Take one step from the door of the Mango House Villa and you are entering the rich landscape of Sri Lanka, which offers you a breathtaking choice of wonderful holiday experiences.

Mango House has four double bedrooms all with hand carved mahogany four poster beds and ensuite wet rooms Mango House has four double bedrooms all with hand carved mahogany four poster beds and ensuite wet rooms Enjoy panoramic views over the Peelagoda temple from our terraces The golden sands of Unawatuna, voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by the Discovery Channel and Mark Ellingham, founder of 'Rough Guides'.Enjoy panoramic views over the Ganahena temple from our terraces

Click here to read more about The Mango House Villa

The Henaratgoda Botanic Gardens Print
The Henaratgoda Botanic Gardens are situated in the Gampaha district of the Western Province, some 30 km north-east of Colombo. Although only 15 hectares in extent, therefore the smallest of the island's botanic gardens, and largely overshadowed by Peradeniya and Hakgala, Henaratgoda has equally magnificent foliage. Furthermore, like Hakgala, Henaratgoda is steeped in botanical history, for the Gardens were established in 1876 specifically for the propagation of the first seedlings of the Para rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) to be grown outside Brazil. How these seedlings got to Ceylon is a remarkable story. In 1875, a colonial agent called Henry Wickham was commissioned by the British government to supply a copious amount of Brazilian rubber seed.

Having acquired 70,000 seeds, he then had the problem of transporting them back to England. An enterprising man with perhaps a vivid imagination, Wickham says in his memoirs that he found a steamer abandoned on the Amazon River, and smuggled the seeds downstream in her in bales of cotton. From there they were shipped to Liverpool and brought to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, in London. By June 1876, however, fewer than 4% of the seeds had germinated. In August of that year, most of the seedlings - some 2,000 - were shipped to Henaratgoda, where the moist, hot climate was not unlike that of the Amazon jungle. The trees that resulted were to give birth to the rubber industry that spread throughout Southeast Asia. In 1888, 20,000 seeds were harvested from the trees planted in Ceylon and shipped to Singapore. The first rubber plantation was established in Malaya using these seeds in 1898, and this British colony quickly became the principal source of rubber for the world's industry.

Near the Palm Circle in the Hakgala Gardens central drive can be found a stump labelled No. 6 which was the first rubber tree to be tapped in Ceylon. It was, however, No. 2, which yielded so much white latex that this single tree convinced those who remained sceptical of the wisdom of establishing a rubber industry in the island.

Fittingly, although the gardens feature trees from all over the tropics, the giants from South America are the most impressive. The gardens, which are mostly flat, also have a rare collection of palms. Although not as popular as Peradeniya or Hakgala, Henaratgoda is nevertheless visited by more than 250,000 people a year, largely drawn from nearby Colombo.

Hot Travel News

The Sunday Times Travel

Last One in's a... Beach bum? Culture vulture? Intrepid adventurer? On Sri Lanka’s south coast, you can be all three. By Jeremy Lazell published on Sunday 21st September 2008 in The Sunday Times travel guide.


Rough GuidesMark Ellingham, founder of Rough Guides votes Unawatuna the best tropical beach for The Guardian Travel Edition on Saturday May 24 2008