Unique Places in Sri Lanka

  • Sunrise from Adam's Peak
    Sunrise from Adam's Peak
    by DSwede
  • Temple Offerings
    Temple Offerings
    by DSwede
  • Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka.
    Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka.
    by planxty

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Sri Lanka

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    Adam's Peak

    by DSwede Written Jan 29, 2014

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    I write this entry here not knowing a better place to put it. There is no nearby town in the database, nor did I see any entries for it within the generic 'Sri Lanka' reviews.

    Adam's Peak, the English name for the Siripadaya mountain, is a national treasure. The small temple at the peak of the pyramid shaped mountain sits on the point where either Adam, Bhuddha or Shiva first set foot on Earth depending on your religious point of view. The summit reaches 2243m / 7360ft.

    The preferred visit is to make the hike during the middle of the night/morning in order to reach the summit for the sun rise. Some on the trail were dressed for cold, but I personally found the temperatures comfortable in a short sleeve shirt with the body heat of hiking. But once on top, a dry layer and long sleeve was nice with the cool air chilling the sweaty skin.

    The hike is a rather daunting vertical climb, with a path and stairs laid out the whole way. Being in relatively good physical shape, it took us a little over 3 hours to reach the summit from the small town. There are many food stalls and tea stands along the path to get any sustenance that you may have forgotten or chosen not to carry.

    The path is lit during the 'season', although I'm not sure how exactly they define the season. A flashlight is not required. Once you reach the peak, you may want to find a vantage point and reserve your space because if you are late, you may have obstructed views of the sunrise. Then it is best to go down the mountain before the midday sun bakes you.

    There are a few paths, but the shortest is ~7km (which I took), leaving from the village of Nallathanniya. This is a few kilometers from the slightly larger town of Maskeliya. And this in turn is a few kilometers southwest of Hatton.

    Sunrise from Adam's Peak Temple Offerings
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    ELEPHANT WASHING!

    by DAO Updated Sep 8, 2011

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    Before you or your driver race over those bridges along the way – slow down and look over the edge! In the water you may find people washing their elephants. They aren’t just pets or modes of transportation; they can be a family’s sole source of income. They are used for working as well as tourists attractions. They are gentle animals and are very well looked after by their owners. And they sure love a good soak.

    SCRUB BEHIND THE EARS TIME TO GET OUT ELEPHANT WASH
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    ARMY INFANTRY SCHOOL

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    At Minneriya is the home of the Infantry School for the Sri Lankan Army. Here, soldiers are trained in the basics of the infantry. Both courses in basic and advanced techniques are given here. The Army has been fighting on behalf of the government in Colombo against the Tamil guerrillas of the LTTE for over twenty years. Many have come through this school and it looks like many more will come before the peace is restored.

    Note: to get inside you might need to travel with someone involved with the Army or enlist:-\

    Mortar training on the parade ground
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    Kothmale: Middle of no where

    by kayzee Updated Apr 4, 2011

    When one travel from Kandy towards Nuwaraeliya, few Kms (less than 12) after Gampola Bridge you will find a road to right that leads towards Kothamale Reservoir

    Few Kms on that road the Kothmale Rest House is placed. The rest house is the senior offices housing facility used during the Dam construction time. Now it’s turned to a Rest House. It’s in middle of nowhere. Not many people come and stay there because its not convenient to travel from that place.

    For a person who wants to go away from busy city life and spend few lazy days watching birds, Reading the favourite novel this is a lovely place.

    When I went to this place there was ware enough rooms. But booking in advance will be always good.

    Since I don't have a picture of the place I copied this from there web site.

    The Kothmale Resthouse Reception
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    Millenium Elephant Foundation

    by jennifermueller Updated Apr 4, 2011

    is just slightly off the beaten path, as its on the road to Pinnewela.

    It turned out we knew the guy who runs the paper factory next to MEF, Maximus (pvt) Ltd, which uses the elephant dung in his recycled paper. We never quite made it to Pinnewela. I've read complaints about MEF - the elephants here are all retired, rescue elephants. There are no young ones. But they're still pretty cool.

    They also have some information about elephants in Sri Lanka on display in a little museum room.

    Good sport at Millenium Elephant Foundation

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  • The highest railway station in Sri Lanka

    by JohnMG Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Take train from Kandy to Nanu Oya. Nearby is Pattipola , the next train station north of Ohiya. This station is at 6204 feet.
    At NanuO we "visited" the stationmasters office where one can request a reserved seat in the observation car to Kandy/ Colombo. This is a timewarp of 1930's british rail. Graet photos!!!

