What You Need to Know About the Sacred City of Kandy

Popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, the sacred city of Kandy was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Drawing tourists, pilgrims and other visitors in numbers, this city radiates a celestial atmosphere which makes it stand out among other cities in Sri Lanka.

 The Positioning

1024px-Knuckles_Forest,_Sri_lanka
Abishek Palraj, Knuckles Forest, Sri lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0

Kandy is located in the central part of the country, with an elevation of 500 metres from sea level. Hidden in the thick forests and majestic mountain ranges, the city stands in pride in all its glory. These mountain ranges include two of Sri Lanka’s most beloved hiking hot spots, Knuckles and Hanthana. Kandy’s location and historical significance have been core reasons for opening up many hotels and resorts like Hunas Falls Hotel, Kandy. Most tourists and pilgrims who visit this sacred city often seek accommodation in a hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka for a comfortable stay as a day’s trip will not do justice to the beauty of the city.

The History

Kandy was the last capital of the country in the era of the ancient kings. It is also home to the Sri Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Tooth which shelters the relic of the tooth of Lord Buddha. Although the locals rebelled massively to save the kingdom of Kandy from British rule, the efforts were finally beaten as the British Ceylon period rose from 1815 to 1948, until the country was freed of colonial rule and gained independence.

Climate

While Sri Lanka is widely known for its tropical weather conditions, Kandy’s geographical positioning deviates the city climate to a wetter and cooler temperature as a result of its 500-metre elevation from sea level. However, the city is still a part of the country’s tropical climate and faces the monsoon seasons from May to July and October to December.

The Kandy City

The cityscape of Kandy includes a quadrangular manmade lake at its centre, with two open spaces in which one corner is occupied by the administration buildings of the old capital. Although not as commercialised as Colombo, Kandy still welcomes tourists and hosts several hotels, shopping complexes and local eateries to taste the traditional flavours of Sri Lanka.

Set Off on a Hike to Knuckles

Renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Knuckles Mountain range has been famed for its human fist like appearance from certain angles. This magnificent gift of nature is located in the Kandy and Matale districts of Sri Lanka and is highly popular among hikers from all over the world.

Knuckles_mountain_range_-_Sri_Lanka
Thusitha Jayasundara, Knuckles mountain range – Sri Lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0

How to Get to Knuckles

While several access points allow you to reach Knuckles, the most popular entrance is in Matale. However, this solely depends on where you are residing at. If you plan to travel to Kandy on a vacation, the access point will not be over a journey of an hour or two to Hunnasgiriya, once again, based on the route that you choose to take. However, do visit the Kandy Escapes website for a deeper insight on how to adapt and prepare for the weather conditions in Kandy, if you wish to enter Knuckles from a Kandy access point.

How to Climb Knuckles

While Knuckles’ popularity attracts many hikers, it is only advisable that you climb the mountain range if you carry a considerable level of experience in the art. However, a guide must accompany you, regardless of your level of hiking experience, in order to avoid getting lost. Therefore, a qualified guide will direct you through the paths that should be taken.

Grab a Bite on The Way

As you climb up one of Sri Lanka’s most difficult mountain trails, hunger will not be too far away. Being a protected reserve prevents hotels and resorts from opening up in the Knuckles and therefore, food is likely to become a luxury during the course of your hike. Stock up what you need in a backpack and grab a bite whenever hunger takes you over.

Other Attractions

While setting off on an adventurous hike is what Knuckles is known for, the areas surrounding this mountain range host plenty of other attractions for hikers and tourists. Deep into the forest lies Meemure, a rural village of picturesque views, Kandy, the sacred city of the Temple of the Tooth and the Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple in Matale.

  

 

Dambulla in One Day

Located in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, the town of Dambulla is an ideal destination to visit or be based at. If you have just one day here, these are some of the things you can do.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Get off to an early start by heading to the top of the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site within easy reach of Aliya Resort & Spa. You will pass rock frescoes, the Mirror Wall and the remains of huge lion paws leading up to the summit where palace ruins and inspiring vistas await.

Golden Temple of Dambulla

With a history that dates to the 1st century BC, another key local attraction is the Golden Temple of Dambulla. Hotels that are close by are ideal since you can plan a visit to this site where you will find Buddha statues and historical paintings within a stunning cave temple complex.

Minneriya National Park

In the second half of the day, you can plan a wildlife safari to the Minneriya National Park home to diverse animal and bird life; if you visit between June to September you are in for a treat since you can witness “The Gathering” where hundreds of elephants can be seen.

