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Although people may have lived in this area since as early as the 10th century BC, Anuradhapura became a great city after the arrival of a cutting from the Bodhi Tree ('tree of enlightenment'), the Buddha's fig tree, in the 3rd century BC. The sacred branch was brought to Sri Lanka by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns.Anuradhapura went on to become a Ceylonese political and religious capital (4th century BC) that flourished for 1,300 years. In its prime, Anuradhapura ranked alongside Nineveh and Babylon in its colossal proportions—its four walls, each 16 miles (26 km) long, enclosing an area of 256 square miles (663 km²)—in the number of its inhabitants, and the splendour of its shrines and public buildings. The city also had some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world. Most of the great reservoir tanks still survive today, and some many be the oldest surviving reservoirs in the world.After an invasion in 993 AD, Anuradhapura was permanently abandoned. For centuries, the site lay hidden in the jungle. Rediscovered by the British in the 19th century, Anuradhapura became a Buddhist pilgrimage site once again.The revival of the city of Anuradhapura began in earnest in the 1870s. The modern city (population 40,000) is a major road junction of northern Sri Lanka and lies along a railway line. The headquarters of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon is in Anuradhapura.

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The island of Sri Lanka was first infiltrated by Sinhalese people in the 5th or 6th century BC and the first settlers most likely originated from nearby India, replacing the original inhabitants, the Veddahs or Wanniyala-aetto.Colombo itself began as a small port town in the 5th century before becoming one of the capitals of the Sinhalese kingdom of Anuradhapura, which was established in the 4th century BC. Arab traders graced the shores of Colombo in the 8th century, evidence of which is still present today, until the 10th century, at which time attacks from southern India became common and later there were attacks by Chinese and Malayans. Invasions continued until the Portuguese arrived in 1505, colonising the entire costal belt and monopolising trade. Attempts to enlisted Dutch help to expel the Portuguese, merely succeeded in replacing the Portuguese leaders with Dutch ones, who then continued to rule for 140 years.

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Dambulla is sited on a gigantic rock which towers more than 160m above the surrounding land. The Rock is more the 1.5km around its base and summit is at 550km. The caves were the refuge of King Walagamba (Vattagamini Abhaya) When he was exile for 14 years. When he return to the throne at Anuradapura in the 1st century BC, he had magnificent rock temple built at Dabulla. The site has being repaired and repainted several times in the 11th, 12th and 18th centuries. Dambulla was designated a World Heritage site in 1991. The caves has a mixture of religious and secular painting and sculpture. There are several reclining Buddha's, including the 15m long sculpture of the dying Buddha in Cave 1. the frescoes on the walls and ceiling from the 15th-18th centuries; the ceiling frescoes show scenes from the Buddha's life and Sinhalese history. Cave 2 is the largest and most impressive, containing over 150 statues, illustrating the Mahayana influences on Buddhism at the time through introducing Hindu deities such a s Vishnu and Ganesh.
A new large white Buddha (similar to the ones in Kandy and Mihintale) is planned for Dambulla. There is little evidence of monks who are housed in monasteries in the valley below where there is a monks' school.

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he ancient port city of Galle (pronounced much like hall and mall) is located in the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. Sri Lanka, which some historians call "India's Teardrop" because of its odd pear shape and its proximity to the mainland of India, is an island republic in the Indian Ocean. It measures 270 miles from its northern-most point to its southern-most point and 140 miles from east to west at its widest part. The capital city of Sri Lanka, which is also its largest, is Colombo.In the 6th century, Sri Lanka was occupied by the Sinhalese people from India but they were eventually taken over by the Tamils, also from India, in the 13th century. Indian domination of Sri Lanka ended in the 16th century with the arrival of the Portuguese which marked the beginning of the European colonization of the island.The city of Galle is some 115 kms south of Colombo and 18 kms south of Hikkaduwa, a popular beach resort also located in Sri Lanka. The city, which was formerly named Gimhathiththa, was said to have been given its name by the Portuguese when a cock (gallus in Portuguese) started crowing upon their arrival on the island. Most believe though that Galle's name is derived from gala, the Sinhala term for rock since the Galle harbor is strewn with rocks both above and below the waters.

