Star Fort Matara Sri Lanka

Star Fort Matara Sri Lanka 2

Star Fort is located Opposite the Urban Council office. This was the last defensive structure undertaken by the Dutch in Sri Lanka.

It is a small fort built by Dutch and later renovated by British. Now its a Museum. It is built in a star shape. That’s how it got it’s name as Star fort. Museum has some good collection. Well maintained. It is very close to Matara bus station. Hardly 5 min walk.

Star Fort derived its name from its shape as it was constructed in the form of a six-pointed star. This Fort was built after the Sinhalese army attack on Matara. This was constructed across the river from the Matara Fort and is very small in size.

The construction of this structure was started in 1763 and completed in 1765 by Baron Van Eck, the Dutch Governor who invaded the Kingdom of Kandy in 1765.

The Star Fort was used to nouse a small garrison of Dutch troops. In 1796 the Star Fort fell into the hands of the British. It was used as the residence of the Engineer and was maintained by the Public Works Department. From 1965 the Matara Urban Council used the Star Fort as the Matara Public Library, and in 1980 it was taken over by the Archaeology Department.

The moat that surrounded the Fort was filled with earth but was later excavated and renovated by the Archaeology Department and a drawbridge. The Fort’s interior where the canons could be used and the six points of the star offer vantage points to all directions. A hexagonal-shaped building was constructed in keeping with the shape of the Fort with a hexagonal courtyard. A deep well built inside brings in freshwater even today.


Great Attractions in Matara – Down South – Sri Lanka

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Matara is situated on the mouth of the Nilwala River on the south coast of Sri Lanka.

The name means Great Ford and derives from its location as the river crossing.

Portuguese occupied the city in the 17th century and the Dutch in the 18th. Under both countries, it was an important trading centre, and the Dutch fortifications can still be seen.

Matara is now the commercial centre of a productive agricultural region. The city is connected by rail with Colombo to the North and also Eastwards towards Kataragama and is a road junction.

Matara is an active city that is thriving with commercial activities. Located 160 kilometres from the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

The high-rise buildings that house some of the major multinational companies may not seem like an attractive tourist landmark in Matara. However, that does not mean that Matara has negligible tourist value. The Nilwala River flows through the city of Matara, forming a beautiful sight along its way. The river falls at Totamuna into the Indian Ocean.

The beach front is similar to Galle Face in Colombo and has many nice restaurants, paints very beautiful scenes along the coast of the city. Eating egg hoppers on the sea front is a great past time.

Notable attractions in Matara, Sri Lanka

Fort of Matara
Matara Fort was built in 1560 by the Portuguese and largely rebuilt by the Dutch in 1640, after the conquest of Galle. The fort, which consists of a large stone wall, is located on the promontory that separates the Niwala Ganga lagoon and the ocean.

infinity surf camp
One of the best beginner surf spots in Matara, the Infinity Surfcamp Sri Lanka has safe waters, stunning scenery and unspoiled nature. This surf camp is not only suitable for beginners, it is also ideal for surfers of all experience levels.

The wind, the tropical climate, the equipment in good condition, the sufficient security measures and good coaches make this surfing experience the best surfing experience of your life. So if you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Matara, check out this surf camp.

Polhena and Madiha beach areas offer the opportunity to snorkel around the coral reef that protects the sandy beaches and explore some shipwrecks and coral fish homes. You may also see nesting sea turtles crawling ashore at night to lay their eggs.

Star Fort
The name implies the way the monument is built. This was built by the Dutch to prevent an attack from external enemies, as it was the height of colonialism. The fortress has a point in all directions and therefore has 6 points, each point guarded by two large cannons.

There is a well in the centre of the fortress, which supplied the territories with water. Other than that, there are 2 prisons in the fort, making it one of the best places to visit in Matara, Sri Lanka. Once this place was occupied by the English, they transformed it to do administrative work. This place will surely remind you of the heyday of the colonial times.

Polhena Beach
Polhena Beach is one of the safest beaches in Sri Lanka with medium waters and coral reefs. Swimming here is like swimming in a pool, but with extraordinary aquatic life, such as an abundance of giant green turtles and fish, that make your dive even more memorable. The beach is well maintained and the white sand and crystal clear waters make it a perfect vacation spot.

The water is shallow for a long time because the waves break far away, so it is also ideal for non-swimmers. This beach is a local gathering place, small and perfect for a traveller who wants to see the local life. There are swimming areas and changing rooms where you can change into beach clothes. There are also some shops on the beach where you can buy beautiful shells and have a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants.

Weherahena Temple
Next is a temple built in the eastern part of the city of Matara. The temple consists of man-made caves, like most other caves in Sri Lanka, this again shows the life and achievement of Lord Buddha. There is a 25 meter tall Buddha statue. The path that leads to this place is so colourful that it feels like a different experience in itself.

The temple has strict rules for photography, even though it is a picturesque place. Every year, in the second half of November or early December, a festival is held here. You’ll see trained dancers and some elephants performing during the festival, reason enough to make it one of the best places to visit in Matara.

Dickwella Beach
Dickwella Beach is a quiet, peaceful and large golden beach in the town of Dickwella in Sri Lanka. Dickwella’s main beach is two kilometres long. Rocks and reefs protect it from wind and high waves, making this one of the ideal “bathing” beaches in Sri Lanka.

Dickwella Beach offers crystal clear blue ocean waters, countless coconut trees where you can set up a hammock, watch the sunset and the fishermen fishing. It is also a famous beach in Sri Lanka for surfing and swimming. Dickwella Beach in Sri Lanka offers a perfect beach experience for families and large groups, as it is protected by sandbanks and reefs, making it ideal for swimming.

Dondra Point

Dondra Head Lighthouse is a lighthouse on Dondra Head, Dondra, the southernmost point of Sri Lanka and is the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka, and also one of the tallest in Southeast Asia. Dondra Head Lighthouse is operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

The lighthouse is near the village of Dondra, about 6 km southeast of Matara. The name Dondra is a synonym of “Devi-Nuwara” in the local Sinhalese language, “Devi” meaning “Gods” and “Nuwara” meaning “City”. Therefore, Dondra is derived from the meaning of “City of the Gods”.

Church of Matará
If you are looking for a beautiful and peaceful place to take your prayers to the Almighty, Matara Church – Our Lady of Matara is a church to visit. A Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this church is located in the beautiful coastal city of Matara, Sri Lanka, and is just off the coast.

A great place to learn or dedicate yourself to the service of God, this church houses a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus overlooking the Indian Ocean. This church is open from morning to night and is open to all for community services and mass prayer and learning groups.

