For such a tiny island Sri Lanka has very different landscapes and scenery to experience, depending on which part of the island you visit. From the very green misty up country area that harks back to our colonial heritage, to the soft, warm beaches that are perfect for lazing on; your senses will be definitely treated with beauty. Sit on the beach and watch the sun rise in all its glory and then be cooled by the gentle evening breeze as the sun sets in a medley of russet hues. Walk past green paddy fields or sit by a murmuring stream and just enjoy the moment, the sense of being alive.
To give your body and mind a gentle stimulation Sri Lanka is ideal, as you will instantly feel alive as the scenic beauty of the country encompasses you. Come visit Sri Lanka, the wonder of Asia.
While the winds of change blow softly but surely through the legendary rolling hills of Sri Lanka's tea estates, the beautiful scenery that captivated Sir Thomas Lipton - who fell in love with the spectacular scenery around Dambatenne - still remains. From the highest spot in the region - a point known today as Lipton's Seat - he would gaze over one of the most dramatic regions of the country, the seemingly endless hills and tumbling waterfalls giving way almost abruptly to the southern plains, which stretch as far as the eye can see, all the way to the coast.
Centuries later, the enchantment of the tea country, its mystique and romance lives on. Hundreds of miles of green velvet smother the mountainside, the soft mist settles to cloak the surroundings in romance and mystery and the quaint, little cottages beckon you with the tantalizing aromas of freshly brewed Ceylon tea.
Laced curtains of water cascade down steep precipices, throwing a fine mist of water to the surrounding; the incessant crash of water on the rock below is a symphony that is repeated from time immemorial. The central highlands of Sri Lanka are home to 350 waterfalls with Bambarakanda Falls plummeting a height of 263 meters (83 feet) to rank as Sri Lanka's tallest fall.
The mist shrouded beauty and grandeur of Sri Lankan waterfalls also has interesting legends and folklore attached to it.
Apart from Bambarakanda, some of the main waterfalls are:
One of Sri Lanka's most beautiful waterfalls, Dunhinda cascades from a height of 210 feet and gets its name from the smoky spray that it creates at the bottom of the fall.
This breathtaking rush of water is the 3rd highest waterfall in the island.
Deriving its name from the famous king 'Raavana' of the Indian epic " the Raamayana", Raavana falls is a magical sight, with the rush of water over numerous steps adding to its ethereal beauty.
Situated in close proximity to Colombo, the Bopath falls resembles the leaf of a sacred Bo tree, hence the name.
A famous botanist once declared that Sri Lanka is simply one big botanical garden, nurtured by Nature itself. Yet when the British colonials arrived in Sri Lanka in the 19th century, they were determined to establish more gardens within this garden - man-made botanical gardens cloned from the mother Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in England.
In 1821 on the site of a pleasure garden first created in about 1371 for the King of Kandy. The British established the gracious Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya. Another garden was set up in the hill country, established in 1861 at Hakgala south of Nuwara Eliya. And in 1876, yet another garden was established, this time in the lowlands at Henarathgoda, the Gampaha Botanic Gardens, designated for the trial planting of the country's first Rubber trees. Other private gardens such as the famous Lunuganga and "Brief", designed by world-renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa and his brother landscape artist Bevis Bawa, bring to life the paradisiacal charm that is refreshingly Sri Lanka's.
Sri Lanka's botanical gardens are a showcase of the country's botanical treasures and do botanical gems deserve the same admiration and wonder as the country's famed sapphires and emeralds.
The Haggala gardens, about 27 hectares (67 acres) just 10 kilometers outside Nuwara Eliya, are quite different. They are best known for their gorgeous display of roses and tree ferns, which grow so well in this chilly zone 1,680 meters up (5,511 feet) and shadowed by the 457-metre tall (1,500-foot) Haggala peak. Bordering on closed nature reserve land, Haggala is also a good place to spot iconic wildlife like the Bear Monkey and the Blue Magpie.
Haggala was the site where tea was first cultivated in Sri Lanka. The Garden's plantation of roses, shrubs, fern, camphor, eucalyptus and montane woodlands make it one of the world's most beautiful naturally landscaped gardens. The best time to visit would be from mid March to end April when the gardens put up its' best display of vibrant annual flowers, roses and orchids.
