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About Ratnapura

.... RATNAPURA ....

One of Sri Lanka’s nine provinces, Sabaragamuwa is located in the south-central region of our island and offers the visitor a plenitude of natural beauty, culture, history and adventure found on a variety of terrain. Sabaragamuwa Province consists of two districts Kegalle & Ratnapura.

Ratnapura District is most famous for its gems, one of our island’s first exports, like tea, tusks and spices. Certainly most of the people of this district have connections with the gem trade, in its many facets, either mining, cutting, polishing and making Jewellery. At the centre of this, quite the most beautiful of industries, is Ratnapura (City of Gems). Here you will find stones of excellent quality, luster and variety..... sapphires, rubies, amethysts, topaz, garnets, tourmaline, cat’s eyes, star rubies and sapphires and the mysterious moonstones (feldspar), to name a few. Craftsmanship of high quality, all cutting and polishing is being done the traditional way by hand.

FLORA AND FAUNA

From one facet of nature to another..... Ratnapura is a place of great natural beauty and many of our island’s most famous scenic spots are located within the province.

Beginning with primeval Sinharaja… one of the few virgin forests left, in the world, Sinharaja covers an area of 8900 hectares within which are found streams, springs, rivers, waterfalls, wild life, rare trees, valuable shrubs and medicinal herbs both indigenous and endemic. This tropical rain forest is rich in interest for the nature lovers with an adventurous soul. Naturally one cannot drive through but walking along carefully prescribed paths will discover never to be forgotten sights and sounds. A walk through the Sinharaja may well be the nature tour to end all nature tours.
Then there is Udawalawa National Park which is now more or less synonymous with elephants, seen in all their playfulness, whole herds of them, adults and babies, bathing and playing in the water or feeding.. so many of them they defy counting .. on the tender tree shoots they love. Bulutota pass is another place worth visiting for its scenic beauty … a walk through Horton Plains National park for some of the loveliest, wildest and most tranquil scenery on the face of the earth and the home of the rare bear monkey, endemic to Sri Lanka. Belihul-Oya Rest House is a lovely spot to base you, with the river and its myriad little waterfalls chuckling and gurgling nearby.

On the subject of waterfall, Ratnapura District boats of so many that will have to mention a few of the most famous,.. starting with Baker’s falls, which rises from Belihul-Oya and is named after an Englishman, Samuel Baker, who “discovered” it in the year 1948. Also Surathali Ella, Duvili Ella, Katugas Ella and Bopath Ella.

ADVENTURE IN RATNAPURA

Sri Pada, or Adam’s Peak, is Sri Lanka’s holly mountain, sacred to for religions, Muslim’s and Christians believing the footprint on its summit to be that of Adam, Buddhist claiming the impression was left by the lord Buddha and Hindus taking it for that of the Siva. Sri Pada is 7360 feet above sea level and is reached through thick jungle. For the more adventurous, there are off-season climbs of Sri Pad…pony trekking through world’s End environs and the stunning view, at the end, of the precipitous drop of over 4000 feet to the valley bellow, the misty walks through Horton Plains, with their beautiful flora… and for the dedicated anglers, nothing is more invigorating than a session of fishing the pools of the Kitulgala.
More of nature’s wonders, if caves and caverns seem mysteriously exciting to you must not neglect to visit Waulpane, yet another of our national treasures. Quite unique in Sri Lanka, the Waulpane caves are through to originate from the pre-Cambrian era and are rendered the more fascinating by their formations of stalagmites and stalactites and the fact that a water course (The Halwinna Dola) flows through the cavern, forming a thunderous waterfalls and pool. The caves are also home to thousands of bats, whence the name, Waulpane, from the Sinhala word for bat: Waula. Bathalegala, or Bible Rock as the English named it, is a rock which truly resembles one of the fat Bibles one sees in ole churches. Rising out of the jungle, it is a dramatic sight. The Rakwana-Bulutota Pass, on a surprising hairpin bend, gives an amazingly good view across the island, on a clear day.

HISTORICAL AND ARCHEOLOGICAL REMAINS

Among the many ancient temples in the province, we must mention the Saman Maha Devale, situated close to Ratnapura town and believed to have been built by the king Parakramabahu II (1236-1270 AD). The Saman Maha Perahera (pagent or procession) held at this temple in the month of August each year draws large crowds of devotees. Close by, is Maniyangama Royal temple, its cave walls covered with murals. Sankapala Temple, consisting of three caves containing inscriptions dating to the 2nd century BC, was built by Pussadewa. One of the ten commanders of the army of King Dutugemunu, who ruled over our island from 161 to 137 BC. After the major battles were over, Pussadewa became a Bihikku and meditated in one of the cave. Delgamuwa Temple at Kuruwita is famous for being the hiding place of the sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha for 44 long years. It is said that the temple custodian of the shrine in Kotte where the relic was kept, feared for its safety and swam the Diyawanna Oya (river) to Seethawaka Kindom, the gem studded casket hidden in his cloths, and hid it in a large grinding stone which can be seen at Delgamuwa to this day, minus of course the Sacred Tooth Relic.
The ancient Aluthnuwara Dedimunda Devala has a history going back to the reign of King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 AD). Built during the reign of King Dapulusena, this is the main shrine dedicated to the God Dedimunda in Sri Lanka and still the original Vishnu Devala, two inscribed stone slabs, old stone pillars and two rows of un carved rectangular pillars. There is an annual festival, held in July/August featuring perahera, fire walking and a water cutting ceremony. The Ratnapura National Museum is open every day of a week, from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, except Fridays. It houses a good collection of archaeological, zoological, and pale ontological, ethnographical and geological artifacts, all unearthed in Sabaragamuwa. Sabaragamuwa Dance is an art form all its own… one of Sri Lanka ’s most ancient, traditional dance forms which has been handed down, retaining its pure state, from generation to generation