Visit a Sri Lanka Beach

Mirissa Beach
Nilaveli Beach
Induruwa Beach
Weligama Beach
Arugam bay
Bentota Beach
Tangalle Beach
Wijaya Beach
Hiriketiya Beach
Galle beach

Tourists come from all over the world to explore the best beaches in Sri Lanka. The sight of these beautiful sandy beaches will tempt you to visit these beautiful beaches many times.

Beaches are perfect places to relax with natural sound of ocean waves connecting you with mother nature. Enjoy the feeling of connection and peace whilst relaxing on the beach.

Sri Lankan beaches are the perfect place to rejuvenate and recharge your batteries and mojo.

Many of the best beaches in Sri Lanka are on the southwestern coast, where you can find blue waters, snorkelling, surfing, and even migrating whales.

Sri Lanka has two seasons governed by two monsoon seasons. Sunshine and dry weather are available throughout the year in some parts of the island, but if you are planning a multi-day beach trip, the best time to visit South West Sri Lanka is from mid-November to April. For the summer season the better “beach weather” is in the East coast.

Mirissa Beach
Impressive, Mirissa Beach winds gently around the bay in which it is located; The beautiful palm trees that gather along the golden sand only add to its picturesque appearance. The crystal clear waters are ideal for swimming, and as there is a small coral reef offshore, it is also a great spot for snorkelling. There is also fantastic surfing at one end of the beach. Despite the unspoiled environment, there are plenty of beach bars, restaurants, and hotels for guests to choose from. these are hidden among the tree line. Although it is quite a laid back and relaxed place, there are some lively bars in the area that offer amazing views of the sun setting over the sea.

Nilaveli Beach
Nilaveli Beach is a wide sandy beach lined with palm trees and dotted with fishing boats. Located in the north-eastern part of Sri Lanka, it is a 30-minute drive from the city of Trincomalee. This small island has calm beaches with gentle waves due to its small reef. Although Nilaveli Beach is large, it is popular with both locals and tourists. There are lifeguards on duty and many small restaurants on the beach, most specializing in seafood. The Trincomalee area is also good for sightseeing as it is a center of Tamil culture. Tamil is the name of the language spoken in Sri Lanka and of the ethnic group to which the majority of its inhabitants belong. If Nilaveli’s seclusion isn’t enough, you can take a boat to Pigeon Island National Park, about half a mile offshore.

Induruwa Beach
The idyllic and peaceful beach of Induruwa is the perfect place to relax after exploring the culture, wildlife and highlands of Sri Lanka. Less than two hours from Colombo, Induruwa Beach offers golden sands fringed with turquoise waves on one side and emerald green foliage and stacked rocks on the other. It is one of the quietest and cleanest beaches on the south west coast, with good restaurants and traditional market stalls. Induruwa is also a great place to explore the nearby lagoons and lakes, as well as the excellent Yagirala Rain Forest with its lush green landscape and ample bird-watching opportunities.

Weligama Beach
Sheltered by a bay of the same name, Weligama Beach looks stunning with its bright golden sands and is one of the best spots on the south coast. Just beyond the tree line, which preserves pristine views of the beach, are a variety of restaurants and hotels. With many people fishing for a living here, there is plenty of fresh and delicious seafood to eat. The waters of the bay are excellent for swimming and snorkeling; There is a small reef that you can explore. As there are some breakers and waves, it is also a popular spot for those who want to learn to surf.

Arugam bay
If you like surfing, there is no better place in Sri Lanka than Arugam Bay. Large waves constantly break on the beautiful palm-fringed beaches that stretch along most of the surrounding coastline. Despite being an increasingly popular tourist destination, Arugam Bay is still very undeveloped, so you won’t find many large hotels or resorts. This is partly what makes it so attractive; The local charm still shines through in its small cafes, restaurants and huts. Here you can not only enjoy the beautiful beaches, but also many activities. Whether you’re touring the picturesque Pottuvil Lagoon, enjoying the sunset at Elephant Rock or going on safari in Yala National Park and seeing real elephants, Arugam Bay has it all.

Bentota Beach
Beautiful and relatively quiet, Bentota Beach is just a few hours’ drive from Colombo on Sri Lanka’s west coast and is a great choice for both adventure and relaxation. For water sports enthusiasts, Bentota Lagoon offers a tranquil haven for kayaking and paddling, and the calm ocean is perfect for sailing, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. On the other hand, Bentota is also known for its excellent offer of Ayurveda centers and luxury spas that offer relaxation for those seeking relaxation. This stunning stretch of coastline also offers stylish accommodation and a range of recommended restaurants and bars.

Tangalle Beach
Much quieter and more relaxed than many of the other beaches on Sri Lanka’s south coast, Tangalle Beach stretches seemingly endlessly. The soft sand and spectacular scenery are perfect for long walks while the Indian Ocean gently laps the shore. With many fantastic restaurants, bars and hotels dotted around, Tangalle has everything you could wish for in a holiday destination. It is growing in popularity each year, with many visitors opting to snorkel the nearby coral reefs. Apart from the enchanting appearance of Tangalle Beach, it is also close to some attractions worth visiting, such as the Mulkirigala Cave Temple and the beautiful scenery of Rekawa Lagoon.

Wijaya Beach
Wijaya Beach is located in Dalawella, 7 km south of Galle, in the southern province of Sri Lanka. Wijaya Beach is a family business. Since we opened our restaurant in 1980, we have become one of the most popular places to eat in the area. We pride ourselves on our popularity with the local expat community and the number of visitors who return year after year to enjoy our food, cocktails, beautiful beach and relaxed atmosphere. Our beachfront restaurant and bar serves an eclectic mix of Asian and European cuisine and we have a luxurious eight room bed and breakfast nestled around the courtyard behind the restaurant.

Hiriketiya Beach
Hiriketiya Beach, also known as Hiri Beach, is becoming more and more famous for its waves. Some say it is fast becoming Sri Lanka’s surf paradise! Surrounded by a dense palm forest and close to trendy restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious brunch, it’s easy to see why Horseshoe Bay is so popular. Surfers from all over the world are drawn to this spot, bringing with them a bohemian, surfer vibe that can be seen throughout Hiriketiya. Although the water is full, there is still room to swim or watch the surfers catch the best wave of the day from the comfort of the shore. The best way to do this is to rent a board and get involved by taking a lesson at one of the surf schools on the beach.

Galle beach
Galle beach is a small beach at the end of the promenade, below the famous lighthouse. There are mainly local people from the town but respectful foreigners can enjoy swimming here. As it is not a “tourist beach” so don’t show too much skin and being conservative. If you’re in a bikini, you might get awkward looks. It’s a beautiful beach and the sea is lovely and warm – it felt great to take a dip after a hot walk around the city.

Red Mosque – Pettah – Colombo

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Red Mosque is a historic mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It is located on Second Cross Street in Pettah.

