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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Temple of the Tooth Relic (ශ්රී දළදා මාළිගාව)

Sri Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth Relic, is the holiest Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. It is located in the city of Kandy, the ancient capital of the Kandyan kingdom.

The temple enshrines relics of what is believed to be the actual teeth of the Buddha. After Buddha was cremated, his four canine teeth were taken from the ashes. These teeth are regarded as the holiest relics of Buddhism. The worship of Buddha's remains has been going on throughout the centuries. It was recorded in the Mahaparinibbana-sutta (the Record of the Demise of the Buddha), and was sanctioned by the Buddha himself as he was about to die.

After the cremation, Buddha's relics were distributed among various kingdoms that sought them. The relics were enshrined in funerary mounds called the stupa. However, Buddha's four canine teeth were separately enshrined and worshipped. I am reporting here stuff which is a mixture of history and legend. According to what I have read, the right canine was worshipped by the king of gods, Sakra. Another tooth relic was worshipped by the king of Gandhara, which is located in modern-day Pakistan. The third tooth relic was taken away by the Nagas who worshipped it in a golden shrine room. The fourth, the left canine was given to the king of Kalinga in Eastern India.

It's the fourth tooth, the tooth relic of the Kalinga, that is today enshrined at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. It had become an object of great veneration by generations of Kalinga kings until it earned the wrath of brahmanical followers. Fanatical rulers attempted many times to destroy the Relic. Yet it miraculously survived all such atrocities. For this reason, many kings tried to get hold of it for personal veneration. The last Indian ruler to possess the Tooth relic was Guhasiva of Kalinga (c.4th century AD).

When a neighboring kingdom made war with Guhasiva to get hold of the Tooth relic, for its safety, the tooth relic was taken out of India. At that time, Buddhism was already well established in Sri Lanka, and the island's rulers maintained close relations with the Indian states that fostered Buddhism. So when the Kalinga ruler were under threat from loosing the teeth, he decided to send it to his friend, the king of Anuradhapura, the ancient Sri Lankan capital.
By the time the tooth relic arrived in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan king who was supposed to receive it had passed away, and the reign has passed to his son, King Kirti Sri Meghavanna. King Kirti Sri Meghavanna happened to be a pious Buddhist. He received the Tooth Relic and placed it on the throne with much veneration. He then built a special shrine for it.

The Tooth Relic was kept at the Abhayagiri Vihara in northern Anuradhapura from the 4th century until the end of the 10th century when the capital Anuradhapura was shifted to Polonnaruwa. Accounts of the tooth relic were documented by a travelling Chinese monk, Fa-Hsien, who recorded the worship and rituals connected with it.

When the South Indian Cholas invaded Anuradhapura, the Tooth Relic once again faced another period of risk and uncertainty. Nevertheless, it remained in the custody of the Anuradhapura rulers, until king Vijayabahu I shifted the capital to Polonnaruwa in the 11th century.
In Polonnaruwa, the Tooth Relic was housed in the Atadage in the Sacred Quadrangle (Dalada Maluva). It is identical to the Tooth Relic temple built by Vijayabahu. The Tooth Relic, together with the Bowl Relic (alms bowl), was brought down from the Uttaramula Ayatana monastery of the Abhayagiri Vihara and installed in the Atadage shrine.

After King Vijayabahu's death, the kingdom went though a calamitous period, and many Buddhist shrines were destroyed. Fearing the destruction of the sacred Tooth and the Bowl Relics, monks secretly removed them to safer locations in the southern country, Rohana, and only returned it after King Parakramabahu I ascended to the throne in the year 1153 AD. With King Parakramabahu I came a renaissance in Buddhist religious activities.