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Most inhabitants of Hambantota are of the minority Malay ethnic group that follow Islam.There is also a substantial population of Sinhalese Buddhists in the area.
Hambantota is famous for its salt flats and intensely hot arid zone climate. With sweeping sandy beaches on the side, it is a convenient base for exploring the nearby Bundala National Park, Yala National Park and the temples at Kataragama. Around 1801-03, the British built a Martello Tower on the tip of the rocky headland alongside the lighthouse overlooking the sea at Hambantota. The builder was a Captain Goper of the Engineers, who built the tower on the site of an earlier Dutch earthen fort. The tower was restored in 1999 and in the past formed part of an office of the Hambantota Kachcheri where the Land Registry branch was housed. Today it houses a Fisheries Museum.


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One of Sri Lanka’s beautiful south coast towns, Hikkaduwa is among traveller’s first choices when it comes to beachside destinations on the island. World renowned for its unspoilt beach and coral sanctuary, this stunning coastal town is about 20 kilometres North West of Galle.The name Hikkaduwa is believed to have come from the two words ‘Ship Kaduwa’. Ship means the shorter version of Shilpaya which refers to knowledge in Sinhalese; and kaduwa means sword. So it is believed that the meaning behind the name Hikkaduwa is ‘sword of knowledge’.
Apart from the stunning beach, Hikkaduwa also boasts of some of the country’s most important archaeological sites. There are numerous temples, monuments and statues in the area. Most historical sites and monuments found in this coastal town are related to Buddhism which is the religion practised by the majority of the country. Some of these historical sites dates back to a few hundred years and some are as old as several thousand years.
It is believed that Hikkaduwa was a tourist’s favourite since olden days. J. W. Bennett once described in 1843 that it “is most pleasantly situated, and a great resort of picnic parties from Galle”.
This amazing beach side destination also has a long tradition in the manufacturing of lace and drum frames. It also has an extensive history in cultivating coconuts, cinnamon and rice.

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Jaffna District, the northernmost region of the Island of Sri Lanka, is one of the oldest habitation sites in Lower South Asia, populated by Tamil speaking people. Jaffna is situated within ten degrees of latitude to the north of the equator. It is in close proximity to the sub-continent of India and separated from it by the Palk Strait and the Bay of Bengal.The peninsula is actually almost an island; only the narrow causeway known as Elephant Pass - for once elephants did wade across the shallow lagoon here connects Jaffna with the rest of Sri Lanka. Jaffna is low lying; much of it covered by shallow lagoons, and has a number of interesting islands dotted offshore. In all it covers 2560 square km (999 square miles). With just under 900,000 inhabitants, the district of Jaffna is one of the most densely populated areas of Sri Lanka, second only to Greater Colombo.Most of the area is dry and sandy, and the most common tree is the palmyra palm with its elegant fan-like fronds. Locals here tap it for toddy, the sap from its cut flowers; like the sap of the coconut or kittul palms, this liquid can be distilled to make arrack or processed into jiggery, palm sugar. The leaves of the fan palm may be skillfully folded to make a beaker for toddy, but you more often see them serving as decorative fences around almost all the settlements.The flat Jaffna Peninsula is made of limestone, unlike most other parts of Sri Lanka. The porous stone absorbs the rain very quickly and conveys it to the water table. This forms a specifically lighter layer, "swimming," as it were, on the salt water of the Indian Ocean that permeates the rock on all sides up to sea level. Open tanks are not practicable here, and fresh water has to be obtained from wells.Jaffna has it all, friendly people, a rich culture, salubrious climate and a picturesque environment go to make it a veritable traveler's paradise. Now that the guns have fallen silent and peace is in sight, domestic tourism in this long forgotten northern retreat is gradually catching on. After almost 20 years, travelers now can reach Jaffna either by land or air. The flight, from Colombo to Jaffna, is just under one hour and is quite enjoyable as the plane does not travel at too high an altitude.

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History of Kalutara.

