According to the Mahavamsa, the epic of Sinhala History, King Pandukabhaya’s city was a model of planning. Precints were set aside for huntsmen, for scavengers and for heretics as well as for foreigners. There were hostels and hospitals, at least one Jain chapel, and cemeteries for high and low castes. Water supply was assured by the construction of ‘tanks’, artificial reservoirs, of which the one called after himself, exists to this day under the altered name of Baswak Kulam.
In 993 when Raja Raja Chola sent a large Chola army which conquered the Anuradhapura Kingdom, in the north, and added it to the sovereignty of the Chola Empire. The whole or most of the island was subsequently conquered and incorporated as a province of the vast Chola empire during the reign of his son Rajendra Chola.
The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was the second major Sinhalese kingdom of Sri Lanka. It lasted from 1055 under Vijayabahu I to 1212 under the rule of Lilavati. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa came into being after the Anuradhapura Kingdom was invaded by Chola forces under Rajaraja I and led to formation of the Kingdom of Ruhuna, where the Sinhalese Kings ruled during Chola occupation. The greatest of these systems, of course is the Parakrama Samudraya or the Sea of Parakrama, a tank so vast that that it is often mistaken for the ocean. It is of such a width that it is impossible to stand upon one shore and view the other side, and it encircles the main city like a ribbon, being both a defensive border against intruders and the lifeline of the people in times of peace. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was completely self-sufficient during King Parakramabahu’s reign.
Intereting Locations on Polonnaruwa : Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Hatadage, Rankoth Vehera, Statue of King Parakramabahu, Thuparamaya, Shiva Dewalaya, Lankathilaka Temple, Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Nissanka Latha Mandapaya ect....
Sigiriya being a fortress, had been well designed for its defenses by having ramparts and moats built around it. There are several approaches to the inner city and the most prominent is the Western entrance. From the summit of the rock, the land areas up to distances of tens of miles can be watched making it hard for the enemy to make a surprise attack to the kingdom.
Frescoes: John Still in 1907 suggested, "The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery... the largest picture in the world perhaps". The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, an area 140 metres long and 40 metres high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, most have been lost forever. More frescoes, different from those on the rock face, can be seen elsewhere, for example on the ceiling of the location called the "Cobra Hood Cave".
The Mirror Wall: Originally this wall was so highly polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Made of brick masonry wall and covered in highly polished white plaster, the wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors to the rock. The mirror wall has verses dating from as early as the 8th century. People of all types wrote on the wall, on varying subjects such as love, irony, and experiences of all sorts. Further writing on the mirror wall now has been banned for the protection of old writings of the wall.
Dambulla is a large town, situated in the Matale District, The area also boasts the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia, and the Iron wood forest, or Na Uyana Aranya. Considering Dambulla history, The area is thought to be inhabited from as early as the 7th to 3rd century BC. Statues and paintings in these caves date back to the 1st century BC. But the paintings and statues were repaired and repainted in the 11th, 12th, and 18th century AD. The caves in the city provided refuge to King Valagamba (also called Vattagamini Abhaya) in his 14-year-long exile from the Anuradapura kingdom. Buddhist monks meditating in the caves of Dambulla at that time provided the exiled king protection from his enemies. When King Valagamba returned to the throne at Anuradapura kingdom in the 1st century BC, he had a magnificent rock temple built at Dambulla in gratitude to the monks in Dambulla.
Kandy is a major city in Sri Lanka, located in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. It is the second largest city in the country after Colombo. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central Province. Kandy is the home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988.
Negombo is a major tourist destination in Sri Lanka. This city is an ideal and liberal place with luxury, tropical life style, for those who want quick access to and from the country's main international airport and also to Colombo city. The 100 km canal network running through the city is still used. Outrigger canoes and modern water-craft ply this route daily, for trade and tourism. Remnants of colonization include the Dutch fort built in 1672, as well as centuries-old Portuguese and Dutch houses, administrative buildings, churches and the ceiling frescoes of St. Mary's Cathedral. Negombo offers one of the best beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka. It draws tourists who stop over for a day on their way to or from the airport. Some quiet stretches of the beach are maintained by the tourist hotels, while others are always busy with fishermen and their equipment. Water-sports and diving are popular among visitors, with a few well-preserved coral reefs and a 50-year-old shipwreck that can be seen in the distance also known as Kudapaduwa that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish. Mora Wala and Beach Park are very interesting places.
Bentota is located 64km south of Colombo in the South-western coastal belt of Sri Lanka. CMB Colombo Bandaranaike Airport at Katunayake – Negombo being 37km north of the city of Colombo, Bentota is approximately 101km south of the airport. Bentota coastal waters are usually delightfully warm; a range of scuba diving and snorkelling stores are found in the vicinity, while the majority is operated by industry certified professionals holding the PADI certification providing equipment, assistance and guidance to diving enthusiasts. Bentota is a true dream destination for the die-hard divers.
