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November, 2016 | Explore My Sri Lanka Skip to main content
Temple of Tooth

Sri Dalada Maligawa – Temple of the Tooth

The Temple of the Tooth Relic, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, is Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist shrine. It is believed to hold the sacred tooth of the Buddha, which was taken from his remains after his cremation in India and smuggled to Sri Lanka, where it eventually ended up in Kandy. There, a temple was built within the royal palace complex to keep it safe. Both Kandy and the temple (as it is in it) are now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The sacred tooth of the Buddhais is kept in the smallest of seven nested golden caskets shaped like a stupa or dagoba, that are kept in an inner shrine inside the temple.

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The sacred tooth relic used to leave the temple once a year, during Esala Perahera. It would then go on a 10-day parade with torches, dancers, drummers and elephants. It is now one of the better-known festivals in Asia, and it may be the largest Buddhist celebration in the world.

As many as 100 elephants, dressed in elaborate finery, make their way into town while torches and fire dancers fend off curses. Whip-cracking porters clear the way through the throngs of pilgrims, followed by musicians, jugglers, torch bearers, boy dancers and acrobats, and members of noble families in Ceylonese garb. On the last night, the procession moves from the city to the temple, led by elders in the costumes of the ancient kings of Kandy and lit by handheld candles. The procession flows into the temple compound to encircle the shrine, following the route of the sun in its course across the skies.

Attendance at the Esala Perahera numbers at about a million people. The festival brings today all ranks of Sri Lankan society in a vast throng of devotees and interested onlookers. Because of the national character of the shrine, many Tamil Hindus and mixed-blood Christians take part as an expression of their common cultural heritage. At the festival, the president and leaders of Sri Lanka continue the nationalist Buddhist tradition by taking part in a ceremony in which they dedicate their service to the people in the presence of the sacred relic.

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Things you should know when visiting Temple of the Tooth (dress code):

You should take your shoes off and leave them in the shoeroom (a.k.a. cloakroom for shoes).
Wear long loose trousers or a long skirt that covers your legs.
Make sure your shoulders and cleavage are covered.
It’s best not to wear black or other fully dark clothing.
Source: http://wonderfulwanderings.com/temple-of-the-tooth-relic-kandy-sri-lanka/, http://www.sacred-destinations.com/sri-lanka/kandy-temple-of-the-tooth

Sigiriya rock

Sigiriya – The Lion Rock

Deep in the middle of Sri Lanka, a massive column of rock juts out from the green tropical forest. It reaches 660 feet tall and features frescoes, graffiti, and landscaped gardens. The rock is known as Sigiriya and holds a special place in the island’s cultural history.

It was established as the stronghold of a rogue king over 1,500 years ago, and today the Sigiriya complex stands as one of the earliest preserved examples of ancient urban planning. Ultimately the rock was unable to save its king, but it succeeded in preserving ancient Sinhalese culture.


Kashyapa’s Reign

In 476 CE, King Dhatusena ruled over Sri Lanka. One of his illegitimate sons, Kashyapa, wanted the throne – but knew his full-blood brother Moggallana was next in line. Determined to stake his claim, Kashyapa schemed with the commander of the army to overthrow Dhatusena.

Lore says Kashyapa showed little mercy on his father, walling him up while still alive. But the message was clear, and it sent Moggallana fleeing to Southern India to escape a similar fate. With his dad and brother out of the picture, Kashyapa crowned himself king in 477 CE.

One of his first orders of business was to relocate the royal seat to Sigiriya from the traditional capital of Anuradhapura. It was ambitious and probably somewhat rooted in fear; King Kashyapa had killed the king and driven away the rightful heir to the throne.

In the interest of self-preservation, King Kashyapa immediately began work on his stone fortress, Sigiriya.


The Gardens

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One of the most breathtaking features of Sigiriya was the gardens, which consisted of three distinct components: The water gardens, the cave and boulder gardens, and the terraced gardens.


The Rock Palace

The crown jewel of Sigiriya today is the king’s palace complex at the summit of the rock.

Nearly a miniature city in its own right, it consists of a palace, fortified rock fortress, an organized system of cisterns, and various rock carvings and sculptures.

A massive rock wall protects Sigiriya from the east, although details are forthcoming as additional excavation of the eastern quarter is on-going and not yet complete.

