Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park is situated approximately 180 Km from the Commercial city of Colombo. It is 104 Km from the scared city of Kandy. The national park is located in the North Central province and the closest city is Polonnaruwa. Closet town is Habarana, just ten minutes’ drive.

The national park covers an area of 8889.4 ha.

In August 1997, the area was designated as a National park, but originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The tank (Minneriya tank) has a historical importance; it is built by the King Mahasen in third century AD.


Minneriya rainwater reservoir is the crucial point of the national park. Minneriya National park is part of the elephant corridor which joins up with the Kaudulla National Park and Wasgamuwa National park. Due to this reason Minneriya National park gives a great opportunity to watch herds of wild elephants throughout the year. May to October is reckoned to be the greatest time to visit Minneriya National park to view the wild elephant gathering.

Main Attraction of the park

Wild elephant gathering at the tank is the focal attraction of the Minneriya National park. During the dry season the area is a feeding ground for the wild elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee districts. Elephants gathered on the edges of the reservoir during the dry season can amount around 150 – 200. A jeep safari is the most appropriate method for site seeing at Minneriya National Park.

Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park

Climate at the National Park

The national park is located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Therefore it receives an average annual rainfall of 1500 – 2000 mm. Temperature range from 20.6 C and 34.5 C respectively. Elehara canal and the Amban river are the main resources of water for the tank. The wet season is from October to January, where North Eastern monsoon prevail.


The national park is considered to have 24 species of Mammals, 160 species of Birds, 9 species of Amphibians, 25 species of Reptiles, 26 species of Fish and 75 species of Butterflies.

National park is an important habitat for purple-faced langur and torque macaque, which are endemic monkey species of Sri Lanka.

Minneriya is a dormitory for many local and migrant birds. Great white-pelican, ruddy turnstone and grey heron can be seen. Also endemic bird species such as Sri Lanka jungle fowl, Sri Lanka hanging parrot, brown-capped babbler, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, black-crested bulbul and crimson-fronted barbet were reported. 11 number of threatened birds species were also reported from the national park.

There are 8 species of endemic reptiles and all are considered as threatened. Saltwater crocodile, Indian python, Asian water monitor, Painted-lip lizard and Bengal monitor are the reptile species found at the park.

Sri Lanka

North Central province


August 12, 1997

Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park is one of the best national parks to spot Elephants in Sri Lanka. It is located in the district of Polonnaruwa in North Central Province. And it is about 190 km from the commercial city of Colombo. Also it is nearly 120 Km from the sacred city of Kandy. 

The national park can be reached by Colombo – Trincomalee main road. Its entrance is positioned 22 Km North of Habarana.

Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park is the best park to go on a safari to watch Elephants. Safari jeeps are available throughout the day, but the most preferred time is the evening. Evening is less busy and elephants can be spotted. A tour can be completed within 4 to 5 hours.

National park is a dry green forest which spread over an area of nearly 6700 hectares. Park includes Relapanawa reservoir, Olumadu Wewa reservoir, Puliyan Kalla Wewa reservoir, Minneriya – Kanthale Yoda Ela canal and Aluth Oya stream. Since all these situated closely to each other, park get submerged in water for several months in the year.

Climate of the Park

The national parks annual average rainfall amounts between 1500 mm – 2000 mm. North-Eastern monsoon is the main source of rain. During the period of April – October a dry weather condition prevails at the park. The average annual temperate fluctuates between 20 C – 35 C.

A herd of elephants
Kaudulla National Park
Kaudulla National Park © TripAdvisor

Wildlife at the park

Main attraction of the Kaudulla National Park is the herd of Elephants. At times the herd comprises 200+ Elephants. September and October are the best times to visit and enjoy the sight of large herd of Elephant. As per the sources in 2008, 211 of elephants were counted at the national park. Other than that 23 species of Mammals, such as Sambar Deer, Sri Lankan Axis deer, Chervrotain, Wild boar and Sloth bear can be seen. The peak time to visit the park is between June to September.

The national park is also a great place for bird watching. Also numerous species of reptiles can be spotted as well. As per the information there are 160 species of birds, such as Spot-billed Pelican, Lesser Adjutant, Asian Spoonbill, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork and Openbill Stork are common sights.


Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park

The Horton Plains National Park is a beautiful highland plateau located in central highlands of Sri Lanka. It is a protected area with an elevation of 2100 – 2300m above sea level which is 6900 – 7500 feet. In 2006, along with Knuckles Conservation Forest was declared as a World Heritage site. National Park is accessible via Ginigathena or via A5 road which connects Peradeniya with Chenkalay in the east via Gampola and Nuwara Eliya. This was declared as a National Park in 1988 and it is one of the popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka.

Weather at National Park

It receives an annual rainfall of greater than 2000 millimeters (79 in). Amount of sunlight received by the plants is limits by the frequent cloud cover. Annual temperature is 13 C (55 F), but the temperature differs noticeably during the course of the day. It reaches as high as 27 C during the day time and drops as low as 5 C at night. Although rain falls throughout the year, a dry season can be seen from January to March. During the South-West monsoon season, the wind speed can be very high. Horton Plains is considered as one of the most important watershed in the Island.

Horton plains are the headwaters for few important rivers such as Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe. It also feeds Belihul Oya, Agra Oya, Kiriketi Oya, Uma Oya and Bogawanthalawa Oya. Slow moving streams, waterfalls and swamps are few wetland habitats can be seen in the park.

Tourist Attractions

Horton Plains National park has become a popular tourist destination due to World’s End being the utmost popular. It is a 700 m vertical drop, which gives a marvelous view of the valley below.

Bird watching is another popular routine for a tourist. National Park consists of 21 endemic bird species such as Sri Lanka Superfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Yellow-fronted barbet, Orange-billed babler, Sri Lanka bush warbler and Sri Lanka Whistling thrush. Also four species namely the Sri Lanka Magpie, Dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye and Sri Lanka Wood pigeon can only be seen at the National park. There also are a variety of migrant birds such as Crested serpent eagle, Mountain hawk and Black-winged kite.

               Most frequently seen mammal is the Sambar deer, a population of 2000 is estimated.

Sri Lankan Monkey

Horton Plains National Park is a beautiful and picturesque place in Sri Lanka, where a tourist needs to visit when in the island of Sri Lanka. Others include Toque macaques, Purple faced langur, Kelaart’s long-clawed shrews, Sri Lankan leopard, Wild boar, striped necked mongoose and Spotted chevrotain. And one of the world’s most endangered primate, the Red slender loris can be seen here.

Knuckles Mountain Range

Knuckles Mountain Range

The Knuckles Mountain Range is one of the loveliest nature attractions and it lies in the central parts of Sri Lanka. And to be exact in the districts of Kandy and Matale. The mountain range is also known as Knuckles Massif. It gets its name due to a series of recumbent folds and peaks into the west of the chain, which looks a lot like the knuckles of a clenched fist of a man. It is located over 3000 feet’s above sea level and consists of five peaks, namely Kirigalpottha, Gombaniya, Knuckles, Koboneelagala and Dotulugala.

The area was declared as a climatic reserve in 1873 and as a conservation forest in the year 2000. The mountain range can be considered as one of the South Asia’s most important sites for the conservation of mountain tropical forest habitats.

This mountain range is a bio-diversity hotspot, where you can watch, learn and study.  This can be seen from certain locations in the Kandy Disctrict. Among locals the mountain range is known as Dumbara Kaduvetiya, meaning mist-laden mountain range.

Knuckles Mountain Range
Knuckles Mountain Range

Rainfall, Temperature and Humidity

The average rainfall of Knuckles mountain range is between 30005000 ml while the temperature ranges between 5.5 to 35 degrees Celsius. The wind speed is 7.2 km/hour and humidity range between 5790%.

Plants, Mammals and Birds

The Knuckles mountain range has more than 1033 plant species belonging to 141 families, 15% them of are endemic. There are 17 endemic bird species out of 128 bird species that lives. Some of them are the Black eagle, Pale billed flower pecker, Barbets, Egrets, Lorikeets, Babbler, etc., Also 20 species of amphibians can be seen such as Kirthisingha’s Rock frog and the Leaf nosed Lizard. There are nearly 60 species of Butterflies, with two endemic species, the Birdwing and Blue Mormon and furthermore 17 species of mollusks and 53 species of reptiles.

Black Eagle (© eBird.org)

Hiking and Trekking in Knuckles Mountain Range

The Knuckles mountain range is one of the best places to do trekking and hiking since there are several different trails leading to the mountain range. A good period to do trekking is between December and February since possibility of rain is moderate. March to May too is a good time to go trekking with possibility of rain is low. It is an ideal place for waterfall hunting, bird watching. Ahnd surely a great place for nature photography for travelers and photographers alike. Hikers or travelers are able to travel on three routes from Kandy via Rattota, via Wattegama and via Teldeniya.

