A Royal Blue Sapphire from Sri Lanka, the Island that offers Best Quality Gems
A Royal Blue Sapphire from Sri Lanka, the Island that offers Best Quality Gems

There are many wonderful attractions in Sri Lanka. Among them, are a few significant cities that themselves become attractions due to the special characteristics that they hold. Ratnapura is also a renowned city in Sri Lanka as such. It is the capital city of the Ratnapura district and the Sabaragamuwa province. Moreover, it is a city of natural beauty, rich with cultural values, which is also famous as ‘the city of gems’. So, owing to all these reasons, this city attracts a large number of travelers annually. And yes, if you are a fan of less explored cities, Ratnapura is an ideal location for you to pay a visit as well. So, keep reading to know all about Ratnapura prior to your visit!

Where is Ratnapura in Sri Lanka?

It is in the southwestern part of Sri Lanka. The distance between Ratnapura and the capital city Colombo is about 101 kilometers. Besides, it is around 127 kilometers away from Kandy, the capital of Central Sri Lanka.

This beautiful city is located on the banks of the Kalu Ganga. It also borders the foot of Adam’s Peak and the Sinharaja rainforest. Further, Ratnapura is a location that opens the gateway to Sri Lanka’s hill country from its southern plains. So, overall, it is a major city in the country at a significant location in Central Sri Lanka.

Top Attractions in Ratnapura

While Ratnapura is not that famous as a top tourist destination in Sri Lanka, it is still a location with several tourist attractions of cultural and religious value, natural beauty, and historical importance. Here are some such well-known locations that you shouldn’t miss when you are in Ratnapura.

1. Maha Saman Devalaya

This is a significant cultural attraction in Ratnapura and it is dedicated to the deity, Saman. Sri Lankans believe that Deity Saman is one of the guardian deities of Sri Lanka and he is the presiding deity of the Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) mountain.

According to the historical records, a court Minister called Arya Kamadeva built this shrine dedicated to God Saman in awe of a successful gem mining session in the Ratnapura area. However, this is the first-ever shrine built in Sri Lanka, dedicated to God Saman. There are beliefs that there was a shrine famous as the Saparagmu Viharaya at the same location earlier, which was also dedicated to Deity Saman. Yet, there are no proper descriptive historical records with regard.

While the shrine has major influences from the Hindu religion and culture, it is most well-known as a Buddhist with Buddhist cultural values. Besides, Ratnapura Maha Saman Devalaya holds an annual procession in the months of August or September. People call it the Saman Perahera, and it is indeed one of the grandest and most elegant events in this town!

2. Gem Mines

Even in Sri Lanka’s past, the top-quality gems was one of the main reasons for the colonizers to pay attention to this wonderful island. And yes, the city of Ratnapura is the main area in the country that offers these treasures to the world. Hence, your trip to Ratnapura won’t be complete without a visit to a gem mine of this wonderful city.

To be specific, this area is world-famous for its high-quality sapphires and rubies. The sapphires and rubies from this area take a different color formation than the gems from other parts of the world. Thus, Ratnapura is home to the rarest gems in the world.

There are several gem mines on the outskirts of the city of Ratnapura. Besides, there is a lot of hard work behind finding a rare gemstone. So, through a visit to a gem mine, you’ll be able to get a broad idea of the process of gem mining. There is also a rough gem market every morning in Ratnapura. You will be able to buy some high-quality gems from these markets.

3. Sinharaja Rainforest

This biosphere reserve and the largest tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka is in a very close proximity to Ratnapura city. It became a popular tourist destination after UNESCO recognized it as a world heritage site in 1978.

This forest reserve spreads through an area of 7648 hectares. The most significant fact about the forest reserve is that it is home to numerous endemic flora and fauna. In fact, the rainforest provides shelter to 8 endemic species and many threatened species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and 19 endemic bird species of Sri Lanka. Besides, the greenery there, and the streams that rhythmically flow through the forest make it a paradise for nature lovers.

So, if you are a nature enthusiast, you will fall in love instantly with the forest as its natural beauty is like heaven. Hence, if you are in Ratnapura, this place is so worth a visit to have an amazing escapade through the unspoiled rainforest. 

4. Bopath Ella Waterfall

Sri Lanka is well-known for its gorgeous waterfalls . So, if you are in Ratnapura, make sure you visit this charming waterfall too.

Bopath Ella got its name from the unique shape of the waterfall as it is very similar to a bo leaf. Owing to its name itself, it is one of the most famous waterfalls in the country. However, there are beliefs in the area regarding the waterfall being haunted. There is also a mythical story that the waterfall hides a treasure trove. Above all, it is also a location that is rich in biodiversity. The Kuru Ganga River sources water for this waterfall.

After all, this is one of the great locations around Ratnapura to spend some free time. There is also a small pool in the waterfall where you can have a refreshing swim. If you are planning to visit it, you can easily find it in the Kuruwita Divisional secretariat close to the Agalawatta village.

5. Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak is the fourth-highest mountain in Sri Lanka. It is not in the Ratnapura town itself, but in a close proximity to this wonderful town.

It is a sacred place for Buddhists as they believe that lord Buddha left his footprint on the summit. There are several routes to Adam’s Peak. Ratnapura-Palabaddala route is one of the most famous routes to reach the summit. However, the route up to the summit is a picturesque journey through the forested hills. So, if you are fond of nature, culture, religious beliefs, and hiking, then this is a great place to visit when you are in Ratnapura.

Traditionally, Buddhists start the pilgrimage season on the December full moon day and it ends on the full moon day of April. In this season, pilgrims cover this whole area, and there are several religious events during that time as well. After all, this is one of the locations to get a unique experience around Ratnapura.

How to Reach Ratnapura

The cheapest way to reach Ratnapura from Colombo is to take the bus. The journey will take around 2 and a half hours. Apart from that, many tourists opt to take private transportation as it is very easy to arrange a taxi or a private vehicle from the airport itself as well.

If you are traveling from Kandy, the easiest way is to take the bus. However, if you don’t like traveling by public transportation, you can also arrange a private vehicle from Kandy too.

The Bottom Line

The renowned city of Ratnapura is unarguably one of the most beautiful locations in the country situated amidst the lush greenery. Apart from its very popular gem mining industry, there are also tea and rubber plantations around the area. With all these amusements, you’ll be able to get a one-of-a-kind experience here in Ratnapura as it can be considered one of the less explored areas of the country. So, don’t forget to pay a visit to the ‘gem city’ of Sri Lanka during your visit. Happy and safe traveling!