If you are travelling from Colombo to Kandy by car, after an educational visit at the Geragama Tea Factory, you can take a relaxing stroll in the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens. The largest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka, Peradeniya is a haven of peace. Located 110kms from Colombo, I recommend stopping there to stretch your legs and discovering the results of very hard work by British colonists to create a garden fit for kings. The gardens cover a surface of 147 acres and have various itineraries, depending on how long you want to walk for. Remember, Sri Lanka is mostly hot and humid, so you need to take that factor into consideration.
A Little History of The Royal Botanical Gardens
The gardens were originally conceived in 1371 by Sinhalese kings. In 1821, the British turned them into botanical gardens and began conserving the many plant species found in Sri Lanka, including spices. Imported crops were tested in the gardens: coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber, cinchona… Would you believe that the first plants of tea were regarded as a decoration, before becoming a huge industry in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is incredibly green, I mean, MIND-BOGGLINGLY green… Don’t go if you don’t like the colour green! And Peradeniya Botanical Gardens reflect the richness and variety of the colour… I almost think of it as an education in green… Here, the vegetation is largely tropical and there are 4000 plant species, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees.
Indeed, some of the vegetation seems quite wild and jungle-like, such as the giant bamboos by the Mahaweli River.
Century-old trees grow to shelter wanderers…
The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens are home to many species native to Sri Lanka. Here, you have a great opportunity to put a name on plants you see everywhere in Sri Lanka. Indeed, the cannonball tree is quite common in Sri Lanka and it has a peculiar look…
A Part of Sri Lankan Life
Sri Lankans are very proud of their history and very knowledgeable about it. Interestingly, this includes the colonial history, and a visit to Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens is a great way to experience how a typically British creation has become part of Sri Lankan life. The garden welcomes two million visitors each year and about 5% of all Sri Lankan schoolchildren visit Peradeniya every year. Sri Lankan people are friendly and easy to talk to, and the gardens host many families and couples enjoying the beauty of the place.
Orchids and Spices
As a place of conservation and sustainability, Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens are a must-see if orchids and spices are of interest. The Orchid Pavilion is therefore worth a tour if you are keen to discover many different species. Growing orchids is an art and a delicate one. You have to find the perfect balance of temperature, moisture and shading. Personally, I find orchids a little odd, but if I’m honest, they are truly beautiful.
The Many Trees of the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens
At the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, you can simply enjoy a moment of peace at the foot of a giant tree. If trees give you a sense of calm and purpose, you can sit in their shade and daydream for a moment…
There is a spice garden within the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, however, it’s worth dedicating a separate visit to one.
Whilst the entrance fee to the garden is not cheap, the visit is well worth it. You can also hire a guide to take you around, however, I would recommend negotiating the price. There are many more things to see in the Kandy area, the most important being the Temple of the Tooth. If you are into crafts and handmade, I also recommend visiting a Batik factory.
Have you visited Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens? Or any other garden in Sri Lanka? Where should I go on my next visit?