Gampaha is a vibrant city located in the western province of Sri Lanka, approximately 20 kilometers north of the capital, Colombo. It serves as the administrative capital of the Gampaha District. Known for its bustling atmosphere and commercial significance, Gampaha offers a blend of urban conveniences and natural beauty. The city is characterized by a mix of residential areas, commercial hubs, and lush greenery. Gampaha is renowned for its lively markets, shopping centers, and eateries that cater to diverse tastes. The city also features several religious and cultural landmarks, including temples and churches that add to its cultural richness. Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and scenic views, Gampaha provides a balance between modern urban living and a serene environment, making it an appealing destination for both residents and visitors alike.

Nature of Gampaha

Gampaha is blessed with a tropical climate, with warm temperatures and abundant rainfall throughout the year, contributing to the fertility of the land.Gampaha District is home to several nature reserves and protected areas that showcase the rich biodiversity of the region. These include the Muthurajawela Marsh, a vast wetland ecosystem renowned for its birdlife and mangrove forests.

In addition to its natural beauty, Gampaha also boasts a number of botanical gardens national parks like Henarathgoda Botanical Garden and Horagolla National park which offer serene settings for relaxation and leisure activities.

Overall, the nature of Gampaha is a harmonious blend of tropical landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and serene surroundings, offering residents and visitors a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Muthurajawela Wetlands

Muthurajawela Wetlands is situated approximately 18 kilometers north of Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. It can be easily reached by road from Negombo or Colombo. The wetlands cover an expansive area of marshland, mangroves, and lagoons.

Muthurajawela is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species. The wetlands support over 200 species of flora, including various mangrove species such as Rhizophora, Avicennia, and Ceriops. The area is also a haven for numerous bird species, with over 190 species recorded. Common sightings include kingfishers, herons, egrets, and waterfowl. Reptiles, mammals, and fish can also be found in the wetlands.

The wetlands serve as a critical habitat for both resident and migratory bird species, providing nesting grounds, feeding areas, and resting places during migration. Muthurajawela Wetlands also plays a significant role in flood control and acts as a natural buffer against coastal erosion.

Various organizations and educational institutions conduct studies and awareness programs to promote conservation and sustainable management of the wetlands.

Boat Rides: One of the best ways to explore Muthurajawela Wetlands is by taking a boat ride. Several operators offer guided boat tours, allowing visitors to navigate through the narrow waterways and enjoy the tranquility of the wetlands. These boat rides provide an opportunity to spot various bird species, reptiles, and other wildlife.

Henarathgoda Botanical Garden

The garden was originally established in 1876 by the British colonial government as an experimental garden for the cultivation of cinchona trees, which were a source of quinine used in the treatment of malaria. Later, it was transformed into a botanical garden to study various plant species and their adaptation to the Sri Lankan climate.

Henarathgoda Botanical Garden covers an area of about 43 acres (17 hectares) and is home to a diverse collection of plants. It features a range of trees, shrubs, flowers, and medicinal plants, including many indigenous and exotic species. Visitors can explore the garden’s well-maintained pathways, enjoying the natural beauty and tranquility of the surroundings.

The first imported rubber tree to Sri Lanka was first planted in this garden and it was the first seedlings of Brazilian rubber tree ever planted in Asia.

The botanical garden provides a valuable resource for scientific research, botanical studies, and educational purposes. Researchers, botanists, and students can study plant taxonomy, ecology, and other aspects of botany within its diverse plant collections.

Henarathgoda Botanical Garden is a popular attraction for both local and international visitors. Its lush greenery, serene ambiance, and well-maintained landscapes make it an ideal place for leisurely walks, picnics, and nature appreciation.

Horagolla National Park

Horagolla National Park sounds like a lesser-known gem for nature enthusiasts and visitors seeking a quieter national park experience.

With its location in Nambadaluwa village near Gampaha, Horagolla National Park offers a chance to explore a diverse range of wildlife within its 13,362-hectare area. Being a part of the wet zone in Sri Lanka, the park is home to various species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish.

The park’s rich biodiversity led to its designation as a wildlife refuge in 1973 and later as a national park in 2004. The presence of different tree species such as Hora, Milla, Nadun, Godapara, Diyapara, Kithul Cane, Etamba, Bo, and Ankenda adds to the natural beauty and ecological significance of the park.

Horagolla National Park’s evergreen forests provide habitats for a diverse range of wildlife, including the fishing cat, mouse deer, fox, giant squirrel, and various bird species such as parakeets, black-headed bulbuls, barbets, and Asian koels.

The park’s relative lack of crowds compared to other popular national parks in Sri Lanka makes it an attractive destination for those seeking a tranquil and immersive nature experience.

