Given the name Ratnapura which means “the city of gems” Ratnapura is indeed famous as the centre of the long established industry of precious stone mining. Located in the Sabaragamuwa province about 100km from Colombo Ratnapura contains semi-mild weather throughout the year. Also with large plantations of tea and rubber Ratnapura is a much sought tourist location.
Sri Lanka is famous for its Blue Sapphires and is the source of two of the world’s largest: the 'Blue Bell' adorns the British crown and the 'Star of India' is on exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York. Other precious and semi- precious stones found here include Red Rubies, Cat’s Eyes, Alexandrites, Tourmalines, Zircons, Garnets, Amethysts and Topaz. The mining, cleaning, cutting, and polishing of these precious jewels is a skill that is passed down to generations and is still done manually according to traditional methods. Gem pits, simply covered open- sided huts with thatched roofs, are a part of Ratnapuras rural landscape.
Housed in the Ehelapola Walauwa, this museum displays ancient historic artifacts from the Sabaragamuwa region and provides information about Ratnapuras gem industry. The museum is closed on Thursdays & Fridays.
Built by King Parakaramabahu in the 13th century, the Saman Devale is dedicated by Buddhists to god Saman, considered to be the guardian deity of Adam’s Peak. During the colonial occupation of Sri Lanka, this ancient temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and a church was built on this site. Later it was rebuilt with the Catholic Church remaining alongside the temple.
Bopathella is located few miles away from Colombo, in Kuruvita is an attraction to the visitors from all over the country. Thought thw visitors are allowed to bathe, but warned for flash flood which may appear in a matter of minutes. Despite its danger the beauty of this place is a gem to Ratnapura.
A popular water fall among locals, situated at Mahawalawatta, 3 km away from Ratnapura town.
The seventh highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, Situated 4 km away from Ratnapura Pelmadulla main road.
Situated next to Ratnapura Kalawana main road in Marapana village, this beautiful scenery has been captured in many famous Sinhala movies.
There are many gem mines around the area, especially in paddy fields on lower ground, which are deep around 10m to 50m.
Other significant places of worship and religious value are located in the area. The following are some important examples:
Portable hand operating tools use for mining process such as shovel, picks, pans (specially made from bamboo) and cradles. Once soil lifts out from the mine, with the use of water, the dirt and mud wash out using pans and thus if there any gemstone, which heavier than normal stones, remains at the bottom of the pan as mud wash away.
The earth’s greatest concentration of gems in over 50 varieties is found within the country’s land area of approximately 25,000 square miles. The Arabs called this the land JaziratKakut, which denotes the same meaning the Island of gems. The fame of her gems spread far and wide. These priceless precious stones have adorned the crowns and thrones of royalty in many parts of the world.