Ayurvedic Spa Bliss

Look to stay at a hotel that has an Ayurveda spa so you can enjoy some relaxing and rejuvenating treatments after all your adventures. Such spas offer traditional and holistic rituals with everything from herbal oil body therapies to herbal steam baths and more.

 

 

Dambulla in One Day

Located close to many Sigiriya hotels the likes of Aliya Resort& Spa, Dambulla is a significant city of the Central Province in Sri Lanka. Due to its central location, Dambulla is also used as a major vegetable distribution point in the country.

Visit Dambulla Cave Temple – Morning

Dambulla Cave Temple or the Golden Temple of Dambulla is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. It is one of the mostextensive and best-preserved cave complexes of the country.

Explore Ibbankatuwa Prehistoric Burial Site – Afternoon

Within a three-kilometre radius of the Dambulla Cave Temple lies an ancient burial site of the country called the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tombs. Many ancient tools and goods along with cremated remains have been found during excavations.

Hike the Rose Quartz Mountain Range – Evening

Not many know that there is a Rose Quartz Mountain Range in Sri Lanka, which is the largest of its kind in Asia. At the very top of this mountain, one may come across a gleaming white statue of Lord Buddha. The legends say that Emperor Shah Jahan used rose quartz from this place to build his masterpiece, the iconic Taj Mahal.

Relax in NamalUyana – Late Evening

Spread over 260 acres of land is a forest of Ironwood trees in Dambulla. It also houses the Rose Quartz Mountain Range and contributes to an ecosystem of various birds and mammals.

 

 

Best Beaches in West Coast of Sri Lanka

The Pearl of the Indian Ocean sure has some amazing beaches that lure tourists every year. The coastal belt of Sri Lanka is something that you must explore. Here are a few beaches that are not too far from Colombo for starters.

 

Negombo
This is a coastal city that is just 37 km away from Colombo which is about 1.5 hours travel time on the highway. Negombo is popular for beautiful beaches that are surfer friendly and safe for almost any water sport.

Mount Lavinia
This is one of the most residential zones in Colombo, especially for the middle class. This place has one of the most scenic beaches where the middle class often visit in the evenings for a jog or to walk their pets.

Beruwela
This is a beach city that is popular for hotels.Beruwela offers some of the best luxury resorts such as The Eden Resort & Spa for a nice stay. The beaches here are great too but the waters can sometimes be too rough so look out for the red flag.

Induruwa
Unlike the rest of the beaches, this isn’t a crowded one. Instead, the ambience is of that of a calm village where you can just relax.

A Guide to Wildlife in Sri Lanka

 

If you are looking for a “wild” holiday which is more about wildlife encounters than nightlife fun, then Sri Lanka is an ideal destination! Here’s a glimpse into the many species you may come across.

Mammals
Sri Lanka has over 100 mammal species including the endemic leopard and elephant. Leopards can be spotted at the Yala National Park, while elephants can be seen at Minneriya National Park near Habarana; hotel options in the area such as Cinnamon Lodge Habarana offer excursions to see “The Gathering” of hundreds of elephants around July. The sloth bear, sambar deer, toque macaque and European otter are some of the other local mammals.

Birds
Over 500 species of birds have been recorded in Sri Lanka which encompasses endemic (like the Sri Lankanjunglefowl and Sri Lanka spurfowl) and migratory (like the Pacific golden plover and greater flamingo) species.The Sinharaja Forest Reserve andBundala National Park are two bird watching hotspots.

Reptiles
There are plenty of reptile species in the island which include a great many snakes such as the sand boa, green vine snake andIndian cobra. Also grouped amongst reptiles are the mugger and saltwater crocodiles as well as five sea turtle species like olive ridley, hawksbill and green turtles.

Marine Species
Out at sea, Sri Lanka is blessed with more diversity and one will find over 900 marine fish species; these include reef fish as well as larger varieties like marlin and sailfish. The country also offers one a chance to spot marine mammals from blue and sperm whales to spinner and bottlenose dolphins.\

 

 

 

 

 

Thrilling Safaris at Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Ever had the thrill of seeing regal leopards and majestic elephants roam free in their natural habitats? Such wildlife encounters and a whole lot more awaits at the Yala National Park!

Plan Your Safari
Located in the southeast part of the country, this park can be accessed via the gates at locations such as Palatupana and Katagamuwa. For a safari tour, Sri Lanka is best explored via 4WD vehicles and Yala is no exception. A little after 6:00am and again after 4:00pm are generally the best times for spotting wildlife.