The next great ruler to build a Relic shrine to house the sacred Tooth and Bowl Relics was Nissankamalla (1187-1196). Nissankamalla built the Relic Shrine Hatadage and, having offered his son and daughter to the Relics, redeemed them with the completion of the shrine. This edifice is situated next door to the Atadage, and is a larger version of the Atadage. You are able to view them all in AsiaExplorers pages on Polonnaruwa heritage sites.
The glory of Polonnaruwa has started to wane by the beginning of the second quarter of the 13th century. When the Kalinga Magha invaded, the capital of the ancient Sri Lankan kingdom had to be shifted further south, to the south-western part of the country. The Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic were once again spirited away by the monks for safekeeping. This time they were kept in Kotmale in the central hills.

When King Vijayabahu II ascended the throne, he had these relics taken down and enshrined in a building on the hilltop of Beligala. King Vijayabahu II was succeeded by his son, who took the throne under the name Parakramabahu II (1236-1270). An erudite scholar, Parakramabahu II complied some of Sri Lanka's classical literary texts, including the Kavusilumina.

Parakramabahu II enshrined the relics near his palace at Damabadeniya rock. However, the Chandrabhanu of Java launched an invasion of Sri Lanka, shattering the peace and prosperity under Parakramabahu II. However, the king was able to expel the enemy and bring stability back.
According to legend, there was once a severe drought. The Tooth Relic was taken out of its shrine and a great procession was held for seven days. This ended the drought, and started the tradition of the Perahera Festival.

During the reign of Parakramabahu II, his son Vijayabahu who was sub-king renovated and enlarged the Relic shrine and conducted great ritual services. As the chronicles recorded, he restored the ruined religious edifices at Polonnaruva, including the Tooth Relic shrine. After placing the Tooth Relic in the shrine, he conducted an a coronation ceremony for it.

When Chadrabhanu of Java invaded ancient Sri Lanka for a second time, they defeated the local sub-ruler and demanded the tooth relic. However the Sri Lankan ruler was able to defeat them and once again the island was peaceful. When King Bhuvanekabahu came to power, he built a shrine for the sacred Tooth Relic at Yapahuva with a grand stairway. He continued the tradition of paying homage to the sacred Tooth Relic daily.

Almost immediately after his reign, Sri Lanka was again faced with severe droughts. At the same time, the rulers of the Pandyan country in South India invaded under the great warrior Arya Cakravarti. He devastated Sri Lanka and plundered much of its wealth and treasure, taking with him the Tooth and Bowl Relics, which he handed over to the Pandyan king Kulasekera.

The next Sri Lankan king, Parakramabahu III, visited the Pandyan capital and after friendly discussions, managed to get back the Relics and initiated the traditional rituals. The king brought the relics back to Polonnaruwa and enshrined them at the old Tooth Relic shrine of the ancient capital which had been abandoned for some time.

According to Marco Polo, Kublai Khan sent a messenger to obtain the Tooth, Hair and Bowl Relics from the Sri Lankan king. However, the king was able to please the Chinese Emperor by dispatching two fake teeth, which were graciously received by the Emperor who established ritual worship of the objects.

King Bhuvanekabahu II (1293-1312) brought the Tooth Relic from Polonnaruwa and placed it in a shrine at his capital, Kurunagala. Under the next ruler, Parakramabahu IV, there was a religious revival. King Parakramabahu IV reorganized the rituals connected with the sacred Tooth Relic in a systematic manner as recorded in the text Dalada Sirita.

The next ruler, King Bhuvanekabahu IV, selected a new capital, Gampola, in the central hills. However, it wasn't mentioned whether he brought the tooth relic into the new city. In all possibility, it was King Vikramabahu III who shifted the relic to this hill capital and held a festival in honor of it. He is credited with the building of the shrine at Niyangampaya in Gampola.

The next king, Bhuvanekabahu V (1372-1408), shifted the capital to Jayavardanapura Kotte which is closer to Colombo. Although he did not bring the tooth relic to his capital, he conducted many ritual performances for it. His successor, King Virabahu, brought down the tooth relic to Jayavardanapura Kotte.

