●River House – Balapitiya; 011-94-11-587-3305 or 587-3307; taruvillas.com/riverhouse.html; waterside location; slick and stylish hotels on broad Madhu Ganga River banks, on 7 acres tropical gardens alive with colorful birds and chattering monkeys; beautiful views; stunningly secluded hotel; 5 huge suites; grand design; individual slate plunge pools, vaulted ceilings, enormous bathrooms with polished concrete floors, and intricate Indian bedspreads on kingsize beds.
●Taprobana – 146/4, Galle Road (Robolgoda); 011-94-11-587-3305; taruvillas.com; 9 rooms with cool cement floors; garden full of frangipani blossoms, turquoise pool, individually designed antique-furnished rooms, king size beds, and uncrowded beach just few steps outside garden, across still-rural railway line.
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
●Euphorium – 3-14/C1, Kynsey Road; 011-94-11-523-0523; euphoriumtea.blogspot.com; tea boutique.
●Casa Colombo – 231 Galle Road; 011-94-11-452-0130; casacolombo.com; 12 smartly designed suites.
●Galle Face Hotel – 2 Galle Road; 011-94-11-254-1010; gallefacehotel.com; excellent cocktail bars, pool, sea-facing breakfast buffet.
●Park Street Hotel – 20 Park Street; parkstreethotel-colombo.com; 011-94-11-243-9977; 250-year old colonial bungalow converted as 12-room hotel; large pool; around corner from interesting sites; December-March best; standard rooms are all poolside; 2 period-inspired suites are in old bungalow, itself; remaining 10 rooms in adjacent warehouse – beautifully fitted.
●Kemara – 12 Barnes Place; 011-94-11-269-6498; kemaralife.com; Zen-calm day spa.
●Saskia Fernando Gallery – 61 Dharmapala Mawatha; 011-94-11-742-9010; saskiafernandogallry.com; local artists’ works.
●Stringhopper & Conscience – 32 Ward Place, 1/F; 011-94-11-788-5511; musthaveconscience.com; menswear.
Bars & Nightclubs
●Dick’s Bar – 18 Upper Dickson Road (at Sun House); 011-94-91-438-0275; thesunhouse.com.
●Amangalla – 10 Church Street (Fort Galle); 011-94-91-223-3388; amanresorts.com/amangalle.
●Galle Fort Hotel – 28 Church Street; 011-94-91-223-2870; galleforthotel.com; no ocean-facing rooms but worth price; restaurant serves great crabcakes.
●Kahanda Kanda – Angulugaha; 011-94-91-228-6717; kahandakanda.com; 9 free-standing, airy pavilions blend into lush jungle at former private home set on 12-acre working tea estate 5 miles inland from Galle Fort; 5 secluded guest suites, all with spectacular, verdant views (monkeys in morning); excellent food; infinity pool drops off to palm-fringed Koggala Lake below; December-March best; Peacock Suite has 2 alfresco showers, ebony canopied bed, and private frangipani garden.
●Sun House – 18 Upper Dickson Road; 011-94-91-438-0275; thesunhouse.com; former Scottish spice merchant’s home; now popular with artists and architects.
●Tamarind Hill – 288 Dadella (5 miles inland off main Galle Road); 011-94-11-0912-226-5668 or 226-5669; taruvillas.com/tamarindhill.html; sprawling manor, built in 1800s by prominent family in Galle district; 1st occupied by British Admiral, later by High Court judge; refurbished preserving intricate details and style; situated on 3-acre hill with huge courtyards, sun-dappled verandahs, and tropical gardens; 11 rooms and 2 suites offer comfortable, stylish design and modern amenities.
●Amanwella – Bodhi Mawatha, Wella Wathuara; 011-94-47-224-1333; amanresorts.com/amanwella; all suites; above beach and near village, Tangalle.
●Expo Pavilion – 40 Kandy Road (A9) (Chundikulli); 011-94-21-222-3790; expo-pavilion-jaffna-sri-lanka.lakpura.com.
●Manattrii – 250 Palai Road (Kandarmadam); 011-94-21-320-7665; manattrii.com; restored, 19th Century home; 4 rooms with antique furniture, as well as some of area’s best food.
