Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The hilly virgin rainforest, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rain forests ecoregion, was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve’s name translates as Lion Kingdom.
Tissamaharama is a town where one could rest after a long journey across the Southern Province which is very often warm and dry. Even in the ancient days this area was a sanctuary for the kings of the island, a favourite hide-away for some rest and thinking in times of crisis. The population here was very patriotic and it was an ideal place to organize rebellious armies for battle. Wijayabahu the 1st once prepared for a battle against the Chola king from a point in Tissamaharama. Though Anuradhapura is considered the ancient capital of the island, Tissamaharama is considered having a 2000 year old record as the capital of Magampura. The area is yet to be explored and excavated to unearth its archaeological wealth from several historical sites. Tissamaharama can be very easily reached, located as she is just 20 kms from Hambantota, turning off at Weeravila. Most travelers reach this town on their way to Yala National Park or to the multi-religious shrine of Kataragama. It’s also the turn off to Kirinda which is yet another historic beach resort. The milk white domed Tissamaharama Dagoba located in the midst of green paddy fields is a beautiful sight. With the adjoining great lake called the Tissa Wewa, it’s a perfect image of the total Sinhala village with “The Dagoba – Green Fields, The Wewa (Tank) and The Village” combining to make it picture perfect. The government rest house located just by the tank is an ideal spot to enjoy a Sri Lankan lunch while taking in the beautiful scenery. The writer Arthur C. Clerk used the close by Kirinda beach as his team’s land base when diving for the Great Basses wreck.
Hambantota is the main town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, with a harbor, aerodrome and huge palatial building complexes giving it an impressive new skyline. Very few actually know that it was an important sea port historically. The brave navigators of Alexander the.
This temple, though very ancient, is connected to King Saddhatissa who reigned Magama around 130B.C. But inscriptions along the drip ledges suggest that this temple dates back to almost prehistoric times. It’s located off Tangalle, in the southern province from where one could reach Mulkirigala via Middeniya or .
The eighth largest town in Sri Lanka with a long beach front is the city of Matara. With two Dutch forts to boast of the city has a lot of history. Through the town the river Nilwala flows in to the sea. The larger fort, with a clock tower, occupies one side of the town with the sea on the other.
Starting just east of Hambantota, Bundala National Park extends along a coastal strip for 20 kms. The road to the east meanders through the northern territory. Bundala is in fact a huge real life aviary where an immense number of bird species abound, attracting migratory flocks by the hundreds. Another interesting pastime one could engage in is crocodile watching.
Boasting a history of over 2200 years this greatest of second century sites of Buddhist historical importance makes the Sithul Pawwa Rock Temple the best of all relics of Buddhist scholarship of yore. It is also an ancient place of worship in the Hambantota district. The modern name Sithul Pawwa is derived from the ancient ‘Cittal pabbata’, ‘The hill of the Tranquil mind’. It is said that in the 1st century AD as many as 12,000 Arahants lived here (monks who had achieved the highest mind level in Buddhism). Unlike the great monasteries in Anuradhapura and other towns, life at Sithul pawwa was hard and a monk or nun lived there only if they were seeking silence and solitude. Located opposite the Maha Sithulpawwa rock which is 400 feet (122M) in height is a cave temple. This cave temple, which is 67 feet high and 30 feet long, is part of the intricate cave-complex at Sithul Pawwa.
The Dagoba (Pagoda) of Sithulpawwa can be seen on the top of the rock. It is believed to have been built by King Kawantissa (100-140AD). A number of caves contain inscriptions in the early Brahmi script and from these inscriptions it was learned that a number of villages donated money to this temple for its upkeep. Ancient literary works give interesting information relating to this shrine. The image house at Sithul Pawwa still contains some fragments of paintings. The ruins of an ancient preaching house can be seen in the eastern precinct of Sithul Pawwa where a cluster of 10 feet high pillars rise from the earth.
Rekawa is a seaside rural community engaged in fisheries and agriculture. Its long sandy beach and mangrove skirted lagoon gives it a rustic beauty. There is a plethora of biodiversity in addition to mangrove forests with an encircling scrub jungle where medicinal plants and fruit trees abound. A wide variety of wildlife, including mammals, reptiles, 150 resident and migratory bird species, and many arthropods and aquatic creatures can be seen here. Millions of years before man colonized Sri Lanka, sea turtles have been coming ashore to the virgin beaches of this Island to lay their eggs. The beach near Rekawa is one of Sri Lanka’s most important marine turtle nesting sites where five of the world’s seven species of marine turtle come ashore to nest throughout the year. The project at Rakawa is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.
Dondra Point Light House is a lighthouse located on Dondra Head near the southernmost point in Sri Lanka and is the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka and also one of the tallest in South East Asia. Dondra Head lighthouse is operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
The star shaped fort at Matara is an unusual and unique structure. There are several beautiful and less crowded beaches along the coast between Galle and Matara and the closest to the town is at Polhena. Another attraction is a 25m high colourful Buddha statue built at Veherahena Temple.
Angulmaduwa is a village famed for her traditional artisans and is believed to be where brass making began in Sri Lanka. Iron-smelting and steel-tempering have been recorded as being practiced in this area since ancient times.Located on the way to Mulkirigala, a stop at Angulmaduwa provides an opportunity for a traveler to see a group of dedicated traditional artisans at work, producing high quality traditional brass ware. These items are popular souvenirs from the area and can be purchased at reasonable prices from the artisans themselves.
Hummanaya is located on the southern Sri Lankan coastal fishing village called Kudawella, in between Dikwella & Tangalle. The blowhole has always been one of the main attractions in Deep South. You have to reach there Passing the Matara town and after Dickwella, one has to turn right at Kudawella and proceed about 1.1 km.
The Hummanaya Blow Hole is a natural fountain, caused when sea water rushes through a submerged cavern and is pushed upwards. The Kudawella Blow Hole is a site that is breathtakingly mysterious. Volumes of sea water whistle through a natural fine hole from beneath a massive rock in the sea. It’s located on a rock about 40 ft above sea level. At the site, rough and high waves force water into the triangular shaped rock bottom, and force it through a hole at the bottom of the rock with very high pressure. With the sound of a blow whistle the water is blown high into the air.
The Kudawella Fisheries Association, a Community based organization that operate in the area, have recently taken up the task of giving fantastic boat rides to the blowhole from the Kudawella shore. Approaching this place, one can find many small outlets selling local fruits, thirst quenching drinks and fresh fried fish. In addition to this you will also find souvenir shops with a variety of local handicrafts and ornaments made out of sea shells and other marine findings.
Madu Ganga in Balapitiya offers a glimpse of how it has become a part of the life of the people in the area. At the outset Madu Ganga was considered to be Sri Lanka’s second largest wetland consisting of 28 islands. Together with the smaller Ranthambe Lake, to which it is connected by two narrow channels, it forms the Madu Ganga wetland. The main treasure of Madu Ganga is its mangroves that act as a bio-lock to the area in giving protection to the variety of aquatic plants and animal life. They provide a home for different kinds of aquatic plants, crabs, shrimps, fish, various invertebrates and other animal life including crocodiles.