Published On: Sat, Feb 15th, 2020

3 Off-The-Beaten-Track Places To Visit in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island country, nestled in the Indian Ocean in South Asia. The country is rightfully famous for its Ceylon tea and a series of fascinating historic sites. The following are three off-the-beaten track places to visit in this island nation.

photo/ Roman Bader

Udawalawe National Park

Asian elephants in Ceylon are endangered by the human-elephant conflict, which leads to around 150 elephants killed each year. This means that many orphaned baby elephants need a home. Sri Lanka is trying to prevent the slaughter and conserve the elephant population.

Udawalawe National Park is home to huge herds of Asian elephants and also features the Elephant Transit Home on its fringes, where orphaned baby elephants can be brought up, ready to release them into the wild. 

A visit to Udawalawe National Park reveals herds of elephant, walking around, bathing and generally enjoying life. Visitors are also likely to see wild boar, wild fox, macaques, mongooses and water buffalos in the park, as well as some of the big cats, including leopards. Bird watchers will also enjoy the park for its many species of birds, including storks, pelicans, grey hornbills and more.

The park is around a five-hour drive from Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and spreads over the provinces of Sabaragamuwa and Uva in the south of the island.

Sigiriya (The Lion Mountain)

One of the top attractions to visit in Sri Lanka, this ancient stone fortress is believed by many to be the eighth wonder of the world. The fortress nestles on the top of Sigiriya (The Lion Mountain) in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built for a Sri Lanka King who wanted to build his palace in a secluded place, hidden from his brother. It is accessed by the tiled Lion staircase which heads up the mountain to the palace garden at the top. Surrounding the fortress is a large network of gardens and reservoirs.

What draws thousands of visitors each year is the fascinating frescoes and other paintings that have survived here. Some are created in the style of the Sri Lanka school of classical realism and are believed to date back to the fifth century. The remains of other paintings can also be seen in a number of the caves at the foot of Sigiriya.

Sirigiwa is located 36 miles from Polonnaruwa and is a relatively easy climb from the bottom. As the weather can get very hot here in season, it is recommended to visit between May and August.

Fa-Hien Lena (Pahiyangala Cave)

Fa-Hien Lena, also known as Pahiyangala Cave, is located in Yatagampitiya in Sri Lanka. The cave is one of the largest of its kind in Asia and is also the largest cave in Sri Lanka. The cave features the remains of a prehistoric society in the form of human skulls, dating back around 37,000 years. 

Besides the prehistoric skulls, archaeologists have also uncovered weapons crafted from animal bone, which are believed to have been used to kill monkeys, deer, porcupines and other animals for food. Other evidence reveals that the inhabitants also ate snails, the shells of which were pierced to make jewelry.

Archaeological research continues here, so visitors will find some tunnels blocked. However, the 200-foot long cave also features a Buddhist temple, made by a local monk, who hand-carved the cave entrance and leveled the floor. A reclining Buddha statue, around 40 feet in length greets visitors to the cave. Another fascinating aspect is an ancient door, beyond which can be seen a bat cave. Care must be taken if opening the door, as the bats could fly out.

Visitors need to be relatively fit to visit the cave, as it requires a 20-minute walk up stone steps, but it is a popular place to visit. The cave is an easy 25-mile drive from Colombo.

Experience Sri Lanka this year and view its beauty, its beaches, historic sites and more.

Author: Anne Sewell

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