●Malayan Cafe – 36-38 Grand Bazaar (on New Kasthuriyar Road); popular and wonderfully old-world eatery; marble-topped tables, long glass-&-wood cabinets, and occasional incense blasts; cheap vegetarian fare served on banana leaves and eaten by hand.
Sights & Sites
●Maviddapuram Kandaswamy Temple – Main Road, Tellippalai (near Kankesanthurai); maviddapuram.org; original temple built, per legend, by Princess Jamathakiri; destroyed by Portuguese in 17th Century (even stones removed, used to build fort at Kayts); re-built in 1782 (several vigrakams (venerated objects) recovered and replaced in temple; imposing Raja Gopuram (main entrance tower) by road side on western hall depicts events in temple history; located in “High Security Zone,” which makes access restricted (must be accompanied by soldier).
●Nagapooshani Amman Temple Nainativu Island; facebook.com/pages/Nainativu-Nagapooshani-Amman-Temple/304505219629280; ancient and historic Hindu temple dedicated to Parvati (also known as Nagapooshani or Bhuvaneswari) and her consort, Shiva (named here as Nayinaar); identified by Adi Shankaracharya, 9th Century Hindu philosopher, as among prominent 64 Shakti Peethams in Shakti Peetha Stotram (and its mention in Brahmanda Purana); temple complex houses 4 gopurams (gateway towers), ranging 20-108' high; significant Tamil people symbol; present structure built 1720-1790 after Portuguese destroyed ancient structure in 1620.
●Naguleswaram Shiva Temple (Thirutambaleswaram Kovil) – Keerimalai (north of Jaffna); 011-94-0127-722-3981; naguleswaram.org; famous Hindu temple; among region’s oldest shrines; northernmost shrine on “island of 5 ancient Iswarams of Lord Siva,” venerated by Hindus across world since antiquity; adjacent water tank, Keerimalai Springs, believed to have curative properties.
●Puliyantivu Nageswaram Temple – Analaitivu Island; ancient snake-worshipping temple; worth special trip.
●Heritance Kandalama Hotel – 315 Vauxhall Street, Dambulla; 011-94-665-555-000; heritancehotels.com/kandalama.
●Kandy House – Aunugama Walauwa (Gunnepana); 011-94-81-492-1394; thekandyhouse.com; 19th Century former manor house, now 9-room hotel; lovely.
Sights & Sites
●Dambulla – Buddhist temple cave complex.
●Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya – begun in 1371; renowned for orchids (more than 300 varieties); spices, medicinal plants, and palms; National Herbarium; 147 acres.
●Temple of Tooth – stunning, 17th Century temple.
●Fortress – Koggala Beach; 011-94-49-069-664-19-601; thefortress.lk; within walled garden and fronting long beach on island’s southern shore; 49-room resort designed to resemble traditional walauwa (“noble residence”); huge beds; large tubs; free-form, fiber-optic-lit pool; pizzas fresh from waterfront, wood-fired oven; spa; rain forest treks; excellent food; December-March best; ask for Beach Rooms, which have Indian Ocean views.
Sights & Sites
●Millennium Elephant Foundation – Karandupana-Rambukkna Road (Randeniya, Hiriwadunna); 011-94-35-226-5377; millenniumelephantfoundation.com; 15-acre sanctuary.
●Tea Factory – Kandapola; 011-94-52-229-9600; aitkenspencehotels.com; 2K feet above sea-level, overlooking landscape of rolling hills covered in tea bushes; 57 rooms; elegant.
Sights & Sites
●Minnerlya National Park – Habarana-Polonnaruwa Road (Habarana); srilankaecotourism.com/minneriya_national_park.htm; area to protect Minneriya tank catchment & wildlife; tank is of historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in 3rd Century CE; dry season feeding ground for elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa & Trincomalee districts.
Sights & Sites
●Nilaveli Beach – just to north; deserted sand stretch.
●Swami Rock – Hindu temple perched over 1 of world’s deepest harbors.
●Ridee Villa – 321 Peellagoda; 011-94-91-222-4256; rideevilla.com; cozy guesthouse in converted gem shop decorated with exotic sculptures.
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