During King Virabahu's reign, the great Chinese eunuch Zhenghe (Admiral Cheng Ho) arrived in Sri Lanka. He took the king and his family and presented them to the Chinese emperor of the time. Conflicting reports documented that the tooth relic was also taken to China, or that it was left on the island. In all likelihood, the tooth relic did not leave, for subsequent reports documented of processions, festivals and rituals conducted by later rulers like Parakramabahu VI. He is said to have built a three-storey shrine for the tooth relic and had four golden caskets enveloping it.

The subsequent period saw the arrival of the first colonial power, the Portuguese, in 1505. This brought about a deterioration inn Buddhist activities. Missionary activities by the colonial powers made the Buddhist monks nervous, and they secretly spirited away the relics to safer locations. Thus, the relic was shifted to the next kingdom, Sitawaka, ruled by King Mayadunne. Prior to bringing the tooth relic to Ratnapura, it was taken as far south as the Mulgirigala Vihara and then to the Ridivihara in the Kurunegala District. The Tooth Relic was finally hidden in a cairn in the Delgamuva Vihara in Ratnapura. It was from this temple that the Tooth Relic was finally brought to its present resting place in Kandy, by King Vimaladharmasuriya I (1592-1603).

King Vimaladharmasuriya I built a new three-storey shrine for the relic near to the royal palace. The Dutch Plan of 1765 shows the ground plans of two shrines. The one at the back should be the original one built by the king. When King Vimaladharmasuriya I died, the kingdom was again plunged into difficult times. Finally King Senarat (1603-1634), the king's brother, occupied the throne. He had to face severe opposition from other contenders to the throne. As a result, the king has to live at a remote place in Mahiyangana. He took the tooth relic to a safe location at Madamahanuvara in the hills enveloped with thick forest cover. Even under these difficult conditions, King Senarat was able to place the relic in a suitable shrine.

King Rajasimha II (1634-1686) succeeded King Senarat. At that time, the Portuguese was intensifying their interference in local politics. King Rajasimha sought the aid of the Dutch, despite objection from the people. The political climate was so turbulent that the annual Tooth Relic festival was disrupted.

The next king was Vimaladharmasuriya ll (1686-1706). He was able to maintain harmonious relations with the Dutch and attend to many religious activities. He built a new three-storey relic house. The king also prepared a grand golden casket for the sacred Tooth Relic and held great festivities in honor of tooth relic.

The next king was Viraparakrama Narendrasimha (1707-1739). He was the last Sinhalese king. King Narendrasimha rebuilt the Tooth Relic shrine.

A recent bomb blast by the Tamil Tigers caused much damaged to the Dalada Maligawa, but the shrine known as Vadahitina Maligava was miraculously saved.

Source ; click here

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka

The Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage is situated northwest of the town of Kegalle, halfway between the present capital Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy in the hills of central Sri Lanka. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka wildlife department in a 25 acre coconut property near the Maha Oya river. The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungle. As of 2003, there were 65 elephants.
In 1978 the orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife and a captive breeding program was launched in 1982. Since this time over twenty elephants have been born. The aim of the orphanage is to simulate the natural world. However, there are some exceptions: the elephants are taken to the river twice daily for a bath, and all the babies under three years of age are still bottle fed by the mahouts and volunteers. Each animal is also given around 76kg of green matter a day and around 2kg from a food bag containing rice bran and maize. They get access to water twice a day, from the river.
The orphanage is very popular and visited daily by many Sri Lankan and foreign tourists. The main attraction is clearly to observe the bathing elephants from the tall river bank as it allows visitors to observe the herd interacting socially, bathing and playing.
This 24 acre elephant orphanage is also a breeding place for elephants. Twenty elephants have been born since 1984, and the orphanage has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. While most of the elephants are healthy, one is blind and one, named Sama, has lost her front left leg due to a landmine.