Nilaveli is a coastal resort town located about 16 km North-West of Trincomalee, Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka. It used to be a popular tourist destination, It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka renowned for its soft white sand and breath-taking bays. Nilaveli is famous for recreational water sports such as scuba diving. Visiting pigeon island, going snorkeling in the nearby corals and dolphin watching are some of the activities available to you to do in your leisure time. The beach is ideal to visit durin April and October. The Sun is at its most intense during this period.
Trincomalee is a port city on the east coast of Sri Lanka. The city is located on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours.Trincomalee is an anglicized version of the Tamil word Tirukonamalai (which means "lord of the sacred hill"); it is a hill situated in the end of a natural land formation that resembles an arc. It is one of the main where Tamil is spoken at large scale. Historically referred to as Gokanna or Gokarna it has been a sea port that has played a major role in maritime and international trading history of Sri Lanka.
Trincomalee has some of the most picturesque and scenic beaches found in Sri Lanka, relatively unspoilt and clean. The area is famous for bathing and swimming, owing to the relative shallowness of the sea, allowing one to walk out over a hundred meters into the sea without the water reaching the chest. Whale watching is a common pastime in the seas off Trincomalee, and successful sightings are on the rise with the increase of tourism in the area.
Unawatuna is a coastal town in Galle district of Sri Lanka. Unawatuna is a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka and famous for its beautiful beach and corals. It is a suburb of Galle, about 5 kilometres southeast to the city center and approximately 108 kilometres South of Colombo. Unawatuna is situated at an elevation of 5 metres (16 ft) above the sea level. Unawatuna Beach-probably the best beach in the world: Unawatuna Beach was named the world’s best beach by The Discovery Channel in 2004. That may be a stretch today, but Unawatuna is undoubtedly the best beach in Sri Lanka-none other offers the same combination of golden sand, a protected bay that offers the country’s best swimming, the famed beauty of the headland with its temple and sunset, and the laid back atmosphere of Unawatuna. Accessibility is also unrivalled, only an hour and a half from Colombo. It is simply the best all round beach in the country, and probably the world.
The Kalpitiya peninsula, Kalpitiya Islands and Kalpitiya Beaches are a much visited tourist destination in Sri Lanka. Kalpitiya is located 130 km north of the Bandaranayke International Airport in Katunayake, while it is an exquisite coastal region located in the Western coastal belt, north of Colombo. Kalpitiya is a peninsula set in between the deep lagoon of Puttalam to the east and the magnificent Indian Ocean to the west. It is an unrivalled marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangrove swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. The 14 islands of Battalangunduwa, Palliyawatta, Vellai I, Vellai II, Vellai III, Uchchamunai, Ippantivu, Periya Arichchalai, Sinna Arichchalai, Eramutivu, Sinna Eramutivu, Eramutivu West, Kakativu and Mutwal (Dutch Bay) together make up 1673 hectares of land which belongs to Kalpitiya. Kalpitiya, that affords the opportunity to view large pods of Dolphins and Sperm Whales.
Hikkaduwa is surrounded lot of natural resourses and her beauty has attracted so many local and foreign visitors throught the year. Snorkelling and diving in the clear waters are a major past-time along this stretch and is the most environmentally friendly way to see the colourful fish that dart around. The coral sanctuary found along the coast of Hikkaduwa is a large shallow body of water enclosed by a reef, decorated with layers of multi coloured corals, and is home to countless numbers of vibrantly coloured fish. Off the beach there is a collection of small islets surrounded by beautiful coral formations. Many species of fish and large turtles are found here. There are more than four different shipwrecks for diving enthusiasts to explore along with dive shops offering PADI courses and equipment.
Tangalle is a big town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. It is one of the largest towns in southern province. It is located 195 km (121 mi) south of Colombo and 35 km (22 mi) east of Matara. It has a mild climate, in comparison to the rest of the district, and sandy beaches. The name of the town in Sinhala means "projected rock", a reference to the rocks which form the coastline in the town area, which contrasts with the sandy beach of the surrounding areas. Another rationale is that the name is derived from ran-gala or "golden rock", which relates to a local legend that a holy man once ate a meal there and the rock was turned to gold. Rekawa Turtle Conservation project, Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary, Mulkirigala rock temple is the majour locations to visit in Tangalle.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (block 1) and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. Yala National Park has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches.
