Attractions

Don Diogu Villa and its immediate surroundings

The Villa has its own parkland of 17 Acres, consisting of huge fruit and timber trees, giving shade and a cooling breeze. It is a haven for wild animals. Sri Lankan Axis Deer or Ceylon Spotted Deer grazing in the parkland, Peacocks and other species of birds flittering around and two species of Monkeys (Toque Macaque and Gray Langurs) and Rock Squirrels scampering up trees are a common sight. There are many more wild animals that visit or reside within the parkland, such as Ruddy Mongoose, Pole Cats, Musk Deer (Sri Lankan Spotted Chevrotain), Porcupine, Civet Cats, Fishing Cats, Otters, Jackals, Iguana, Monitor Lizards, etc. At times, this includes wild Elephants.

Behind the Villa flows the cool gushing waters of the117km long Kirindi Oya (River) which is one of the major attractions for the guests of the Villa. It is an excellent spot for river bathing, boating and rafting, or to sit on a rock, dangling your feet in the river and admiring the surroundings and its thriving population of nature’s bounty on the canopy of trees. At times, when everything is quiet and still, you may come across shy small mammals coming to the water for a drink.

The parkland of Don Diogu Villa is abundant with bird life and bird-watching enthusiasts have sighted over 50 species of endemic and migratory birds to Sri Lanka, in two days of observation.

Excursions and Places of Natural & Historical Interest

Been looking for a place to stay in this area for a while. Discovered this “Gem” - in keeping with all our needs of home, clean, good food, fantastic feel for the history and life of the area.

- Neranjana, Dulsiri and Indunil

Colombo.

It was a very very nice stay. I didn’t feel to be in a guest house, it was like visiting friends. Thank you very much!

Sri Lanka is endowed with a rich cultural heritage. This heritage is evident from the number of archaeological sites that could be seen throughout Uva, Southern and Eastern Provinces which date back to over 2000 years. Places of such natural & historical sites and wildlife parks & sanctuaries are most often interspersed with each other. Given below is a list of interesting places that could be visited by vehicle from Wellawaya.


Poonagala Mountain Range:

Pilkington Point in the Poonagala Mountain Range could be reached by a 2 wheel or 4 wheel drive vehicle. The road takes you through the Poonagala Tea Estate via Koslanda, where you could see how tea is manufactured at its factory. The more grueling ascent to the summit, which is known as “Millennium Point” could be reached either by foot or by a 4 wheel drive vehicle. From “Millennium Point” you will have a 360 degree panoramic view of Sri Lanka’s Southern coast and Eastern, Northern and Western plains. Sometimes you see wild elephants gracing in this area as well, so it is advisable to see if there are any elephants around before you alight from the vehicle.

Adisham Bungalow in Haputale:

Built by Sir Thomas Williers during British Colonial Ceylon, was occupied by Lord Mountbatten during the Second World War and is now a Monastery for Catholic priests. The bungalow is in perfect condition and even has some of the original furniture, fittings, pictures, library of books, etc.

 

 

Ella Wala Waterfall:

The recently discovered beautiful Ella Wala Waterfall in the jungle is about 5km from the Villa and involves part travel by a 4WD vehicle and an exciting trek of about ½ km through a mountainous jungle foot path.



 

Ravana Caves:

Another interesting site to explore is the Ravana Caves, which was made famous by the “Ramayana”, one of the great epics of India written by the Hindu Sage Valmiki in the 5th or 4th century BC. It is said that the Demon-King Ravana of Sri Lanka, who took Rama’s wife Sita as hostage, kept her imprisoned in this cave. Thereafter, she was taken through a tunnel in the cave to another far-away location, which is now known as Sita Eliya. According to Hinduism, Rama is the seventh Avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and a king of Ayodhya in India.


Tracing the footsteps of a Portuguese Captain-General:

Follow the route the Portuguese Captain-General of Ceylon Dom Constantine d’Saa de Noronha and his retrieving army took in August 1630 down the steep mountain slopes from Passara to Randeniya, after leaving a trail of destruction of Villages and places of worship. The Sinhala army – with swords, spears and bows & arrows – harangued and gave chase after the Portuguese army who were armed with superior weapons.

Randeniwela Monument marks the battleground where the Portuguese Captain-General and his army were decimated in hand-to-hand combat by the Sinhala army led by Prince Kumarasinghe (son of King Wimaladharmasooriya and Queen Dona Catherina) and Prince Rajasinghe (the son of King Senerath and Queen Dona Catherina of Kandy). This decisive battle was the beginning of the end of Portuguese occupation of Sri Lanka. Prince Rajasinghe (step-brother of Princes Kumarasinghe and Wijepala) was later crowned as King Rajasinghe II. (See book entitled "Kandy Fights the Portuguese – by C. Gaston Perera – Vijitha Yapa Publications).


Handapanagala:

Where nature and wildlife co-exists with small pockets of villages. Roughly about 15km from the Villa, there are many pockets of villages and the Handapanagala Tank, where humans and wild elephants congregate on opposite banks in the mornings and evenings.



Arugam Bay:

A surfer’s paradise, it is also the gateway to Panama, a wildlife nature reserve which is within the Kumana National Park.


Muhudu Maha Vihare in Pottuvil, Arugam Bay:

It is said that Princess Vihara Maha Devi, who was set afloat in a beautifully decorated boat with an engraving stating “the daughter of a king” by her father King Kelani Tissa of Kelaniya to appease the Gods for putting to death an innocent Buddhist monk, landed in Arugam Bay. (There is also another belief that a Tsunami occurred at the time causing a severe famine in the Kelaniya kingdom in the western coast of the island and Princess Vihara Maha Devi was sacrificed to the ocean to appease the Gods).  The location where she set foot on the east coast is marked by the ruins of a temple erected on the beach which is named Muhudu Maha Vihare.


