3 Gardens You Must Visit in Sri Lanka
From lush tropical rainforests to pristine sandy beaches, Sri Lanka is every vacationer’s paradise filled with stunning sceneries and plenty of wildlife to accompany it. While some activities, such as a few extreme water sports can exclude kids from participating, there are plenty of places to explore on the island that are family-friendly and inclusive of anyone who plans to visit.
From the hills of Kandy to the coasts of Bentota, here are some of the most beautiful gardens in Sri Lanka that you won’t want to miss.
Royal Botanical Garden, Kandy
The Royal Botanical Garden in the western Kandyan suburb of Peredeniya is the largest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka, attracting around two million visitors to its lush landscapes every year. There are more than 4000 different species of plants within the 60 hectares of land that make up the gardens, ranging from medicinal plants to spices and palm trees.
The origins of the garden are said to date back to more than 600 years, when King Wickramabahu III ascended the throne in 1371 and held court at Peradeniya. The gardens are said to have been reserved for the exclusive use of ancient Kandyan royalty. The area was formally established as a botanical garden in 1843 using plants from around Sri Lanka and from Kew Gardens in England, and is open to all members of the public now.
The Royal Botanical Garden is known for its impressive collection of orchids, as well as for its famous Cannonball Tree, named so for the cannonball-resembling fruit that it bears. The tree was planted over a hundred years ago in 1901 by King George V and Queen Mary of England.
The Gardens of Sigiriya
The gardens of Sigiriya are among the oldest landscaped grounds in the world, and can be divided into three distinct areas: The Water Gardens, the Boulder Gardens, and the Terraced Gardens, encountered in that same order as guests make their way to the top of the rock fortress.
The Water Gardens greets visitors inside Sigiriya’s west gate, featuring several well-preserved pools that have been favourably compared to the water gardens of ancient Rome. There are three main parts to the water gardens. Water Garden 1 consists of four interlocking bathing pools; Water Garden 2 (the Fountain Gardens) displays an ingenious pressure system that still works when it rains, 1500 years after it was built; and Water Garden 3, hidden from immediate view by boulders and trees, is thought to have been a secluded area for the king to use.
Unlike the symmetry of the Water Gardens, the boulders that are strewn along the winding path of the Boulder Gardens are irregularly placed since they were built around the existing rocks. The shelters showcase some paintings and indentations on the rocks, left behind by the monks who first built a monastery at Sigiriya’s base.
Finally, the Terraced Gardens emerge out of the natural hill at Sigiriya’s base. A limestone staircase takes visitors through the series of terraced platforms, leading to the “lion staircase” at the top.
Brief Garden, Bentota
Brief Garden was designed by Bevis Bawa, a landscape architect who also happened to be the older brother of famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. He began cultivating the land in the late 1920s, after inheriting it as a rubber plantation. Brief Garden was properly designed in the late 1960s, and was opened for public viewing since 1970. There are more than a hundred different plant species within the 20 acres of land that makes up the garden, and it is considered a must-see for anyone with an interest in landscape design. The gardens feature secluded seating areas for privacy, and visitors are encouraged to take their time exploring the peaceful quiet of the area.
Brief Garden is a great family-friendly place to visit, but guests should note that children are to be accompanied by an adult when going through the main house, and are asked not to touch the sculptures within.