Tuskers at Esala Perahera of Kandy City

Glittering Esala Perahera in Kandy

Glittering Esala Perahera in Kandy

Tuskers at Esala Perahera of Kandy City

Esala Perahera in Kandy or Dalada Perahera is perhaps the world’s oldest religious pageant. It held for the 1790th time this year. It is held in the August to honour the sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha which reposes in the Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy.

The sacred Tooth Relic was brought to Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamala and her husband Prince Dantha from Kalinga State, and handed to then King Kirthi Sri Meghawarna (AD 303 – 331), who reigned in Anuradhapura. The king reverently accepted the precious relic and deposited it in a mansion called the Damma Cakka Geha which was built by the first Buddhist King of Sri Lanka, Devanampiyatissa. Initially it was kept at the Meghagiri monastery, currently called Isurumuniya.

During that time the sacred Tooth Relic was taken to the Abhayagiriya in a procession and it is considered the origin of the Dalada Perahera. According to the Chulavamsa, King Kirthi Sri Meghawarna began the Perahera in the 10th year of his reign and continued till 372 AD.

Sacred Tooth Relic was brought to Senkadagala by the King Vimaladharmasuriya (AD 1591 – 1604).

The reign of King Kirthi Sri R​Rajasinghe (AD 1747 – 1810) is considered as the golden era of Buddhism. Even though he belonged to the Indian Nayakkar Dynasty, he did much to the Buddhism. During his time he ordered to held the individual Peraheras of the  Four Devala and the Dalada Maligawa Perahera together as a one perahera, with the advice of the Ven. Sanga Raja, Velivita Sri Saranankara thera.

Sigirya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya rock commonly known by locals as the eighth wonder. It is an ancient palace and a fortress complex with major archaeological significance. Rock attracts hundreds and thousands of tourists each year. It is possibly one of the most visited tourist destination of the Island.

The rock fortress is located 15 Km away from Dambulla, one of the cities of cultural triangular of Sri Lanka. It is above 370 meters of sea level. Sigiriya Rock is a massive column rock standing alone nearly 100 meters (330 ft.) high.

The Sigiriya rock is believed that this place has served as a monastery according to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle, the Chulvamsa The rock was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) to build a royal palace. After the death of king, it yet again became a Buddhist monastery until 14th century, when it was deserted.

Sigirya Rock Fortress
Sigirya Rock Fortress

UNESCO has listed Sigiriya as a World Heritage site and one of the best examples of ancient urban planning. Sigiriya gained international recognition due to the engineering capabilities displayed in its construction, the palace layout, frescoes and the mirror wall.

Ancient ruins at top of Sigiriya
Ancient ruins at top of Sigiriya

The fortress complex includes remnants of an ancient palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals and fountains.

The main entrance to the rock is located to the Northern side. It was designed in the form of a huge lion, and its feet can be seen today but unfortunately other parts have been destroyed. The name Sigiriya has originated due to this lion. The term has originated from the Sinhala word, ‘Sihagiri’.


Entire western wall is covered by frescoes, created during the time of King Kasyapa. Eighteen out of them have survived to this day.

They portray nude females and are considered to be either portraits of wives of King Kasyapa or priestess performing religious rituals. Even though the identity is unknown, paintings are unique and celebrating the beauty of females. Frescoes are of incredible historical significance.

Paintings at Sigiriya
Paintings at Sigiriya
Sigiriya Mirror Wall
Sigiriya Mirror Wall

Mirror Wall

Most remarkable part of Sigiriya is the Mirror wall. It is believed that during king’s reign it was polished comprehensively so that king could witness his reflection. Currently wall is strictly prohibited for public since the wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors to Rock Fortress. The writings of the wall are clear evidence that the Sigiriya have been a popular tourist destination more than a thousand years ago.

Places near Sigiriya Rock

Dambulla cave temples are located close to the Sigiriya rock. Minneriya national park, Kaudulla National park, Namal uyana and Pidurangala rock few interesting places located close.

Sri Lankan Monkey

Monkeys of Sri Lanka

A total number of three (3) species on Monkeys can be found in the Island of Sri Lanka. Tufted gray langur and purple-faced leaf monkey are of Langurs species and Toque macaque is of macaque species.

