Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy

This is Sri Lanka's version of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. The major difference is that there is no need for glass in the plant houses. They are the largest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka. If you like flowers, plants, giant trees and landscaped gardens then this place should be top of your places to visit in Kandy.

Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens Sri Lanka

The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy use flowers to please the eye.

If you are not a garden person it is still worth a visit to go giant fruit bat spotting. When you find the bats be careful on the paths under the trees where they roost. Their pooh makes the paths very slippery. My wife and I both nearly slipped and fell on our bottoms. Walking around town in clothing covered in bat droppings is not my idea of fun.

The gardens are about 4 miles south west of Kandy. Get a Tuk-Tuk to drop you by the main gate. The 654 bus from the Kandy clock tower is a cheaper if more crowded option. The gardens are boarded on three sides by a river. If it is raining the staff at the main gate have access to a quantity of large golfing umbrellas that they loan out to paying visitors free of charge. Give yourself between one to two hours to explore this delight full park.

Normally there is more chance of rain in the afternoon so plan your visit accordingly. Many people combine a visit to the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens with a trip to the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnewala. You can negotiate a day rate with a Tuk-Tuk driver or if there is a group of you hire an air-conditioned taxi van. Remember to write down the agreed price on a piece of paper before you get into the vehicle and only pay at the end of the day. If the driver is friendly and helpful remember to give him a good tip.

Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens Sri Lanka

The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy use the colour of leaves as well as flowers to impress

Nearby is the spice garden area. The staff planted specimens that represent most important exports of Sri Lanka. You will find pepper, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon. Some of the oldest nutmeg trees were planted in 1840 and they are still bearing fruit. The Orchid House is a riot of colour. It is matched by the area called the 'flower garden' opposite the main entrance of the Orchid House. The gardeners have designed a very attractive brightly coloured path that leads down to a folly.

Technically they have not used flowers but instead the foliage of shrubs to produce a distinctive visual treat. Opposite the Great lawn there is a slightly pricy tea room, where you can sit back on the veranda, let the kids play on the grass and admire the giant Java fig tree, also known as the Java willow. It occupies the centre of the lawn like a giant living umbrella.

Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens

The tropical Shrub house in Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy

The gardens are open 365 days of the year from 7.30am to 5pm. They have a website at . It covers over 147 acres (59 hectares) and has more than 4,000 plant species under cultivation. If you want to know about tropical and sub tropical plants then this is the place to go.

You will see plants that at home are sold as delicate potted house plants, over seven feet tall, surviving without the protection of central heating an glass. At the entrance gate turn right and head towards the Orchid House. On the way you go past the Cactus House. Both these buildings are remarkable for not having glass in their windows.

The roof just protects them from being battered by the monsoon rains. Around the outside of the Orchid house you will see examples of hardy tropical orchids including one called Grammatophyllum Speciosum, the largest orchid in the world. It produces a spike of flowers up to 2.5m long.

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