I’ve been to the Royal Botanical Gardens aka Peradeniya Park three times now and absolutely love it. In fact, last month it was our first stop out of Colombo on our way to Kandy. I was only ten years old when I first visited with my family and back then we were transported around Peradeniya Park in the back of a cow cart. It was such a fun experience – I must dig out some old photos!
Although you can’t explore this way anymore, you can hire out golf buggies. Personally, I think the best way to see Peradeniya Park is by foot which takes a few hours (including the time it takes to stop and enjoy the different areas) but it’s well worth it. Going it by foot gives you the option to go off path and see more – though you always have the option to park up your buggy to do so. If you get tired just take a break under the shade of a tree or bask in the sun on the grass. The Royal Botanical Gardens is also a popular place to picnic!
The gardens are home to an impressive collection of plants and trees with over 4000 species. Here are just a few of my favourite areas you can see in the Royal Botanical Gardens/ Peradeniya Park:
If, like me, you’re a fan of spices this part of the Royal Botanical Gardens is such a delight! It’s lovely seeing all the everyday spices we use in their natural form – before they become the ground versions we most commonly stock in our spice racks. It’s also pretty cool, not to mention educational, seeing how they grow. For instance, I never knew black pepper grew in a tree. Did you? Also apparently some of the nutmeg trees originally planted in 1840 still exist in Peradeniya Park today!
It’s right near the Main Entrance so you can either see it on your way in or out. We preferred heading to the areas furthest from the entrance first then seeing the spice garden on our way out.
I absolutely love orchids but I have never managed to keep them alive. I remember, when my husband and I got our first home together we were gifted three lovely orchid plants. The poor things only lasted a few months under my care – if anyone has any tips please do share!
The Orchid House at Peradeniya Park holds a large collection of beautiful blooms in an array of colours, shapes and sizes. Before visiting, I never imagined that there would be so many types within the orchid family. There are meant to be over 70 species of orchids endemic to Sri Lanka but I’m not sure how many species are held in the botanical gardens. If you find out please let me know :-).
The palm avenues are such an impressive sight with some palms reaching over 20 metres high! Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the most popular places for people to take photos in the park due to the dramatic frame the palms create by flanking either side of the avenue.
Double Coconut Palms
The Double Coconut Palms are by far the most impressive of all the palm species in Peradeniya Park. They produce the largest seeds/fruit out of all plants. Apparently coconuts are seeds, fruit and nuts according to botanists – confusing right? Our printed guide provided by the park, stated the coconuts on these palms take around 5 years to grow.
Apparently they can also weigh up to 30kg which doesn’t surprise me after seeing their size. When I visited a few years ago, there was a huge coconut around 50cm long. It hung so low due to its weight and many people had even left their mark on it by etching their names. Sadly, it was gone this time around as it must have reached maturity and fallen off!
Plant & Cacti Houses
Near the entrance, you’ll find the plant and cacti houses right opposite each other.
By the time we got to them, the cacti house was locked up so we were grateful when one of the park employees offered to let us in. The various patterns of the cacti are amazing, and almost therapeutic to look at. I love how cacti are so easy to look after and the cacti house definitely provides lots of inspiration for interior plant design.
The park holds bamboo plants that are over 30 metres high. To find them walk towards the lake which they grow next to. According to the park’s website bamboo can grow at a rate of around 30cm a day which explains their impressive height. There are many varieties of bamboo with the Burmese considered the largest in the world.
Although the park is famous for its collection of botany, you can also spot some wildlife.
If you’re exploring by foot, you may be tempted to skip some areas right towards the back of the park but you’d be bananas to miss out on the monkeys. There’s a big family of them who love hanging around near the suspension bridge and this time there were even quite a few infants! They’re a curious bunch and are definitely not afraid to walk up towards people, often monkeying around on the footpath. Of course, no matter how friendly or adorable they seem, caution is advised. I’ve heard that many people have had picnic items stolen off them so if you have any food on you be sure to hide it when going towards them. (Hope you enjoyed the monkey puns! :-P)
Another creature to spot in the parks is the bat! We witnessed a huge colony of them flying out of some trees for what seemed like ages. There were probably hundreds of them so it was impressive seeing so many at once. They hang around the trees to the right of the round green (if you’re facing it from the entrance).
Okay, so they aren’t wildlife per se, but it’s hard to miss all the lovey dovey young couples in the park! It must be because the trees offer great camouflage from their parents or whoever they’re trying to hide their budding romances from.
A Brief History of the Royal Botanical Gardens/Peradeniya Park
The park was founded under British Colonial control in 1843 by Alexandar Moon. He originally used it to grow cinnamon and coffee. Plants were then brought over from two other gardens that existed in Sri Lanka as the conditions were better in Peradeniya for botanics. When you read the plaques on the trees you’ll notice many were ‘planted’ by British royals such as Queen Mary.
For a foreign adult it costs 1500 LKR and for a child 750 LKR. If you have a valid student card, you may be able to get the concession price of 1000 LKR.
Tip: If you were born in Sri Lanka and are revisiting as a foreigner you may be able to enter for the local rate of 60 LKR. Just show your place of birth in your passport and ask if you can get a local ticket. It isn’t guaranteed but many places appreciate that people want to revisit their birth place and heritage.
Exploring Sri Lanka
If you also love the food as much as I do then be sure to check out my Sri Lankan recipes for all those traditional dishes you will have tried along the way! Hope you enjoy your time there and don’t be afraid to get in touch if you have any questions.