Thursday, 30 July 2009

Nuwara Eliya, the "city of lights,"


Nuwara Eliya, the "city of lights," is the highest town in Sri Lanka and that means a break from the oppressive heat and humidity that surrounds the rest of the country.

Situated at around 2000m above sea level and surrounded by lush tea plantations. Nuwara Eliya is the main hill resort of Sri Lanka and the heart of the tea industry. This city with an elevation of 6200 meters is the highest in Sri Lanka. Once a pleasure retreats of the European planters the town is still very much an English town with many English style bungalows and buildings.

Nuwara Eliya is a good escape for those who miss cool breeze in tropical Sri Lanka at any time of the year. Local tourists flock to this town in their 'season' from March to May when it is the hottest duration for the town, April being the busiest.

Nuwara Eliya offers many activities for tourists including visits to tea plantations, golfing, horse riding, boating, hiking and of course exploring the beauty of the landscaped gardens, waterfalls and plateaus.

Hemmed in by three of the highest mountains in the country; Piduruthalagala, the Great Western and Haggala, the city looks very isolated. Yet it's just a four hour drive from Colombo.

Excellent walks and drives, exceptionally good golf on the 18 Hole Course, one of the best in Asia. Trout hatchery, market, gardens of flowers, fruits and vegetables, not commonly associated with Sri Lanka, Haggala Botanical Garden famous for its collection of roses and the rare fernery.

Thanks to the cool climes this is one city where you can never work up a sweat.


The Tea Country - Where the Finest Tea is Grown

Sri Lanka is one of the world's largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19th century Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry. For many miles prior to reaching Nuwara Eliya from either direction you will find acres and acres of tea plantations, in-fact nothing but tea estates. There are many factories open for visitors which also have tea sales outlets.

History says Nuwara Eliya is discovered by a hunting party led by Dr. John Davy in 1818. The British governor at the time, Sir Edward Barnes, was told about this and subsequently decided to take residence there, soon creating a health resort, which soon became internationally renown.

Nuwara Eliya is decidedly English in someway (houses, gardens and places names) and was actually planned to be an English village by a pioneering Englishman, Sir Samuel Baker in the mid 19th Century.

Travellers from the UK will be particularly attracted by the architechture which is decidedly Victorian. Even modern buildings are build in the same fashion to preserve Nuwara Eliya's unique atmosphere.

Nuwara Eliya was home away from home for the British colonialist in the 19th century.
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History of Nuwara Eliya in Detail
Ramayana, the Indian epic tells us how Rawana, King of Lanka, robbed Rama of his wife Sita and brought her to Sri Lanka. The people of Sri Lanka believe that Rawana had his capital in Nuwara-Eliya (“The glade with the city”). He is believed to have kept Sita captive in Sita Eliya. (“The glade of Sita”). Today there is a Hindu temple on the spot (The famous Haggala Botanical Garden is situated closer by this temple). The story tells that the monkey army of Rama has come to save Sita. Ravana has punished Hanuman - the leader of the monkey force, by placing fire on his tail. It is said Hanuman have burnt the entire Nuwara-Eliya with his tail. Legend has it that the black soil, which forms a top layer here, consists of the ashes of the city of Rawana, burnt down by Hanuman.
Kotmale Valley not far from Nuwara-Eliya city had been inhabited during the Anuradhapura Period and Gamunu, the son of King Kavantissa who ruled Ruhuna, when King Elara ruled from Anuradhapura, had taken refuge in Kotmale to escape the wrath of his father. However, little is heard of this area till the Kandyan period.

The ancient Emperors of the Sri Lanka have not known the economical value of Nuwara-Eliya. But they were aware that this is the place that water is produced. So they have kept and protected Nuwara-Eliya as a treasure. They did not even built Palaces in Nuwara-Eliya to not to harm the natural beauty of this area. They believed that;

'If the Nature treasure is protected the Water treasure will be protected. And if the Water treasure is protected the Paddy fields will be protected.'

In 1815's - the time of Kings and Emperors in Sri Lanka no one have used Nuwara-Eliya to living purposes. But people have visited Nuwara-Eliya through the footpath from Ruhuna to collect materials to produce arms and to search for Gem stones.



It is believed that history of Nuwara-Eliya has begun before 10th century. An old ‘Stone letters’ which belong to the 10th century have been found at Thalaga oya, and it is now placed and treasured at the District Secretariat Office of Nuwara-Eliya.


The modern history of Nuwara-Eliya begins in 1818 when a British Surgeon Dr.John Davy (Brother of Humphery Davy, the inventor of the Miners’ Safety Lamp) rediscovered this area. It is said that Dr Davy expressed;

“I was walking in the middle of a forest. I saw beautiful white shining diamond watered waterfalls falling. I came to the top of a mountain. The people who came with me said that it is the highest land of this country"

Dr.John Davy mentioned that this place - Nuwara-Eliya has so many 'Ashoka' trees, Elephants, wild Animals and Gem stones.

Today known as 'Oliphant Estate' is the old 'Elephant Plane', the place which so many Elephants lived. Even today there are graves of 02 Elephant killers in those periods at the Gold Ground of Nuwara-Eliya. One is written as 'Ibenishan Gordon Mendrow, Birth-1814.11.10 and Death-1841.01.24 - deal in Elephant Plane'. The other one is written as ' Major William Thomas Rojerson, Dead-1814.06.07'. It is said that Major William Thomas Rojerson has killed more than 400 Elephants. The most unbelievable, but very much believed truth is; once in 07 years this grave is attacked by thunder shocks. Even today you can see the cracked grave closer by the Golf Ground of Nuwara-Eliya. People believe that it is the curse of God to the Elephant killer!



