The Peradeniya Botanical Gardens spread across 146 acres and is home to over 4,000 species of fauna. It houses a very formidable collection of orchids, flowering trees, the first tea bush to have been planted in Sri Lanka and many other tropical plants.
The gardens have a pre-colonial history as being the grounds of the royal palace when it was situated close by during the reign of King Wickramabahu III, circa 1371.
The botanical gardens were then used to experiment with possible crops that could be commercialised in Ceylon. Alexander Moon began this venture by planting coffee and cinnamon and in 1843 the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens were established with plants brought from Kew Gardens, Slave Island and Kalutara.
The town of Peradeniya is about 6 km from the city centre and can easily be accessed from a hotel in Kandy. It’s the last town before you pass crossing the Mahaweli river into Kandy from Nuwara Eliya or Colombo – like a gateway.
The Royal botanical gardens are managed by the Division of National Botanic Gardens of the Department of Agriculture.
All vegetation at the gardens is tropical. With 4000 labelled species of plants. The main entrance will take you into the drive away alongside the river and a suspension bridge over the Mahaweli River which is the longest river in Sri Lanka. This avenue then branches off to the Double Coconut Avenue, Royal Palm Avenue, Cook’s Pine Avenue, Cabbage Palm Avenue and Palmyrah Palm Avenue.
There is a Spice Garden, the famous Orchid House and the Memorial Trees that were planted by famous dignitaries such as the Prince and Princess Henry of Prussia, the Emperor of Austria, Indira Gandhi, Yuri Gagarin and the 1st Earl of Stockton.
Plants of Note
Coco de Mer which is a rare plant lives on a path that leads to the Gardner Monument. There is also an artificial lake that is home to many water plants like the giant water lily and papyrus reeds. Cabbage Palm Avenue is planted with plants brought in from South America, there is a giant Javan fig tree which covers 1,600 sq. metres of a lawn, there are Chinese, Japanese and Burmese bamboo banks and the first tea bush that started the revolution of the world-famous Ceylon tea.
If you would like to visit the Peradeniya Gardens, a day trip is recommended with plenty of time to walk the gardens and take pictures and maybe a picnic on one of the lawns. The Royal Botanical Gardens open at 6.30 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. You can speak to the front desk at Hunas Falls for more information in this regard.