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    Pimbura Hill Temple

    by Maxus Updated Jul 16, 2010

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    The Hill Temple at Pimbura is not a particularly impressive structure, more a ramshackle collection of shrines and associated outbuildings spread out on the top of a ridge, in fact the nearer you get to the temple, the more you feel like you are in Nepal rather than Sri Lanka, but the setting, the atmosphere and the fact that you are almost certainly the only visitor makes up for any shortfall in the architecture. You need to explore this place and just when you think you have seen it all there is yet another path to something else. The views from the top are magnificent, which means it is quite a climb (but I am fat and 40 and I made it ok) you will need good shoes and plenty of water and do not go too late in the day, the track is steep, rocky and unlit. For the naturalists amongst you there are the usual birds, bats and monkeys. There is only one Monk in residence, he will be surprised to see you and will no doubt welcome your donation.

    From Aluthgama take the bus to Agalawatta via Matugama from Agalawatta pick up the Horana bus or a three wheeler (approx Rs150). There is only one road worthy of the name running through Pimbura, the track to the Temple leads off to the left (if you are travelling north) just past the district hospital, ask anyone. There is an alternative route up and down the hill so you can make a round trip. There is another Temple in Pimbura (which is not on a hill) it's a nice place but nothing remarkable.

    If you are trying your hand at independent travel this makes a good daytrip from Bentota, Beruwala or Kalutara and it really is off the beaten track. For places to stay nearby see my accommodation tips. Incidentally, if you work in healthcare and are interested in how things are done here, the staff at the district hospital will make you very welcome (particularly if you take them some goodies, even a pack of decent pens go down well).

    The best view is adjacent to this shrine The path to the temple is rocky and steep View from the top The Buddha The neighbours (from the path down)
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    Don't blink or you'll miss out

    by chrisdScotland Written Mar 2, 2010

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    It's just the most wonderful meal that you could have, out of the blue, off the beaten path. After a couple of hours at Pinnawela watching the elephants at play and an impromptu elephant shower a few miles down the road we found the Pineapple Garden. Our tour guide had phoned ahead so the meal was ready for us after we had looked around the pineapple field. The dishes just kept on coming. (Not just curry) I would like to be able to give you a point on the map but it was on a side road south of Pinnawela 1/2 way to Avissawella. I will try to contact my friend in Sri Lanka to help me get a better idea.
    The sign might or might not be in place!

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    Eating (off the beaten track)

    by Maxus Updated Jan 22, 2009

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    Every village you pass through on your travels will have at least one small restaurant selling Sri Lankan food at very reasonable prices, they are sometimes known as hotels or cool spots.

    You can get hoppers, eggs and bread for breakfast, coffee usually comes black so ask for kiri kopi (milk coffee) and unless you like it impossibly sweet ask for it without sugar.

    For lunch and dinner there is of course rice and curry, this often comes with fish or chicken. Throughout the day you can get a variety of rolls and patties called ‘short eats’ you may be given a plate full of these but you only pay for what you eat.

    In Muslim owned places you will get meat but it's pretty ropey stuff - where ever you are remember that the curry is made for locals and is very, very hot.

    There is a range of soft drinks called Elephant (ask for it cool) the ginger beer is particularly excellent. Local soft drinks appear to being increasingly replaced by American brands.

    Hoppers (appa). Eggs (bithara). Bread (pahn). Coffee (kopi). Milk (Kiri). Sugar (seeni). Cool (cool). Fish (marlu). Chicken (kukul mas).

    Short Eats Mrs Sampath���s excellent rice and curry
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    Haputale and Beyond: Hill Walkers Paradise

    by Maxus Updated Jan 22, 2009

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    For me, the largely Tamil village of Thotulagala (3Km out from Haputale) is maybe as good as it gets in Sri Lanka. It’s a peaceful place, the locals are friendly, the climate is excellent and the views are quite staggering, you really need to go there to know what I mean.

    It is easy to get to nearby Haputale by road or rail and there are some spot on places to stay (see Dias Rest and Amarasinghe in my Hotels and Accommodations tips).

    remote and remarkable
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    Gem Mines

    by Maxus Updated Jan 22, 2009

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    A friendly miner (or one with an eye on a tip) may invite you down a gem mine for a look at how it’s done. My advice is don’t go down unless you are in the peak of physical condition.

    Getting down is easy but getting out again involves a long hard vertical climb in hot and wet conditions with very little air. All that’s down there is a dark flooded passage, it really isn't worth the risk.