Pinnawela elephant orphanage

Pinnawela orphanage is situated northwest of the town Kegalla, halfways between the present capitol Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy in the hills of central Sri Lanka. It was established 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife department. This 25 acres large elephant orphanage is a also breeding pace for elephants, twenty elephants were born since 1984, and it has the greatest herd of elephants in captivity in the world. The difference between the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala and Ath Athuru Sevena Transit Home at Uda Walawe is that at the Transit Home these baby elephants once cared for are released to the wilds when they reach a certain age.

1975: 5 baby elephants
1978: 12 elephants, of those 5 babies.
1997: 56 elephants, and in
1998: 63 elephants
2000 70 elephants,
2003 65 elephants,
2005 80 elephants,
2010 more than 100 elephants with babies,

History of  Pinnawela

Elephant Orphanage was started in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife on a twenty five acre coconut property on the Maha Oya river at Rambukkana. The orphanage was primarily designed to afford care and protection to the many baby elephants found in the jungle without their mothers. In most of these cases the mother had either died or been killed. In some instances the baby had fallen into a pit and in others the mother had fallen in and died. Initially this orphanage was at the Wilpattu National Park, then shifted to the tourist complex at Bentota and then to the Dehiwala Zoo.From the Dehiwala Zoo it was shifted 1975 to Pinnawela. At the time it was shifted the orphanage had five baby elephants which formed its nucleus.It was hoped that this facility would attract both local and foreign visitors, the income from which would help to maintain the orphanage.There are only a few elephant orphanages in the world. Pinnawela has now become one of the bigger orphanages and is quite well known world wide.In 1978 the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife and a captive breeding program launched in 1982. When the zoo took over there were twelve animals five of whom were babies. In time more baby elephants were added to the original herd of five. It was observed that though older females could be added it was not possible to add older males to the herd. 1997 there were 52 animals of which there 10 were babies under 3 years of age. There were five mahouts for the twelve elephants when the orphanage was taken over 1978 and now there are twenty mahouts. This number is inadequate to manage the increasing and growing number of elephants.

Working hours are quite short and you certainly won't be overloaded with work, so you'll have plenty of time to sightsee and explore. Some elephants are overly large or have not been tamed or trained to a satisfactory level, whereby it is possible to safely have full hands-on contact.
The majority of volunteer work deals more with the day-to-day aspects of running the orphanage, rather than more specialised research or veterinary based work, although you will have the opportunity to do some hands-on work
Your main duties will be:
Mucking out the elephant enclosures in the morning (this is hard, muddy work!)
Participating in bathing some of the smaller elephants.
While the mahouts are bathing the larger elephants, you will be able to relax by the river, chat to the mahouts and watch the elephants play and interact with humans and each other. This is an absolutely beautiful sight and being around these serene animals in such a beautiful setting can have a very calming effect!
Climate: In the lowlands the climate is typically tropical with an average temperature of 27 C in Colombo. In the higher elevations it can be quite cool with temperatures going down to 16 C at an altitude of nearly 2,000 metres. Bright, sunny warm days are the rule and are common even during the height of the monsoon - climatically Sri Lanka has no off-season
Opening Time:
The orphanage is open all day but it is best to try and coincide your visit with the twice daily feeding and bathing. At 9.15am and 4.15pm, the baby elephants are taken into the stalls where they are tethered and then bottle fed with milk, providing endless photo opportunities. This might be a crowd pleaser but it's not the highlight; what really steals the show is the bathing. Follow the herd out of the orphanage and down a 400-metre track to the river. Here the elephants are left to wallow and play in the shallow water that flows swiftly over smooth rocks. The younger ones play and hose themselves and each other while the older ones seem content to stand or lie around and cool off quietly. The herd is allowed to stay at the river for about an hour, plenty of time for you to find a perch on the rocks or in one of the restaurants that overlooks the water. Despite being protected, elephants in Sri Lanka are suffering due to the gradual destruction of their habitat. Elephant Corridors are being set up, criss-crossing the country to enable the herds to wander safely between the small areas of jungle that are left. Hungry elephants are a bit a of a nuisance and can be dangerous when forced to search for food in towns and villages. In these cases the intruders are often shot, sometimes leaving behind their young ones. In addition, fighting in the north of the country over the last 20 years has also claimed plenty of elephant casualties. One elephant at the orphanage lost half a leg after stepping on a landmine.No matter where you are staying in southern Sri Lanka, Pinnawala is easily accessible as a day trip. This is one experience that shouldn't be missed