Negombo Beach

Negombo Beach is a beautiful and popular tourist destination located in the coastal town of Negombo, which is part of the Gampaha District in Sri Lanka.

Negombo Beach offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. The long stretch of golden sandy beach provides ample space for sunbathing, picnicking, and leisurely walks along the shore. The calm waters are suitable for swimming, and there are designated areas for water sports such as jet skiing, windsurfing, and catamaran rides.

Negombo is known for its vibrant fishing community, and a visit to the beach allows you to witness the traditional fishing practices. It is is renowned for its fresh seafood, and there are numerous restaurants and eateries along the beach that offer a variety of delicious seafood dishes. You can indulge in mouthwatering prawns, crabs, fish, and lobster, prepared in both local and international styles.

Dutch Fort: In the vicinity of Negombo Beach, you can explore the remnants of the Dutch Fort, a historical landmark that dates back to the colonial era. The fort is now used as a prison, but its architecture and historical significance make it worth a visit.

Negombo Beach is a popular destination for tourists seeking sun, sand, and sea. With its beautiful coastline, water sports activities, fresh seafood, and cultural attractions, it offers a delightful beach experience for visitors of all ages.

Heritage of Gampaha

The Gampaha District, located in the western part of Sri Lanka, holds significant heritage importance due to its rich historical and cultural heritage.The district is home to several historical sites that reflect the region’s ancient civilization and architectural brilliance. These include the ancient temples such as Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, a renowned Buddhist temple dating back to the 3rd century BCE.

Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya

The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, commonly referred to as the Kelaniya Temple, is a renowned Buddhist temple located in Kelaniya, Gampaha District.It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country and holds significant historical and religious importance.

The temple is believed to have been visited by Lord Buddha himself during his third visit to Sri Lanka in 500 BCE. According to legend, the temple was established to enshrine a sacred relic of Lord Buddha, a gem-studded throne (Dakkhina Jinasena Palliya). Over the centuries, the temple has undergone various renovations and expansions, reflecting the architectural styles of different eras.

The Kelaniya Temple is known for its beautiful architecture, intricate carvings, and vibrant murals that depict Buddhist teachings and stories from Buddhist mythology. The temple’s main stupa (dagoba) is a prominent feature, surrounded by smaller stupas and structures that house statues of the Buddha and other important figures in Buddhism.

Visiting the Kelaniya Temple offers a serene and spiritual experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in Buddhist traditions and appreciate the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka.

Maligatenna Raja Maha Viharaya

The Maligathenna Cave Temple is an ancient cave temple located in a small village in the Gampaha district of Sri Lanka. Recognized as an archaeological protected site by the government, this temple is perched on top of a rock on a small hill. It boasts several very old caves, bearing evidence of its ancient origins. The history of Maligathenna Raja Maha Vihara dates back to the Anuradhapura Kingdom era, with legends suggesting that it served as a significant hiding place for kings and ministers during enemy invasions.

The temple is a magnificent sight, built atop a giant rock, offering a majestic view of the surrounding landscape. Upon entering the temple grounds, visitors can observe a mix of old and new structures. The temple is divided into two main levels: Pahala Maluwa (lower level) and Ihala Maluwa (upper level). The Pahala Maluwa includes monks’ quarters, a meditation center, the main shrine, outdoor and indoor promenades (Sakman Maluwa), a sacred bo tree, an ancient temple, and the Sri Devaraja Aakasha Chaitya Rajaya stupa. The Ihala Maluwa features a stupa, another bo tree, and a pond.

To reach the Maligathenna Temple, one must ascend an ancient flight of stone stairs, adding to the sense of adventure and history. The temple’s location atop the rock offers breathtaking views from the plateau, making it an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture the beauty of the surroundings while exploring this remarkable place.

Attanagalla Raja Maha Viharaya

The Attanagalla Rajamaha Viharaya is a renowned ancient royal temple in Sri Lanka. It holds a significant place among its nine subordinate temples and is located in the Western Province, approximately 28 miles northeast of Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka.

What sets this temple apart is its historical recognition as the place where a Bodhisattva, a future Buddha, fulfilled his Dana Paramita, which is one of the ten perfections to be completed by a Bodhisattva on the path to becoming a Buddha. In an act of profound gratitude towards a poor countryman, the Bodhisattva sacrificed his life by offering his head. This tale, known as the Sirisanghabo story, is widely celebrated as one of the most popular folk tales in Sri Lanka.

Another noteworthy archaeological treasure within the temple premises is the “Vatadage,” a circular relic house. This particular Vatadage holds special significance as it is the only intact Vatadage in Sri Lanka, although it has undergone several modifications over time.

Visiting the Attanagalla Rajamaha Viharaya allows one to immerse in the rich history and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka, with its unique tales and architectural marvels like the intact Vatadage.

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