Ratnapura – The City of Gems
Ratnapura is a bustling city in the Sabaragamuwa province, situated 101 Km, South East of Colombo, lying at the foot of Adam’s Peak and close to Singharaja Rain Forest. It is located on the Kalu Ganga (Black River) in south-central Sri Lanka, some 101 km (63 mi) southeast of the country’s capital, Colombo. It is traditionally well known as the ‘City of Gems’. It is the prime centre of a long-established industry of precious stone mining including Rubies, Blue and star Sapphires, Amethyst, and other precious stones. Most of the people in Ratnapura entirely depends on the Gem trade. Gem mining pits are a common site throughout the region particularly in low lying areas like valley floors, riverbeds, paddy fields etc. Most of the large-scale gem businessmen of Sri Lanka operate from Ratnapura. Apart from gem mining, the city is known for the production of rice and fruit. A large number of Tea and Rubber plantations are also scattered around the city bordering the Kalu Ganga. Tea grown in this region is called low-country tea. There is a well-established tourism industry in Ratnapura. Ratnapura is also one of the starting points to Adam’s Peak, via the Gilimale and Carney Estates. The pilgrimage season starts on Poya (full moon) day in December and runs until the start of the south-west monsoon in April. It has been a pilgrimage centre for over 1,000 years.