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Elephant Back Safari in Sri Lanka

Elephant Back Safari in Sri Lanka brings in multifaceted joys. The majestic beast, the locations in close proximity to the cultural attractions and the terrain rich with bird life all add up to bring in memorable experiences to the tourists holidaying in Sri Lanka. Elephant Back Safaris are one of the newest and most thrilling safari experiences in Sri Lanka. These Elephant Back Safari not only make it possible to view wildlife from the back of an elephant, but perhaps more importantly, provide the unique opportunity to share a day in the life of the elephant.

Elephant Back Safaris not only make it possible to view wildlife while riding an elephant, but also to view the wildlife enthusiasts chances to be familiar with the nature and behavior of tamed Elephants. The holiday makers may opt to share a day with the majestic beast by picnicking in the bush in the shadow of the elephant or by swimming, grooming, feeding the elephant too. The most popular locations of Elephant Back Safaris are Habarana, Sigiriya and Kaudulla.

Carriage of guests in Elephant Back Safari

All Elephant Back Safaris are accompanied by the mahout. A wooden saddle, a basket like enclosure upon a wooden platform is large enough to carry four passengers. Riders needs to be on alerts to stoop down on and off to being knocked by the overhanging branches of trees along the path.

Habarana, the most popular area for Elephant Back Safari

Habarana located 210km north east from Colombo is the transit point of the large herds of wild elephants at the National Parks of Minneriya and Kaudulla. Habarana is a popular location among the wildlife enthusiasts and nature tourists. Moreover, Habarana being the central location of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, the culture tourists touring therein too grab the opportunity to enjoy an Elephant back safari in Habarana. The irrigation reservoirs and waterways of the area bring in a riverine terrain where the elephants would wade through, or swim to reach the banks in the farther end. The ride would also takes place over the main road, the pathways, villages, jungles, swamp and river.

The best period for Elephant Back Safaris at Habarana is during March to July when the water level of the river is high enough to ride the elephant, with a good part of it submerged. From August to November the level of water of the river is low. December to February being the rainy season at Habarana, river would in full flow.

Elephant Back Safaris at Minneriya National Park and Kaudulla National Park

A ten minute drive east of Habarana is Minneriya National Park famous for large herds of elephants. A fifteen minute drive north east is Kaudulla National Park, another regular tourist attraction in view of its large herds of elephants. Elephant back safari in these National parks afford opportunities to enjoy the sight of wild elephants as well as the birdlife.

The Elephant, the riders and the mahout

The tamed elephants are accompanied by mahouts carrying a lightweight spear-like bull hooks. Elephant Back Safaris afford the opportunity to riders to be familiar with behavior of the elephants.

Elephant Back Safaris at Yala National Park

Elephant Back Safaris at Yala National Park brings in the chance to enjoy the sights of wildlife and birdlife that abound in the wilderness. Yala National Park is one of the popular National Parks in Sri Lanka.

Source; click here

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Scuba Diving Adventures in Sri Lanka

Scuba Diving Sites of Sri Lanka that spread out in the western, southern and eastern coasts of Sri Lanka are of such variety, the amateur scuba divers as well as the experienced scuba divers revel in the opportunities presented. Sri Lanka’s scuba diving sits offer opportunities to all to enjoy Wreck Diving and explore reefs and their abundance of marine life. Sri Lanka isn’t another diving destination; it is a serious diving destination. And it is an all-round the year scuba diving destination. Most of the reputed dive centers offer PADI certifications that may take about 3 to 4 days at competitive rates.