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque (Sinhala: කොලඹ කොටුව රතු පල්ලිය, romanized: Kolomba Kotuwa Rathu Palliya, Tamil: மஸ்ஜிதுல் ஜாமிஉல் அஃபார் அல்லது சம்மாங்கோடு பள்ளிவாசல், romanized: Sammankodu Pallivasal, (known colloquially as the Samman Kottu Palli, Rathu Palliya,

Red Masjid or the Red Mosque) is a historic mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It is located on Second Cross Street in Pettah. The mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo and a popular tourist site in the city.

Construction of the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque commenced in 1908 and the building was completed in 1909. The mosque was commissioned by the local Indian Muslim community, based in Pettah, to fulfil their required five-times-daily prayer and Jummah on Fridays. The mosque’s designer and builder was Habibu Labbe Saibu Labbe (an unqualified architect), and was based on details/images of Indo-Saracenic structures provided by South Indian traders, who commissioned him.]

The Red Mosque is a hybrid style of architecture, that draws elements from native Indo-Islamic and Indian architecture, and combines it with the Gothic revival and Neo-classical styles. Originally it had the capacity for 1,500 worshippers although at the time only around 500 were attending prayers.

It is a distinctive red and white candy-striped two-storey building, with a clock tower, and is reminiscent of the Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (constructed in 1910).  Before other landmarks were built, some claim that the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque was recognised as the landmark of Colombo by sailors approaching the port.

In 1975 the mosque, with the assistance of the Haji Omar Trust, purchased a number of the adjoining properties and commenced building an expansion to the mosque to increase its capacity to 10,000

The mosque was commissioned by the local Indian Muslim community, based in Pettah, to fulfil the required five-times-daily prayer and Jummah on Friday.

The mosque’s designer and builder was Habibu Labbe Saibu Labbe.


Kelaniya Temple Sri Lanka

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The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara or Kelaniya Temple is a Buddhist temple in Kelaniya, near Colombo in Sri Lanka. It is located 11 km (6.8 mi) north-east of Colombo.

Legend says Gautama Buddha set foot in Kelaniya with 500 enlightened monks on his third and final visit to Sri Lanka over 2,500 years ago, at the invitation of a Naga king Maniakkhika, to preach the Dhamma.

The image house is divided into four sections. The oldest are located in the King’s image house where scenes from the Jataka stories are depicted. The murals in the new image house depict scenes from the Buddha’s life and also illustrate the Buddha’s legendary first visit to Sri Lanka where he preached to the indigenous tribe of Yakkas in Mahiyanganaya.

The paintings show, the bringing of the sacred Bo sapling by Sanghamitta, daughter of India’s Emperor Asoka and the manner in which Indian princess Hemamala brought the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha hidden in her coiffure to escape detection.

The stupa is 90 foot tall, is built in the shape of a paddy heap, similar to the Jethavana and Abayagiri stupas in Anuradhapura. Many people believe the gem crusted throne upon which the Buddha sat is enshrined within this stupa.

The main highlights in the temple’s calendar is the Duruthu Perahera held on the January full moon Poya day. On the first day, the procession will be circling the upper terrace of the temple, called the Udamaluwe Perahera. Elephants, drummers and dancers perform. The sacred casket of relics is placed on a cushion and is carried around the temple thrice by the Chief Basnayake Nilame.

The second night sees  the tenor, tempo and colour increase as more elephants, drummers and dancers join the parade. The procession makes its way around the lower temple square, called the Pahala Maluwe Perahera. The processions of the three Devalas Kataragama, Vishnu and Vibishana, join the perahera.

The perahera is a celebration of Sri Lanka’s cultural arts. Yet, above all, it has been able to awaken, rekindle and reaffirm the spirit of a nation.

Buddhists believe the temple to have been hallowed during the third and final visit of the Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka, eight years after gaining enlightenment, dating back to before 500 BCE.

The Mahawansa records that the original Stupa at Kelaniya enshrined a gem-studded throne on which the Buddha sat and preached. The temple flourished during the Kotte, much of the land was confiscated by the Portuguese. During the Dutch era, there were new gifts of land and under the patronage of King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha the temple was rebuilt. It was refurbished in the first half of the 20th century with the help of Helena Wijewardana.

The temple is also famous for its image of the reclining Gautama Buddha and paintings by the native artist Solias Mendis which depict important events in the life of the Buddha,

According to history, Buddhism in Sri Lanka has been celebrated at Kelaniya Temple for as long as anyone can remember, especially the Duruthu Maha Perehera procession each January, where a 18-foot stone statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara has been erected at the temple.


Sacred Quadrangle Vatadage Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka 57

Poḷonnaruwa (Sinhala: පොළොන්නරුව, romanized: Poḷonnaruva; Tamil: பொலன்னறுவ, romanized: Polaṉṉaṟuvai) is the main town of Polonnaruwa District in North Central Province, Sri Lanka. Kaduruwela area is the Polonnaruwa New Town and the other part of Polonnaruwa remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

Kings ruled the central plains of Sri Lanka from Polonnaruwa 800 years ago, when it was a thriving commercial and religious centre.

Treasures from that age can be found in the archaeological treasures that still give a pretty good idea of how the city looked in its heyday.

That Polonnaruwa is close to elephant-packed national parks only adds to its popularity. And with good accommodation and plenty of bikes for hire, the town itself makes a pleasant base for a day or two, fringed by a huge, beautiful pool with a relaxed ambience.

You’ll find the archaeological park a delight to explore, with hundreds of ancient structures – tombs and temples, statues and stupas – in a compact core. The Quadrangle alone is worth the trip.

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first established by the Chola dynasty as their capital in the 10th century. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site.

Currently the new Polonnaruwa is undergoing a major development project known as the “Awakening of Polonnaruwa”. This envisions the development of all sectors in Polonnaruwa including roads, electricity, agriculture, education, health and environment will be developed comprehensively.

Polonnaruwa is of unknown origin and was adopted by the traveller James Emerson Tennent. It’s Tamil form, Pulainari, is mentioned in Tamil inscriptions found at Polonnaruwa of the Chola period. The name is also derived from its ancient name Pulastya nagara or Pulatti nakaram meaning city of the Hindu sage Pulastya.

Previously known as Jananathapuram or Jananathamangalam. Later known as Vijayarajapuram as mentioned in the records of Jayabahu I, which probably was derived from the name of Vijayabahu I.


Polonnaruwa was established by the Cholas as capital city under the name Jananathapuram in the 10th century. Under this period flourished Hinduism. Raja Raja Chola I built Vanavan Mahadevisvaram, a Shiva temple at Polonnaruwa named after his queen, which presently is known as Siva Devale.

