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

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The Peradeniya Royal Botanic Gardens Print
The Peradeniya Royal Botanic Gardens are situated at Peradeniya, 6 kilometres from Kandy, on a tongue of land bounded on three sides by the banks of the Mahaweli Ganga. These beautiful Gardens are some 62 hectares in extent and located at an altitude of 550 metres. Peradeniya takes its name from pera (guava) and deniya (plain), which would suggest an early connection with the introduction or the cultivation of fruits, as the guava is not indigenous to the island. The site was originally the royal pleasure gardens of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1780) of Kandy.

Efforts were made to establish a botanic garden in the island, first by the Dutch at Slave Colombo, and then by the British at Kalutara in 1813, before the final transfer to Peradeniya in 1821. Initially, western fruits and vegetables were grown here, then exotic crops such as coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber and cinchona, all of which later became important to the island's economy. For the first 20 years, the orientation of the garden remained so strongly focused on the production of fruits and vegetables that scant attention was paid to the cultivation of indigenous plants or to other exotics. However, that changed in 1844 when the Brazilian traveller George Gardner became the superintendent of Peradeniya, the first professional botanist to hold the position. Gardner was the first to do great things for Peradeniya. Land was opened up, roads made, and he travelled the length and breadth of the island collecting plants.

The scope was expanded, however, to include all of Sri Lanka's flora, and representative species from all over the tropical world. In fact the gardens main attraction today is the 50-acre (20-hectare) arboretum of some 10,000 trees, including a palm garden illustrating the variety of this particular species. In addition, there is an impressive and graceful avenue of royal palms, planted in 1905. Massive bamboos thrive along the banks of the Mahaweli, including the largest species, the Giant Bamboo of Burma, which can grow as much as 2 feet (60 centimetres) in a single day. Another remarkable feature is the enormous Java fig tree that sprawls across the main lawn, its long branches judiciously propped up in many places. There is also a herb garden, where herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine are grown, and a most important orchid house that reflects the amazing variety of species to be found in Sri Lanka.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, have inextricable links with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. A less obvious link is the Marianne North Gallery at Kew, which houses some invaluable paintings of the Peradeniya Gardens executed by Marianne North in 1876 during her visit to the island. In addition, she befriended and wrote about the then director, Dr G. H. K. Thwaites, who with his great acquirements and steady devotion to science, gave a world wide reputation to the Gardens during his tenure of office from 1849 to 1880. “He had planted half the trees himself, and had seldom been out of it for forty years, steadily refusing to cut vistas, or make riband-borders and other inventions of the modern gardener”, she remarked with astonishment. The trees were massed together most picturesquely, with creepers growing over them on a natural and enchanting tangle.

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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