Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens is the largest garden in Sri Lanka with 4,000 different species of plants spread in a spacious 147 acres. Margined by the Mahaweli river from three sides, it is located about 6 km from Kandy city at Peradeniya town. Th garden is considered as a best destination to visit in Kandy city. It is home to more than 10,000 individual trees, some of them hundreds of years old. As well, the garden is highly famous for its beautiful orchid and rose collections.
The history of Peradeniya Garden dates back centuries to the ancient Kandyan reign. The main purpose of this garden was to serve Kandyan nobility as a pleasure garden. Therefore, it is called a Royal Botanical Garden. In 1821, it was transformed into a public garden by the British colonial rulers. Now it has developed into one of the best gardens in whole Asia. Lots of local and foreign nature lovers come to visit this garden every day.
The tour of the botanical garden is educative and fascinating for all visitors. You can see many rare plants and trees in this garden. One of the most fascinating features in Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens is three spectacular palm avenues. Among them, Royal Palm (Roystonea regia) avenue is the most prominent one. Tall Royal Palms lined along the pathway neatly, making wonderful scenery. You can capture a marvelous shot with the background of elegant royal palm avenue in the garden.
(View of Royal Palm Avenue)
Palmyra palm (Borassus flabellifer) avenue is another majestic palm avenue within the grounds. This avenue is perfectly landscaped and lined with tall palmyra palm trees for a long distance. This alley is a magnificent spot to capture some photogenic shots.
Cabbage palm (Roystonia oleracea) avenue is a beautiful palm alley with tall cabbage palm trees over 20 m in height. They are lined up perfectly in this pathway. Cabbage palm has a central part similar to the unfolded leaves of cabbage, hence it got this name. This decorative palm avenue enhances the aesthetic value of the garden a lot.
(Cabbage Palm Avenue)
Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens gives the opportunity to see some rare trees in the world. The Double coconut (Laodicea maldivica) is one of the most remarkable palm species you’ll find in this garden. The double coconut or Coco de mer produces the largest and heaviest seed in the plant kingdom, weighing up to 20 kg. It takes 5-8 years to mature the seed, while it takes 2 more years to germinate. This is one of the most amazing trees to visit during your trip to the garden.
You’ll find a miraculous sight in Cook’s Pine (Araucaria cookie) avenue. This is a line of Cook’s pine trees bordering the garden’s great lawn from the riverside. The distinct feature of this pine avenue is all the trees are leaning to the south, making you feel like you're standing on an inclined plane. The reason for this mysterious leaning behavior is still unknown. These leaned pine trees affectionately call as “drunken Christmas trees”. Remember to enjoy the amazing sight of leaning Cook’s pines during your journey to the botanical gardens.
(Cook’s Pine Avenue)
Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden is home to some ancient trees older than hundreds of years. The giant Java fig tree (Ficus benjamina) is 160 years old now. This huge tree stands at the centre of the great lawn, looking like a giant umbrella from the distance. It was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1861 and it has grown into a large tree with widely spread branches and a giant canopy.
There are some amazing plant collections in the garden. Cycad plant collection is an interesting one not to miss in the garden. Cycads resemble a palm tree or tree fern, but their leaves are very hard, like plastic. They are descendants from the age of dinosaurs and existing on the planet for about 200 million years. The world’s most slowly growing cycad is also present in this wonderful cycad collection.
Another interesting plant collection is different species of bamboo trees. They are planted along the Mahaweli riverbank of the garden. The collection includes green bamboo, yellow bamboo, prickly bamboo, dwarf Chinese bamboo, and many more. You can see the largest bamboo species in the world, known as Giant bamboo here. Giant bamboo can grow up to 40 m in height and their new shoots are growing rapidly, about 30 cm per day.
While you are walking in the garden, you’ll meet a collection of sky-high, massive trees. This is the Ficus collection, with centuries-old giant Ficus trees. They have huge trunks, supported by aerial roots. These huge aerial roots have dwindled into the earth and become strong pillars of support to the trees. The intertwined roots and branches of these trees make one of the most amazing sceneries in the garden. Take the time to admire the glory of this Ficus collection while walking in the garden.
There is a large collection of memorial trees in Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden. These trees are planted by foreign diplomats who visited the garden. Some of the distinguished personalities include popular Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin. He had planted a flowering yellow Ashoka tree (Saraca thaipingensis) in 1961, in the same year he had been to the moon. There is a miraculous story behind this tree. It says that the growth of this plant was mysteriously stopped after his death. Although it is 60 years old now, you may see this plant is relatively smaller than its other counterparts.
(Memorial tree planted by Yuri Gagarin)
Without a doubt, the most attractive destination in the gardens is the orchid house. It is one of the most important places not to miss during your trip. Orchid house showcases a fine collection of orchids and some of them are very rare species. It maintains with special care as the pride of Sri Lankans. There are about 300 species of colorful orchids and their hybrids, Vandas, Oncidiums, Cattleya, Dendrobiums, and many more. It is a spectacle of color, where each species steals the hearts of visitors by their lovely nature.
Walking through the garden will bring you to the suspension bridge at the north end. This bridge was built in 1905 and is more than hundred years old now. But still, it can accommodate six persons at a time. This photogenic bridge gives a best opportunity to capture some nice shots of the garden. Walking on this moving bridge should be a wonderful experience for you to try.
If you’re a nature lover, taking a stroll through Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden is a truly memorable experience. You may need an entire day to walk leisurely through the palm avenues, flower beds, and perfectly manicured landscapes. It is a wonderful place where you can admire the beauty of nature, combined with wonderful landscaping skills. Visit the gorgeous Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens and get close with the lovely nature of Sri Lanka.