Scuba Diving Operators

Scuba Diving Operators generally have small boats (for about 6 divers) and larger boats for about 15 divers reach the Scuba Diving Sites within 10 minutes to 45 minutes depending upon the distance to the location from the shore. Most of the diving excursions begin in the morning, could turn out to be two tank dive or a trip back to the base on the shore for the reload of the tank.

Wreck Diving Sri Lanka

For centuries Sri Lanka featured prominently in the maritime shipping routes where the spice and tea were run from Asia. During the Second World War, Sri Lanka was a strategic location in the transportation through the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca. During the centuries since the colonial era, the coastline of Sri Lanka has claimed numerous vessels. The historical records have revealed of possible existence over 200 shipwrecks around the coast of Sri Lanka over the 500 years of colonial era of the maritime powers of Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Of the ships that were discovered, many of the wrecks have been disintegrated owing to the unceasing actions of the ocean. Marine life is in great abundance in and around the sites.

Wreck Diving Sri Lanka: HMS Hermes

Among all the wreck diving sites in Sri Lanka, WWII wreck of The HMS Hermes features prominently. The 167 meter long, 12900 ton aircraft carrier was sunken together with a crew of 307 men by the Japanese in an air raid on 9 April 1942. The wreck is designated a "military maritime grave" and as such the access to the inside of the wreck, removal of artifacts and photographing human remains aren’t allowed.

Scuba Diving Western coast- November through April at Kalpitiya, Negombo, Colombo, Beruwala, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Weligama.

Scuba Diving Eastern coast - April through November at Trincomalee and Batticaloa.

Scuba Diving in Colombo

Colombo, the main sea port and the capital of Sri Lanka offers wreck diving: many sorts of vessels from commercial barges and oil tankers to small aircraft.

Car Carrier Wreck
Car Carrier Wreck is a huge vessel that sank in 1983. Large batfish and groupers abound around the hull encrusted with coral. While the cars can be seen at a depth of 24m, diving further down 30m to the ship’s huge propeller.

Barge wreck
The Barge wreck that lies at a depth of 30m has teeming schools of fish over the deck over overlaid with corals.

Taj Wreck
Taj Wreck, 45m harbor boat is home to schools of barracuda, rabbitfish and stingrays. Some broken up areas of the hull are open to scuba diving penetrations.

Wreck of an aircraft
The wreck of an aircraft shot down during the Second World War aircraft lies at a depth of 30m. The aircraft’s wings, cockpit and twisted remains of its propeller are still can be identified.

Scuba Diving at Kalpitiya [north of Colombo]

The Bar Reef at Kalpitiya beach is one of the purest coral reefs in Sri Lanka. Bar Reef, Kalpitiya Ridge with rock, corals and fish are the main scuba diving sites.

Scuba Diving in Negombo [north of Colombo]

Negombo has several scuba diving sites that afford the spectacle of reef and fish. The most popular scuba diving sites at Negombo are Diyamba Gala, Derana Gala, Lobster Reef and Hanova.

Scuba Diving southwest coast

The bay beaches of Beruwala, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Weligama are also fine scuba diving destination of the southwestern coast.

Further offshore of these bay beaches, the reefs are abundant with marine life: Titan, clown triggerfish, moray eels, lobsters and the usual brilliant assortment of smaller fish.

Scuba Diving Great and Little Basses southern coast [southern coast]

Great Basses and Little Basses, a couple of enormous reefs 10km and 20km off the beach at Kirinda of the southern coast are the most adventurous diving sites of Sri Lanka. However the reefs being exposed to both monsoons of Sri Lanka, i.e. southwest and northeast monsoons, the diving isn’t safe outside of the brief period of from March to early April. The submerged reefs with a lighthouse erected in each of those, are abound with big fish: sharks, dogtooth tunas, barracudas and groupers.

Hikkaduwa Scuba Diving [south western coast]

Between 30 min and an hour from the coast offshore of Hikkaduwa is a fine stretch of scuba diving sites: wrecks; coral; caves; rocks; marine life. Hikkaduwa is a fine base to enjoy scuba diving since the diving sites extend from north of Hikkaduwa to south of Hikkaduwa.

