Colombo-the capital of Sri Lanka-is the largest city and main port of Sri Lanka. It is also the commercial and financial center of Sri Lanka. A bustling metropolis, the city is an attractive blend of old and new. It has the lazy charm of the bygone era combined with the verve and vivaciousness of a modern city. Colombo is an ideal location to start the Sri Lanka sojourn.
Kandy-a major tourist destination-is also known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. Nestled in the hills at an altitude of 488 m, it is located at a distance of 115 km from Colombo.
Kandy has a rich history. It was originally known as Senkadagala pura after a hermit named Senkada who lived there. Many of Sinhalese people call it Mahanuwara meaning the Great City. The name Kandy was derived by the colonial rulers from the word Kanda in Sinhala, meaning a hill. Kandy was the stronghold of the Sinhalese kings, who promoted and protected the local culture until the city fell to the British in 1815.
Kataragama is an important pilgrimage travel destination in Sri Lanka, with some important religious tourist attractions. The town attracts many of the faithful, including Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and indigenous Vedda communities of Sri Lanka and South India for its shrine dedicated to Kataragamadevio -the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Devalaya. Another important site is the Buddhist stupa known as the Kiri Vehera. There is also a Hindu Kataragama festival that is organized here in July and August every year
YALA NATIONAL PARK, one of Sri Lanka 's premier eco tourism destinations, lies 24km northeast of Tissamaharama and 290km from Colombo on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, spanning a vast 97,878 hectares over the Southern and Uva Provinces. The vegetation in the park comprises predominantly of semi-arid thorny scrub, interspersed with pockets of fairly dense secondary forest. Small patches of mangrove vegetation also occur along the coastal lagoons. The park is renowned for the variety of its Wildlife (most notably its many elephants) and its fine coastline (with associated coral reefs).
Located at a distance of 37 km from Colombo and mere 6 km from International Airport, Negombo is a traditional fishing town of Sri Lanka. Wide sandy beaches and the safe sea attract tourists to Negombo. The town has several buildings that date back to the Dutch and Portuguese colonial era. The predominantly Catholic leanings of the town are evident in the number of churches and statues of saints that one stumbles upon here. Negombo is a gourmet's delight with seafood available in plenty. Old world fishing crafts such as the outrigger canoe and the catamaran are very popular here.
Located in the north-central province of Sri Lanka, Sigriya-a city, palace and garden complex centering a 200 metre high rock-is unofficially known as the 8th wonder of the world. Literally, the word Sigriya means the Lion Rock. Sigriya is Sri Lanka's most recognizable landmark and has been declared as a World Heritage Site. Built in the 5 century AD, this magnificent complex of geometrically laid gardens, pools, fountains as well as oldest surviving murals of maidens was palace of the King Kasyapa. The Complex consists of the central rock, rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular precincts on the east (90 hectares) and the west (40 hectares), surrounded by two moats and three ramparts.
Galle-located 116 km to the south of Colombo on the southwest corner of the island-was founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions. Galle has been declared a World Heritage City by the UNESCO
Polonnurawa-located at a distance of 216 km from Colombo-was the capital of Sri Lanka in medieval times. Used by the Sri Lankan kings as a 'country residence' from the 7th century, Polonnurawa became Sri Lanka's capital in the 11th century AD. During its time the city was fortified with three concentric walls, beautified with parks and gardens and sanctified by many a shrine and sacred place. The city and the surrounding area were watered by a unique irrigational complex known as the Sea of Parakrama.