The story goes like this..., few British men of the troop have chased an Elephant and they have got lost in the forest. Without food and other basic needs they thought it will be much harder to spend the day and night in that forest. But the cool climate and fresh air of that place kept them very fresh without any pain. They thought that this is good place to rest after fighting in war and once they have returned to their place they have informed the Governor Sir Edward Barned immediately about this place.

Sir Edward Barnes have been the Governor from 1824-1831. He had constructed roads and shelters in Nuwara-Eliya. He has built his holiday home at Nuwara-Eliya spending 8000 Pounds. He has named it as "Barnes Hall". Today this place is known as the famous Grand Hotel of Nuwara-Eliya with more than 150 rooms. St.Andrews Hotel, Keena Hotel and Carlton Hotel are some of the other constructions. The District Secretary Mr. Loku Banda has helped Sir Barnes to build this holiday homes.

It is Sir Edward Barnes who has made Nuwara-Eliya a place to live to the people and he is known as "Father of the Pioneer Nuwara-Eliya".

After Barnes, Sir William Hortain has become the Governor from 1831-1837. He was the editor of 'Colombo Journal' newspaper. He has written so many articles about Nuwara-Eliya in his newspaper.



On this period Mr.Samuel from England has arrived to Nuwara-Eliya. He has planned to build a house at Magasthota and to have huge vegetable and animal farm. He went to England and came back in 1848 on 'Pearl of Hard Week' ship through the sea path. He has bought plants, animals, other equipment and goods with him. His brothers John and Valantine have also come with him. He also brought with him some expertise people in the farming field.

Mr.Samual and others have faced a great difficulty in transporting the goods and animals to Nuwara-Eliya. They have brought the goods in cow cart from Colombo. From Ramboda they have labored some people and bought the goods. At a difficult point of Ramboda the cart and all the people including the brothers of Mr.Samual fell down from the hill. Everyone has died on the spot. Only Mr.Samual has left. He has buried the bodies at that place and came to Nuwara-Eliya.

Anyhow, Mr.Samuel has accomplished his task in Nuwara-Eliya. He has made an Agricultural village and named it as 'Baker's Farm". The land cost him only 25 Shillings per acre. Even today there is a 'stone letter' left in the Bakers farm of Nuwara-Eliya.



Mr. Samual Baker also has made a hospital ward at the Base Hospital of Nuwara-Eliya in memory of his died brothers. Even today the 'Baker's Ward' is there in the Base Hospital of Nuwara-Eliya at Hawa-Eliya.

Mr.Baker brewed his own beer and tried to grow grapes, oats barley and wheat, which normally grows in temperature lands and his experiment, was a failure. He closed down his farm in 1866 and went back to England. Sri Lanka’s broadest waterfall, Bakers Falls in the Horton Plains National Park is named after him.

As a result of Governor William Gregory's announcement, a large number of foreign merchants have begun to visit Nuwara-Eliya. From there onwards the population of the city has grown up.

Sir Robert London have become the Governor from 1877-1884. According to the Sir William Gregory's advice, he has constructed railway track path from Peradeniya - Nawalapitya and Hatton - Nanu oya.

By 1910 only 2 Sri Lankans owned houses in Nuwara-Eliya, Maha Mudali Sir Soloman Dias Bandaranaike (Father of S.W.R.D.Bandaranayake - later Prime Minister of Sri Lanka) and F.C.Loos.

After the end of World War I in 1918 more Sri Lankans bought land and built houses here. Some of them were Sir Ponnambalam Arunachala and E.L.F.De Soyza. While Samuel Baker paid about Rs.25/- per acre Sir Ponnambalam paid Rs.10,000/- for ½ acre !


Some other footprints:

The British civil servants, high government officials and businessman who came here during April when it was hot and balmy in the plains introduced Trout finger lings were introduced to the streams in Horton Plains and Nuwara-Eliya.

Governor West Ridgeway suggested that all roofs be painted red and till recently many followed this practice.

Many houses were built in the architectural style of the Tudor houses in England. The Nuwara-Eliya Post Office in one of the oldest such houses. Some houses had fireplaces.

'Thawalanthenna' (Small city at the Nuwara-Eliya - Colombo main road) is the place that have used by the travelers to rest with their cow carts in historical days.

'Kelegalle' and 'Kalukelle' (villages 1.5 Km away from the Nuwara-Eliya town) are used as cow sheds to place the cows which were used for transporting goods from Nuwara-Eliya to other parts of the country.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

See Sigiriya and learn Sigiriya

A new museum will open doors to the many-layered history of this World Heritage Site.

It is a tale of treachery and deceit, love and hate, triumph and disaster that has fascinated people down the ages. It is also a tale of craftsmanship and sensuous art, the legacy of which still holds people in awe, more than 15 centuries later.

All about Sigiriya and more will now be available to “discerning” tourists, both local and foreign, at the state-of-the-art Sigiriya Museum and Information Centre -- having as its backdrop the formidable rock fortress – to be opened shortly.