Udawattakele Sanctuary
Monkeys at Udawattakele Sanctuary

Endemic to Sri Lanka are Purple-faced leaf monkey and Toque macaque,
while gray langur can also be found in India too. In wet zone area jungles
Purple-faced leaf monkey can only be found. And Gray langurs can only be found
in dry zone of the Island. Toque macaque shows island wide distribution.

Purple-faced leaf monkey

Purple-faced langur

Purple-faced leaf monkey is also known as
purple-faced langur, a species of Old World monkey and is endemic to Island
nation of Sri Lanka.It is mostly brown in appearance and dark face and a very
shy in nature. Once a highly widespread species found in many parts like suburban
Colombo and the “wet zone” villages, but rapid urbanization has led to a
considerable decrease of their population.

Monkeys of Sri Lanka can be found of family groups which include six (6) to ten (10) members. A group consist of related mature females, sub-adults, juveniles and infants of both sexes, with dominant unrelated male. The dominant male will lead the group and keep an eye on all activities and movements done by the group members.

Most Islanders consider monkeys as pests since they tend to destroy crops all around the island.

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Degaldoruwa Makara Thorana

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya is located in Amunugama, a village close to the city of Kandy. Famous for the splendid paintings that beautify its walls. these colourful painting examples depicts the ancient Kandyan art. The cave has been hollowed out of a rock which rose to a height of around 40 feet, and shelter the Shrine Room and an entrance area.

Degaldoruwa Makara Thorana
Degaldoruwa Makara Thorana

Anyone who travel from Kandy can reach the Degaldoruwa Viharaya via the road over the Lewella Bridge or by turning off at Nattarampota along the Kundasale Road.

The initial steps for the construction of this Temple were taken by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1780) who was a great patron of the arts. It has been said that some of the finest Kandyan Temple paintings were done during his reign. However he died before Degaldoruwa was completed and it was left to his younger brother King Rajadhi Rajasinghe to see it through. After completion King Rajadhi Rajasinghe placed the Temple in the custody of a very learned monk, Moratota Dhammarakkita Nayaka Thera, who was also his teacher.

The Degaldoruwa Viharaya paintings are unique due to the fact that the elements – humans, trees and animals are generally of a uniform size. Furthermore, it is only the front view of the human form that is always shown, never the rear. Interestingly the trees are depicted in a stylized form with the leaves and branches spreading out to the sides. One can also identify the streams depicted in the paintings from the fish that are shown swimming in them.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established in 1975 by the late Hon. Minister Kalugalle and currently managed by the Department of National Zoological Gardens Sri Lanka. Presently it is a home for 93 elephants.

Elephant at Pinnawala
Getting ready for their daily bath at "Ma Oya" river

Main idea behind the facility is to attract local and foreign visitors and the income from which would help to maintain the orphanage. The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage has since become a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Thousands of visitors visit the orphanage daily to see how the elephants live under the kind care of their mahouts.

Main idea behind the facility is to attract local and foreign visitors and the income from which would help to maintain the orphanage. The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage has since become a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Thousands of visitors visit the orphanage daily to see how the elephants live under the kind care of their mahouts.

The main residential care area is on the east side of Rambukkana Road. It also has some restaurants and refreshment stands, and management buildings including sleeping sheds and veterinary facilities. The elephant bathing and viewing area along the “Ma Oya” River is directly opposite on the west side of the highway.

People who visit the Elephant Orphanage can view the care and daily routine of the elephants, such as bottle feeding of elephant calves, feeding of all other elephants, and bathing in the “Ma Oya” River.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Elephant pack ready for a bathing at the river

Most of the elephants at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage are healthy. Once they attained adulthood will be retained within the facility because they have become dependent on food. A few disabled elephants are given residential care.

An Evening View of Kandy Lake

Kandy Lake

The Kandy Lake (Kiri-muhuda)

A beautiful lake can be seen in front of the Temple of the Tooth Relic which is called “Kandy Lake”. It was a stretch of paddy fields called “Tigolwela” in the past. King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe built the lake converting the paddy fields. Since there was a beautiful pond named as “Kiri-muhuda” (a sea of milk) in the middle of the Tigolwela, the lake too had been named as “Kiri-muhuda”.

The extent of the lake is 6544 sq. meters. (70,400 sq. ft.) The circumference is 3.21 km. Highest depth is 18.5 m (60 ft.) The parapet wall, giving the appearance of a cloud, is popularly called “Walakulu Bemma” and measures 633.82 m. It is a beautiful lake which greatly enhances the scenic appeal of the city.

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