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King Kashyapa was a very small part of history in Sri Lanka, but the permanence of his rock palace is a testament to the brilliance of early Sinhalese engineering and design. While the Dark Ages plunged Europe into a dearth of culture, Sri Lanka was flourishing.

Source: http://sometimes-interesting.com/2014/02/17/sigiriya-the-lion-rock-of-sri-lanka/


Negombo Attractions

Negombo Beach

The west coast of Sri Lanka, and draws tourists who stop over for a day on their way to or from the airport. Some quiet stretches of the beach are maintained by the tourist hotels, while others are always busy with fisherman and their equipment. Water-sports and diving are also extremely popular among visitors, with a few well preserved coral reefs and a 50 year old shipwreck (Kudapaduwa) that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish. There are also local handicraft sales on the beaches and the shops near the town.

Negombo Churches

Main attractions in Negombo are old church buildings and fisheries port. Due to its significant Catholic population, Negombo is dominated by shrines and picturesque churches. The biggest and impressive church built in 1874 is candy-colored St Mary’s, church which is famous for its amazing ceiling paintings.

Boating in the Muthurajawela Marsh

About 15km south of Negombo lies a large tract of land set aside partly for wildlife, partly for humans and industry. The marsh is in the part set aside for wildlife; it’s mostly a huge, shallow lake with inlets and islands. It links the river and the sea, making the water brackish and the birdlife abundant. Up the river a bit are mangrove forests, home to monkeys and estuary crocodiles. You can only get around by boat.

You can take a 2-3 hour wildlife-viewing boat tour (complete with animal spotter) from the Muthurajawela Visitor Centre, located down a stretch of Dutch Canal. Their boats carry about 12 people, and have louder-than-optimal motors. Also at the centre is a tiny “museum,” and an interesting, if unfocused, video introduction to the area. I went with a guide, which may have increased the cost (Rs2000). The admission price goes to supporting the conservation efforts.

Negombo Fort

The Portuguese fort that stood where the current Negombo Fort is situated was mostly destroyed by cannon during the Dutch siege in 1644. The Dutch fort was built on its ruins, not on the usual square pattern, but on a pentagonal one, though it had only four bulwarks. The fifth one was never built. The fort was located on a narrow strip of land between a lagoon and an inlet of the sea.

Sources :https://www.virtualtourist.com/1419883-1756065/Negombo-Tips/boating-in-the-muthurajawela-marsh , http://amazinglanka.com/wp/negombo/ , http://www.srilankatravelogue.com/negombo-churches/, http://amazinglanka.com/wp/negombo-fort

Whale watching kalpitiya

Whale watching in Kalpitiya

Kalpitiya is one of Sri Lanka’s top whale watching hotspots, perfect for breathtaking views of the enigmatic creatures. Getting to see the largest animal on earth up close and personal, is a once in a lifetime, awe-inspiring opportunity. Seeing whales in their natural habitat are something only a few of us can dream of, and Kalpitiya affords you this opportunity to view whales just a short distance from the island’s shore. Kalpitiya is popular for its presence of a variety of whales, including Sperm Whales and Blue Whales, and a visit here is imperative as it is a world class attraction of marine life.

What types of whales can I see in Kalpitiya?

Boat trips regularly take off Kalpitiya Peninsula to catch sights of a variety of whales. The most common whales to be found here are Sperm Whales, whilst the Blue Whale, Minke, Melon-Headed and Dwarf Sperm whales can also be spotted surfacing from time to time. Even Orcas have been sighted just outside Kandakuliya waters!

Sperm Whales: The most common whale spotted in Kalpitiya, the Sperm Whale is the largest toothed whale in the world, and the second largest of the whale species in general. They are often seen travelling in large groups, but this is an unusual occurrence for onlookers at Kalpitiya. The average size of mature male Sperm Whales is 16 meters, but some may reach over 20 meters, and its head makes up one-third of its length.

Blue Whales: Look out for Blue Whales – the largest animal in the world, and the heaviest too – on your whale watching expedition in Kalpitiya. Seeing these long, slender marvels, that are known to be up to 30 meters in length, swimming through the water is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that will be remembered for years to come.

Minke whales: Minke whales, are not as large as the Sperm and Blue whales, but are just as exciting to see in Kalpitiya. They range from 7 – 10 meters in length and are black/grey/purple in color. They breathe three to five times at short intervals before deep diving for longer intervals.