The temple among other contained Ganesa and Parvati statues of bronze. Sri Lanka was under this period ruled under Rajendra Chola I directly as a Chola province. However, following the year 1070 AD ended the Chola rule in the island, and Polonnaruwa was captured by Vijayabahu I.

Trade and agriculture flourished under the patronage of the king, who was so adamant that no drop of water falling from the heavens was to be wasted and each was to be used toward the development of the land.

You find irrigation systems that are far superior to those of the Anuradhapura Age were constructed during Parakramabahu’s reign – systems which to this day supply the water necessary for paddy cultivation during the scorching dry season in the east of the country. The greatest of these systems is the Parakrama Samudra or the Sea of Parakrama. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was completely self-sufficient during King Parakramabahu’s reign.


Poḷonnaruwa the main town located in Kaduruwela area and hosts the remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. Ancient temples, places of worship and ruins dating back many thousands of years. A must visit location in Sri Lanka.
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Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka – Tenavarai Nayanar

Tenavaram temple (Tamil: தென்னாவரம் கோயில்) (historically known as the Tenavaram Kovil, Tevanthurai Kovil or Naga-Risa Nila Kovil) was a historic Hindu temple complex situated in the port town Tenavaram, Tevanthurai (or Dondra Head), Matara) near Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka.

Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka

Its primary deity was a Hindu god Tenavarai Nayanar (Upulvan) and at its zenith was one of the most celebrated Hindu temple complexes of the island, containing eight major kovil shrines to a thousand deity statues of stone and bronze and two major shrines to Vishnu and Shiva. Administration and maintenance was conducted by residing Hindu Tamil merchants during Tenavaram’s time as a popular pilgrimage destination and famed emporium employing over five hundred devadasis.

The complex, bordered by a large quadrangle cloister, was a collection of several historic Hindu Kovil shrines, with its principle shrine designed in the Kerala and Pallava style of Dravidian architecture. The central temple dedicated to Vishnu (Tenavarai Nayanar) known as Upulvan to the Sinhalese was the most prestigious and biggest, popular amongst its large Tamil population, pilgrims and benefactors of other faiths such as Buddhism, kings and artisans.

The other shrines that made up the Kovil Vatta were dedicated to Ganesh, Murukan, Kannagi and Shiva, widely exalted examples of stonework construction of the Dravidian style. The Shiva shrine is venerated as the southernmost of the ancient Pancha Ishwarams of Lord Shiva (called Tondeswaram), built at coastal points around the circumference of the island in the classical period.

Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka

Tenavaram temple owned the entire property and land of the town and the surrounding villages, ownership of which was affirmed through several royal grants in the early medieval period. Its keepers lived along streets of its ancient agraharam within the complex. Due to patronage by various royal dynasties and pilgrims across Asia, it became one of the most important surviving buildings of the classical Dravidian architectural period by the late 16th century. The temple compound was destroyed by Portuguese colonial Thome de Sousa d’Arronches, who devastated the entire southern coast. The property was then handed over to Catholics. Tenavaram’s splendor and prominence ranked it in stature alongside the other famous Pallava-developed medieval Hindu temple complex in the region, Koneswaram of Trincomalee.

Excavations at the complex mandapam’s partially buried ruins of granite pillars, stairs and slab stonework over the entire town have led to numerous findings. Reflecting the high points of Pallava artistic influence and contributions to the south of the island are the temple’s 5th- to 7th-century statues of Ganesh, the Lingam, sculpture of Nandi and the Vishnu shrine’s 10th-century Makara Thoranam (stone gateway), the frame and lintel of which include small guardians, a lustrated Lakshmi, dancers, musicians, ganas, and yali-riders.

Tenavaram temple was built on vaulted arches on the promontory overlooking the Indian Ocean. The central gopuram tower of the vimana and the other gopura towers that dominated the town were covered with plates of gilded brass, gold and copper on their roofs. Its outer body featured intricately carved domes, with elaborate arches and gates opening to various verandas and shrines of the complex, giving Tenavaram the appearance of a golden city to sailors who visited the port to trade and relied on its light reflecting gopura roofs for navigational purposes.

Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka


Galle Trilingual Inscription of 1411 CE erected by Chinese Admiral Zheng He mentions the main deity of Tenavarm temple as displayed in the Colombo National Museum of Sri Lanka in December 2011.

Dondra Head is known historically in Tamil as Then-thurai, Tevan-thurai, Tennavan-thurai, Tendhira Thottam, Tenavaram and Tanaveram which are variations of the same meaning “Lord of the Southern Port” in the language. Then or Ten is an anglicized form of the Tamil word for South while Tennavan (“Southerner”) is a historic ephitet denoting the Hindu God Shiva in the language, used by Tamil poets and simultaneously used as an honorable description of several Pandyan kings. Tevan is God, Thurai means port, Thottam means “estate” while varam or waram denotes the Lord’s abode Iswaram.

The shrines’ primary deity Vishnu shared the name of the town, Tenavarai Nayanar, at the southernmost point of the island. The northernmost Vishnu shrine of the island, Vallipuram Vishnu Kovil, houses the ancient deity Vallipuram Alwar following a similar naming tradition.

The Ganesh shrine of the temple was known as the Ganeshwaran Kovil and the Shiva shrine of the complex was known as Naga-Risa Nila Kovil. This name is possibly etymologically related to Nagareshu, from the famous phrase Nagareshu Kanchi coined by the 5th-century poet Kalidasa in describing Kanchipuram as the “best city.” Nila means blue while Kovil or Koil means a Tamil Hindu temple in Tamil.

The whole complex was the southernmost shrine of the five ancient Iswarams of Lord Shiva on the island of classical antiquity along with Koneswaram (Trincomalee), Naguleswaram (Keerimalai), Thiruketheeshwaram (Mannar) and Munneswaram (Puttalam).

In Pali the town is called Devapura and Devanagara. In Sinhalese it has been referred to as Devinuwara, meaning City of Gods and Devundara.

In English today the town is known as Dondra or Dondera. It was a prolific sea port and capital city in medieval Sri Lanka and housed merchants from around Asia, amongst whom were many traders from Tamil Nadu.

Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka

Early history

The famous Vadakkunnathan Kovil of Thrissur, Kerala. Tenavaram shared strong structurally similar gopurams to this multi-shrine ancient Shiva complex constructed in the Dravidian Kerala style of architecture.

A map drawn by early Greek cartographers reveals the existence of a Hindu temple at the same location along the southern coast. Ptolemy in 98 CE marks the town as “Dagana” or “Dana” (Sacra Luna), a place “sacred to the moon,” which geographers note corresponds to Tenavaram.