Many are familiar with the Kasyapan period (477-495 AC), when King Kasyapa, after murdering his father King Dhatusena made his home at Sigiriya, creating a different image of this forbidding rock outcrop, starting with a passage leading through the lion’s paws and encompassing the lion staircase, the mirror wall, the beautiful apsaras, the water gardens, moated palaces, boulder gardens, terrace gardens et al.

But what of the pre- and post-Kasyapa period, asks Central Cultural Fund (CCF) Director-General Prof. Sudarshan Seneviratne, explaining its many-layered history.

Sigiriya, in addition to being a World Heritage Site, is also one of the very few large secular sites with an unbroken history from 5,000 BC to contemporary periods. It depicts a “microcosm” of the cultural and technological phases of Sri Lanka, he says.

The museum represents all these facets in their totality, he adds, explaining that the concept was conceived by the first Director of the Sigiriya Project, Prof. Senake Bandaranayake who later took up the mantle of CCF D-G, assisted by various eminent scholars. The concept was translated into the material structure by Architect Chandana Ellepola, while the internal design was handled by Japanese experts who were advised by a team of Sri Lankan specialists.

Picking out one of many factors which make this museum unique, Prof. Seneviratne says it is the first with facilities for the differently-abled.

While the whole area is naturally landscaped to blend with the environment, the location is scenic, built on the Yan Oya, with most of the trees branching skyward through the museum and streams winding through it giving out a merry tinkling tone. “This is in keeping with the ability of the ancient builders who not only laid out the garden elements in a grid pattern but also embraced organic beauty and asymmetry, moulding their building on to boulders although they had sufficient engineering knowledge to remove them,” he says.

All important features of Sigiriya such as the frescoes, spiral staircase and bubble fountain have been replicated, The Sunday Times understands. “This is a bonus for anyone who cannot scale the rock,” says the DG.


The spiral staircase is made to the same scale as the actual one, giving a true picture while the “objects gallery” for sculpture, coins, graffiti writing will exhibit some beautiful pieces, pride of place being given to the intricately carved single ear ornament found at the site and believed to have been worn by a Sigiriya maiden.

Even the biodiversity and the important archaeological monuments around the rock fortress such as the pre-historic Megalithic burials at Ibbankatuwa will be represented, says Prof. Seneviratne adding that another unique exhibit will be the partially-conserved original furnace used for steel-making with tuyeres and all, brought from Alakolawewa, a vast iron smelting site in the olden days, close to Sigiriya.

Some of the exhibits including the burials, the landscaped presentation of Sigiriya as also the backdrop of the rock and authentic imitation of the fresco pocket were turned out in Japan, explains the DG, adding that it was like a “giant jigsaw puzzle” with the pieces being brought down and carefully assembled in Sri Lanka.


Explaining that it is difficult to pinpoint all the extraordinary features of the museum, he says that the Chulavamsa section on the Kaspaya legend has been engraved on a glass panel near the amphitheatre which doubles up as a performance balcony.

Another lure for the tourist will be the “visitor approachable” conservation laboratory, while additional attractions will be a library and archival facility, an information centre run by the Tourism Ministry, internet facilities, a sales outlet for authentic replicas from Bataleeiya and a restaurant. “The museum will be an ideal research centre for archaeologists and conservators,” he says.

The centerpiece, according to Prof. Seneviratne, is the glass-topped model of Sigiriya with water gardens and all, giving a bird’s eye view of its grandeur.

About the museum

The Sigiriya Museum and Information Centre has been funded by Japan, through JICA, under its Project for the Development of Culture-oriented Tourism (COT) which hopes to promote nature-culture-traditional lives. The funds were channelled through the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage and the project executed by the CCF.

The museum was a long felt need to attract the up-end tourist market, local as well as foreign, stressed CCF DG Prof. Seneviratne. “These tourists look beyond simplistic information or just visiting a site and moving on.”

There are a few such museums scattered across the country, in addition to the National Museum in Colombo, The Sunday Times understands. These include the Polonnaruwa museum funded by the Netherlands and the Abhayagiriya Museum in Anuradhapura funded by the Chinese. The Marine Archaeology Museum including a marine biology section located in the Warehouse in Galle and funded by the Netherlands is due to be opened soon.

“We are looking beyond the tourists who come for a quickie three-hour jaunt,” said the DG, explaining that they are attempting to lure the tourists at least to stay a night at this World Heritage Site.
That’s why the CCF wanted to offer something more than the site, surveys having shown that a lesser percentage of tourists come for the beach but more come in search of nature, herbal treatment and heritage.

Sigiriya offers the full “ensemble”, stresses Prof. Seneviratne, pointing out that Sigiriya is a World Heritage Site along with beautiful and scenic archaeological sites around it as well and is located on a protected nature reserve, with an abundance of fauna and flora while traditional communities such as chena farmers, cattle-herders and potters still live around it. The primary stakeholders of all this are the local community who will also be able to “show off” their skills in their own settings.

The logistical advantages are many as well, The Sunday Times learns, with Sigiriya being centrally located, offering short excursions to Ritigala, Dambulla, the rose-quartz hill at Namal Uyana, Avukana and Kala Wewa and other natural attractions such as lakes and rock outcrops as well as wildlife resorts.

