Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and is by far the most happening city in the country! From the street hawkers in the noisy bazaars of the Pettah area to the blue collared, tie clad businessmen of the World Trade Centre, Colombo is where Sri Lanka's economic and financial heart beats. The shopping, nightlife, and the dining experience in Colombo are pretty amazing and there's plenty of other historical, cultural and religious places of interest in the city too.
The Southern port city of Galle is located 115 km away from Colombo. Galle is a town rich in history and was the centre of Dutch rule in the 17th century. The majestic Galle Fort bears ample testimony to that fact and Galle is in fact one of the best-preserved colonial-era cities in Southeast Asia, and has even been declared a World Heritage City. Some of the other popular attractions in Galle include the Dutch Museum, Groote Kerk (Great Church) and the National Maritime Museum.
The hill capital of Kandy, lies picturesquely surrounded by mountains and rivers 72 km away from Colombo. Kandy features the most sacred of all Buddhist shrines - the temple of the tooth or The Dalada Maligawa, which holds the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. This is also the location in which the annual Esala Perahera, one of the most sought-after events in the country takes place.
Sigiriya is a magnificent rock fortress built in the 5th century A.D. King Kasyapa built his fortress on this 182 Meters high rock to protect himself from his enemies. Sigiriya is world-renowned for its 'Mirror Wall' consisting of poems and text carved by those who visited the rock many years ago and for its magnificent frescoes, similar to the Ajantha frescoes of India. Sigiriya is in fact, the best-preserved city centre.
The scenic town of Nuwara Eliya or "Little England" lies nestled in a valley more than 2500 m above sea level surrounded by misty mountain ranges covered in pine forests and tea cultivations. Nuwara Eliya has a much cooler climate and the mountains surrounding Nuwara Eliya is covered with a carpet of tea bushes. The whole process of tea manufacturing, can be watched at many of the tea factories in the area. Also close by is the Hakgala Botanical Gardens.
The Dambulla Temple is located on a gigantic rock towering more than 160 m above the surrounding area. The Rock itself is more than 1.5 km around its base and summit is at 550 m. The caves on this rock feature a mixture of religious and worldly paintings and sculptures. Several reclining Buddha's which includes the 15 m long sculpture of the dying Buddha. The famous Dambulla frescoes on the walls and ceiling dates back to the 15th-18th centuries.
Polonnaruwa is Sri Lanka's second oldest kingdom and features a plethora of ruins and places of religious worship. Some of the many interesting places to visit in Polonnaruwa include the Gal Viharaya (Stone temple), Lankathilake Buddhist shrine, the Tivanka Image House, the Nissanka Latha Mandapaya and of course the famous Moonstones - the unique rock carvings found at the entrances or at the bottom of stairways of important buildings.
Negombo has a small port, and its economy is mainly based on tourism and its centuries-oldfishing industry. Negombo is a traditional fishing town in Sri Lanka, and no wonder the townis a gourmet food lover’s paradise with seafood available in plenty. Negombo also producesspices, ceramics and brassware. The town has a majority of Roman Catholics along withBuddhists, Hindus and Muslims while it has been given the name “Little Rome” due to thehighly ornate Portuguese-era Roman Catholic churches found within the township. The townhas several buildings that date back to the Dutch and Portuguese colonial era. Attractions inthe city include the old Dutch fort gate built in 1672 now a part of the prison, the Dutch Canalwhich was then a supply route to the Dutch administration, old churches and fishing villages.
Just an hour’s drive away from Colombo, Bentota is one of the most established beachresorts in Sri Lanka. Bentota is also a part of the famed stretch of beach called the “GoldenMile”. The area is dotted with many fantastic resorts ranging from five star hotels to resthouses to suit the budget traveler. The sea and adjoining Bentara River provides theopportunity for plenty of water sports such as swimming, diving, jet-skiing, windsurfing andeven parasailing.
From stunning rock carvings and temples to giant stone pillars, history lovers are in for a raretreat at Anuradhapura, the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. Located 206 km from Colombo,Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world's major archaeologicalsites. Perfectly landscaped pleasure gardens, vast irrigation lakes and places of religiousworship are a plenty here and Anuradhapura also features the spectacular Ruwanweli Seyadagoba and the sacred bo-tree Sri Maha Bodhi which is one of the oldest trees in the world.Other attractions include the Aukana Buddha Statue, Mihintale Rock, Abhayagiri Stupa andMonastery and the “Isurumuniya Lovers” rock carvings.
The Yala National Park in southern Sri Lanka has the world's highest concentration of leopards. Much of the nature reserve is parkland, but it also includes jungle, beaches,freshwater lakes and rivers and scrubland. In addition to leopards, the Yala National Park is also home to substantial numbers of elephants, crocodile, wild boar, water buffalo, grey langurs and many more varieties of large animals. The park is also home to birds of prey such as the white-bellied sea eagles, waders, painted Storks, the Indian peafowl and the Sri Lanka jungle fowl. In the southeast, the Park is bounded by the sea and unspoiled natural beaches and sand dunes provide an absolutely beautiful environment.
Mahatma Gandhi, the 'Father of India,' visited Chilaw in November 1927 on his first and onlyjourney to Sri Lanka when it was called Ceylon. This was a historic visit - Gandhi was invitedto Chilaw by the freedom fighters Charles Edgar Corea and his brother Victor Corea wholived in the town. The brothers founded the Chilaw Association and the Ceylon NationalCongress and campaigned hard for the independence of Ceylon. The Corea families have hada strong link with Chilaw. There is a saying in Sri Lanka that Chilaw is well known for thethree 'C's' - Crabs, Coconuts and Coreas.