Known for being one of the most beautiful gardens in Asia, The Royal Garden of Peradeniya has no less than 4000 varieties of plants within its extraordinary collection, representative of Sri Lankan flora and generally those of the tropical areas of the world.
Situated close to Kandy and narrowly bordered on all sides by the Mahaweli River, the Botanical Garden has an ideal climate. Nature lovers can stroll across the 60ha of gardens throughout the day, where there is so much to discover. The essentially tropical vegetation is characterised by a variety of creepers, extravagant palm trees, bamboos, epiphytes, and remarkable trees.
Established by King Wickramabahu III in 1371, the royal park was mainly developed under the rule of King Kirti Sri Rajasinhe (1747-1778), before being converted into a botanical garden by the British. The main function of the gardens during the British rule was to research and develop species of high commercial value. It is in the garden of Peradeniya that coffee, cinnamon, tea, nutmeg, rubber, and quinine were first cultivated for testing.
The garden of Peradeniya is famous for its impressive avenue of palm trees, as well as its exceptional collection of orchids, rich with 300 different species, including the biggest known orchid in the world: the Grammatophyllum Speciosum. The garden of spices encloses plants of pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, of which the oldest were planted in 1840.
Among the 10 000 trees of the garden, some have been planted symbolically by prestigious visitors such as King Edward VII, the Tsar of Russia, Alexander III, Franz Joseph I of Austria, Indira Gandhi, Marshal Tito, and also Youri Gagarine.
First of all, there is the giant 150-year-old Javanese fig tree, which can hardly be missed. Its tentacle-like roots spread over 1 800 square meters, creating an incredible jumble of branches and roots around its majestic trunk.
The cannonball is also equally intriguing, with its fruits in the shape of a barrel which hang on its trunk intertwined with creepers.
The bamboo giants of Burma, capable of climbing up to 40 meters high and growing 30 centimetres every day.
How could we not mention the palm tree called « the coconut buttocks of Seychelles», which stands out among the 200 varieties of palms present in Peradeniya. This very rare variety of sea palm, whose fruit is the largest in the plant kingdom, is today threatened by overharvesting.
With its enormous leaves and flowers, the Talipot palm tree is also surprising. This giant flower only blooms once in its lifetime, forty years after germination, to produce the largest flower bouquet in the world. In the age of the kings of Kandy, its enormous leaves, which can be as long as 10m, were used to construct tents, stitched to one another. The leaves of Talipot were also used in 500 B.C as parchments in India and Sri Lanka. The Mahavamsa, the most important chronicle of Sri Lanka, was documented on the leaves of Talipot.