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Other Cities of Interest

Colombo
Is the largest city and former administrative capital of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the present administrative capital of the country. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins. The Colombo Metropolitan Region, is defined by the districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara.

The name "Colombo", first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505, is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name Kolon thota, meaning "port on the river Kelani". It has also been suggested that the name may have derived from the Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means "Harbour with leafy mango trees".

Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. However it was only made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815 and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948. In 1978, when administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.

Like many cities, Colombo's urban area extends well beyond the boundaries of a single local authority, encompassing other Municipal and Urban Councils. The main city is home to a majority of the Sri Lanka's corporate offices, restaurants and entertainment venues. Famous landmarks in Colombo include the Galle Face Green, the Viharamahadevi Park and places of attraction and interest are the Colombo National Museum and the Natural History Museum, Gangaramaya temple, Kelaniya temple, Old Dutch church, Dutch period museum, Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) and it’s museum, Old parliament complex, Art galleries, the zoological garden and the buzzing bazzar area of Pettah



Haputale
Situated 193 km from Colombo on the Colombo - Kandy - Nanu Oya (Close to Nuwara Eliya ) - Badulla road & railway line sits Haputale at an elevation of 1579 m (4736 ft). This is one of the most spectacularly situated of all Sri Lankan towns. It is perched on a ridge top at the southern edge of the hill country with bird's eye views in both directions. To the south is the plains & coast. To the north is across the jagged lines of hills which recede into the distance towards the hill country. Arrival into the town by car, you will find that the sudden descent is startling. You would feel like the car is about to go airborne over the cliff as the sharp bend creates an optical illusion.

Haputale Gap is one of the most spectacular views in the country and on a bright and cloudless day, one could see the ocean as a bright blue line in the distance, disclosing the stabbing rays of the little lighthouse of Hambantota, far south.The principal pleasure of a stay in Haputale is the chance to get out & walk in the surrounding hills-most notably up to (or down from) the magnificent viewpoint at Lipton's Seat. Specific sights around town include the tea factory at Dambatenne, the evocative old county mansion of Addhisham a Benedictine monastery and former home of Sir Thomas Villiers designed in the Tudor style, on the lines of Leeds Castle in Kent, The garden is home to blue magpies, paradise flycatchers, green barbets, brilliant orange plumaged hornbills, golden orioles & a host of other bird life. St. Andrew's, neo-Gothic Church nineteenth century tea planters, along with the grave of Reverend Walter Stanley Senior (1876-1938), author of the once-famous “Ode to Lanka”, Victorian Ceylon's great contribution to world literature.& the impressive Diyaluma Falls.




Kataragama
Kataragama is a place of great religious and cultural interest, where devotees of the country’s three major religions meet – Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. People from different religions come here to worship in their own way, either in the ancient shrines themselves or in their own places of worship, For the Hindus
Katirkamam as Hindu’s call this place, is revered as a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site, famous for its fire walkers and water cutting ceremonies during the predominantly Hindu Festival in July and August. To participate in the festival, pilgrims walk from as far as the Jaffna peninsula in the north of Sri Lanka in the two-month “pada yatra” or foot pilgrimage. Although Katirkamam is normally a quiet and serene place, during the festival it is a place where devotees practice extreme acts of mortification of the flesh and infliction of physical pain.

Buddhists believe Kataragama is one of the 16 principal places of Buddhist pilgrimage in Sri Lanka. Buddha is said to have visited Kataragama and meditated there to sanctify the place. King Mahasena met the Lord Buddha there and listened to Buddha’s discourse. As a token of gratitude the Dagoba was built on the exact spot where Buddha sat.

The sanctity attached to the place by local Muslims revolves around a mysterious being called al-Khidr or 'The Green One'. Muslim commentators are not agreed on exactly who he was. Some say he is a prophet while others say he is a “wali” meaning one who is close to God, in other words, a saint. His presence is believed to pervade the sanctuary with which he is associated, namely, the Khalir Makam in the Muslim quarter of Kataragama not far from the Menik Ganga (the river). Indeed, there are those who believe that it was this Khidr who gave his name to Kataragama.

without a trace of rivalry or animosity. It is truly a unique place in the world today. Apart from the festival time, Kataragama is busiest with pilgrims at weekends and on full moon poya days

Nuwara Eliya
The town was founded by Samuel Baker as a hill retreat for the British during the colonial era, where typical English pastimes including fox hunting, polo and cricket were played. Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period, and even new hotels are often built and furnished in the colonial style. Due to the high altitude, Nuwara Eliya has a much cooler climate than the lowlands of Sri Lanka, with annual temperatures running at 16 °C. and sometimes dropping to as low as 3°C. In the winter months it is quite cold at night, and there can even be frost, but there has been no record of snow, although it rapidly warms up as the tropical sun climbs higher during the day. The town really comes alive during the month of April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year, and it becomes quite difficult to find accommodation if not booked well in advance as the Sri Lankan holiday makers make way to this region during this period. The festive season starts on April 1st annually in a ceremonial manner. The ceremony consists mainly of a band show in which all the local school bands participate. Main attractions during April season include the numerous motor racing and horse racing events. and the flower show at the end of the month. The town's attractions include the golf course, trout streams, Victoria Park, and boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. Victoria Park is an attractive and well-used oasis. It is popular with birdwatchers

