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Moving inland from Colombo to the verdant hills of the Knuckles Forest Reserve, the elephant-spotted Wasgamuwa National Park or the cave temples of Dambulla usually means passing through little Kurunegala. Surrounded by coconut groves and flat plains, it is a pleasant place laden with curious temples, lookout points and some pretty natural attractions. While away some time here before heading further afield.
Most Kurunegala tour guides will lead you straight to the panoramic viewpoint perched atop the gnarled Elephant Rock. It is crowned by a white-painted sitting Buddha statue that looms 27 meters high, offering sweeping 360-degree views of the city and the surrounding rubber farms. Others might prefer to start with the royal palace, where pillared gateways and stone carvings herald Kurunegala's glorious history as one of Sri Lanka's kingly capitals. More sculpted mountains and hills surround the city, while shimmering Kurunegala Lake sits right in the middle of it all, ringed by walking paths, pretty picnic spots, lily-padded ponds, and quiet groves of trees – the perfect place to escape the urban buzz.