Its history

Period 1: Prehistory – Prehistoric humans are believed to have lived at Sigiriya between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.
Period 2: Proto-history, between 1,000 and 300 BC, when village settlements began along with irrigation and the production and use of iron.
Period 3: Early monastic, from about the 3rd to 1st century BC marking the establishment of early Buddhist monks’ settlements around rock-shelter residences.
Period 4: Pre-Kasyapa between the 1st and 5th centuries AC. Development of large-scale iron production and construction of fortified Mapalagala complex, with ‘cyclopean’ walls and terraces, south of Sigiriya rock.
Period 5: Kasyapa I from 477-495 AC.
Periods 6 & 7: Later monastic A & B from 6th to 10th century, with the setting up of a new Buddhist monastery in the western sector and the Boulder Garden area in the early part.
Period 8: Polonnaruwa Period – From 11th to 13th century, rise of Polonnaruwa and decline of monastery construction at Sigiriya.
Period 9: Abandonment from the late 13th to the 17th century, with rural settlements surviving but no urban and monastic activity.
Period 10: Sigiriya appears to have been an outer province of the Kandyan kingdom.
Period 11: Antiquarian interest when in the 19th century Sigiriya seems to have “recovered”.
Period 12: Modern recovery when in 1894, archaeological investigation, restoration and conservation by the Archaeological Department begins.

visit Sri Lanka

: "The Sigiriya Museum has been named the most attractive in South Asia by the Japan International Cooperation Agency"
The Sigiriya Museum has been named the most attractive in South Asia by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said today.

The museum that features two main artifacts of archeological value a furnace used to melt iron during the Anuradhapura era and a valuable earring found in Sigiriya also houses rarities found in Dambulla, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

The Sigiriya Museum, that is a collaborative effort between the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Central Cultural Fund of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of National Heritage and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau of the Ministry of Tourism, was declared open in the presence of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Yasuo Fukuda, the Former Prime Minister of Japan and the President of the Sri Lanka Japan Friendship Association.

Friday, 24 July 2009

visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka opens the Ramayana trail for Indians
With a quarter-century of ethnic conflict and terrorism in Sri Lanka left behind, the island nation, known for its sun-kissed beaches and rolling tea gardens, is wooing Indian tourists like never before by developing a Ramayana trail to enable them to visit the Lanka of demon king Ravana.

The Sri Lankan tourism department has identified about 50 sites that are said to be connected to the Ramayana that tells the tale of the Hindu god Rama, whose wife Sita was kidnapped by Ravana and taken to 'sone ki Lanka', or the golden kingdom of Lanka.

'One just needs to talk to the local people, who would immediately tell which event in the Ramayana unfolded where,' said S. Kalaiselvam, director general of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

'We are developing the Ramayana trail and the sites that are easily accessible will be part of this trail. I am confident that tourists, particularly Indians, will find the visit along the Ramayana trail satisfying.'

A 600-step climb, for instance, takes the visitor up to the cave in modern-day Ella in central Sri Lanka where Ravana is supposed to have hidden Sita.

Sri Lankan tourism officials say the cave is connected to tunnels proving 'beyond doubt the architectural brilliance of King Ravana'.

'A close look at these tunnels indicate that they are manmade and no natural formations,' said Wijae Manawadu, a tourist guide.

Then there's the spot in Divurumpola where Sita is said to have undergone the famous 'agni pariksha, or fire test, to prove her virtuousness.

'Disputes can be settled simply by taking oath in Sita's name at the place where the fire test took place. It is actually legal tender,' a tourism official said.

Rama is believed to have installed a shiva lingam, an icon of Lord Shiva, at Manawari Kovil in Chillaw, which is about 65 km from capital Colombo. It was a remedy to get rid of 'Brahmahathi Dosham' for having killed Ravana who was a Brahmin.

Legend has it that during the battle with Ravana, Rama's brother Lakshman was seriously injured. Hanuman was asked to fetch the life saving herb Sanjeevani from the Himalayas. He couldn't locate it but brought the entire hill instead, five parts of which are said to have fallen in Sri Lanka.

A hill at Dolukanda, about 100 km from the national capital, marks one of the five sites.

At Seetha Eliya, on the hilly Nuwara Eliya-Welimada road about 195 km from Colombo, is where Sita is believed to have bathed. A temple has come up at the spot, and there is also a huge footprint imprinted in stone that legend says belongs to the monkey god Hanuman.

The red earth of Ussangoda in coastal Sri Lanka is considered suitable evidence by the tourism officials to state that this was the place Hanuman took on Ravana.

'In the event that unfolded, Hanuman's tail was set on fire by the demons and he in turn went on to torch some parts of Ravana's empire. Ussangoda is one of the places that was torched,' said a tourist guide.

Sri Lanka has a host of other Ramayana sites of considerable interest to all believers.

According to historian Neil Kiriella, there is historical evidence to prove that the epic took place in Sri Lanka.

'There are 87 rock edicts that refer to Ravana and Sita. Several incidents in the Ramayana took place here,' he said.

With the mapping of the Ramayana trail, Sri Lanka, which banks on tourism as a mainstay of its economy, is targeting an increase in tourist arrivals from India.

Said Indrajith De Silva, assistant director in the Sri Lanka tourism promotion bureau: 'With Tamil Tigers gone, there has been an increase of Indians coming to Sri Lanka.'

Up to June 30 this year, he said, 30,902 Indians had come visiting. 'In June 2009, 6,124 Indians came here while in June 2008, the figure stood at 5,664,' De Silva said.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

v

Where to visit in Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization. From the 4th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka until the beginning of the 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²). Anuradhapura is also significant in Hindu legend as the fabled capital of the Asura King Ravana in the Ramayana.

