Situated about 5km west of Kandy is Sri Lanka’s most famous botanical garden, the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya. Renowned for its diverse collection of plans, especially its blooming orchids, the gardens are a great place to head to if you’re looking for a moment of serenity.
The botanical gardens of Peradeniya have quite the storied history. In fact, its origins can be traced back all the way to the late 14th century when King Wickramabahu II had ascended to the throne. The King kept his court next to the Mahaweli River, essentially where the garden lies today. The real groundwork for the gardens was set by the imperialist Alexander Moon who initially used it as a coffee and cinnamon plantation. In 1843 the Botanical Garden of Peradeniya was officially established and an array of plants were gathered and brought here from all over the island – this included location like Colombo, Slave Island and Kalutara.
Once upon a time, these gardens were reserved only for Kandyan royalty, but now it is open for all to see and admire. The garden is divided up into several different avenues such as Cook’s Pine Avenue and the Royal Palm Avenue. Each of these has a theme associated with it, which means they are adorned with different types of plants. Of these, the Classic Avenue of Palms contains the famed Cannonball Tree which was planted by King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom in 1901.
There are many different kinds of flora for you to observe and admire the gardens. These include certain colossal specimens like the giant Javan fig tree found on the main lawn and the 40m high Burmese bamboo trees. The orchid collection is a sight to behold, with an array of different species all joining up to create a magnificent display of colour. It’s not only plants that you’ll encounter here, however, but all this greenery and delicious fruit also attract some fascinating animals. Various species of butterflies are known to frequent the gardens, sometimes forming large swarms that can be a sight to behold. As dusk settles in, fruit bats will begin to leave their daytime roost in search of food. On the ground, you’ll run into an all too familiar sight in these parts – grey langurs. Large troops of these primates roam around the gardens and often get up to some wily antics.