Unique Places in Sri Lanka

  • Sunrise from Adam's Peak
    Sunrise from Adam's Peak
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  • Temple Offerings
    Temple Offerings
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  • Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka.
    Buddha image, Weherahena, Sri Lanka.
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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Sri Lanka

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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.

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    YALA SAFARI PARK

    by cazz38 Updated Mar 23, 2005

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    we stayed at yala safari park in the game lodge, as you opened the door there was decking outside and a beautiful white sandy beach,it was like paradise,we went out in a jeep for 4 hours,the scenery is spectacular,one of the girls in front of us spotted the leopard which hasnt been seen for years,it was amazing,we saw elephants,crocodiles,buffalos there was even a wild boar outside our room,this is one trip i would truly recommened.

    Yala Safari Park.
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    Ramboda Falls - Incredible!

    by Hmmmm Updated Feb 25, 2005

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    The hill country of Sri Lanka doesn't have the Elevation like the High Country of New Zealand of even of South Korea, but what it lacks in Elevation it makes up for in twists and turns, lush Scenery, water and of course waterfalls like the Ramboda Falls here in the picture.

    Among the waterfalls of Sri Lanka, the Ramboda Falls is well known for its beauty, though many of us who pass the Ramboda bridge mistakenly look up and are disappointed to see only a small trickle of it, and perhaps, even stop there to have a cool dip in the stream, but bypass the major part of the waterfall which is hidden beneath the boulders of the stream lower down. Even though these falls are not visible from the road, they can be seen from the premises of the Ramboda Falls Hotel.

    Actually, there is a footpath the opposite side of the hotel. It takes you through tea plantations that leads downhill from the hotel, reaches the base of the waterfall. The cold water is a shock to the system, but its an exhilaring place for a swim.

    How to get here?

    Take Route 5 from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. This take you through some of the best scenery of the Hill Country. The road takes you by the shores of Mahaweli River to Gampola. From Gampola it is a steep climb with many hairpin curves for some 20 or so kilometers, through spectacular scenery like this, until you get to Ramboda and the Falls.

    Ramboda Falls, on the way to Nuwara Eliya.
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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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    Yatiyantota: Pull over and cool off

    by Maxus Written Jan 27, 2007

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    Coming down from the Hill Country towards Colombo the change in temperature is quite dramatic, by Kitugala it is getting hot and after four days in the cool of the hills our non-air conditioned vehicle is getting uncomfortable.

    At Yatiyantota we buy a picnic and turn off the A7 onto the B428 towards Bulatyopitya, just after the 3 kilometre post is a quiet stretch of river, which is perfect for a cooling swim.

    There is the usual litter (and a half-buried length of barbed wire) near the trees but the shore is clean and the water is clear. Towards the bridge it is deep enough to swim, the friendly locals show off their English and teach us to fish, fantastic.

    Take a break at Yatiyantota
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    Mirissa

    by bijo69 Written Jan 3, 2005

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    This is how Mirissa looked before the tsunami hit. It was a small fishing village with a nice beach and small guesthouses and restaurants.
    Don't have any info about the current situation there though.

    Mirissa is a one hour drive South of Galle.

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    MEET THE LOCALS.

    by cazz38 Written Mar 26, 2005

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    We went to watch the sunset one evening and were invited to join the locals,they had lit a fire on the beach,we all sat around drinking the local brew,everyone started singing and dancing around the fire it was a great evening.

    The camp fire
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    Trincomalee and North (Uppavelli), a must see.

    by Hmmmm Written Nov 4, 2003

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    This photo is taken a little north of the East Coat City of Trincomalee (Trinco). This area north of Trinco was quite hard hit during the civil war. with most of the surrounding buildings and farms destroyed. But its a special place, filled with friendly beautiful people and gorgeous scenery.

    These guys are waiting for the bus back into town as are we. Eventually the bus arrived and we all leaped aboard. The bus was full. We shared it with goats, men with grey gnarly beards, women wearing hindu Sari's and Bindhi, and women wearing the Muslim veil. Children with clip on faded striped school ties and polished black shoes and others without. We also shared the bus with four geared up soldiers, looking rather dapper in their DPMs, munty boots, loaded rifles and stealy piercing looks.

    I came to enjoy travelling by bus in Sri Lanka. Its marvellous. But don't eat Ice Creams aboard the bus. Its a tight fit. and the ice cream has nowhere to melt, save down the front of your nice crisp cotton shirt, that ws just laundered that morning.

    Waiting for the bus.
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    A Bush School In Uppavelli (Trinco)

    by Hmmmm Written Nov 4, 2003

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    These children are waiting in their tropical style Classroom at the Uppevelli School waiting for their teacher. This School is a refugee School set up with the Help of The Australian Government.

    As you can see this part of Sri Lanka, is quite a special part. Its a good window in post civil war Sri Lanka, yet its not too scary since its not too far into Tamil country.

    At school waiting for their teacher
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Sri Lanka Off The Beaten Path

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