Viharamahadevi Park has recently got a facelift and is now fenceless and anyone could enter or exit the park from anywhere. Recently the park has been beautifully landscaped and beautified and is now maintained by military personnel after the cessation of hostilities. There are seats all over the park and you can normally find families sitting on the grass having a picnic. Many people come to the park for a nap at midday. They find a place out of the sun and have their siesta before going back to work. There are many mobile food stalls where you can buy lunch and a drink. Towards the western end of the park you will find the public Library and Cenotaph War Memorial.
There are lots of things to do for children including a large playground full of slides, see-saws, swings and roundabouts. On some days you may be able to spot a temple elephant wondering around the park with its keeper looking for palm branches it can munch on. Giant Fruit Bat spotting is good fun. You will see them roosting hanging upside down it the top of the biggest trees. Watch where you walk in some areas as the ground is covered in bat droppings near their favourite hang outs.
You can also spot mynah birds and Cuckoos if you are lucky. In the eastern side of the park there is an old diesel shunting train that can be climbed upon. The children can pretend they are working on the railways. There are a number of ice cream sellers in the park. An Ice Cream cone always makes the children, and some adults, happy.
Behind the Golden sitting Buddha you will find a long tree lined Italian style formal rectangular pond with fountains. The park is open between 8am and 6pm. There is no entrance charge. There are public toilets. If you are lucky you may visit the park when one of the special exhibitions are open. They range from Art displays, open air theatre shows, music concerts to Garden shows.
The park used to be called Victoria Park after Queen Victoria. Some Locals still call it by its old name. The new park is still named after a Queen but this time it is a Sri Lankan Queen. As a Princess she was placed in a small boat and sent out to sea by her father as a sacrificial offering. She was not expected to live. He was King of Tissa, A region in the south of the island. It had suffered from sever flooding. The king believed it was a punishment because he had killed a Buddhist Monk.
Legend has it that the boat was painted gold and had the words written on the side ‘A King’s Daughter’. She did not die. She was blown ashore further up the coast and ended up marrying the king of the province of Ruhuna, King Kavantissa. Her son went onto win many battles against the Tamil Kings of the north. This is why she is important to Sinhalese history.