In this temple the principal deity was known as “Chandra Maul Eshwaran”. On the forehead of the deity was a large precious stone shaped like a moon crescent.
Ancient Tamil texts such as the Yalpana Vaipava Malai call the town Theivanthurai (God’s Port) and the deity’s name Santhira Segaram or “Lord Shiva, wearer of moon on his head”. This shrine became known as the Naga-Risa Nila Kovil of Tenavaram by the medieval period, and as “Tondeswaram”, one of the five ancient Ishwarams of Shiva in the region.

Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka

Construction development in 6th – 8th century CE

There is scattered literary and archeological evidence from local and foreign sources describing the division of the whole island in the first few centuries of the common era between two kingdoms. The accounts of 6th-century Greek merchant Cosmas Indicopleustes who visited the island around the time of King Simhavishnu of Pallava’s rule in Tamilakam reveal the presence of two kings, one of whom was based in Jaffna, home to a great emporium, who ruled the coastal districts around the island. This Tamil kingdom evolved from Nāka Nadu of the ancient Nāka Dynasty. Merchant guilds from Tamilakkam often built from scratch or maintained previously built shrines to Lord Shiva and Vishnu across South and South East Asia during the rule of Pallava, Chola and Pandyan kings.

During the conquest of Ceylon by Pallava King Narasimhavarman I (630 – 668 CE) and the rule of the island by his grandfather and devout Vishnu devotee, King Simhavishnu (537 – 590 CE), many Pallava-built rock temples were erected in the region to various deities and this style of architecture remained popular and highly influential in the next few centuries. The temple complex was developed with a Pallava style of architecture between the 6th and 8th century CE.

One tradition states that a temple shrine in Tenavaram was constructed by King Aggabodhi IV in the middle of the 7th century CE, fusing Dravidian stone-made temple construction with a local interpretation.

The Kegalla district ola manuscript found by archaeologist Harry Charles Purvis Bell records another popular tradition, involving the arrival of a red sandalwood Vishnu image at Tenavarai by the sea in 790 CE. King Dappula Sen was involved in restoring the Vishnu shrine of the complex during this time to house the image after envisioning its arrival in a dream. The manuscript indicates several Tamil pilgrims’ arrived at Tenavaram at this time, and how the King granted its lands to the Hindus who accompanied an image of Vishnu. The Chief Brahmin Priest/merchant prince who brought the image was called Rama Chandra, (a name which alludes to Lord Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu). The sandalwood image was moved soon after to other shrines inland. Some scholars regard the story of a sandalwood image washing ashore to be mythical.

A 17th-century literature source details that right after the washing ashore of the wood image, Tamil Brahmins versed in Vaishnava lore from Rameswaram in Pallava-era Tamilakkam were invited to the town to fashion and import an image of Lord Vishnu to Tenavaram. Other sources indicate the Tamils brought the statue to Tenavaram for safe-keeping as Rameswaram was under attack. Rama Chandra founded the Ganesh Kovil of Tenavaram in 790, located at Vallemadama on the sea coast, where the waves struck its walls at the Kovil Vatta.

The Naga Risa Nila Kovil of Shiva was in the vicinity of this area of Tenavaram. Rama Chandra’s name was recited daily at the conclusion of worship during the early hours of the morning. Hymns in praise of God were recited by Tamil priests attached to the temple. These priests settled in the established agraharam. In traditional Hindu practice of architecture and town-planning, an agraharam consists of two rows of houses running north-south on either side of a road. At one end exists a temple to Shiva and at the other end, a temple to Vishnu. Another famous example of this is Vadiveeswaram in Tamil Nadu.

The complex’s many shrines are historically attested in grants, inscriptions and local literature. Epigraphical evidence in several languages found in the vicinity relate information about its shrines to Murukan, his goddess consorts, Ganesh, the goddess deification of Kannagi, Vishnu and Shiva. Tenavaram became a famous Tamil emporium over the following few centuries.

A ferry transported traders, pilgrims and chroniclers from Tenavaram to the Chera and Chola kingdoms of Tamilakkam via Puttalam on the western shore of the island (then an extension of the Malabar coast and Hindu Jaffna kingdom) and the Gulf of Mannar from this time through to the late medieval period.

Floruit in the 11th – 16th century CE

Location of the main Tenavaram Kovil shrine at Thevan Thurai, Matura near the coast, before the complex’s destruction. Portuguese drawing, published c. 1650

The royal grant by Dambadeniyan King Parakramabahu II, who ruled from 1236 to 1270, contains references to donations to the Tenavaram Kovil, renovating the shrine and reaffirming its land ownership and regulations to prevent evasion of customs duties at the port by traders at the estate. According to this epigraph, Tendiratota and its lands that were religious endowments of old were duly maintained by the king. The port was administered by an officer titled Mahapandita. Those coming from foreign countries were not allowed to set up places of business without permission and royal officials were required not to accept gifts from foreign merchants. His epigraph also mentions the devalayam (a Tamil temple in formal speech) section of worship and Tenavaram’s agraharam (brahmadeya or chaturvedimangalam) – the Iyer or Tamil Brahmin quarter of the heterogenous Tenavaram village as warranting protection.

A close connection existed over a long period between the Iyers of the agraharam of Tenavaram and the kings who had exercised authority over the southern and southwestern lowlands. Pocaracan Pantitan of Tenavarai, who carried the honorary designation Tenuvaraipperumal before his name, wrote the Caracotimalai, a treatise on astrology in metrical Tamil verse. The author recited it in the presence of the king at the court of Kurunegal in 1310. A panegyric account of the royal patron at this court, Parakramabahu IV (1303 – 1326) of Dambadeniya, is in the introductory stanzas of this work. The author’s honorific title, Tenuvarai-Perumal, literally means “The Prince of Tenavarai.” Several other Tamil Hindus are mentioned with the special designation Tenuvarai Perumal in documents issued by the kings of the Kotte Kingdom in the 15th and 16th centuries, such as Bhuvanekabahu VII of Kotte, a Hindu monarch who signed all of his official proclamations in Tamil. Among the names of many Hindus listed in the Kudumirissa Inscription are included those of two individuals who had the designation Tenuvarai-p-perumal. They are Tiskhanda Tenuvarapperumal and Sarasvati Tenuvarapperumal. These “Perumals” were officiating priests of the temple and exercised authority over the administration of the town and the temple.

Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka

The Dondra slab inscriptions record the granting of lands to the Vishnu shrine in the fourteenth century. Endowments to the Shiva shrine and extensive donations of lands to it were made during the reign of King Alagakkonara, a Raigama chief who ruled the south between 1397 and 1409. The Naymanai inscription slab of Parakramabahu VI of Kotte (1412-1467), written in Tamil and Sanskrit in Tamil and Grantha characters found in a jungle two miles north of Matara by Edward Müller, mentions that the king gave fields and gardens in the villages of Cunkankola, Pakarakaramullai, Vertuvai and Naymanai as endowments to Tenavaram. The grant was made for the specific purpose of providing alms for and feeding a group of twelve Brahmins at an alms-hall (Sattiram) named after “Devaraja”, which was maintained regularly/daily without interruption (nicatam natakkira).