Arugambay

Arugam Bay is a bay situated on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka's southeast coast. The bay is located 320 km due east of Colombo. It is a popular surfing and tourist destination. Due to its popularity among low budget tourists, the area has managed a slow recovery. By private initiatives only. The main road through town has still not been repaved. Work is in progress to improve road access to the area. But in Arugam Bay itself, little has changed. As late as May, 2009 no help has been received from any official source or international organizations. An exception is uncoordinated support for fishing folk as well as many school rebuilding programs, resulting in a continuation to provide only separatist schools for each community.

Asams Peak

Adam's Peak is a 2,243 metres (7,359 ft) tall conical mountain located in central Sri Lanka. It is well-known for the Sri Pada "sacred footprint", a 1.8 m rock formation near the summit, in Buddhist tradition held to be the footprint of Buddha, in Hindu tradition that of Shiva and in Muslim tradition that of Adam.

Batticaloa

Batticaloa is a city in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka. It is the seat of the Eastern University of Sri Lanka. It is on the east coast, 69 miles south by south east of Trincomalee, and is situated on an island.

Bentota

A Sri Lankan coastal city famous for golden beaches, Bentota is situated on the southern coastal tip of the Galle District of the Southern Province . The town is a popular tourist attraction. It is especially famous among the foreign tourists. The name comes from a mythical story which dates back to kings time saying a demon called Bem ruled this river ( tota = river bank. Bentota hosts a handful of world proclaimed hotels. It is the hosting land for the famous Sri Lankan Jeweler Aida. Bentota also delivers an ancient art of healing called Ayurveda . Bentota is also famous for its production in Toddy. An alcoholic beverage made out of cocunut nectar. The city's population is estimated to be between 25,000-50,000.

Beruwela

Beruwela, is a small resort town in the south western coastal belt of Sri Lanka. The name Beruwela is derived from the Sinhalese word Beruwela (the place where the sail is lowered). It marks the spot for the first Muslim settlement on the island, established by Arab traders around the 8th century AD. A large population of Sri Lankan Moors, many of them are gem merchants, still live in the town-- particularly in the "China Fort". Msjid-ul-Abrar , a landmark of Beruwela and Sri Lanka's oldest mosque, was built by Arab traders on a rocky peninsula overlooking the town.

Bundala National Park

Located about fifteen kilometers east of Hambantota Bundala National Park is one of Sri Lanka's foremost destinations for birdwatchers, protecting an important area of coastal wetland famous for its abundant aquatic (and other) birdlife. The park is also home to significant populations of elephants, Marsh & estuarine crocodiles, turtles & other fauna, including the leopard. Stretching along the coast east of Hambantota, Bundala National Park is ideal for instant gratification: in a four hour jeep ride, we can see elephants, 8ft crocs, giant squirrels & flamingoes. Afternoon safaris in the dry season (December - May) provide visitors with the best chance of seeing the wildlife.

Colombo

The name "Colombo", first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505, is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name Kolon thota, meaning "port on the river Kelani". It has also been suggested that the name may be derived from the Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means "Harbour with leafy mango trees". Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. However it was only made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948. In 1978, when administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.

Dambulla

Major attractions of the city include the largest and best preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka, and the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, famous for being built in just 167 days. The city also boasts to have the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia, and the Iron wood forest, or Namal Uyana. Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site near Dhambulla cave temple complexes is the latest archaeological site of significant historical importance found in Dambulla, which is located within 3 kilometers of the cave temples providing evidence on presence of indigenous civilisations long before the arrival of Indian influence on the Island nation.

Ella

Ella is blessed with some of the most beautiful views, you could find in Sri Lanka.
Only 8 km from Bandarawela, this small town is used as a base for plenty of trekking expeditions to the surrounding countryside.
A taste of the breathtaking scenery of Ella could be had, if you just walk into the Garden of the Grand Ella Motel (Formerly Ella Rest House), where you seem to be standing at the edge of the world, and everything around you seems to disappear at your feet.
Another fine view is from the Ambiente Hotel, where the wide doorway, opens out to the mountains, creating a dramatic cinematic like experience, on entry.
Some of the places you could see in Ella are the Ella Gap, Ravana Ella Falls, Little Adam's Peak and Bambaragala Peak among the other many varied pleasant walks with stunning scenery.

Galle

Galle"Gaul", and in Sinhalese IPA: [ɡaːlːə]) is a town situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, 119 km from Colombo. Galle was known as Gimhathiththa before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, when it was the main port on the island. Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, during the Dutch colonial period. The major river is Gin River Gin Ganga which starts from Gongala Kanda and passing villages such as Neluwa, Nagoda, Baddegama, Thelikada, Wakwella and kisses the sea at Ginthota. In Wakwella over the river there is Wakwella Bridge which is the longest bridge in Sri Lanka.

Hambantota

Hambantota is a rural town in southeastern coastal area of Sri Lanka. It is also the capital of the Hambantota District in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka.

Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka. It is located in the Southern Province, about 20 km north-west of Galle. Hikkaduwa is famous for its beach and corals. Villages affected were Telwatta, Paraliya, Dodanduwa, Kahawa, Rathgama. The place is on the way from Colombo to Galle on the famous Galle road. It is primarily a tourist destination, and serves as a great beach with options to surf, snorkel and enjoy the sun.