The town is a base for visits to Horton Plains National Park. This is a key wildlife area of open grassy woodland. Species found here include the Leopard, Sambar, and the endemic Purple-faced Langur. Endemic highland birds include the Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye, and Yellow-eared Bulbul. The plains also has a well-visited tourist attraction at World's End, a sheer precipice with a 1050 m drop. The return walk passes the scenic Baker Falls. Early morning visits are best, both to see the wildlife, and to view World's End before mists close in during the later part of the morning.

One of the distinctive features of Nuwara Eliya's countryside is the widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with temperate Europe. This town also known as "Little England" due to it’s typical charecteristics is covered with terraces growing potatoes, carrots, leeks, and roses, interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes. The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world's finest Orange Pekoe tea, and several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours and the opportunity to sample or purchase their products.





Ratnapura
Ratnapura (City of Gems) is the name of the provincial capital of Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka and the Ratnapura District in which the town is situated, some101 km south east of Colombo. The name is derived from the Sinhala word "ratna" meaning gems and "pura" meaning city as it is the centre of a long-established industry of precious stone mining including rubies, sapphires, and other precious and semi precious stones. Legendry gems like the Blue sapphire called ‘Blue Belle’ which adorns the Royal British Crown and the Star sapphire inappropriately named ‘Star of India’ which is on display at The Museum of Natural History in New York have been excavated from Sri Lankan Gem mines. Gem pits are a common site in the surrounding area. Most of the gem businessmen operate from Ratnapura. There are also a few numbers of foreign gem traders too. Traders from suburbs and other towns gather daily in the town centre to sell or buy gemstones. Large-scale merchants collect gemstones from locals and sell them in the International markets. There is also a Gem Museum where one can get familiarized with the gem cutting process etc. Apart from gem mining, the town is known for rice and fruit cultivations. Large plantations of tea and rubber surround the town. Tea grown in this region is called low-country tea. There are quite a few places of worship in this area but apart from Adams Peak the most important to Buddhist devotees would be the Maha Saman Devala This is a shrine dedicated to the god Saman, a deity considered to be the guardian of Ratnapura. History has it that when the Portuguese captured Ratnapura, the ancient shrine that stood at this location was destroyed and a Portuguese church was constructed on top of it. Subsequently when the Kandyan kings recaptured Ratnapura, the Portuguese church was destroyed and the shrine was rebuilt.




Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a district, a bay and a port city on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka about 185 km northeast of Kandy. The town is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. It is one of the main centers of Tamil speaking culture on the island. It has been a sea port that has played a major role in maritime and International trading history of Sri Lanka.

The Bay of Trincomalee's harbour is renowned for its large size and security and is a natural deep-water harbour. Trinco, as it is commonly called, has been a sea port since the days of the ancient Sri Lankan Kings and has attracted sea farers like Marco Polo, Ptolemy and Sea Traders from China and East Asia since ancient times and was the first land to be captured by the British who fought and defeated the Dutch. During the second world war the harbour was used as a base for the combined East Asian Fleet of the Allied forces. Unlike every other in the Indian Sea, it is accessible to all types of craft in all weathers and was described by Admiral Lord Nelson as the finest harbour in the world when he visited it aboard HMS Seashore in the year1770. Today during the months of April to November the beaches particularly Nilaveli 6km further north of Trinco is popularly used for surfing, scuba diving. Fishing and Whale watching is also popular in Trinco. The town also has the largest Dutch fort in Sri Lanka. And is home to major Sri Lankan Naval bases and a Sri Lanka Air Force base. Apart from the harbour Trincomalee’s next focal point is Fort Frederick, named after Fredrick the great. British fortifications can still be found here.

The seven hot springs of Kanniya located approximately 11km west of Trincomalee is also a popular attraction. A high wall bounds the rectangular enclosure which includes all seven springs. Each is in turn enclosed by a dwarf wall to form a well. The water is warm, the temperature of each spring being slightly different. The use of the springs for bathing is controlled by the neighbouring Mari Amman Kovil, who holds the lease of the wells, it is scared to Hindus who believe them to be a creation of God Vishnu.

Other attractions in the area is the Thirukoneswaram Kovil which stands on the top most pinnacle of the Swamy Rock which is a high venerated Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.A visit to the nearby Pigeon Island by boat is also a common interest among visitors.




 


   
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