts of ancient Sri Lanka. Dambulla Cave Temple is worth seeing at least once, if not for its religious richness then for the art and skill.
Spend a night here to witness the magical sunrise that would be hard to forget. Adam's Peak is a biodiversity hotspot and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is incomparable to any other sunrise watching spot in Sri Lanka and attracts tourists all year round. You can easily trek up with your friends and reach by dawn to see the sun tear its way through the horizon beyond the mountains. Take your camera along, and capture the moment for eternity.
Mirissa is the most appealing beach hideaway in Sri Lanka, where time just flies by while you spend your days, sun-kissed on a hammock or whale watching. This beach paradise is a perfect escape from reality. It is a must to add it to the holiday list. Late summers in Mirissa are perfect, but try to avoid the peak of summers as the days become excruciatingly hot.
Yala National Park
Sri Lanka has the highest density of protected wild leopards. These alpha predators can easily be sighted in Yala, which lies on the southern coast of the island. These big cats make your day; and after a spell-bounding safari you can rest on the beach to end the day. Yala National Park allows jeep safaris twice a day -- once early morning at 6 and then in the afternoon at 2. There are also Buddhist ruins and ancient carved caves around here to explore after your safari.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
It's the most dramatic view in Sri Lanka, to get lost amidst the ancient ruins, stunning frescoes, and water gardens. The most attractive view is from the top, with jungle and hills spread in every direction. It's something you cannot miss for the world.
One of the larger cities on the island, Kandy is a plateau settlement, blooming in the midst of rainforests and tea plantations. The Kandy Lake makes for a gorgeous hub of the city, attracting locals as well as tourists. While the former come here for an evening stroll and chit chat, the latter enjoy the experience of sitting by the tranquil waters. Other attractions in Kandy are Temple of the Tooth, Royal Botanic Gardens, Udawatta Kele Sanctuary etc.
Bentota is a pretty little beach town, also a resort town, with corals and rivers and temples and gardens. The Bentota galore is all about beach fun, upgraded to a whole other level by the Buddhist sites and estates with orchards. Visit the Paradise Island to chill by the shore, explore Bentota Lagoon, Galapota Temple, Canoe Rock, Bevis's Brief Garden and Lunuganga.
The capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is a wonderful treasure of tourism. There are temples and museums, forts and parks that await you here. While the life is fast, it is not so crazy that you will feel like you are in a metro. A tuk tuk or taxi can easily ferry you around, taking you through sites like Gangaramaya Temple, Viharamahadevi Park, Galle Face Green, Beira Lake, Independence Square etc.
Sigiriya is a fortress town in Matale District, where the Sigiriya Fortress has stood the test of time for 1600 years. It is credited to Kasyapa, the king, and is a quintessential defence fort with ramparts and moats and towers. It used to be his private home at the time but changed utility over the centuries. Now of course it’s a tourist destination along with the nearby Cobra Hood cave, Pidurangala and Minneriya National park.
Galle is a mini Europe in Sri Lanka, with its streets and forts, old school architecture and parks. Because Galle was developed by the Portuguese and the Dutch during colonial rule, its culture is also highly influenced by their hand. Hence you will find that the food here has a decided European touch. You can visit the famous Galle Fort, Galle Lighthouse, National Museum etc. And if you want to chill by the sea, drive to Unawatuna Beach.
Another city that has been dusted by the Dutch touch, Negombo is home to a Dutch Fort that is now a prison fort. You can also visit St. Mary’s Church, Hamilton Canal, Negombo Lagoon and Negombo Beach. This is mostly a recreational town, where all your fun is mostly beach and activity based. If you are into art, then the churches and forts can be a good exploration for their neoclassical architecture and paintings.
A World Heritage Site, Anuradhapura became locally famous after Bodhi Tree came to town. Sanghamitta cut a piece of this tree from Bodh Gaya in India and carried it all the way to Sri Lanka to spread the message of Buddhism. Thus the tree grew here too and became a significant tourist attraction. You can also visit the stupas of Ruwanwelisaya, Mihintale, Abhayagiri Stupa and the old ruins of Sigiriya.
Trincomalee is a town of water babies. Here you get to enjoy beaches as well as temples. While there are water sports like scuba diving, swimming and rafting, you can also indulge in long walks by the shore and pamper yourself in luxurious resorts. Underwater marine life is par beautiful here, which makes diving even more fun. Visit for Fort Fedrick, Uppveli Beach, Koneswaram Temple and Trincomalee War Cemertry.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Sinharaja Forest Reserve, literally meaning the kingdom of lions, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course it is not home to lions; its name means a king sized forest. But there are other animals here, namely elephants, purple faced langurs, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, Blue magpie, Sri Lanka wood pigeon and Leopards. A lot of these species are endemic to Sri Lanka, and hence become quite rare to see elsewhere.
When in Sri Lanka, do visit the land Of Ayurveda — Ulpotha. It is a little village that has been preserving the knowledge of Ayurveda in its practises and scriptures. Nowadays you can also find many yoga centres and retreats here where naturopathy techniques are also utilised. The natural aura of the virgin landscape adds to that tranquil calm charm. Nearby tourist attractions include Yapahuwa Rock Fort, Sigiriya Rocks, and Ayurveda Paradise Maho hotel.
Movies buffs would recognise this name from the Bollywood hit Madras Cafe. This town of Jaffna has been a hub of seditionist movements in the region in the past. But today it is a bright spot on the map of Sri Lanka for its forests and temples. It has evolved into a spiritual retreat. Visit Nallur Kovil temple, Nagadeepa Vihara Purana temple and Jaffna Fort for a tour of history, culture and religion here.
Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park is home herds and herds of elephants. The park is situated between Uva and Sabaragamuwa, with many other species of wildlife roaming around. You can visit the Walawe River, and the Udawalawe Reservoir built nearby. Around here, there is also a small transit home, where you can find baby elephants whose parents have died. It is a mixed bag of emotions, seeing these cute baby animals live out their life without their parents but just as loved by the caretakers and other animals.