As Sri Lanka's largest garden - an elegant and spacious 147-acres (60-hectares) - plenty of time is needed to stroll Peradeniya's imposing Avenue of Royal Palms.
There are some 4,000 different species of plants at Peradeniya Gardens. The 10,000 or so trees, which are the stars, are mature, lofty giants, many of them tropical timber trees. Highlights of the collection include the Giant Bamboo of Burma, capable of growing to 40 meters' height (130 feet), with a 25-centimetre (10-inch) stem diameter. And it can grow by a rapid 30 centimeters a day (12 inches).
Absolutely sensational is the century-old giant Javan fig tree, its tentacle-like roots spread across the enormous area of about 1,800 square meters (19,375 square feet), a massive central trunk beneath the tree's vast canopy 'umbrella'.
The Cannonball tree is also intriguing, with its cannonball-like fruit hanging off the trunk and large open, waxy pink-white flowers. So is the Double Coconut Palm, one of 200 types of palms displayed at Peradeniya - originating from the Seychelles, this tree produces the largest seed known. Its fruits take five years to mature.
The gardens showcase all of Sri Lanka's flora and representative species from around the tropical world. Luminaries as varied as Queen Elizabeth II, Marshal Tito and Yuri Gugarin have planted trees to mark their visits to the garden.
At Gampaha, just 27 kilometers (17 miles) inland and northeast of Colombo, the lowland Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens fondly display the ruins of Sri Lanka's first rubber tree, planted in 1876. The country's rubber industry was the fruit of seeds originally smuggled out of the tree's native Brazil, in bales of cotton on a dugout boat running the rivers, it is said. Although the tree was reduced to a mere ring of wood on the ground by a huge storm, there is something quite moving about its continued presence in these historic gardens.
The Gampaha gardens also showcase about 1,500 types of other plants. Here is the place to view the Kithul palm that supplies Sri Lanka's rich brown raw sugar, jaggery, and alcoholic toddy. Tall Mahogany and Satinwood trees abound, as well as Figs and even some Eucalypts. The orchid house is also worth a visit to marvel at the variety of colors and forms that these exquisite flowers can take, from pink to blue, brown and green.
Lunuganga and "Brief"
The seductive creations of the internationally renowned Bawa brothers of Sri Lanka, architect Geoffrey (at Lunuganga, Bentota, 60 kilometers/37 miles south of Colombo), and landscape artist Bevis (at Brief, close to Kalawila village and not far from Lunuganga) are gardens that are lush and evocative of the Garden of Eden.
Bevis Bawa crafted Brief in the 1920s from a patch of rubber plantation. It is a romantic, European-style garden despite the abundance of native tropical Sri Lankan vegetation. Full of follies, ponds and pavilions, Brief is an alluring oasis of tranquility. Every corner you turn reveals unsuspected beauty. Sunbirds flit among the lovingly arranged shrubs, formal lawns and mysterious thickets of bamboo. This is a garden of great charm.
Tanks and waterways
Suddenly, a Brahminy Kite dives and emerges with a fish clamped firmly in its talons, water dripping like a stream of diamonds as it soars upward. Thousands of other birds herons, cormorants and egrets await their turn, floating or stalking the waters of this ancient man-made reservoir known as the Sea of Parakrama.
As long as 2,300 years ago, Sri Lanka began developing a highly sophisticated system of hydraulic engineering, equal to that of ancient Egypt and Persia. The only other Asian civilization to achieve feats of irrigation anywhere near comparable was Angkor, in Cambodia but that was not until more than a thousand years later.
Today, more than 25,000 reservoirs are dotted about the country, from small reservoirs not much bigger than a pond to huge lakes resembling inland seas.
Sri Lanka's thousands of reservoirs or tanks, as they are locally known are a source of life not only for birds, fish and wildlife, but for the farmers who depend on them during the dry months in the country's arid north-central zone.
Some of the main reservoirs in Sri Lanka are Kala wewa, Parakrama Samudraya or the Sea of Parakrama, Minneriya wewa, Kantale wewa, Yoda wewa and Tissa wewa.