A characteristic fishing town 6 km from the International Airport, Negombo has a fascinating and picturesque beachfront. The town has several buildings dating back to the Dutch and Portuguese Colonial days. The lagoon is famous for its harvest of lobsters, crabs and prawns and fish auctions on the beach that are worth a look.
The arid district of Mannar, dotted with an umbrella of thorn and baobab trees, lies in the northwest of the country. Mannar Island is Sri Lanka’s largest, covering 130 sq kms and has one of the oldest ports in the country. The island is connected to the main land by a 3 km long causeway. Mannar has a well preserved fort originally built by the Portuguese in 1560 and later improved by the Dutch. An important religious centre “Tirukketishvaram Hindu Temple“lies on the coast of the mainland, north of the causeway to Mannar Island. Sightseeing includes – for the naturalists the baobab trees, introduced from Africa centuries ago by Arab traders are especially impressive. The Madhu Sanctuary, which is situated 40 km west of the town of Vavuniya to the north of the main road to Mannar, plays a major role for wildlife lovers / naturalists.
The peninsula is practically an island, connected to the rest of Sri Lanka by a narrow spit of land which houses the Chundikkulam bird sanctuary and a causeway known as Elephant Pass because elephants would once cross the shallow lagoon at this point. Typographically quaint unlike the rest of lush Sri Lanka, only hard work and aggressive irrigation will coax a living out of this inhospitable northern soil.
Jaffna is justly famous for the deliciousness of its mangoes and toddy from the palmyrah palm. There are plenty of beaches but no resorts. The Dutch ‘star’ fort in Jaffna is said to be Asia’s best example of Dutch fortification. Inside it are the King’s House and the Dutch Church. Since Jaffna’s population is predominantly Tamil, there are also many Hindu Kovils.
The best known town on the east coast of Sri Lanka is Trincomalee. Sunny weather throughout the year; mile after mile of broad, white, sandy beaches, sheltered bays and a warm and calm sea are the features that draw sun and sea-lovers to Sri Lanka’s eastern seaboard’s main city. From time immemorial, Trincomalee’s main attraction, however, is a large, safe and one of the best natural harbours of the world.
The island’s medieval capital rose to fame after Anuradhapura’s decline. The largest of its many reservoirs, the Parakrama Samudra, is larger than the Colombo harbour.AttractionsRemains of the King’s council chamber, the Royal Citadel, the Kumara Pokuna, the Royal Pavilion, the Vatadage Relic House (which is lavished with moonstones, guard stones, and a sculptured railing), Kiri Vehera, and Gal Vihare.
Sri Lanka's first capital is situated in the dry zone. It is one of Sri Lanka's premier ancient cities.
AttractionsThe sacred Bo Tree, temples, Brazen Place, Samadhi Buddha, Kuttam Pokuna,an Mihintale (12 kilometers from Anuradhapura) a rock dotted with shrines and dwellings - a grand stairway of 1,840 steps made of granite slabs that leads to a summit with a splendid view of the countryside.
This rock fortress was a royal citadel for more than 18 years. In a sheltered pocket, approached by a spiral stairway, are the famous frescoes. The summit of the rock, with an area of nearly one hectare, was the site of the old palace – the outer wall of which was built on the very brink of the precipice. The UNESCO-sponsored Central Cultural Fund has restored Sigiriya’s 5th century Water Gardens to its former glory.Dambulla(Distance from Colombo 148km)Like Sigiriya, Dambulla is a vast isolated rock mass, which houses a rock temple (formerly caves). Some of its frescoes are over 2,000 years old and there is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the rock, measuring 14 metres in length. Dambulla's position close to he heart of the cultural triangle makes it a convenient base. To the south of the famous clock tower lies the towns anarchic wholesale market.
Sri Lanka’s hill capital is, perhaps, its most beautiful town. It is 488 metres above sea level, and next to Colombo, Kandy is Sri Lanka’s most visited place. The focal point of the town is the golden-roofed Dalada Maligawa, where the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is enshrined. The highlight of the year is the Esala Perahera, when a replica of the relic casket is taken in procession, accompanied by exotically costumed dancers,drummers and some 100 elephants, on ten glittering nights in July/August. There are numerous shrines and temples in and around Kandy, where you will see rare paintings, frescoes, and stone carvings.The Peradeniya Gardens, with an amazing variety of trees, plants and flowers. Kandy is an exciting place for shopping for souvenirs in wood, copper, silver, brass, ebony, and bronze. Ceramics, lacquer work, handlooms, batiks, jewellery and rush and reed-ware can also be purchased.
