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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Top 10 Towns To Visit In Sri Lanka

The best thing to do as a local and a tourist is to recommend to other would be travellers the best places to visit , things to do and foods and drinks to try, in this series of blog posts I will shed some light on my favourites of Sri Lanka.

This post talks of my favourite Towns to visit, with a short description of the town, however I will write separate articles covering in depth these Top 10 places.

Being an enthusiast of culture and heritage as well as scenic beauty my top 10 may be slightly biased towards these sort of destinations. So Lets Start!

At No1 is the Ancient City of Anuradhapura

The sacred city of Anuradhapura is situated in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, and is around 230KM north of the capital Colombo. It is one of the eight world heritage sights that Sri Lanka is home to.

Anuradhapura, is home to many of the ancient marvels of the country, and dates back over 2500 years. It is commonly accepted as the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. It is a must see destination in Sri Lanka to get a glimpse of the great architectural and scientific achievements of a once great civilisation, possibly one of the greatest of its time in the region.

There is a lot to see here, however be warned, it can get very dry and very hot! Read all about this world heritage site here .

At No2 is the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa, is my second most favourite area of Sri Lanka, home to the countries second ancient world capital. It was established as the capital of ancient Sri Lanka in the year 1070, after the fall of Anuradhapura, due to invasions and disease. 

It is located just South East of Anuradhapura, and is approx 240KM from Colombo via Kandy. Polonnaruwa also holds as one of the eight Unesco World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka.

The area is home to yet more fantastic examples of the great Sri Lankan hydro civilisation. Including the biggest man made ancient tank in the country and is known as the the Parakrama Samudra or the Sea of Parakrama. Built during the hight of the Sri Lankan Civilisation by a king who is known as one of the greatest kings of Sri Lankan history, due to the sheer volume of infrastructure development and irrigation works carried out by him. Read more about Polonnaruwa on my blog article here

At No3 is the Hill Capital of Kandy

The picturesque hill city of Kandy, is located around 110KM from the capital Colombo, and is home to many attractions or is within a short drive of yet more attractions. Its situated towards the middle of the island and slightly north east of the capital. Kandy is also one of the cleanest cities in the country and is being rapidly developed, yet preserving its ancient look and feel.

The drive there can take anywhere between 3 to 4 hours, as most of the drive is up hills. Kandy was the last Kingdom of Sri Lanka. And it is where the country was handed over by its rulers to the British Empire, in the year 1815. It is also home to the Temple of the Tooth. Which is possibly the most important location in the world for Buddhists. Kandy is also home to a wealth of culture and heritage, as well as wildlife and natural beauty. Read more about Kandy on my blog article here

At No4 is the Sea Side town of Galle

Galle is located around 120KM South West of Colombo, and is another one of the world heritage sites in Sri Lanka. The world heritage site, or the main attraction in Galle is the old Dutch Fort, built in 1663 and is a good example of Dutch East India Company time architecture. Most buildings within the Fort are well preserved and as you walk through the fort it is as if you are walking through time. Much history to be seen here from the Dutch period of Sri Lanka. The main attraction is the clock tower and the view from there of the Indian Ocean.

Sadly however on none of my trips down south have I been able to get pictures of the Fort during sunset or sun rise. Read more about Kandy on my blog article here

At No5 is the Beautiful Mountain Town of Nuwara Eliya

Tea Leaves
Tea Estate

St Claire's Falls 
Ambewela Farms

The View of the city of Nuwara Eliya from Single Tree Hill

Situated in the central hills of Sri Lanka, 160KM East of the capital Colombo, and around 6000ft above sea level is the picturesque city of Nuwara Eliya. Shrouded in mist and tea plantations, this part of the country is very very cold in comparison to the rest. One of my personal favourite destinations in the Island.

The city was founded by the British, during the colonial period, and was a main settlement for the Tea Plantation owners. Sri Lanka is known the world over for its "Ceylon Tea". The best of which is produced in the hills surrounding the town of Nuwara Eliya.

The town is often referred to as Little England by locals, due to the climatic and weather conditions as well as the housing and architecture. There are many attractions within a short distance of Nuwara Eliya and there is much to explore in the surroundings which are perfect for trekking and walking. Read more about Kandy on my blog article here

At No6 is the Ancient town of Mahiyanganaya

Located around 190KM North East from the capital Colombo, Mahiyanganaya is located on the edge of the central hills region, making its location somewhat to the centre of the island. One of my favourite things is the drive to this area. It is no doubt one of the most scenic routes you will ever find in Sri Lanka, running through mountains, valleys and lush paddy fields.

The Mahiyanganaya area is known for many things, but mainly for the local Veddhas (Indigenous People of Sri Lanka, similar to the Aborigines in Australia) and the ancient and historically significant Buddhist monastery. However it is also full of lush paddy lands (rice fields) which stretch for miles as seen in the pictures above. It is this scenic nature that appeals to me the most in this area. It is also close to many other top attractions and has the countries longest river flowing through its borders.Read more about Mahiyanganaya on my blog article here

At No7 is the Eastern Coastal Town of Trincomalee

At No8 is the Southern Town of Kataragama

The sacred city of Kataragama is located in the deep south of Sri Lanka 238KM from the capital Colombo. Kataragama is popular among the locals, for its Hindu shrine, it is also within short distance of other popular tourist hot spots such as Yala, Kumana and Bundala National parks.

The epicentre in the town is the ancient Hindu Shrine to the Lord Kataragama (God Skanda). It is visited by thousands of devotees from all walks of life and surprisingly from many religious backgrounds, which makes it a special place. The first mentions of the shrine date back to 288 BC. There are offerings made to the God in the evenings which encompass music and dance, and is truly a sight to see.

The Kataragama area was also the site of an ancient Sri Lankan Kingdom,the Ruhunu Kingdom, which was where one of the great kings of Anuradhapura, King Dutu Gamunu grew up, before he united the country under one flag, and freeing it from the invading south Indians. Read more about Kataragama on my blog article here

At No9 is the Capital City Colombo

The City of Colombo, is not yet like the other metropolises of Asia, Colombo is but a dot on the map, in comparison to the vast concrete jungles of the great cities of Asia. Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka and sits on the western coast of the island nation.

Colombo has a vibrant and colourful population, and is teeming with life, both human and other forms big and small. There is much to do in the city, and many undiscovered rough diamonds to be discovered. The city is ever changing and has never looked the same year on year. Below are a few sights of the City of Colombo.

Colombo Hilton Hotel and World Trade Centre Buildings
View from near Fort Railway Station Colombo

Galle face promenade
Taj Samudra Hotel Galle Face

Old Parliament Complex Galle Face

Cannons along galle face promenade

Independence Square at night
Liberty Plaza

Independence Square
Lions at Independence Square

Independence Square
Independence Square

Colombo CBD

Galle Face Green at Night
The Galle Face Hotel

Colombo Town Hall

At No10 is the town of Ratnapura

Ratnapura, is also known as the city of Gems, is located around 100KM south east of Colombo along the high level road, the journey may take up to 3 hours, and there is much to see on the way too. For those of you who are interested in mines, and Gem stones, this is the place to go. Its not all about the Gems though, the town is within a short distance of many major tourist attractions. One of these being the Sinharaja Rainforest (click For more info). Find out more in my article about Ratnapura here

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