Kings of Yala
The apex predator at the park is the Sri Lankan leopard; safaris here are very popular since it has the world’s highest density of leopards in the wild. Such wildlife drives can be organised by local travel specialists the likes of Walkers Tours as part of unforgettable excursions to spot these stealthy felines.

Other Wildlife
On your adventures in Yala, you mayobserve many other creatures too including elephants who may be gentle giants, but shouldn’t be disturbed! Keep watch to also spot sloth bears, water buffalos, spotted deer, toque macaques and mugger crocodiles. Part of the park encompasses the coast where sea turtles are known to visit too.

Diverse Birdlife
Equally impressive are the diverse bird species at Yala; one of the best places for birdwatching in Sri Lanka, the park has recorded around 215 bird species. These includeendemic varieties such as the Sri Lanka wood pigeon, Sri Lanka grey hornbill and Sri Lankan junglefowl which is also the nation’s national bird.

 

 

Places to visit in Colombo, Sri Lanka

With crowds of buzzing people and vehicles moving in a huge rush, Colombo- the commercial capital of Sri Lanka is an ever-busy city. Have you explored some of these iconic places in this metropolitan city?

Galle Face Green Promenade
From any city hotel in Colombo, the Galle Face Green Promenade cannot be too far for an evening walk. If your kids are with you, take them too as they will love a kite flying session here, and also to enjoy some amazing street food.

Dehiwala Zoo
It’s the National Zoo of Sri Lanka spanning across 24 acres of land. If you are spending a family vacation at a hotel such as Mandarina Colombo Hotel, visit the zoo with your kids because they will simply love the birds, fish, reptiles, and other animals that you will find there.

National Museum
Sri Lanka is a country with a proud history. So, if you want to know some interesting facts about it, the best place to head to is the National Museum of Sri Lanka. It is a huge white painted building that has been constructed in 1877.

Viharamahadevi Park
Victoria Park was its old name and now is called the Viharamahadevi Park. It also has a kiddies’ zone where children can play, while you have a leisurely walk around the park.

Exploring the Religious Town of Kataragama

The small town of Kataragama is one of the most venerated religious sites on the island of Sri Lanka, which people of all ethnicities flock to pay homage to.

Image Credit- AdbarKataragama temple entranceCC BY-SA 3.0

Background

Kataragama embodies a sense of spiritual divinity and lays claim to historical relevance dating back to the 2nd century BC. The town’s most popular temple is the one dedicated to the Kataragama deity, a Hindu / Buddhist lord. It is believed that King Dutugamunu built the shrine for the deity to fulfil a vow made to him when he defeated, King Elehara.

Things to Do

While the town is peaceful, it undergoes a dramatic transformation when its time for the evening Pooja. Hundreds of devotees assemble on the site carrying platters of fresh fruits and garlands of scented flowers to seek blessings, and taking part in it would prove to be an unforgettable experience!

Festivities

If you ‘re planning on visiting the sacred town, choosing to do so in the month of July would be ideal as it will enable you to experience the Kataragama Festival. Rituals rooted in ancient traditions along with a colourful parade known as a Perehara which includes dances and acrobatics could be seen in all its glory.

How to Get There

Kataragama can be reached approximately in 5 hours from Colombo via the Southern Expressway. If you wish to stay for a few days, then there are many hotels in Kataragama, Sri Lanka including the likes of Mandara Rosen Kataragama to choose from.

Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+

Safari in Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park is located in the north central province of Sri Lanka and was marked as a national park in August 1997, after being designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The park is home to the ancient Minneriya water tank, which provides as the main source of life to its inhabitants. If you’re staying at a hotel in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, it’ll be easier to get to the Minneriya national park, due to its close proximity. Some hotels such as Fresco Water Villa will be able to organize safari trips to the national park.

The Minneriya National Park is famous and most ideal for spotting elephants. Elephants numbers in the park are known to reach up to 200 or more, and are usually seen grazing near the watering holes for long periods of time before returning back to the thick jungles during the night. The park measures to about 90 square kilometres and attracts visitors, mostly to watch The Gathering – where elephants cluster near the famous watering hole. The ideal season to watch these gentle beasts in their natural habitat would be between the months from May to September, as most animals, including the elephants would be seen grazing and munching on the new grass that has sprung up, following the dry weather. This season is also a great time to watch these friendly giants frolic, socialise and bathe in their natural habitat, and provides for great photo opportunities. Do keep in mind not to pollute or cause any loud disturbances – remember to respect the animals in the wild.
Visitors are advised to keep a keen out for other species that reside in the park such as wild buffalo, deer, birds, crocodiles, sloth bears, sambar and monkeys!

Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+