Horton Plains

Horton Plains National Park "Maha-Eliya" in Sinhala, is a national park in the highlands of Sri Lanka. It lies at a height of more than 2,000 m in the central highlands, and its altitude means that it has a much cooler and more windy climate than the lowlands of Sri Lanka, with a mean annual temperature of 16 °C rather than the 26 °C of the coasts. The area was named in 1834 after Lady Anne Horton, wife of Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, then-governor of Ceylon.

Jaffna

Jaffna or Yazhpanam is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Most of the residents of Jaffna are Sri Lankan Tamils with a presence of Sri Lankan Moors and Portuguese Burghers . Almost all Sri Lankan Muslims were driven off from Jaffna by the LTTE in the 1990s, as a result of the ethnic conflict which started in the 1970s [1] which leaves Jaffna exclusively Tamil, apart from the military personnel.

Kalkudah

Kalkudah or Kalkuda (Pronounced Kal-Kuda, Tamil translation rock-bay) is a coastal resort town located about 35 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa, Batticaloa District, Sri Lanka. It used to be a popular tourist destination, however due to 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Sri Lankan Civil War tourist numbers have declined. Pasikudah and Kalkudah are located few kilometers apart.

Kalpitiya

Despite its natural beauty, the western peninsular area of KALPITIYA in the Puttalam district of Sri Lanka is remarkably untouched by tourism. But for those lucky enough to visit, there's a plethora of things to see and do! With the small close-knit fishing community dominating the lives of the local people, visitors can get a real insight into working life away from the city. After watching the night fishing boats return in the morning, a visit to one of the fish markets offers the opportunity to choose the evening meal direct from the fresh catch! The Dutch Fort and St Peter's Kerk church in the town itself are interesting examples of Sri Lanka's rich history and colonial past. Leisurely boat rides up the lagoon and canoe trips down the river are a pleasant way of exploring the coastline, whilst 4WD jeep rides along the deserted sand dunes between the ocean and the lagoon offer a unique way of watching the colourful evening sunsets.

Kandy

Kandy in Sinhala, pronounced is the English name for the city of Maha Nuvara (Senkadagalapura) in the centre of Sri Lanka. It is the capital of the Central Province and Kandy District. It lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy Valley which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka. Kandy is of both an administrative and religious city. It is the capital of the Central Province and also of the administrative district of Kandy.
Katunayake

Katunayake a town is situated on the west coast of the island of Sri Lanka near Negombo and close to the commercial capital of Colombo. It is the site of Bandaranaike International Airport, the primary international air gateway to Sri Lanka. With the change of government in 1977 and the introduction of the open economy policy a large area was allocated to create a free trade zone. This created a large amount of job opportunities for the local youth and has contributed substantially towards the country's economy.

Kitulgala

Kitulgala is a small town in the west of Sri Lanka. It is in the wet zone rainforest, which gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest places in the country. Nevertheless, it comes alive in the first three months of the year, especially in February, the driest month. The Academy Award-winning "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was filmed on the Kelani River near Kitulgala, although nothing remains now except the concrete foundations for the bridge Kitulgala is also a base for white-water rafting, which starts a few kilometres upstream.

Knuckles Range

The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, north-east of the city of Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy District. Whilst this name was assigned by early British surveyors, the Sinhalese residents have traditionally referred to the area as Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning mist-laden mountain range (Cooray, 1984). The entire area is characterised by its striking landscapes often robed in thick layers of cloud but in addition to its aesthetic value the range is of great scientific interest. It is a climatic microcosm of the rest of Sri Lanka.

Mannar

Mannar Island is part of Mannar District, Sri Lanka. It is linked to the rest of Sri Lanka by a causeway.

Matara

Matara historically belongs to the area called Ruhana, one of the three kingdoms in Sri Lanka (Thun Sinhalaya). First Indians who arrived to the island country according to the Mahawansa settled in the area, along the banks of Nilwala river. Matara was ruled by Sinhala kings for thousands of years and this is evident by the ancient temples and shrines built by them such as temples in Dondra (Devinuwara) and Weherahena. The temple in the middle of the town is also built by ancient kings and now it is a very popular sacred place among the Buddhists in the area. In 16th and 18th centuries Matara was ruled by Portuguese and Dutch respectively.

Minneriya

Minneriya is a small town in Sri Lanka, and is famous for two things , for the great Minneriya lake build by King Mahasen and for the Minneriya wildlife sanctuary which is a hot spot for safari lovers because of the abandons of Elephants. Furthermore it is situated near Habarana which have some high class hotels for tourists and some famous world heritage sites like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya which are relatively close to Minneriya.

Negombo

Negombo is a town of about 65,000, approximately 37 km north of Colombo, in Sri Lanka. It is located at the mouth of the Negombo lagoon, about 7 km from the Bandaranaike International Airport. Negombo has a small port, and its economy is mainly based on tourism and its centuries-old fishing industry, though it also produces cinnamon, ceramics, and brass ware.



Nilaveli

Nilaveli is a coastal resort town located about 20 km North-West of Trincomalee, Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka. It used to be a popular tourist destination, however due to 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Sri Lankan Civil War tourist numbers have declined.

Nuwara Eliy

Nuwara Eliya meaning "city on the plain (table land)" or "city of light", is a town in Sri Lanka. It is located at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) in the central highlands and is considered one of the most important locations for Tea production in Sri Lanka. The town is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka.