Yala National Park gives the best opportunity to witness Sri Lanka’s broad variety of wildlife: colorful painted stork in troops are seen perched at the shores of lagoon where the crocodiles too have chosen to doze off; lovely fantailed peacocks in their resplendent blues and greens parade about amidst the woods where monkeys hang, leap and chatter; in the bush jungle are the Elephants; crossing the tracks and wandering off into the thorny scrub jungle is the star attraction of the park: the leopard. A total of 32 species of mammals have been recorded. The threatened species include sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya), elephant (Elephas maximus), water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), Wild boar (Sus scrofa), spotted deer (Axis axis ceylonessis), sambar (Cervus unicolor) and golden jackal (Canis aureus).
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park is a park located on the island of Sri Lanka. The unique feature of this park is the existence of "Willus" (Natural lakes) - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. Wilpattu National Park, the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka span an area of no less than 131,693 hectares with altitude ranging between the sea-level and 152 meters.
The best time to visit Wilpattu National Park is during the months of February and October. Wilpattu National Park has a good network of gravel roads, particularly between the water holes. Wilpattu National Park’s varying natural habitats; coastal belt, natural lakes (villus), rocky outcrops, scrublands, open grasslands and dense forest provide for numerous species of animals. Among the species are 31 mammals. The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) and Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus). Apart from those two mammals are Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus), Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, jackals, sambhur, barking deer, mouse deer Wild Pig, Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and Mugger Crocodiles. Butterflies recorded include the Great Eggfly, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose Great Orange Tip, Glad-eye Bushbrown, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose and Crimson Rose. Countless species of birds can be found and the park plays host to numerous winter migrants from November to March, while menacing crocodiles top the list of reptiles.
Udawalawa National Park
Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. Keeping company to the herds of elephants, the main attraction of the park are the Water Buffalo, Wildboar, Spotted Deer, Sambur Deer, Jackal, Samber, Black-naped hare, mongooses, bandicoots, foxes, s the endemic Toque Macaque and Gray Langers. Sighting a Leopard and other smaller cats like Fishing cat & Jungle cat would be a bonus.
Udawalawe is undoubtedly the best place in Sri Lanka to see wild Asian Elephants throughout the year: there are about 500 elephants in the park and they often roam in herds of up to 100. Udawalawe National Park is unique in terms of consistency in numbers of elephants roaming the park: it has no a seasonal variation in herds of elephants.
Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park is located 182 km away from Colombo in the North Central Plains of Sri Lanka. The major city closest to Minneriya National Park is Polonnaruwa. Minneriya National Park that covers an area of 8,889 hectares is of tropical monsoon climate: annual rainfall is about 1146mm and mean annual temperature is 27.5 centigrade. The altitude ranges from100m to 885m at the top of Nilgala peak.
It is the largest known meeting place of Asian Elephants in the world. During this period herds up to 300 elephants are seen at the 8,890 hectare park within a few square kilometers of the Minneriya Reservoir. In August and September each year during the dry season, wild elephants from the surrounding wilderness in search of food and water, makes their way to the shores of the Minneriya Reservoir adjoining the Minneriya National Park. Huge herd of elephants, sometimes numbering up to 300, converge together within a few square kilometers of the lake.
Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park in Ohiya is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Ohiya, 6 kilometres from the world famous Ohiya Gap/Dondra Watch and 32 kilometres from Nuwara Eliya.
Large mammals could seldom be seen at Horton Plains. Samber is common sight at dusk and in the early morning hours. Mammals which still occur in reasonable numbers include Kelaart’s long clawed shrew Feroculus feroculus slender loris loris tardigradus endemic to the montane toque macaque Macaca sinica , purple faced langur Presbutis entellus, rusty-spotted cat felis rubigimosus and etc. Horton Plains National park harbors 12 species of endemic birds the following birds are recorded only for Horton Plains. Sri Lanka blue magpie Cissa ornate , dusky blur flycatcher Eumyias sordisa , Sri Lanka white – eye Zosterops ceulonensis and Sri Lanka wood pigeon columba torringtonii . There are various species of harriers and buzzards. This park is a paradise for butterflies too. Among reptiles are Snake Aspidurabrachyorrhos and the wide spread agamid Calotes nigrilabris . The only fish is the introduced rainbow trout Salmo gardneri . The distribution of the endemic fresh water shrimp Caridina singhalensis is believed to be confined to a 10k, stretch of river within the park.
Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of birds, the highlight being the greater flamingo, which migrate in large flocks. The general climate of Bundala National Park is hot and dry. While the average Temperature is 27 degrees Celsius, the annual rainfall varies between 900mm to 1300mm. Dry season’ falls between May and September.Best time to visit is September to March: during this period migratory birds arrive at the park.
Bundala is home to 32 species of mammals. Among them are civets, wild boars, Grey & Ruddy mongoose, porcupine, giant Indian palm squirrels, black-naped hares, Spotted Deer, Wild buffalo, the endemic, jackal and fishing & Rusty Spotted cats. While most commonly seen mammals are the hordes of grey langur and Toque Macaque and Nearly 200 species of birds have been recorded within the park, out of which 58 species are migratory birds.