The alms-hall was in the vicinity (iracarkal tiru – c – cannatiyil nisadam madakkira sattirattukku tiru-v-ullamparrina ur) or the premises of the holy shrine of the “god king” of Tenavaram. The conquest of Jaffna kingdom by Sapumal Kumaraya, a military leader sent by the Kotte king in 1450, was celebrated in the Kokila Sandesaya (“Message carried by Kokila bird”) written in the 15th century and contains a contemporary description of the island traversed by the road taken by the cookoo bird, from Tenavaram in the south to Nallur (“Beautiful City”) in Jaffna in the north. It and other extant Sandesas mention the Vishnu shrine of Tenavaram and some of the gopurams’ three storeys. The Tisara Sandesa, Kokila Sandesa and Paravi Sandesa mention the Ganesh shrine’s location on the sea coast of Tenavaram.
The lands owned by the Shiva shrine were detailed by King Vijayabahu VI in a 1510 dated record. Early 16th-century copperplate inscriptions of the King Vijayabahu VII detail the land grants made by the king in the town on the condition that the recipient paid ten fanams a year to the Vishnu shrine. The grants were to be enjoyed permanently by the children, the grandchildren, and the descendants of astrologers and veda – vyasaru, including Tenuvarai Perumala, a son of (one of) them.

The Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta visited the temple in the 14th century and described the deity Dinawar as sharing the same name as the flourishing trade town in which He resided, made of gold and the size of a man with two large rubies as eyes “that lit up like lanterns during the night.” One thousand Hindus and Yogis were attached to this vast temple for services, with five hundred girls that danced and sang in front of the Mahavishnu idol. All people living within the vicinity of the temple and who visited it were fed with monetary endowments that were made to the idol.

1692 engraving by Wilhem Broedelet of Robert Knox’s 1681 map with Tenewara on the south coast of Matura

The complex received revenues from seventy villages. Substantial donations of gold, silver silks and sandalwood were made from the Chinese admiral Zheng He to Tenavaram temple in 1411 CE, as detailed in the Galle Trilingual Inscription. The text concerns offerings made by him and others to various religions including the God of Tamils Tenavarai Nayanar, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, on behalf of the Yongle Emperor.

Several stone pillars here were erected through donation from Chinese kings, inscribed with letters of their nation as a token of their devotion to Tenavaram’s idols. The chief deity mentioned and the donation of the trilingual inscription have also been connected to Shiva and his adjacent shrine – Nayanar were historic Saivite Tamil saints who worshipped Shiva and lived between the 5th and 10th centuries in Tamil Nadu. The admiral invoked the blessings of Hindu deities here for a peaceful world built on trade. Portuguese cartographers such as Tomé Pires who visited the island in the early 1500s describe Tenavarqe as an important trading and navigation port of the south, full of precious stones.

Tenavaram’s gold-copper gilded roofs earned it fame amongst pilgrims and sailors, due to navigational purposes and its contribution to the town’s appearance as a “golden city.” Encompassed by a quadrangular cloister which opened under verandahs and terraces to the various deities’ shrines, the complex contained gardens of shrubs and trees which priests used to pluck offerings to the deities.

The Portuguese historian Diogo do Couto stated that along with Adam’s Peak, Tenavarai was the most celebrated temple on the island, and the most visited pilgrimage site of the south with a circuit of a full league, while his fellow Portuguese historian De Quieroz compares the temple port town’s splendor to that of the Koneswaram temple of Trincomalee and states that Lord Vishnu was the primary deity of the destroyed shrine of Tenavarai.

The Portuguese called the great shrine the “Pagode of Tanauarê.” It was destroyed in February 1588 by soldiers led by the Portuguese colonial Thome de Souza d’Arronches, a naval captain.

The temple was attacked to distract the Sitawakan king Rajasimha I who was laying siege to the city Columbo on the island’s west coast at the time. De Sousa entered the complex to find it empty, giving up the temple to the plunder of 120 accompanying soldiers before looting its riches of ivory, gems and sandalwood, overthrowing thousands of statues and idols of the temple before leveling the complex and defiling the inner court by slaughtering cows there.

The area was then burnt. Also destroyed was the deity’s magnificent wooden temple car. De Quieroz, writing a century after the destruction, states that a large Catholic Church, the St Lucia’s Cathedral was then built on the temple’s foundation by Franciscans, sufficed to maintain three Portuguese churches.

Ruins of several granite pillars from one of the Tenavaram shrines and an intricately designed stone doorway retain Pallava architectural influence, similar to rediscovered pillars of the ancient Koneswaram temple that was destroyed almost forty years later. James Emerson Tennent describes Tenavaram as the most sumptuous Hindu temple complex of the island before its destruction.

Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka

Ruins and rediscovery

Donative Pillar inscriptions of King Vijayabahu V1 (1510–1521) donating lands to the Nagirasa Kovil (temple) of Tennavaram temple complex
18th-century chroniclers such as orientalist Captain Colin Mackenzie and the author Robert Percival described the Hindu ruins of several temples that they saw in the town as contemporary to the finest examples of suriviving ancient Tamil architecture and sculpture of the Coromandel Coast of Tamil Nadu.

The granite slabs, stone works and pillars of the ruins include several elephant heads and carvings of naked men and women and indicated lingam worship to the visitors.

James Cordiner, writing in 1807, described the colonnade of 200 granite pillars having curved bases and capitals and others rough edged, forming an avenue to the sea, leading to an intricately carved doorway with several Hindu sculptures attached. He describes intersections of rows of pillars with this avenue proceeding to the right and left. Cordiner recounts the discovery of the ancient stone image of Ganesh worshipped in a mud hut at the site. The shrine’s well had been covered by a stone slab. Another shrine dedicated to Murugan of Kathirkamam was also present and revered during his visit. Many of the stones of the ruins of the Tenavaram complex were used to build the Matara Fort by the colonists.

Sinhalese Buddhist temples of smaller size and a much later period had come to be erected over the Tamil Hindu ruins in some locations according to their observations. The discoveries of the late 20th century indicate that a Buddhist Vihara has come to be erected where the Lord Shiva or Ganesh shrine of the complex has been located by archaeologists.

20th-century recovery of idols
A small stone building currently called the Galge or Galgane at Tenavaram that once is held to have supported a brick dome or upper storeys (Vimana tower) atop its roof displays a Dravidian provincial style of construction and architecture assigned to the late Pallava period with strong affiliations to the Kailasanathar Temple in Kanchipuram. Likely to have been the Vimanam-Garbhagriha or Sreekovil of one of the shrines, this building was reconstructed/repaired in 1947. It is a simple cuboid stone room structure with a flat roof currently atop its sanctum.

