Yala National Park
Yala National Park which is also known as Ruhunu National Park is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka. Being the second biggest national park it is located in the southeast region of the country and lies in the Southern and Uva Province of the country. The park covers and extent of 979 square kilometres and is about 300 kilometres from Colombo the capital city. The park was designated as a wild sanctuary in 1900 and along with Wilpattu was designated as a national park in 1938. Yala is known for it variety of animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants and the Sri Lankan leopards.
Yala is considered as one of the 70 most important bird areas in Sri Lanka. The park harbours 215 bird species including 6 endemic species of Sri Lanka. While 44 mammals have been recorded from the park and it claims to have one of the highest densities of leopards in the world.
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 re designated to a national park on 4 January 1993. In 1991 Bundala became the first wetland to be declared as a Ramsar site in Sri Lanka. In 2005 the national park was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the fourth biosphere reserve in Sri Lanka.
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 (15 Minute drive from Hide Yala). The name Sithulpawwa is derived from the word “Chiththala Pabbatha”, which means the hill of the quiet mind.
This ancient monastery with a history over 2200 years, was a place of worship for devotees as well as a center of Buddhist education for Buddhist monks. Paintings of the Anuradhapura era and the ruins of stone Buddha images, Bodhisattva images, Image Houses, Circular Relic Houses are spread throughout the monastery premises.
Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara
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. Tissamaharama monastery had been recognized as a pre-eminent Buddhist educational center of the southern Sri Lanka from the 3rd century B.C. to the 11th century A.D. The Tissamaharama Dagaba which is situated in the premises of the monastery is one of the largest stupas in Sri Lanka.
Yatala Vehera (also spelled Yatala Wehera) is an ancient Buddhist stupa located in Deberawewa – Thissamaharama area in Hambantota District of Sri Lanka. The stupa is built on a stage made of large flat granite stones and has a surrounding wall of sculpted elephant heads, a moat and a large moonstone. It is believed that the stupa was built 2300 years ago by regional king Yatala Thissa of Ruhuna to commemorate the place where he was born. However, some believe that the stupa was built by regional king Mahanaga, father of Yatala Thissa to mark the birth of his son.
In various historical documents and chronicles, this stupa has been also referred as Mani Chethiya and Yattalaya. It is not known what was enshrined in this stupa but a large number of relic caskets has been discovered in the stupa. It is believed that this stupa was offered to Arhant Arittha Thero, who was the first Sinhalese arhant, by the regional king of Ruhuna. This stupa is also believed to be the first stupa built in the kingdom of Ruhuna. The restoration work of the Yatala dagaba commenced in 1883 AD and It took over a century to complete the restoration. A small opening has been left in the renovated stupa to observe the different phases of construction.
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.
Kataragama is a pilgrimage town sacred to Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and indigenous Vedda people of Sri Lanka. People from South India also go there to worship. The town has the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama devalaya, a shrine dedicated to Skanda-Murukan also known as Kataragamadevio. Kataragama is in the Monaragala District of Uva province, Sri Lanka. It is 228 km ESE of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Although Kataragama was a small village in medieval times, today it is a fast-developing township surrounded by jungle in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka. It houses the ancient Kiri Vehera Buddhist stupa. The town has a venerable history dating back to the last centuries BCE. It was the seat of government of many Sinhalese kings during the days of Rohana kingdom.
Kiri Vehera is an ancient stupa situated in Kataragama, Sri Lanka. This stupa probably dates back to the 6th century BC and is believed to be built by King Mahasena, a regional ruler of Kataragama area. One of the most popular Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the country, Kiri Vehera is among the Solosmasthana, the 16 most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites of ancient Sri Lanka. This stupa which is 95 ft. in height with a circumference of 280 ft. is located 800 m North to the famous Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Devalaya.