Lahugala National Park:

Where large herds of majestic Marshy Elephants could be seen roaming the jungles and feeding in the marshy Lahugala Tank.



 

 

 

Magul Maha Vihare in Lahugala:

King Kavantissa and Vihara Maha Devi (parents of Princes Dutugemunu and Tissa) were married here. The ancient ruins are spectacular, with the moonstone found here being very unique from the others found in Sri Lanka.



 

Inginiyagala and the Gal Oya National Park:

The home of the Veddhas, who are the aboriginal people of Sri Lanka. The original Veddhas dwelt in caves and were hunter-gatherers. Now, almost all of them are civilized, but they still retain their culture and traditions, which are passed down from generation to generation. Surrounding the Gal Oya Reservoir/Senanayake Samudra is the Gal Oya National Park.



Buduruwagala:

Rock carvings of Lord Buddha, Bodhisattva Alavokitheswara, Vajirapani (also known as God Sakra) and Aryathara (Tara Devi). It is now the largest Buddha statue in the world carved into the rock, after the Bamiyan Statues in Afghanistan were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001.



Yudaganawa Chaitya:

The location where Princes Dutugemunu and Tissa (sons of King Kavantissa and Queen Vihara Maha Devi) fought for the crown. The two princes built the Chaitya here after they settled their differences and reunited.



 

Dematamal Vihare in Okkampitiya:

The ancient temple in which Prince Tissa hid from his elder brother Prince Dutugemunu after he was defeated at Yudaganawa. A 20km drive off Buttala, takes you through a beautiful forested area.



 

Maligawila:

Stone statues of Lord Buddha and Alavokitheswara at Maligawila, the former is said to be the tallest free-standing statue in the world. It is said to have been commissioned in the 7th Century by Prince Agghabodhi.



 

Galabedda Ancient Pond and Archaeological Site in Moneragala:

In this site are found the remains of a palace said to have been built for a Princess named Sugala Devi, a bathing pond, a sluice gate, a moat and ramparts of the palace compound. Built in the 12th Century AD, the bathing pond is one of the masterpieces of ancient Sinhala architecture.



Horton Plains National Park:

Located in a plateau in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, the park's elevation ranges from 2,100m to 2,300m and home to the second and third highest mountains of Sri Lanka, Kirigalpoththa (2,389m) and Thotupola Kanda (2,357m). Among the attractions in the park are “World's End” with a sheer precipice of 870m, Baker's Falls and Slab Rock Falls. Due to its high elevation, the temperature ranges between 27° C (81° F) during daytime and 5° C (41° F) at night. Mist, fog and clouds formed in these conditions create a high content of moisture, making the Plains the most important watershed in Sri Lanka. Three of Sri Lanka’s major rivers, Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe, have their beginnings here.

Many species of fauna and flora found here are endemic to the region. The largest and most commonly seen mammal is the Sambhur, a large Deer. Others include Leopards, Fishing Cats, Rusty-spotted Cats, Wild Boars, Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys, Sri Lankan Spotted Chevrotains, Indian Muntjacs, Stripe-necked Mongoose, Grizzled Giant Squirrels, European Otters and Kelaart's Long-clawed Shrews. The Horton Plains Slender Loris is found only in highlands of Sri Lanka and is one of the world's most endangered primates. In July 2010, researchers from the Zoological Society of London were able to photograph the mammal for the first time.

Stone tools dating back to 37,000 years during the time of the pre-historic Balangoda culture (Mesolithic Culture) have also been found here.

The park is accessed by the Haputale-Boralanda Road. However, the trip to Horton Plains requires an overnight stay.

- Parvis Farahmond

Cologne,

Germany.

Summary of Duration to Places of Interest from Don Diogu Villa

On the Ella - Wellawaya Road (North)

Ella Wala Waterfall

20 minutes' drive

Randeniya Portuguese Monument

7 minutes' drive

Ravana Caves

25 minutes' drive

Ella Gap

30 minutes' drive

Bandarawela & Badulla (Hill Country)

45 minutes' drive

On the Moneragala Road (East):

Yudaganawa Chaitya

20 minutes' drive

Dematamal Vihare in Okkampitiya

35 minutes' drive

Maligawila

40 minutes' drive

Galabedda Ancient Pond  in Moneragala

45 minutes' drive

Lahugala National Park & Magul Maha Vihare

1 hour 15 minutes' drive

Kataragama

1 hour 20 minutes' drive

Arugam Bay (East Coast) & Muhudu Maha Vihare

1 hour 30 minutes' drive

Inginiyagala and the Gal Oya National Park

1 hour 30 minutes' drive

Panama, Kumana National Park

2 hours 15 minutes' drive

On the Tanamalwila Road (South):

Buduruwagala

15 minutes' drive

Handapanagala

15 minutes' drive

Uda Walawe Wild Life Park

1 hour's drive

On the Haputale Road (West):

Diyaluma Water Falls

15 minutes' drive

Adisham Bungalow in Haputale

1 hour 15 minutes' drive

Horton Plains National Park

2 hours' drive

Yala National Park

1 hour 30 minutes' drive

Poonagala Mountain Range

Bundala Bird Sanctuary

1 hour's drive

1 hour's drive

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