A Shiva lingam sculpture was found in the foreground of the Othpilima Vihara at the site in 1998 by a gardener along with a stone image of Nandi. It is 4 ft high and 2½ feet wide. A stone image of Ganesh and Nandi had been excavated decades earlier at the site Kovil Vatta – gardens of a newly constructed Buddhist Vihara in the Vallemadama area of Tevan Thurai.

The lingam’s large size has led archaeologists to conclude it could be the principal idol of the ancient temple. The Avudaiyar or the pedestal of the Shiva linga is a thin slab; the upright or vertical portion is tall and slender. The Nandi ishapam (statue of Nandi) found with the lingam dates from the Pallava era. Other discoveries include statues of the Hindu god Ganesh and a goddess said to be Pattini/Kannagi.

The garland decorated gateway to the original shrine, dating from the 10th century, is well preserved at the site. One of two styles of Thoranam to typical Kerala style temples, (lion-sea dragon or peacock crowned), the Makara Thoranam’s (gateway’s) frame and lintel include small guardians, dancers, musicians, ganas, and yali-riders. There is a lustration of the goddess Lakshmi in the center of the lintel.

Tenavaram Temple – Dondra Head – Matara – Sri Lanka

In the late British period, the “Vishnu Devale” was built in the town according to Sinhala Buddhist traditions. It is venerated solely by Sinhala Buddhists today. The deity here is sometimes called Upulvanna, which German orientalist Wilhem Geiger notes is an alternate local form/description of Lord Vishnu, the original main deity of Tenavarai. Upulvan means blue-lotus coloured, an attribute of both Vishnu and Shiva). The Vishnu Devale building here is also blue in colour. The formerly multi religious and multi ethnic port city ceased to function as such by the late medieval period.

Nuwara Eliya little England Upcountry Sri Lanka

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

Nuwara Eliya little England Upcountry Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya is නුවර එළිය (Sinhalese) is நுவரெலியா (Tamil)

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

Nuwara Eliya City is uniquely quaint and has deep vibes of English roots from the days that the British “found” this lovely “upcountry” getaway.

Called “Little England” because it reflects all that is good about England. However, Nuwara Eliya is not in Europe, rather this gem of a place is located in the Indian Ocean, on the lovely tropical island that is Sri Lanka, high from the sea at about 2000m above the coastal areas of Sri Lanka. Indeed it is six-hour car drive from the capital along some of the most beautiful roads with outstanding views at every twist and turn as you proceed upcountry Sri Lanka. This is a place like no other. 

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

GPS Coordinates are 06°58′0″North 080°46′0″East This puts the Nuwara Eliya Race Course about 4750 nautical miles from Windsor Race Course in England.

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

  • Urban 13 km2 (5 sq mi)
  • Elevation 1,868 m (6,129 ft)
  • Population in the City of 27,500(2011 census)
  • Density 3,197/km2 (8,280/sq mi)
  • Tourist population – many!

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

Nuwara Eliya little England Upcountry Sri Lanka

The city is the administrative capital of Nuwara Eliya District, with a picturesque landscape and temperate climate.  Nuwara Eliya (Sinhalese: නුවර එළිය [nuwərə ɛlijə]; Tamil: நுவரெலியா) is a city in the hill country of the Central Province, Sri Lanka.

The name means “city on the plain (table land)” or “city of light”. The upcountry altitude is around 1,868 m (6,128 ft) and is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka.

Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, overlooks Nuwara Eliya which is known for its temperate, cool climate – the coolest area in Sri Lanka. Very pleasant all year round. A great retreat from the coastal towns to revitalise the health and put some chill in the bones. A trip upcountry whilst refreshing, makes returning to the beaches all that more adorable.

Exciting and relaxing things to do in Nuwara Eliya – as you wish 

Watersports and horse riding – Nuwara Eliya

Gregory Lake is a huge lake in Nuwara Eliya. There is a large car park with restaurants and tourist shops, watersports, walkways, and benches to rest on. There are horses rides available for a few hundred rupees. For the water and fun lovers, you can take a speedboat on the lake. The cool air is lovely on the water and the sights are unbeatable. Gregory Lake was created by Governor William Gregory between 1872 and 1877. It was used for watersports during the British colonial period and is now enjoyed by all and a popular attraction for locals and visitors.


Victoria Park – Nuwara Eliya

Located near Nuwara Eliya Golf Club is Victoria Park, in honor of Queen Victoria’s 60th Jubilee coronation in 1897. The park spreads out on 27 acres of land and is full of foreign trees and flowers. It’s the perfect place for a fresh natural walk. During quiet times, there are plenty of native birds that flock in the trees and birdwatchers can have a great time. There is a small charge to enter the park which goes towards maintaining this lovely natural park.


Ambewela Farm – Nuwara Eliya

The largest and more prestigious dairy farm is also in Nuwara Eliya. Just a little bit out of town and you reach the rolling hills of Ambewela where the cows roam free to graze in turns. Visitors can see the milking stations of the dairy cows and see the calves in the nursery. The cows are well taken care of and the visit is quite pleasant. The farm is pretty big so there is a lot of walking. Drink a fresh glass of milk at the cafe station up the hill and buy some cheese to eat.


Hakgala Botanical Gardens – Nuwara Eliya 

The Hakgala Botanical Gardens are believed to be the highest altitude botanical gardens in the world. On the road to Badulla, stop at the green gates and visit the beautifully manicured gardens full of roses and orchids and other plant species.


Notable History
The city was founded by Samuel Baker, the discoverer of Lake Albert and the explorer of the Nile in 1846. Nuwara Eliya’s climate provided a sanctuary of the British civil servants, businessmen and planters of old  Ceylon.

Nuwara Eliya, called Little England, was a hill country retreat where the British colonialists could immerse in their pastimes such as fox hunting, deer hunting, elephant hunting, polo, golf and cricket.


Although the town was founded in the 19th century by the British, the district is today visited by native travelers, especially during April, the season of flowers, pony races, go-cart races and car rally.

New hotels are often built and furnished in the colonial style. Visitors to the city can wallow in its nostalgia of bygone days by visiting the landmark buildings. Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period such as the Queen’s Cottage, General’s House, Grand Hotel, Hill Club, St Andrew’s Hotel and Town Post Office.Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

There are a plethora of private homes maintaining old English-style lawns and gardens which adds some special nostalgia and breathtaking vistas.

Nuwara Eliya Climate
Due to its highland location, Nuwara Eliya has a subtropical highland climate, having no pronounced dry season, a monsoon-like cloudy season and with a mean annual temperature of just 16 °C (61 °F).

