Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
Situated in a loop of the Mahaweli River and 6 km west of Kandy, the site of the gardens of Peradeniya was a seat of power between 1371 and 1377, during the time of the itinerant capitals, however nothing remains from this period today. King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1780) created the garden as the Royal Pleasure garden and later came to live here. This garden cover some 60ha (150 acres) of trees, lawns and flowering shrubs, including a 20-ha (50-acre) arboretum of more than 10,000 trees.
In 1815 the British took Kandy under their control and prisoned the last king of the Country, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. Under British rule, the royal park became a botanical garden in 1821 and is the largest of Sri Lanka 's three main botanical gardens. Here, exotic crops such as coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber and cinchona (quinine) - all of which later became important to Sri Lanka 's economy - were tested. Sights include a palm avenue planted by the British in 1905. Another British import was the enormous spreading Javafig (covering 1600 sq m) which sprawls across the lawn, grown from a sapling brought from the East Indies .
There are extensive well-kept lawns, an Orchid House containing an outstanding collection, an Octagon Conservatory, fernery, banks of giant bamboo from Burma and numerous flower borders with cannas, hibiscus, chrysanthemums, croton and colourful bougainvillaea. The tank has water plants including the giant water lily and papyrus reeds. You will also see exotic species, especially palms (Palmyra, talipot, royal, cabbage), Ficus elastica (latex-bearing fig or 'Indian rubber tree' with buttress roots), an amazing avenue of drunken-looking Cook's Pines and some magnificent old specimen trees.
In the center of the gardens is an artificial lake in the shape of the island of Sri Lanka , beside which a white-domed rotunda commemorates George Gardner, superintendent of the gardens in the mid 19th century.
The Royal Botanical Gardens is open daily from 07:30 until 17:00.
February 13, 2007