At first, it seemed like we landed in Goa or Kerala but it was Sri Lanka. The streets/roads resemble so much so that you might want to check your boarding pass. Probably because of all the palm trees, weather & people that look no different than ours. A country with endless beaches, timeless ruins, unexpected weather, welcoming people, rolling turf and so much more making Sri Lanka irresistible.
Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, over the past few years has definitely scored a point on people’s bucket list. The undiscovered place that offers the best of nature and history. The country itself has 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Back in 2016, when I visited Sri Lanka, it was exciting & surreal. There were a lot of interesting things to know about the country like if you hail from India, you have to know this that Sri Lanka hardly has anything about Ramayana. The country is 90% Buddhist (which gives you one more reason to visit this place). Being a Buddhist myself, the country is packed with knowledge about Buddhism or Lord Buddha and it indeed is enlightening.
Here in this blog, we have listed Top 10 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka, if you’re planning an itinerary. It’s that place if you haven’t been to, you should.
One of the top tourist attraction in Sri Lanka is Sigiriya. The place is located in Northern Matale District in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress and is famous for its palace ruins on top of 200-meter high rock surrounded by the remains of extensive gardens, reservoirs & other structures. It is renowned for Ancient Paintings, frescoes. Also, Sigiriya offers a 2.5 hours once in a lifetime opportunity Village Tour including a food & tour guide. The tour starts with a boat to reach the village and then a bullock cart to explore the village. One cannot miss the food that the localities have to offer. Being an Indian and especially from UP, I absolutely loved the dal & rice and the green leafy salad. We strongly recommend this place.
One of the 8 UNESCO World Heritages in Country, is the sacred city of Anuradhapura. It is the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. This city was established around a cutting from the “tree of enlightenment” brought there by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. The place is dense, extremely humid in summers, but with the splendid site with monasteries, palace ruins & monuments.
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage is Polonnaruwa. Interestingly, it was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura 993. As the most beautiful archeological site in Sri Lanka, it was inscribed in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1982. The place within itself has a few more places that you cannot miss. Do visit gal vihara, sathmahal prasada (royal palace), royal audience hall, royal bath, golden pinnacle stupa, alahana piriwena. All the places are located within a distance of 10 minutes, so either a bus or walk would do.
Again, the place is located in Matale District, Central Province in Sri Lanka. Dambulla houses, Dambulla Cave Temple, the biggest, best-saved, cave temple complex in the nation. The place has over 80 caves few of which are used by monks as meditation locations. The major attraction is spread over 5 caves, which includes paintings & statues about Buddha’s life. You cannot miss this place if you’re planning to visit Sri Lanka, you’ll be amazed to look at the intricate details of the paintings and statues.
5. Yala National Park
The second largest national park in Sri Lanka and the best places for sighting Wild Elephants is, Yala National Park. Located 300kms from Colombo, is spread across 979 square kilometers, with parts of the park reaching to the water and touching the Indian Ocean (the view of never-ending blue water is breathtaking) This national park is home to 215 bird species, Leopards, Monkeys, Crocodiles, wild Boars & Bears. The Park is divided into 5 zones. Zone 1 and 5 are open to public & tourists and the other zones are reserved for only professional research & documentary filming. The safari is safe & goes through checkpoints. If anything can compete with it is its wildlife! The park closes for September for Leopard’s breeding season.
6. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Get up close and personal with elephants at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The highly commercialized place in Sri Lanka initially opened for protecting abandoned or orphaned elephants in the jungle. There are about 100 elephants, of all ages. The conservation organization is obviously beautiful and interesting but is a big source of income, with Rs 100 million per year. But it’s all worth it when you see baby elephants being fed and bathe in a stream of water cutting through the forest and the city.
It’s said the views from the train ride are surreal. They surely were. Ella also has breathtaking viewpoints & waterfalls. Ella and few other places in Sri Lanka have spread out of tea plantations. Ella’s tourism has soared in recent times and why not, it’s got the best-picture-perfect views.
Known as the sacred Buddhist site, popular for The Temple of Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of Buddha) was the last capital of Sinhala Kings. It is also Sri Lanka’s second largest city. The places you cannot miss in Kandy are The Temple of Tooth Relic, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy Lake, The White Buddha Statue soaring above, and not to forget to take the world’s most beautiful train ride to Ella! Kandy is just 4 hours away from Nuwara Eliya. Talking about…
9. Nuwara Eliya
Often referred to as ‘Little England’ because this place has a British Village Vibe to it. Treat yourself with tea plantations, vegetable plots, hills for scenic views. This magical stop has quaint colonial buildings & cascading waterfalls to offer to its visitors. Stroll around Lake Gregory for relaxation. The weather is usually chilly, stay aware of the rain forecasts (it literally can rain anytime). Don’t miss out the sample of Ceylon Tea. Enjoy this Little UK!
Last we have the current capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo! This place is a haven for history lovers and culture vultures. Plan a walking tour to city’s historic Forts & Pettah Districts. Shop at Paradise Road, a sure paradise for shopping lovers. Colombo has a plethora of temples and kovils, few of them that you must visit are the Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple, having a spectacular grandeur and Kathiresan Kovil. Take some time out of your itinerary to take a stroll around the Galle Face Green, the landmark of the city.
These were the Top 10 places that we strongly recommend if you plan to visit Sri Lanka. Hope this helps you while planning an itinerary. Happy traveling!