In the winter months, there can be frost at night, but it warms up rapidly during the day because of the high sun angle.

The majority of the population of Nuwara Eliya city is Sinhalese. There are sizable communities belonging to other ethnic groups, such as Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils.

  • Ethnicity (2012) Population
  • Sinhala 19,157
  • Sri Lankan Tamils 9,557
  • Indian Tamils 9,101
  • Sri Lankan Moors 4,629
  • Other (including Burgher, Malay) 606
    Total 43,050

English is also widely used by the locals. Sinhala and Tamil are the two major languages spoken in Nuwara Eliya. 

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

Nuwara Eliya Festivals

The town really comes alive in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year (13/14 April).

It is difficult to find accommodation as Sri Lankans holiday in the region during this period. The festive season starts on April 1 annually in a ceremonial manner. The ceremony consists mainly of a band show in which all the local school bands participate.

Main attractions during April include motor and horse racing events. Motor racing comes alive with the Mahagastotte and Radella Hill Climbs, the former being run since 1934.

Parties are held nightly in the hotels, and the season culminates in the nine furlongs (1811 m) Governor’s Cup at the Nuwara Eliya Racecourse, Golf Tournaments at the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club, and the flower show at the end of the month.

The Nuwara Eliya Road Race and the 4X4 Lake Cross on edge of Lake Gregory attract enthusiasts from around the world.

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

Local Attractions

The town’s attractions include the golf course, trout streams, Victoria Park, and boating or fishing on Lake Gregory. Victoria Park is an attractive and well-used oasis. It is popular with birdwatchers at quieter times because of the good opportunities for seeing species, particularly the Indian blue robin, pied thrush or scaly thrush lurking in the denser undergrowth. The Kashmir flycatcher is another attractive bird species in the park.

Galway’s Land Bird Sanctuary, close to Lake Gregory, is an area of montane forest a few kilometers east of the town. Covering an area of 0.6 km2 it is home to many bird and mammal species endemic to Sri-Lanka, including wild boar and barking deer.

Nuwara Eliya little England Upcountry Sri Lanka Golf Club

There is a well-established golf club dating back to the British days and kept in that former glory. You can easily imagine that you are in an English country golf club. Fine meals and comfortable accommodation is available in the clubhouse.

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

The city is a base for visits to Horton Plains National Park. This is a key wildlife area of open grassy woodland. Species found here include the leopard, sambar, and the endemic purple-faced langur. Endemic highland birds include the dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka white-eye, and yellow-eared bulbul. The plains have a well-visited tourist attraction at World’s End — a sheer precipice with a 1050 m drop. The return walk passes the scenic Baker’s Falls. Early morning visits are best, both to see the wildlife and to view World’s End before mists close in during the later part of the morning.

Nuwara Eliya’s countryside is ideal for farming and there is widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with temperate Europe. This “Little England” is covered with terraces growing potatoes, carrots, leeks, and roses, interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes.

The Nuwara Eliya strawberries are simply awesome with fresh local cream.

The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world’s finest orange pekoe tea. Several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours and the opportunity to sample or purchase their products.

‘Lovers Leap’ is a spectacular waterfall set among tea plantation a short walk from the town of Nuwara Eliya. It falls a height of 30m in a long cascading sheet of water. It is said that it is named after a young couple who decided to be bound together forever by jumping off the cliff to their demise.

Nearby places

A temple to Hanuman near Nuwara Eliya
A gravestone of Major Thomas William Rogers, (the Government Agent for Badulla District) is in the corner of the golf grounds. He is infamous for having shot, at the very lowest estimate 1,400 wild elephants. Folklore in Nuwara Eliya says that every year his gravestone is struck by lightning for his great sin. This place is not open for the visitors.

Another place related to folklore is the Hindu temple called Seetha Kovil (Hanuman Kovil). It is found on the way to Badulla from Nuwara Eliya before reaching the Hakgala Botanical Garden. The temple is in the village called Seetha Eliya. The area is related to the Ramayana story in Hinduism. Folklore says that the mighty king Ravana kidnapped princess Seeta who was the queen of Rama and hid her where the temple now is.

There is a church called the Holy Trinity Church on Church Road, which accommodates an old graveyard. Most of the gravestones have British names on them.

Nuwara Eliya Hotels


Araliya Green City Hotel – Nuwara Eliya

The First, and at present, only 5 star hotel. Lavish suites with maids rooms or staterooms to suit your requirements. The hotel proudly overlooks the racecourse and is midway between the city centre and Lake Gregory. restaurants are good and there is an international food court for snacks and casual meals.

The Grand Hotel – Nuwara Eliya

Built in 1891 as the home for the governor of Sri Lanka, Sir Edward Barnes, the now Grand Hotel is the perfect place to spend the night the right way in Nuwara Eliya. The hotel has great dining options and a lovely high tea. They can also organize activities like trekking, fishing, and sunrise safaris.

The Grand Hotel, No. 05, Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka, +94 522 222 881

Nuwara Eliya little England Upcountry Sri Lanka

Brief Garden by Bevis Bawa

Plants spill down the sides of the house, blanketing it in a layer of lush greenery. Stems sprout from sculpted pots, while elsewhere pink flowers erupt into a dazzling, colorful display. It’s an enchanting place, one where its creator’s personality and love for the landscape come alive.

Brief Garden is the masterpiece of Bevis Bawa, brother of the famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Bevis, the elder Bawa brother, began crafting this luscious landscape roughly 20 years before Geoffrey commenced work on his world-famous Lunuganga Estate.

Bevis created the garden by spending decades transforming the rubber plantation he inherited into the verdant jungle-esque gem it is today. He began cultivating the space in the late 1920s while serving in the army and continued up until he died at age 89 in 1992.

Thankfully, the estate is still maintained and open to the public. It errs on the wild side for a garden, with tangles of vines creeping down the walls of the buildings. It has an intimate atmosphere, making you feel as though you’ve left the town behind and stepped into your own secluded slice of the jungle. Narrow paths wind through tropical plants, revealing a pool, patio, and staircase. Archways cloaked in greenery lead to hidden statues like carved faces and a stoic horse tucked among the flora.

The house, too, is worth a peek. The art within it and the garden reflect Bevis’ personality and life. Homoerotic sculptures dot the space, and a stunning mural depicting Sri Lankan life adorns one of the walls.

Know Before You Go
If you’re in Colombo, you can easily arrive at the Brief Garden within two hours’ drive. One has to buy a ticket to get in, but it’s nothing too expensive, and the tour lasts about an hour and a half and is definitely an experience you won’t soon forget.

The antique sculptures are prohibited from being interacted with so children should always be accompanied by adults. One should also dress light since the weather is fairly tropical, and carry an umbrella since rain is also quite common.

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