The Royal Botanic Garden of Peradeniya, near Kandy, were first established in the 14th century. Since British times, Peradeniya has become one of the finest botanical gardens in Asia. Before the British ruled the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815, the site at Peradeniya was a Royal Pleasure Garden, apparently being enjoyed by the last Queen of Kandy. This lush corner exists in the cradle of a deep bend in the wide and languid river of the Mahaweli and was formally established in 1821. Initially managed by Alexander Moon, the gardens started as little more than a coffee and cinnamon plantation. Today, spread over sprawling 147 hectares, they are home to some 4,000 species from all corners of the earth. There is a pungent and fascinating spice garden which provides a fine introduction to the long-practiced medicinal science of Ayurveda and an exceptional orchid house sheltering some 300 varieties. A number of the wider pathways are tree-lined, including the classic “Avenue of Palms” which has the aesthetic power to transform a simple stroll into an event.