Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura was first settled by Anuradha, a follower of Prince Vijaya the founder of the Sinhala race. Later, it was made the Capital by King Pandukabhaya at about 380 B.C.According to the Mahavamsa, the epic of Sinhala History, King Pandukabhaya's city was a model of planning. Precincts 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. A water supply was assured by the construction of tanks, artificial reservoirs, of which the one named after the king itself exists to this day under the altered name of Baswakkulam. It was during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (250 — 210 B.C.) that the Arahat Mahinda, son of the great Buddhist Emperor Asoka, led a group of missionaries from North India to Sri Lanka. With his followers he settled in a hermitage of caves on the hill of Mihintale — the name which derives from Mahinda's own.The new religion swept over the land in a wave.

The King himself donated land for a great monastery in the very heart of the city which was also his own Royal Park — the beautiful Mahamegha Gardens.The Buddhist principality had had but a century to flourish when it was temporarily overthrown by an invader from the Chola Kingdom of South India. The religion, however, received no set-back. At this time far away on the southeast coast, was growing up the prince who was to become the paladin of Sinhala nationalism: Dutugamunu (161 — 137 B.C) For his entire martial prowess, King Dushta Gamini must have been a man of singular sensibility. He built the MIRISAVETI DAGOBA and the mighty Brazen Palace, which was nine stories high and presented to the Mahasanga (order of monks). But, the RUWANVELI DAGOBA, his most magnificent creation, he did not live to see its completion. Two more, at least, of the Anuradhapura Kings must be mentioned — if only because some of the greater monuments are indisputably attributable to them. The earlier of these was Vattagamani Abhaya (Valagamba) (103 & 89—77 B.C.) in the first year of whose reign Chola invaders again appeared and drove him temporarily into hiding. For fourteen years, while five Tamil Kings occupied his throne, he wandered often sheltering in jungle caves. It is recorded that as in his plight as he passed an ancient Jain hermitage, an ascetic, Gin called and taunted him.

The great black lion is fleeing! Throughout his exile the gibe rankled. Winning the Kingdom back at last, he razed Giri's hermitage to the ground, and built the ABHAYAGIRI Monastery. The name is a wry cant on his own name and the tactless hermit's as well as (meaning mountain of fearlessness) a disclaimer of his cowardice! Next came the heretic king Mahasena (274 — 301 A.D) who built Sri Lanka's largest Dagoba JETAWANARAMA (World Heritage Site), a much complicated irrigation system and 16 vast reservoirs (tank) like MINNERIYA, even today which irrigate thousands of acres of paddy land. Anuradhapura was to continue for six hundred years longer as the national capital. But as the protecting wilderness round it diminished with prosperity and internecine struggles for the royal succession grew, it became more and more vulnerable to the pressures of South Indian expansion; and the city was finally abandoned and the Capital withdrawn to more secluded fastnesses. But the monuments of its heyday survive, surrounded by such beauties as they become the past: the solemn umbrage of trees, the silence of cold stone, and the serenity of the sheltering sky.

Arugam Bay

Sri Lanka a country with a reputation for great beaches, hence it takes a lot for a stretch of beach to stand out from the rest. Arugam Bay region is a surfing heaven with an amazing stretch of sand with turquoise warm and inviting waters in charming little town with just one main street of shops containing restaurants, small corner shops, bike rentals, surfboard rentals and various other shops that cater all the creature comfort of every beach traveller.

Arugam Bay is well known for being a great surfing point and for its relaxed vibes. The town is no longer a secret backpacker's hideaway, consequently the need of bit of a local know-how before you start packing your bags, to avoid the disappointment of ending up on an overcrowded beach.

Bentota

Bentota is a coastal town in Sri Lanka, located in the Galle District of the Southern Province. It is most famous for water-sports, Ayurveda and for its toddy productions. It is also a popular gateway for many Sri Lankans due to the easy access from Colombo.

The greenery of the land shaded and sheltered by tall trees with coconut palm trees dominating the landscape makes it a very pretty rural area to stay in. Bentota provides the perfect holiday for extended holidays by the beach with an array of luxury hotels, facilities and amenities for foreign tourists. In addition to its pristine palm fringed beaches, brings in more pleasure for the lovers of water sports nowhere else to be found. Bentota beach is ideal for snorkeling, diving, sailing, wind surfing, water-skiing and deep-sea fishing on a traditional outrigger canoe during the calm seas from November to April. It's an attraction for families with its ideal background for a relaxed holiday combined with fun water sports and exciting day excursions.

Colombo

Colombo is Sri Lanka's bustling commercial hub located on the west coast of the island. The city is rich with culture, heritage and religions and one place you can witness the contrast of best and worst Sri Lanka has to offer.

While Colombo offers an array of luxury, hotels, restaurants, Nightclubs, Casinos and shopping malls bearing famous brands to satisfy the luxury living standards it also carries a maze of small shops selling wholesale and retail in cramped-up dusty, noisy streets and traffic jams that are so crazy, enough to make locals cringe.

