Sri Lanka is a melting pot of culture and tradition but if there is anything that us Sri Lankans are truly proud of, that would be the sheer number of places and attractions the country hides within its bosom. From vibrant wildlife sanctuaries to ancient ruins, here are the top picks for visitors to choose from.
The Dambulla Cave Temple
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the elaborate Dambulla Cave Temple (also known as the Golden Temple) will always remain as a reminder of a gloriously rich past for every Sri Lankan. A sacred space for Buddhists all over the world for more than 22 centuries, the temple consists of a complex of caves beautifully adorned with colorful Buddhist murals and some 157 statues of Lord Buddha and Bodhisatvas.
Perhaps one of the most wildlife intense National Parks anywhere in the world, the Yala Wildlife Park is a must-see for the animal lover. It is here that leopards roam free and elephants frolic about in the open and visitors can easily spot a number of rare and indigenous birds out in the wild in their own natural habitat.
Yala National Park, Hambantota, Sri Lanka, +94 77 046 6794
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, Sigiriya is an ancient fortress that was built over 1,500 years ago and still remains one of Sri Lanka’s proudest heritages. Awe-inspiring rock murals, a highly polished wall upon which inspired poets of the olden days have scribbled their thoughts upon witnessing the splendor of Sigiriya, a magnificent gateway flanked by giant lion paws, ancient irrigation technology that still functions water fountains in the palace complex’s gardens as well as the remains of a once stupendous castle complete with its own bathing pools, still stand as testament to the glorious days of the past.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sigiriya Road, Dambulla, Sri Lanka, +94 11 2 426900
The last kingdom of Sri Lanka, Kandy is where this story comes alive. With cool, soothing climes and mesmerizing vistas, Kandy is also home to the most venerated Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, Sri Dalada Maligawa.
There are a number of ancient yet beautifully elaborate temples to experience, including the Ambekka Temple, Lankathilaka and Gadoladeniya. Opt for an evening stroll along the Kandy Lake or explore the scenic tea estates located high up on the hills.
The Kalpitiya peninsula is one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets and one that is highly cherished by the locals. The glistening turquoise seas of this part of the world are also famous for one thing – dolphins.
As you boat along its waters, be prepared for hundreds of spinner dolphins frolicking along, occasionally shooting out of the water to perform an acrobatic turn or two. These friendly, adorable creatures are a sight not to be missed the next time you visit Sri Lanka.
The Ravana Falls
Located in the scenic Ella region of Sri Lanka, the Ravana falls is one of the widest waterfalls in the country. While its natural beauty and mysterious aura is enough to beguile anyone, the falls also have a reel of folklore and legends attached to it. It is often said that the Ravana Falls is part of the story of Ramayanaya and it is in this area that Ravana hid Sita and held her against her will.