Pasikudah

Pasikudah or Pasikuda is a coastal resort town located about 35 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa, Batticaloa District, Sri Lanka. It used to be a popular tourist destination, Pasikudah and Kalkudah are located few km apart.

Pinnawela

The Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage is situated northwest of the town of Kegalle, halfway between the present capital Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy in the hills of central Sri Lanka. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka wildlife department in a 25-acre coconut property near the Maha Oya river. The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungle. As of 2008, there are about 84 elephants.

Polonnaruwa

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 CE to reunite the country once more under a local leader.

Puttalam

The history of this dry zone district goes back to the arrival of North Indian Prince Vijaya, 2500 years ago in Tammanna in the coastal belt above Puttalam. This happened when his vessel was washed ashore. Thonigala the homeland of Kuweni is deep in the district. The name "Puttalam" may be a modification of in Tamil Uppuththalam , i.e, Uppu means Salt and Thalam means the place where salt production. So finally the name came Puttalam.

Ratnapura

Ratnapura is the name of the provincial capital of Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka and the Ratnapura District in which the town is situated. Some say the modern name is derived from the Portuguese name Rapadura for jaggery, the palm candy produced traditionally in this region, but the more common explanation in Sri Lanka is that it comes from the Sinhala "ratna" meaning gems and "pura" meaning city. Ratnapura is also spelled as Rathnapura. Located some 101 km south east of Colombo, it is the centre of a long-established industry of precious stone mining including rubies, sapphires, and other gems. Apart from gem mining, the town is known for rice and fruit cultivations.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya (Lion's rock) is an ancient rock fortress and castle/palace ruin situated in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. It is a popular tourist destination, also known for its ancient paintings (frescos), very similar to those in the Ajanta Caves of India. The Sigiraya was built during the reign of King Kassapa I (AD 477 – 495), and it is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.

Trincomalee

Trincomalee is a port city on the east coast of Sri Lanka, about 110 miles northeast of Kandy. The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. It is one of the main centers of Tamil speaking culture on the island. 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.

Unawatuna

Unawatuna is a beach resort, located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Described as most wonderful beach location by the nature, Unawatuna is one of the best Scuba Diving Locations in Sri Lanka. You can enjoy the beach, Scuba Diving, Surfing and Sea Food in Sri Lankan Style. The Jungle Beach, Roomassagla Hills, Kathaluwa Temple, Galle Fort are interesting places to visit.

Weligama

Weligama is a fishing town in Matara district on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The term Weligama literally means `Sandy Village' which refers to the area's sandy sweep bay. Situated at a distance of 143 km from Colombo, Weligama is a popular tourist destination and hosts several boutique hotels. It is most famous for its distinct stilt fishermen and an off shore islet known as Taprobane, where a dream house of French Count de Maunay was built.

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. The park is located 30km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo). The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu. Wilpattu is one of the largest and oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is among the top national parks world renowned for its Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population. The Leopard population in Wilpattu is still not yet known.

Yala National Park

Yala National Park is a national park in Sri Lanka. The reserve covers 979 km², although only the original 141 km² are open to the public. It was established in 1894 as a Game Sanctuary. Much of the reserve is parkland, but it also contains jungle, beaches, freshwater lakes and rivers and scrubland. The latter zone is punctuated with enormous rocky outcrops. The range of habitats give rise to a good range of wildlife.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Polonnaruva

Polonnaruwa, the second capital city of Sinhalese for three centuries, is one of the most interesting places in Sri Lanka with many well preserved ruins of palace and monasteries which easily can make every tourist to impress. After Anuradhapura was attacked by many invasions from India, Sinhalese decided to move their capital to this area for good reason. Although Polonnaruwa does not has long history as Anuradhapura has, but in this short period the zenith of Sinhalese art glory has reached.

Polonnaruwa historical core area is divided into three complexes; royal palace, Quadrangle, and crematory collage. Each complex has its own uniqueness and deserves time to visit. The royal palace complex has big ruins of seven stories palace and audience hall with lion throne. The Quadrangle is believed to be the royal chapel with many fascinating buildings; the main attractions are the sophisticated round shape Vatadage and Polonnaruwa’s temple of the Tooth, Hatadage; however do not forget to admire the small but beautiful Latha Mandapaya, its pillars is the real gems and one of my favorite.

The crematory collage is a very large complex with monasteries, ancient hospital and Buddhist collage. The Rankot Vihara, a very big pagoda similar with Anuradhapura, is the center of this complex, and nearby hospital has evidence of ancient toilet and spa liked room, a very civilized place. While the Lankatilaka building will make you surprised with many similarities to Sukhothai, the world heritage site in Thailand showing these two cities cultural connection, Gal Vihara, the group of rock cut Buddha images, is considered to be the real reason for visiting this city by many people, will make your breath away with its unbelievable beauty and serene of the Buddha images.
Sri Lanka Junglefowl

Friday, 10 July 2009

Sri Lanka Hill country
visit Sri Lanka

Elephant/Beach Adventure Tour - 13 nights /14 days BY Sri Lankan Air Line

Day 1
Arrival and welcome by our handling agent and transfer to hotel.
Dinner and overnight stay at Goldi Sands Hotel, Negombo.

