The aftermath of the war has given rise to the Sri Lanka’s tourism industry thus branding it as one of the hottest holiday destinations for those looking for the perfect getaway. This, of course, translates to more people, and if you are anything like me, you might be looking to avoid the throngs of loud tourists jostling around every attraction. Well, good news, it is not that difficult to escape the tourist trail thanks to the many hidden gems in this tiny teardrop island. So, here’s a list of top lesser known attractions in Sri Lanka.
Located at the far end of Sri Lanka, it is in in Karainagar, the largest island in the Jaffna peninsula, about twenty kilometres from the exotic city of Jaffna. It is a long way away, no matter which way you spin it. However, it is also one of the most isolated beaches you can come across in Sri Lanka. Named after the Casuarina trees which line the shore, the shallow nature of the sea allows you to walk far into the blue waters with no worries. Needless to say, you will not find much of a nightlife here and alcohol is strictly prohibited on the beach, but if you are staying at a nearby hotel or visiting the region, the Casuarina Beach makes an excellent location for a morning swim.
Once home to the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, Yapahuwa was once the capital of Sri Lanka. Fast forward the centuries and it is now one of the richest archaeological sites in terms of historical and cultural significance. It even has a large rock that is somewhat similar to Sigiriya, although historians believe the one at Yapahuwa was meant to be urbaner. The rock is 300 foot high and is well fortified with a history that goes all the way back to the 13th century. Possibly, the best part about the rock is a rock stairway that leads the way to the top. Guarded by two carved lion statues, the structure oozes Chinese influence. Furthermore, it contains abundant traces of ancient battlements and the remnants of king Buvenekabahu’s (1273-1284 AD) kingdom.
In the congested city of Kandy where tranquillity and silence are scarce, there exists a Gothic monastery quite hidden from the world. Enclosed by a small but sufficiently lush wooded area, the Ampitiya Seminary is just the place for some peace and quiet. The seminary has beautifully manicured lawns and a chapel that serves as a splendid example of classic Gothic architecture. Around the back is a forest estate with unexpected stone benches and statues amidst the trees. If you are spending the weekend in Kandy, the Ampitiya Seminary is fully worth your time.
Roughly translating to Lion Rock, Sinhagala is located deep inside the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka’s last surviving stretch of virgin rainforest. Little known by both tourists and locals alike, the entire trek composes of a journey through an enchanting forest free of humans. The forest is home to a large number of endemic animals from butterflies to tree crabs. However, the thick foliage makes it somewhat difficult to view them. The trek from the Kudawa entrance to the base of the mountain will take roughly 3 hours, and the climb itself another hour, but the stunning vistas of the rainforest canopy are so enthralling that you will forget your fatigue.
Any Other Lesser Known Attraction?
With so many attractions spread across the country it’s hard to pick the best lesser known attractions in Sri Lanka. And depending on your preference you might not like that at all. However, if you’re actively looking for it there are many hidden tourist hot spots in Sri Lanka for travellers who like to avoid a crowd.