Things to do
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (Block 1), and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds.
Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara
The Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple in Tissamaharama, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It was one of the four major Buddhist monasteries established in Sri Lanka, after the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera to the country. The site of the Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara was consecrated by Lord Buddha himself, who spent some time in meditation there with 500 arhats (individuals who have reached enlightenment), during his third visit to the island.
Tissa Wewa (Tissamaharama)
The lake, an artificial reservoir, is thought to have been constructed in the 3rd Century BC, either by Mahanaga of Ruhuna or his successor Yatala Tissa of Ruhuna, in order to irrigate paddy lands and supply water to the flourishing city of Tissamaharama.
The lake was restored in 1871. The embankment (or bund) on the southern shore supports the Tissa-Kataragama road (B464), which is lined by old Indian rain trees planted by the British to provide shade.
Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya
Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist monastery located in Hambantota District, South Eastern Sri Lanka. Situated 18 km east of the pilgrimage town Katharagama, it is believed to have been built in the 2nd century B.C by king Kavantissa. Sithulpawwa Vihara can be reached by travelling 18 miles along the Tissamaharama-Yodhakandiya road towards the Yala National Park. The name Sithulpawwa is derived from the word "Chiththala Pabbatha", which means the hill of the quiet mind.
Kirinda centres on this imposing hilltop Buddhist shrine, which includes a stupa and huge standing Buddha. It's dedicated to Queen Viharamahadevi, who lived in the 2nd century BC and is at the heart of a local legend: when raging waters threatened Ceylon, King Kelanitissa ordered his youngest daughter, then a princess, into a boat as a sacrifice. The waters were calmed and the princess miraculously survived. Some 2000 years later, the temple was a place of refuge during the 2004 tsunami.
Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of birds, the highlight being the greater flamingo, which migrate in large flocks. Bundala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and redesignated to a national park on 4 January 1993.
Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. The reserve covers 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land area and was established on 30 June 1972.
Lunugamvehera National Park
Lunugamvehera National Park in Sri Lanka was declared in 1995, with the intention of protecting the catchment area of the Lunugamvehera reservoir and wildlife of the area. The national park is an important habitat for water birds and elephants. The catchment area is vital to maintain the water levels of the five tanks in the down stream of Kirindi Oya and wetland characteristics of Bundala National Park. This national park also serves as a corridor for elephants to migrate between Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park.
Katharagama is a pilgrimage town sacred to Buddhist, Hindu and indigenous Vedda people of Sri Lanka. People from South India also go there to worship. The town has the Kataragama temple, a shrine dedicated to Skanda Kumara also known as Kataragama deviyo. Kataragama is located in the Monaragala District of Uva province, Sri Lanka.