Melon-Headed whale: Also known as the many-toothed blackfish and electra dolphin, the melon-headed whale is commonly found in tropical waters. Its body is shaped like a torpedo, with a head rounded similar to a melon, hence its name. This whale can grow up to 3 meters in length and is a fast swimmer.

Dwarf Sperm: This is the smallest of the whale species and can occasionally be seen at Kalpitiya. It can grow up to 2.7 meters in length, and makes slow, deliberate movements. It has a mainly bluish grey body with a large dorsal fin.


Source: https://www.dolphinbeach.lk/activities/whale-watching-in-sri-lanka/



Bird Watching in Negombo

Founded by the Moors and predominantly a Catholic territory, Negombo is a picturesque small town located to the north of Colombo in Sri Lanka. The town features a lush green natural surrounding and many swampy areas. Owing to this, you will get to see some exotic and rare birds in and around Negombo. Bird Watching in Negombo is one of the popular activities in Negombo.

The ecological balance is well-maintained in Negombo. The unperturbed natural atmosphere and the serene environment add more to the effect. All these factors together combine to create a wonderful and suitable habitat for a whole range of rare species of birds. Bird Watching in Negombo states that there are varieties of innumerable local birds as well as migrated birds from the colder regions.

The wetland areas and the marshlands where you will see the mangroves are the home grounds of a large number of native bird species. Bird Watching in Negombo lets you know that some of the hotels and resorts arrange for exquisite bird watching by boat along the river side. You will notice a considerable number of bright and colorful, rare and unknown birds inhabiting the area. In some cases, an interpreter is provided in order to assist you, and, to know more and better about the natural life of Negombo.

Bird Watching in Negombo tells you that the Muthurajawela Marsh in Negombo is the perfect place for bird watching. It is an exclusive tropical wetland. Some of the interesting bird species include oreal and kingfisher. Other major birds comprise of Purple Heron, Egrets, Moorhen, Purple Coot, Caucal, Grebe and Shikra. Other rare species feature Brahming Kite and Serpent Eagle. You will be surely enthralled by the captivating beauty of some of the birds. Sailing along the river or just relaxing on the boat amidst a cool and calm nature accompanied only by the melodious note of the screeching of the birds, is an experience in itself !


Source: http://www.negombo-srilankahotels.com/travel-guides/Negombo_Activities/Bird_Watching_in_Negombo.htm

Water sports in Negombo

Water Sports in Negombo

The inland waters are quite calm and are apt for surfing and other activities. Owing to Negombo’s tropical climate, the waters are warm and are suitable for water sports. This permits you to go surfing without any extra protection like the use of wetsuits, hoods, gloves and boots. Surfing in Negombo states that you can hire gears and boards for surfing. But it is highly recommended that before going surfing, you must seek the local people’s advice about the tides and strong undercurrents.

Surfing in Negombo tells you that Mt. Lavinia located few kilometers from Negombo and the entire Southern Resort area are appropriate for proper surfing. Especially during the months from May to October, these places provide fascinating surfing opportunities. It was at this time, the winds help in bringing the waves for surfing and thus enable an easy and smooth surfing.

The popular types of Surfing in Negombo includes kite surfing and wind surfing. Other famous places in Sri Lanka which are famous for surfing are Hikkaduwa and Arugam Bay. Apart from surfing, few other types of water sports are awaiting you in Negombo. Some of the most famous and interesting ones are diving, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing and deep-sea fishing.

If you are keen on adventure sports and water-related activities, Negombo is the perfect choice. However, excluding Surfing in Negombo and the water sports, you can also enjoy a fabulous bird-watching experience and a relaxing sunbathing on the beach itself. The lush green nature, the long stretch of beach, and the stunning views offered by the blue expanse of the ocean are other chief attractions in Negombo.


Wilpattu national park

Wilpattu is situated in the northwest of the island, close to Puttalam, Kalpitiya and Anuradhapura. It is one of Sri Lanka’s largest and oldest parks and arguably one of the most spectacular. Dense scrub jungle and dry zone forest opens onto villus, small lakes, surrounded by grassy plains. The park also borders the coast where you can see the remains of Queen Kuweni’s palace, which is thought to date from ancient times.

