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Peradeniya Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden at Peradeniya is one of the most fantastic botanic gardens in Asia. The origins of this 150-acre park stretch back to 1371 when King Wickramabahu III established a residence here, and remained part of the royal grounds until the end of Kandyan independence. But although the British destroyed the palace, they also protected the area by designating it an official botanic garden.

Today The Botanical Garden in Peradeniya spread over a sprawling 147 ha, they are home to some 4,000 species from all corners of the earth. The gardens are breathtaking, truly encompassing the magnificent and the sublime with an overflowing fern garden, massive eruptions of bamboo that tower and clatter, and wondrously expansive lawns leading and teasing the eye. There in the middle, as if to put things in perspective, is the giant java fig, a single, spectacular specimen with a network of pseudo-trunks and branches.

A number of the wider pathways are tree-lined, including the classic “Avenue of Palms”, which could make a walk through it, and unforgettable experience. The spire-straight royal palms that flank the avenue are an out-sized floral guard of honour. The variety of palms is astounding, from the bulky talipot palms (Corypha umbraculifera) to the elegance of the toddy palm (Borassus flabellifer). One of the most exceptional is the coco de mer (Lodoicea sezellarum). French for “coconut of the sea”, the name itself floats like a soft whisper in the breeze, harking back to days when mystified sailors would come across their giant seeds bobbing amid a deep blue ocean.

With the abundant wealth of trees, shrubs, fruits and flowers to explore, it is of value to spend the entire day and meander about at a relaxed pace. Anyone can spend a happy couple hours exploring the park. Alone, the famous orchid house was worth a half-hour. Over 500 varieties of the fragile flower are nurtured here. Outside, you can enjoy under trees with bending branches supporting fruit bats the size of Smart Cars. After venturing onto a wobbly suspension bridge extending over the river which borders the garden, a long avenue lined with royal palms led us to The Great Lawn, whose lone, lonely resident is a beautiful Java Fig Tree.