    Kuruwita Gem Mine
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    Mad Dogs and Englishmen

    by Maxus Updated Jan 22, 2009

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    Maybe only a sentimental old fool like me would be moved by Saint Andrews Anglican Church in Haputale (and dozens of similar Anglican Churches across Sri Lanka). Somebody really cares about this place and it also tells a story about the British in Sri Lanka.

    I am not a religious person and I will not attempt to defend imperial rule but Saint Andrews, set in its neat little graveyard, with its well polished brass plaque in memory of the Haputale planters who fell in the Great War of 1914 to 1918 brought a lump to my throat.

    “If I should die, think only this of me: that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.”

    Rupert Brooke (English Poet, 1887-1915)

    This area is a great place from which to see the Hill Country (nowhere better for walkers) have a look at my Haputale travel page for links to other websites and my accommodation tips for somewhere to stay.

    Saint Andrews Inside the Church (brass plaque to the right)
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    Pahiyangala: a real treat for budding Buddhists

    by Maxus Updated Jan 22, 2009

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    If you want to visit a truly impressive place which is usually crowd-free then get along to the ancient cave and rock temple at Pahiyangala.

    Pahiyangala attracts Buddhists from all over Sri Lanka on Poya Day but is over-looked by the most of the guide books so the rest of the time you might well have the place to yourself. In addition to the pre-historic excavations and rather eclectic collection of relics there is a training centre for Buddhist Monks and a temple complex were people often come to spend the night before presenting the monks with their breakfast.

    A site of special scientific and archaeological interest, complete with a large statue of a reclining Lord Buddha and surrounded by some of the finest countryside that Sri Lanka has to offer Pahiyangala is the prefect daytrip from all the west coast tourist resorts. There is no fixed entrance fee but a donation is expected, particularly if you are escorted around the site.

    Pahiyangala is near Bulatsinhala* which you can reach by bus via Matugama from Kalutara or Aluthgama (for Bentota and Beruwala) or Via Horana from Panadura. A three wheeler to the temple from Bulatsinhala costs maybe 200 Rupees or it is a moderately easy walk. You could of course simply ask your hotel to arrange a car.

    There is a flight of rather uneven stairs so take good shoes (which you will need to remove when entering the temple compound at the top).

    When you meet the Monks please say hello from Mark.

    *See my Bulatsinhala page.

    It really is an impressive spot the outer cave The Cave Lord Buddha The odd little museam
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    Small Town Sri Lanka

    by Maxus Updated Jan 22, 2009

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    On the face of it there is not much to draw tourists into Bulatsinhala, I've been there dozens of times and not once seen another white face, for me that is a major attraction, it's just regular small town Sri Lanka with friendly locals and no touts.

    Market day is Sunday and the town gets busy but during the week it can be an almost sleepy place, excellent for tout free shopping (to be fair nearby Horana and Matugama are better). Local shops and small cafes have most things you'll want, there is also a pharmacy, clinic, post office and bank (no ATM). The bustling city of Horana, less than an hour away by local bus, has everything else you might need.

    Near Bulatsinhala is the impressive rock temple and Buddhist seminary at Pahiyangala. Famous in Sri Lanka Pahiyangala draws Buddhists by the bus load on Poya Day but is over looked by the guide books so you will have it largely to yourself the rest of the time. There is no fixed entry charge but your donation will be appreciated (see my Pahiyangala tip).

    If you want to spend a few days off the beaten track (and you want a slice of real Sri Lankan village life) you can stay at Sampaths House at near by Dematapitiya, there is only one room and its like nowhere else, check it out in my accommodation tips.

    Getting There
    Via Matugama from Bentota or Beruwala or pick up the Horana bus at Panadura, which is easily reached by bus and train from Colombo and all the west coast resorts. At Horana or Matugama you can get direct and frequent buses to Bulatsinhala.

    Down town Bulatsinhala The Field View Inn, Bulatsinhala Crossing the Paddy The Teacher The Forge at Pitigala Down Town Bulatsinhala Pahiyangala Rock Temple The Puncture
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    Nalanda

    by bijo69 Updated Dec 9, 2008

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    There's a temple at Nalanda (about 20km South of Dambulla) which has an interesting mixture of Buddhist and Hindu architecture. There are supposed to be tantric carvings on it, but as the whole temple is quite a bit weather beaten, I only saw one.

    Admission fee is 5US$ (way too much), but it's included in the "Cultural Triangle" pass.

    Related to:
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    • Archeology
    • Historical Travel

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