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Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

Somwhere
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Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

Thought I'd provide a list of lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka (but which are equally amazing as the more well known ones). Many of them haven't made it to the regular tourist circuit and some of them are even unknown to many Sri Lankans as well.

-- Haththikuchchi (near Galgamuwa, on the way to Anuradhapura)

This is ancient monastery complex over 2000 years old (yes another one!), but this one is a really well kept secret with tonnes of ruins in sylvan surroundings. If you like also that Indiana Jones feeling and stunning views of the countryside from the top of rocks check it out. You also have to watch out for wild elephants while exploring.

MORE INFO:

- angelfire.com/in4/…hatthikucchi.htm

- www.anushkapereira.com/html/haththikuchi.html

-- Ritigala (off Habarana)

This is another ancient monastery complex but set in a total jungle setting and on a mountain (with fabulous views). It is criscrossed by ancient stone pathways and stairways and ruins that have been built on the mountain in thick jungle.

Picture of ancient stone pathway through jungle: flickr.com/photos/…

-- Vaedihiti Kanda (Kataragama)

Most people who visit Kataragama flock to the major Hindu/Buddhist temple that is found there along the banks of the river. However the vast majority pass by Vaedihiti Kanda which is a mountain nearby with a Hindu temple at the top. Again this is in a jungle setting and to reach it you have to climb through a jungle teeming with monkeys. Best to go when there is a pooja (religious offering) taking place, it is a beautiful ceremony. Don't carry conspicuous food as the monkeys snatch it from you.

-- Namal Uyana (Ironwood Park) Galkiriyagama

Another forest monastery on a mountain!! This time in a huge forest of iron wood trees. Everywhere you look it's ironwood trees. But besides the ancient ruined temples in the ironwood forest it is also home to one of Asia's largest pink quartz mountains. Apparently a lot this pink quartz was shipped off to adorn parts of the the Taj Mahal.

-- Mulawella (Sinharaja Rainforest)

No this is not a monastery but a jungle mountain which is provides excellent treking through virgin rainforest and provides absolutely breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside like: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_uqdOHNsrdIM/S0W7HgTs44I/AAAAAAAADY0/Kk4ZFRzvKiQ/s1600-h/a+119s.jpg - unknown to many Sri Lankans. This is in a nature reserve and you need a permit to enter.

-- Pidurangala (Sigiriya)

This is Sigiriya's totally ignored cousin, which hardly anyone visits, but the view from the top of this rock provides amazing views of sigiriya itself (as well as the rest of the countryside) as well as plenty of caves

MORE INFO: http://www.brelief.org/reports/piduran.html

St Austell
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1. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

A good list! And amazing to see Pidurangala mentioned just minutes after I also put a plug in for it. You are right .. you have it all to yourself and the views are amazing. I love it there.

There are a few new ones for me in your list, although I think Ritigala is now pretty well known. Watch out for the guys who try to charge you Rs500 to take your camera in with you there. I think this is the next place to join the tourist traps with that sort of behaviour ....

I have also climbed Wadihitikanda/Vaedihiti Kanda at Kataragama. It is a magical sight at night when you can see the temple lit up at the top, The temple itself is slightly disappointing when you actually get there but it's well worth doing for the forested climb, all the monkeys and the incredible view from the top. Also, when in this area, don't miss Sella Kataragama which has daily poojas and costs just Rs14 by local bus from Kataragama. A short walk from here brings you to the Lakshmi Devale which is like a religious theme park (sorry .. can't think of another way to describe it!) Very kitsch and colourful and a popular excursion with local visitors, if not tourists.

Sue

UK
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2. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

Hi,

I agree with Sue... Thanks for the posting and I agree with you both.

Ritigala I still like in spite of the guys that Sue mentioned, trying to blag more money from visitors. Just pay for the ticket and nothing else. And, don't be afraid to wander from the path on the way up, there's lots of little sites tucked away in the forest.

In that general area, I'd include Mihintale with the list although it is getting more known.

On that list that you posted I particularly enjoyed Haththikuchchi, especially the bit right at the top where you creep between two balancing rocks, near the pool and suddenly find yourself on a rock ledge sloping away to a very , very long drop.

One not mentioned that I found and really enjoyed visiting is Sithulpahuwa near Kataragama. Another ancient temple comlex. Get a tuk tuk from Kataragama and it'll take you along a few dusty dirt roads and then through a little back gateway into Yala park. After several miles through the park jungle you'll come to the temple site built on some big granite rock outcrops.. No charge and no tourists.

I've always liked searching around for the less visited places and with the usual tourist prices going higher and higher it makes sense to leave them alone and get further from the track.

Rod.

Antarctica
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3. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

Would like to add

* Raswehera ( cave temple complex with a large standing buddha carved out of rock like aukana)

* Maligawila

*Yapahuwa

*Tantirimale

to the list. Some nice but rarely visited sites.

St Austell
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4. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

And Arankele too, which you could combine with maybe Haththikuchchi and Yapahuwa. We enjoyed this one a lot ... as much for the beautiful setting as for the ruins and remaining monastery.

Sue

Melbourne
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5. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

Pidurangala is an excellent place to photograph the rock at a great angle and elevation. I went up in the afternoon and got some great shots of Sigiriya, which I visited the following morning.

A friend stayed at Back of Beyond at Pidurangala, an eco lodge, which she raved about.

St Austell
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6. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

Pidurangala is an easy walk from hotels like Sigiriya Village/Hotel Sigiriya too. It might be worth asking a local to point you in the right direction at the start, as you have to go up beyond the Buddhist temple and the steps are a bit hidden. It is also a bit of a scramble to the very top, over some large boulders, but should be within the capabilities of any able bodied adult. Once you are at the top, there is a huge flat summit where you can just sit and stare ....

Sue

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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7. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

Add Buduruwagala, 5 km from Wellawaya to the south and then a few km to the west. The main Mahayana Buddhist statue area in Lanka, with 10+ high rock-carved statues.

Have fun,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

St Austell
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8. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

Oh yes Erik! It's another one of my favourites. The drive is particularly wonderful, passing deep pools surrounded by boulders and with lots of birdlife and butterflies. It would be great to cycle along here and I have promised myself a return trip to do just that at some stage.

Budurawagala is one that you could combine with Maligawila, mentioned in scooby's post above. These places are very beautiful indeed; tranquil, quite isolated and you will probably have them to yourself. As well as being of cultural interest, they are rich in wildlife and will appeal to anyone with an interest in this.

Sue

9. Re: Lesser known sites to visit in Sri Lanka

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