Day 2
Breakfast
Leave for Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to view the large herd of elephants and watch baby elephants being bottle-fed their milk and bathed in the river. En route visit the Salgala Hermitage and hike through around to view meditating monks.
Dinner and overnight stay at Elephant View Hotel, Pinnawela.

Day 3
Breakfast
Leave for Kandy, Sri Lanka's hill capital, via Kurunegala, a city overlooked by a rock in the shape of an elephant. Visit the ancient Buddhist Temple "Ethkanda Viharaya". Sightseeing in Kandy. In the evening watch a performance by traditional Kandyan dancers and drummers.
Dinner and overnight stay at Thilanka Hotel, Kandy.

Day 4
Breakfast
Leave on a city tour of Kandy by three wheeler taxi to view elephants bathing, traveling along the upper lake drive, view the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya, market and bazaar area, etc.
Dinner and overnight stay at Thilanka Hotel, Kandy.

Day 5
Breakfast transfer to the Kandy railway station to travel to Ohiya or Iddalgasinna by train. Hike to Kalupahana.
Dinner and overnight stay at World's End Lodge, Ohiya.

Day 6
Breakfast. Commence hiking to Belihuloya through picturesque and natural hill country surroundings.
Dinner and overnight stay at Belihuloya Rest House, Belihuloya.

Day 7
Breakfast
Transfer to Embilipitiya.
Dinner and overnight stay at the Park Bungalow, Udawalawe.

Day 8
Breakfast
Leave for Udawalawe National Park on a jeep safari and return to Ratnapura.
Dinner and overnight stay at the Ratnaloka Tour Inn, Ratnapura.

Day 9
Breakfast
Transfer to the starting-point of canoeing on the Kalu Ganga (River). Commence canoeing down river, followed by a barbecue dinner.
Overnight camping on the banks of the river at Anguruwathota.

Day 10
Breakfast
Biking to Bentota.
Dinner and overnight stay at Riverina Hotel, Beruwala.

Day 11
Day free for water sports activities.
Dinner and overnight stay at Riverina Hotel, Beruwala.

Day 12
Breakfast
Optional water sports activities until afternoon.

Day 13
Breakfast
Visit the 17th-century Galle Dutch Fort and other places of interest, and return to Ambalangoda.
Dinner and overnight stay at Riverina Hotel, Beruwala.

Day 14
Breakfast
Leave for Colombo.
Dinner at Sapphire Hotel and transfer to airport for departure.

more info: http://www.srilankan-holidays.com

or

SRI LANKA
Colombo
Head Office
SriLankan Airlines Ltd.,

Airline Centre,

Bandaranaike International Airport,

Katunayake,

Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 19733 5555 (General)

Fax: +94 197 33 5122 (General)

E-mail: ulweb@srilankan.aero (General)


Operating Hours
Monday to Friday 0815 - 1645 hrs



Ticket Office / PTA Ticket Office
SriLankan Airlines Ltd.,

Level 3, East Tower,

World Trade Centre,

Echelon Square, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 197 33 5500 (Reservations & Ticketing)

+94 197 33 3851 (PTA Counter)

+94 197 33 3727 (Government Travel Counter)

Fax: +94 197 33 5314 (Reservations)
+94 197 33 5312 (Ticket Office)


Operating Hours
Monday to Friday 0815 - 1800 hrs
Saturday / Sunday -
Public & Mercantile Holidays 0815 - 1700 hrs



SmiLes Service Centre
SriLankan Airlines Ltd.,

Level 3, East Tower,

World Trade Centre,

Echelon Square, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 19733 3333

Fax: +94 19733 5333

E-mail: flysmiles@srilankan.aero


Operating Hours
Monday to Saturday 0815 - 1700 hrs
Public & Mercantile Holidays 0815 - 1700 hrs
Sunday Closed

Sunday, 5 July 2009

visit Sri Lanka: Nilaweli Beach


visit Sri Lanka: Nilaweli Beach

Nilaweli Beach

visit Sri Lanka

visit Sri Lanka
UK relaxes travel restrictions for UK citizens

The British High Commission in Colombo today said UK has relaxed the travel restrictions for its citizens to Sri Lanka, but due to the uncertain security situation in areas recently affected by conflict UK will continue to discourage British tourists visiting those areas.

The High Commission in a statement quoted the British High Commissioner, Dr Peter Hayes as saying;

“I am pleased to announce that we have relaxed the restrictions on travel suggested in the advice we give to British visitors coming to Sri Lanka. We no longer discourage British holidaymakers from enjoying leopard-spotting at Yala National Park, surfing at Arugam Bay or admiring Trincomalee harbour, one of the world’s deepest natural ports. We’ve taken this decision based on our assessment of the improving security situation in these parts of Sri Lanka.

In light of the uncertain security situation in areas recently affected by conflict we continue to discourage British tourists from travelling to other parts of the Eastern Province and continue to advise against all travel to northern Sri Lanka. We encourage Britons planning to travel around Sri Lanka to read our full travel advice”

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides information to help British nationals make informed decisions about their safety abroad. This includes information on threats to personal safety arising from political unrest, conflicts, terrorist activities, anti-British demonstrations, lawlessness, violence, natural disasters, epidemics, and aircraft and shipping safety. The full FCO advice on travel to Sri Lanka can be found at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/asia-oceania/sri-lanka

The FCO regularly reviews the information on its travel website, in particular after any significant incident, and makes appropriate amendments to the level of the advice.

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/cms/article10.php?id=3220