Wreck of SS Conch
The most visited site is SS Conch, the 3300-ton oil tanker sank off the rocks at Akurala. Lying in a depth of less than 15 meters are two halves of the wreck abundant with marine life. The wrecks afford some good scuba diving penetrations. The sites abounds with groupers, napoleons, queen angelfish and all other reef fishes.

Wreck of Earl of Shaftesbury
Earl of Shaftesbury, one of the oldest wrecks (dates from the 1820s), lies at a depth of 14m. The steel ship with four masts was sunk following an accidental fire on board. The wreck is populated with stingrays, groups of silver batfish and schools of Fosters barracuda.

Wreck of Alliance

The Alliance lying at a depth of 23 meters is a British wooden sailboat that sank carrying a cargo of charcoal. Reef fishes are seen herein too.

The other main scuba diving sites are Kiralagala: rock and fish; Diayambagla: rock, caves, fish; Earl of Shaftesbury: wreck, fish; Off Coral Gardens: coral; caves.

Galle Scuba Diving [south western coast]

Wreck of Rangoon
The Rangoon, a steam ship built in 1863 that weighed 1776 tons and powered by 400hp engine now lies at a depth of 30m offshore of the port at Galle. Sunk upright in full sailing position, Rangoon is a lovely wreck teeming with marine life.

Wreck of Arcturus
Arcturus, a British steam ship built in 1870, today lies on a large rocky area called Mada Gala. Corals and the marine life around wreck attract the scuba divers.

Wreck of Crispigi Cross
Lying at a depth of 16 meters is Crispigi, a boat carrying rice and paint that sank in 1980s. The massive engine is still in place while the penetrations can be done into the stern. The wreck abounds with reef fish.

Wreck of Orestes

The British steam ship carrying a cargo of bricks sank on a sandy bottom (16 meters) near Galle harbor. Wine bottles are soda bottles are found now and then.

Wreck of Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson carrying a cargo of cement capsized during a storm in the year 2000. Penetration is possible in most of the wreck lying at a depth of 18 meters that abounds with reef fishes.

Beruwala Scuba Diving [south western coast]

A half an hour boat ride offshore from Beruwala are magnificent rock formations abound with marine life. In fair Weather conditions the water is so clear sunrays stream deep to 30 meters down. When the currents are on the endless shoals of fish are seen at these rock formations. Trevally, Snappers, Barracuda and Wrasse are the main attractions in the marine life of the scuba diving sites at Beruwala.

The main scuba diving points are Shark Point; rock and fish; Barracuda Rock; rock and caves and fish; Hataragala; rock and fish; Malugala; rock and fish.

Scuba Diving at Weligama [south western coast]

Within a half an hour’s boat ride from the pristine Weligama beach are scenic rock formations that affords diving opportunities. The main diving sites are Prince Hienrich Patch: rock and fish; Bridge Rock: rock and fish; Yala Rock: rock and fish

Scuba diving at Batticaloa [Eastern coast]

The main scuba diving site at Batticaloa is the shipwreck of a vessel named British Sergeant. A half an hour’s boat ride takes the scuba diving enthusiasts to the wreck. Split in half and separated with a distance of about 10 meters is the 100 meter long shipwreck lying on its port side. Allison and McLeelan is another ship wreck. Though much smaller than British Sergeant, Allison and McLeelan has a considerable marine life around it and around the small rocky reef next to it.

Scuba Diving Trincomalee [Eastern coast]

Trincomalee, the largest natural harbour in Sri Lanka features numerous wrecks. The star attraction is the aircraft carrier Hermes. The British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, which was sunk off the east coast by the Japanese Air force in 1942 during World War, now sits upside down in 53 meters, decks and superstructure in the 30-40 meter range.
HMS Hermes is recommended for divers with minimum technical training to 50 meters.

Source; Click here