Holidays in Kalutara offer laid back relaxation and a generous helping of authentic Sri Lankan culture, not to mention a dash of old colonial charm. This is an up-and-coming resort with a wonderful, palm fringed beach, although the nightlife remains pretty low key, so you won't get dancing 'til dawn. What you will get is plenty of beautiful, tropical scenery and several interesting sights, like the world's only hollow Buddhist shrine and an elegant plantation mansion, rather grandly named Richmond Castle.
If you're looking for cheap holidays to Kalutara, you may be lucky. But the hotels are mostly luxury, resort-style properties, so it's not the kind of place that caters much for those on a very tight budget. Typical are the Kani Lanka Resort and the Royal Palms Beach Resort, both of which have superb facilities, including health spas. As for all inclusive holidays to Kalutara, there's the Ramada Resort, where you can top up your tan, play a couple of sets of tennis, have a work out, revitalise with a massage and round off the day with a slap-up meal in one of the hotel's two fine restaurants.Tell people you're going to travel to Kalutara and, if they know Sri Lanka, they might mention the resort's main claim to fame – the mangosteen. A slice of this luscious purple fruit with juicy white flesh is not to be missed, particularly if it's washed down with a glass of arrack, the local fire water made from sweet, milky coconut blossom.

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Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka is a major tourist destination. ( 115kM from Colombo at 465 meters above sea level). Famous for the Temple of the Tooth and many other temples the city could be called the cultural capital of the island.
Kandy Perahera, the pageant of the temple of tooth where Buddha's tooth is kept is held either in July or August each year to parade the golden caskets is a must see itenary if one is visiting Sri Lanka during these months. The final night procession is the most spectacular event of the country. More than 50 elephants parade the city accompanied by the drummers, dancers and chieftains.

he city established in the 15th century was the last royal capital where 2500 years of royal rule ended. This bustling market town is rich in cultural diversity has plenty of iteneries to offer to the tourists from songs dances and handy crafts to ancient temples and adventure activities. Kandy is a good transit point to the cultural triangle to the north or hill country to the south. The city is also a good source of souvenirs or to experience many cultural performances at it's various hotels in the city.

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Kurunegala is the royal capital for only half a century, starting with the reign of Buvanekabahu II (1293-1302) who was followed by Parakramabahu IV (1302-1326).There is little left of the Tooth relic temple save few stone steps and part of doorway.Nearby are three earlier capitals - Panduvasnuwara (north - west) with remains of a moated palace and monasteries from the 12th century, Dambadeniya (south - west, mid-13th century), and Yapahuwa (north).Today, Kurunegala is an important cross - roads town, astride the route from Kandy to the Puttalam and Colombo to Anuradapura. It enjoys a pleasant location overlooked by huge rocky outcrops some of which have been given names of the animals they resemble:- elephant rock, tortoise rock etc. According to a legend, when during drought, the animals threatened the city's water supply, they were magically turned into stone, Situated at the foot of the 325km black rock Etagala there are excellent views of across the lake from the Top. It is also within easy reach of a few sites which are not very often visited.

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During the past Matara was called " Mahathota". The river running through Matara is 'Nilwala River. There was a wide area across this river. Hence it was called "Mhathota" which means "The great ferry ".Out all the other "great ferries in Sri lanka,Mahathota attracted the attention of the poets. According to Reverend Sri Rahula's" Paravi Sndesaya " it is mentioned that Weerabamapanam made Matara as his capital and named "Mapatuna". Portuguese Priest Quarese's reason for the name "Matara" is also referring to Nilwala River. Portuguese called this place as " Maturai " , and which means a great fortress. Portuguese called as" Maturai" in 1672. In 1744 Hide Matheren called as "Madarai". One thing that is clear here is that the Portuguese mis-pronounced the word. According to the old books it is clear that the Portuguese called it as "Maturai". "Thurai" which is a Tamil word means "Ferry". The presently used name "Matara" has been in used for the last three centuries connecting its contact with the river "Nilwala".

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states that the plantation and development of Cinnamon business was initiated by Moors. These Moors were expelled by the Portuguese in 16 th century. Again these Portuguese were defeated by the Dutch people in 1640 and they started re establishing the Cinnamon business. Before the British people took over Negombo in the year 1796, the Cinnamon business had already declined. It was the Karnavas who finally started adopting the fishing occupation. Thus fishing profession was initiated in Negombo. Eventually Negombo became the Chief fishing port in the island.