The real advantage of doing safaris here is that it is not commercial like Yala, and therefore there will be times when there are only a handful of other jeeps in the park. You may not even see anyone else on your trip, which really adds to the authenticity of the experience.

The highlights of a Wilpattu safari are seeing leopards and sloth bears. However, there is also a wealth of other wildlife to spot including: Asian elephants, spotted deer, barking deer, sambar, wild boar, Asiatic buffalo and mugger crocodiles.  Endemic birds include the Ceylon junglefowl, brown-capped babbler, Ceylon woodshrike and black-capped bulbul in riverine habitats. Butterflies recorded include the great eggfly, great orange tip, glad-eye bushbrown, blue mormon, common mormon, common rose and crimson rose.

February to August is the best time to visit when the weather is good and the skies are clear. June/July is bear season because pallu and weera trees are in fruit and these are a sloth bear’s favorite snack.

Source reading:  http://www.srilankainstyle.com/locations/wilpattu-national-park/


Yala National Park

Ruhuna National park or more affectionately known as Yala, has been the most celebrated wildlife park in Sri Lanka for over a century. It is located in a tract of land covering approximately 1260 km2, between Kumbukkan River & Menik River, and shares its borders with Yala strict nature reserve, Kumana, Kataragama, Katagamuwa and Nimalawa sanctuaries.

Yala is an ideal place to spot the “big four” of Sri Lankan wildlife, the elephants, the sloth bear, the illusive leopard and the wild buffalo, the unsung denizen of the park, if nothing else dangerous to the extreme. The roaming elephant herds can be easily seen during dry spells at the small scale reservoirs like Butuwe (derived from the word “Wana Butewa”) and Mahaseelawa while Uraniya is best known for its aquatic avifauna, wild buffalo, mugger or mash crocodile & salt water crocodiles. The black sloth bear is more difficult to spot as it’s more of a solitary animal of nocturnal habits and sightings tend to be a seasonal occurrence.

The climate is semi-arid and dry with scrub jungle unique to this area along with rocky outcrops like kotigala, Jamburagala & Patalungala (Pattangala) strewn about the park, while several fresh and brackish water lagoons dot the park. The ideal time to explore this vast nature reserve would be during the break of dawn and the fall of dusk.

Source reading:  http://www.yalasafariholidays.com/visiting_yala_national_park.html

hikkaduwa beach

Hikkaduwa Beach

Hikkaduwa Beach is well-known for its uniformity with the sunny-side of life. Be it sunbathing, sea-boat rides, scuba diving and snorkeling by the reef or even surfing, the coastal waters of Hikkaduwa is just the place to find the picture perfect scene for sea, sun, sand and much fun.

Renting or buying almost any form of swim gear is easy here, with the Hikkaduwa town at a mere arm’s length from the beach. Shops here have been catering to tourists for many years and are amply seasoned in knowing their wants and needs, away from home. From scrumptiously affordable seafood restaurants to garments of any sort, the Hikkaduwa beach has a long running ‘thumbs up’ reputation by its countless visitors.

Unlike in the past, when it took several hours to get here, Hikkaduwa beach can be reached in under  an hour and half on the Southern Expressway, from Colombo, and many other coastal and non-coastal cities alike.

Peak visiting months include November and April, however January to March is also recommended.

Source reading: http://www.timeout.com/sri-lanka/travel/hikkaduwa-beach


Unawatuna Beach

Unawatuna beach draws both local and foreign visitors who have come to love this paradise isle profoundly, as well as the newbies. Unawatuna brings to life incalculable resorts, hotels, restaurants and small kiosks selling various goodies from seafood to clothing.

Although most Galle town beaches on the one hand lure visitors through its irresistible magnetism of  sun, sea, sand and relaxation, Unawatuna beach is all those and also an ideal place to take a dip in the ocean or indulge in some waters sports with family.

Take the Southern Expressway from Colombo for a quick beach getaway or even a spot of sea turtle watching. For beautiful weather and calmer seas visit in November or April.

The beautiful bay of Unawatuna was formerly renowned worldwide for its beach but erosion has shrunk it, although its popularity for after-beach action remains undiminished.

Source reading:  Unawatuna beach (http://www.timeout.com/sri-lanka/travel/unawatuna-beach )