Set in the heart of tea-country, this beautiful town is where the British succeeded in creating an English countryside, with homes in styles from Georgian to Queen Anne. Well-kept lawns with hedges, an Anglican church, a famous golf course and beautiful parks give the place an air of nostalgia. Situated 1,890 meters above sea level, the air is cool and fresh – a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of Colombo.Close to Nuwara Eliya is Horton Plains, Sri Lanka’s highest and most isolated plateau. Nature lovers will revel in this wide,-grass covered plain, many wild, yet harmless, animals and the home of many species of birds. Jaggered paths will take you to the precipice known as World’s End – a sheer drop of 1,050 meters. Acres and acres of tea with its lush green foliage extend miles across the hills, and no visit to the hill country is complete without a visit to a tea estate, and the chance to purchase some of the world’s finest flavoured tea.
Hambantota, in Sri Lanka' is in the dry zone. It is best-known for its beautiful Crescent-shaped bay and its salt pans, The salt pans line the main road for over 16km. Hambantota is sometimes used as a base for visits to Bundala National Park.Hambantota was originally settled by Malay seafares. Hambantota has earned a name as the salt capital of Sri Lanka.Whilst here Leonard Woolf penned the famous classic -'The village in the Jungle.
160 km from Colombo and is the end of southern railway line.There is long stretch of beach for holiday-makers. Matara also has two excellent Dutch forts; the larger one contains much of old Matara including the excellent rest house which is said to be built on the site where captured elephants were corralled. The other fort, the small 1763 Star Fort, is now used as a library and has an attractive and unusual gateway.
In this coastal town, the Dutch presence is still visible. Galle was an ancient port (said to be the legendary Tarshish of the Bible), and our first international commerce and trade centre. Today, Galle is the bustling provincial capital and administrative centre of the south. It is famous for its lovely Unawatuna Bay, where the sea is protected by the reef; therefore it is safe for swimming.
Attractions The old Dutch ‘Star’ fort (a World Heritages Site) covering 36 hectares, the well-preserved Groote Kerk (Dutch Church), Dutch Government House, the New Oriental Hotel (built in 1684) old bell tower, Dutch ‘pillo-lace’, fine ebony-carving and gem-polishing.
The first area to be developed for tourism, this is still one of the most popular of our beach resorts. Hikkaduwa is famous for its coral and sub tropical fish. The reef, which runs parallel to the shore and a few meters below the water, can be explored with snorkel and flippers, or in a glass-bottomed boat. There are several wrecks in the area which offer interesting dives. Scuba equipment and the services of licensed instructions are on hire from PADI centers. A little further down the coast, there’s good surf, for board or body-surfing. A community of international surfers in and around Hikkaduwa exists.
More or less synonymous with rush and reed ware, (try to visit the permanent exhibition in the town’s Basket Hall), Kalutara was also a famous spice-centre in the 16th to 18th centuries. There are fine beaches safe for swimming . Immediately south of the Kalu Ganga Bridge on the main road is the Kalutara Vihara, which has a hollow dagoba (Buddhist shrine) with an interesting painted interior.By the roadside there’s a small shrine and the bodhi tree where drivers often stop to make offerings to ensure a safe journey to Wadduwa, 8km north of Kalutara.Kotte (Distance from Colombo 15-20 Km)Kotte, renamed as Sri Jayawardenapura. Kotte is located 11km from Fort. Here, SriLanka’s new parliamentary complex and administrative capital was developed. It is surrounded by the Lake ' Diyawanna Oya'. Kotte was a grandiose kingdom during the arrival of the Portuguese.Colombo (Distance from Colombo International Airport 31km)Colombo is a fascinating city, not only for its comfortable blend of East and West, but also for its cozy mixture of past and present. It is the commercial capital of the country.