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Originally an uninhabited system of forests and meadows lying in the shadow of Pidurutalagala (aka Mt Pedro, 2524m), Nuwara Eliya became a singularly British creation, having been ‘discovered’ by colonial officer John Davy in 1819 and chosen as the site for a sanatorium a decade later. The sanatorium’s reputation became such that Sir J E Tennent wrote in Ceylon in 1859 that ‘In the eyes of the European and the invalid, Nuwara Eliya is the Elysium of Ceylon.’Later the district became known as a spot where ‘English’ vegetables and fruits such as lettuce and strawberries could be successfully grown for consumption by the colonists. Coffee was one of the first crops grown here, but after the island’s coffee plantations failed due to disease, the colonists switched to tea. The first tea leaves harvested in Sri Lanka were planted at Loolecondera Estate, in the mountains between Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. As tea experiments proved successful, the town quickly found itself becoming the Hill Country’s ‘tea capital’, a title still proudly borne.As elsewhere in the Hill Country, most of the labourers on the tea plantations were Tamils, brought from southern India by the British. Although the descendants of these ‘plantation Tamils’ (as they are sometimes called to distinguish them from Tamils in northern Sri Lanka) have usually stayed out of the ethnic strife endemic to Jaffna and the north, there have been occasional outbreaks of tension between the local Sinhalese and Tamils. The town was partially ransacked during 1983 riots, but the damage has long since been invisible to anyone unaware of what the place looked

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The conquering Cholas constructed monuments to their religion - Brahmanism - and especially temples to Shiva, where admirable bronze statues were found (they are now in the museum at Colombo).The reconquest of Ceylon by Vijayabahu I (c.1070) did not put an end to the city's role as capital, but it became covered with Buddhist sanctuaries, of which the Atadage (Temple of the Tooth Relic) is the most renowned.The apogee of Polonnaruwa occured in the 12th century AD. Two sovereigns, then proceeded to endow it with monuments. Parakramabahu I (1153-1186) created within a triple-walled enceinte a fabulous garden-city, where palaces and sanctuaries prologned the enchantment of the countryside.Nissamkamalla (1187-1196) constructed monuments which, though less refined than those of Parakramabahu I, were nonetheless splendidAfter this golden age, Polonnaruwa underwent a century of difficulties, before its definitive decline. The city which was invaded by the Tamils and the Maghas, then reconquered in a precarious manner, was only periodically the capital before the end of the 13th century when it was captured in an assault by Bhuvanaikabuha II, who set up his government at Kurunegala.The immense capital created by the megalomanic sovereign, Parakhambahu I, in the 12th century, is one of history's most astonishing urban creations, both because of its unusual dimensions and because of the very special relationship of its buildings with the natural setting.

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Ratnapura lies 101 Km Southeast of Colombo. The scenic route takes you passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and tea estates.Throughout history, Sri Lanka has been known as a land of gems. King Solomon was said to have procured a great ruby for the queen of Sheba from Ceylon (Sri Lanka's former name). Marco Polo (1293 AD) wrote about the ruby that once graced the Ruwanweliseya Dagoba at Anuradhapura..."a flawless ruby a span long and quite as thick as a man's fist".Sri Lanka has produced three of the world's largest blue sapphires, including the 'Blue Bell' which adorns the British crown and the 'Star of India', displayed at the New York Museum of Natural History.A visit to one of the museums or many gem workshops will give you the opportunity to see a variety of precious stone, such as rubies, sapphires, cat's eyes, alexandrites, aquamarines, tourmalines, spinels, topaz, garnets, amethyst, zircons etc. You could also visit one of the gem mines. emple in the sky Adams - PeakRatnapura is situated at the foot of the 2243 metre high Adam's Peak. All four major religions claim Adam's Peak as a holy mountain. Buddhists call the mountain Sri Pada (the sacred footprint), or Samanalakande (Butterfly Mountain) and believe the Lord Buddha has visited the mountain and set his sacred footprint. Hindu's say it's Lord Shiva's and Muslims believe that it is the place where Adam first set foot on earth, after being cast out of heaven. Catholics say it is of St. Thomas' the Christian Apostle who preached in South India.Ratnapura is also the staring point for the 'Classic' Hard route up Adam's Peak, via Gilimale and Carney estate. The Pilgrimage season starts on Poya (full moon) day in December and runs until the start of the South-West Monsoon in April. It has been a pilgrimage centre for over a 1000 years. King Parakramabahu and King Nissanka Malla of Polonnaruwa provided ambalamas or 'resting places' for weary pilgrims along the mountain route. The other more popular route is through Dalhousie (pronounced 'Del-house') close to Dickoya.