A jarring mix of old and new, the city of Colombo is a cluster of high rise office blocks and hotels overshadowing red tiled colonial era buildings and sprawling street markets which overflow with high piled fruits and vegetables, deliciously fragrant traditional Sri Lankan spices and colorful silks and cottons. The places of worship and symbolic of Sri Lanka's multi ethnic heritage such as Buddhist temples, extravagant temples encrusted with Hindu statuary can be found in the crowded streets of Colombo, along with Islamic mosques with minarets scattered along the busy streets.

Dambulla

Dambulla is one of the capitals of the medieval Sinhalese Kings. Aluvihare is the other rock temple of equal fame where the Buddhist scriptures were first committed to writing about the first century BC. Dambulla is a scent of unique interest with its rock temples being the most extensive in the island and one of the most famous and in the highest state of preservation and order. The rock of Dambulla, the Dambulu gala where these temples are situated is almost insulated and of vast size.

Situated in the Matale District, Central Province of Sri Lanka, Dambulla is famous for its Dambulla Rock Cave Temples. A large cave temple complex decorated with country's finest murals. Also known as the Golden temple of Dambulla, this temple is a world heritage site situated in the heart of Sri Lankan Cultural Triangle.

The construction was done in the King Vattagamini Abhaya's also known as Valagamba period. It is identified that this is the very location where king Valagamba was hiding during the South Indian invasion, and strategised the re-claim the kingdom after 12 years.

To pay gratitude to the Buddhist monks who gave refuge, it's said the king had built this magnificent temple surrounding the caves in 1st century BC. There are over 80 documented caves surrounding the plains. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of god and goddess, all related to Buddha and his life.

Another interesting fact about the caves is that the Archaeologists confirm that this cave and other numerous caves around the main rock had been in use as dwellings in pre historic times. Human skeletons were found on scientific analysis to give evidence of civilisations in this area long before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Also evidence of ancient people living on agriculture has been detected in this area for over 2700 years according to archaeological findings (750 BC).

Ella

Sri Lankan Hill Country is a charming place filled with lush green forests, Cloud forests and mountains covered with carefully planted tea fields and elegantly plummeting waterfalls everywhere you go. And in the middle of all that is quaint little, laid back town called Ella (Waterfall). As name suggest the town is full of waterfalls in different sizes.

Situated at an elevation of 1,041 metres (3,415 ft) above sea level, the area has rich bio diversity, cooler climate than surrounding lowlands, due to its elevation.

Galle

Galle is Sri Lanka's most preferred destination amongst Foreigners and locals alike. Situated on the Southern coast, it features one of the most alluring beaches in Sri Lanka. Galle is the best example of colonial impact by Europeans in South and South-East Asia and interaction between European architectural influences and South Asian traditions.

The Galle Dutch Fort is the slow beating heart of Galle's history with the town growing greatly and spreading into the surroundings. Since the early sixteenth century, the walled city has stood through the colonial periods of the Portuguese, Dutch and British and has proclaimed as an Archeological reserve during the present times. The Galle Dutch Fort has been identified as a living World Heritage site.

Galle retains an atmosphere of the past as few other towns in Sri Lanka through the rolling streams of time and change. Considerable civic amenities and military features graced the town.

This is a perfect place for water sport enthusiasts, since the this coastal town offers you all sorts of water sport activities starting from swimming, snorkeling, diving, Jet Ski, Shallow water Fishing, Deep water fishing, surfing, paddle boarding to just lying on the golden sands until you get that perfect tan, Galle has it all. Although it offers an array of Beach activities, Galle isn't just about the beach, read below to find out what else this charming city has on offer and why it should be on most travelers itineraries.

Getting here

Galle is easily accessible via the Southern Expressway, the A2 Highway or the coastal rail line. Train ride is ideal if you enjoy learning about social and cultural aspects of Sri Lankan day-to-day life.

Southern Expressway is the quickest, easiest and most comfortable route by Air Conditioned buses or private transport.

Habarana

Habarana is a small picturesque city situated almost equidistant between Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Dambulla.The chain of high class tourist resorts which are extremely eco-friendly and have been built towards the beneficial aspects of the natural environment is the main aspect as to why the city is famed. As it is the starting point for safari tours in the nearby Minneriya Sanctuary which is heavily populated by elephants and other species of wildlife, it is an ideal destination for safari lovers.

The location is which this little city is situated has some mid ranged and up hotels aimed at packaged tourists and is also a departure point for other nearby locations of greater interest. Riding on a back of an Elephant is also an attraction here. Encircled by a small footpath around which is possible to walk in 90min or so, is the main attraction in Habarana , the fine Habarana Lake.

Situated near the ancient rock fortress and castle ruin of Sigiriya and Dambulla cave temple is the site of a famed organic farm specialize in high yield agro- crops. As day excursion can be taken into the ancient areas of the country to explore the past lives of great kings and their monuments, Habarana also attracts those who are interested in the intriguing history of this tiny island. It offers some of the most amazing Sri Lanka holiday packages and it is a renowned paradise for those who love natural history and wildlife.

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