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Originally called Sihagiri (Remembrance Rock) and later dubbed Sigiriya (Lion Rock), the rock mass is actually the hardened magma plug of an extinct volcano that long ago eroded away. Pocked with natural cave shelters and rock overhangs – supplemented over the centuries by numerous hand-hewn additions and modifications – the rock may have been inhabited in prehistoric times.Popular myth says that the formation served royal and military functions during the reign of King Kassapa (AD 477–495), who allegedly built a garden and palace on the summit. According to this theory, King Kassapa sought out an unassailable new residence after overthrowing and murdering his own father, King Dhatusena of Anuradhapura.A new theory, supported by archaeological, literary, religious and cultural evidence rather than local legend, says that Sigiriya was never a fortress or palace, but rather a long-standing Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist monastery built several centuries before the time of King Kassapa. Monks were using it as a mountain hermitage by the 3rd century BC, and there is abundant evidence to show it had become an important monastery by the 10th century AD. According to Sigiriya and its Significance: A Mahayana-Theravada Buddhist Monastery, by Dr Raja De Silva, Sri Lanka’s former archaeological commissioner, the ancient site’s much treasured frescoes of buxom women were not portraying ladies from Kassapa’s court, as was popularly believed. Instead, they were intended to represent Tara Devi, an important Mahayana Buddhist goddess.After the 14th century, the monastery complex was abandoned. British archaeologist HCP Bell discovered the ruins in 1898, which were further excavated by British explorer John Still in 1907. Whatever exact purposes Sigiriya may have served in the past, the visible ruins today suggest a significant urban site complete with relatively sophisticated architecture, engineering, urban planning, hydraulic technology, gardening and art.

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Trincomalee has one of the world's finest natural harbors and can accommodate the largest vessels - this fact led to Trincomalee being captured in turn by the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Since the 1960s congestion and labor problems at the port of Colombo have forced the use of Trincomalee's port, little used commercially in previous years, for modest export trade. Many evidences of these colonial occupations are found Fort Ostenberg, Dutch gateway dated 1675 at Fort Frederick and Wellington House where the Iron Duke, then Colonel Wellesley, once lodged. Hindu shrine on the 400 ft. crag, Swami Rock; the Hindu Temple of a Thousand Columns, built by early Tamil settlers from S India, was destroyed (1622) by the Portuguese; on its site is Fort Frederick, built (1676) by the Dutch. Because control of Trincomalee was a key to domination over the Coromandel Coast of India, Britain and France sought (18th cent.) to wrest the city from the Dutch; it was captured (1795) by the British. During World War II, Trincomalee was the British naval headquarters in the Pacific theater and had an airfield from which U.S. planes operated against the Japanese in Myanmar and Malaya. A British naval base remained at Trincomalee until 1957, when Sri Lanka abrogated its defense agreement with Britain and took over the base.

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Significance of this village in the East is that it is the birth place of Swami Vipulananda who was credited with reviving the long dormant Tamil and Hindu traditions of the minority Tamil people throughout Sri Lanka.The continuing Sri Lankan civil war has adversely affected civilian population of this village resulting in many missing people, preponderance of widows and lack of development and employment opportunities. The village also took a direct hit from the 2004 Tsunami resulting in the destruction of over 50% of the village and the deaths of over 2,000 people. Most farming and fishing related families lost all the required equipment to continue on with their professions.


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