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Mini Pura, Ruwan Pura, Manik Pura
Ratnapura Clock Tower.jpg
Ratnapura Clock tower
Sri Lanka location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 6°40′50″N80°24′08″E / 6.68056°N 80.40222°E / 6.68056; 80.40222 Coordinates: 6°40′50″N80°24′08″E / 6.68056°N 80.40222°E / 6.68056; 80.40222
Country Sri Lanka
Province Sabaragamuwa
District Ratnapura
  Type Municipal Council
   Mayor Nilantha Roshan Godahena
  Total20 km2 (8 sq mi)
130 m (430 ft)
  Density2,474/km2 (6,410/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Ratnians
Time zone UTC+05:30 (SLT)
Website www.ratnapura.mc.gov.lk/eng/index.php

Ratnapura (Sinhala : රත්නපුර; Tamil : இரத்தினபுரி) ("City of Gems" in Sinhala and Tamil) is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of Sabaragamuwa Province, as well as the Ratnapura District, and is a traditional centre for the Sri Lankan gem trade. 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. Ratnapura is also spelled as Rathnapura.

Sinhala language Indo-Aryan language spoken in Sri Lanka

Sinhala, also known as Sinhalese, is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million. Sinhala is also spoken as the first language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totalling about four million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhala is written using Sinhala script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba script.

Tamil language language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of three countries: India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is also the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

Sri Lanka Island country in South Asia

Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.


The name 'Ratnapura' is a Sanskrit word meaning "city of gems", from the Sanskrit words pura (town) and ratna (gemstone). [1] Over 2000 years ago, when the first Buddhist monks arrived here from the north eastern provinces of India namely Bodh-Gaya, Varanasi and Pataliputra, they not only brought with them the Buddhist religion, but since their teachings were mainly in Sanskrit and Pali they also influenced the local language. While candy produced from the jaggery palm is traditionally known in this region as ratnapura, it is more likely that the candy was named for the locale rather than vice versa . [2]

Sanskrit language of ancient India

Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.

It is the centre of a long-established industry of precious stone mining including rubies, sapphires, and other gems. Apart from gem mining, the city is known for the production of rice and fruit. Large plantations of tea and rubber surround the city. Tea grown in this region is called low-country tea. There is a well-established tourism industry in Ratnapura. Nearby Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Udawalawe National Park, Kitulgala, and Adam's Peak are especially popular among tourists.[ citation needed ]

Ruby variety of corundum, mineral, gemstone

A ruby is a pink to blood-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum. Other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapphires. Ruby is one of the traditional cardinal gems, together with amethyst, sapphire, emerald, and diamond. The word ruby comes from ruber, Latin for red. The color of a ruby is due to the element chromium.

Sapphire Sapphire is one of two Corundum gemstones (and the other one is Ruby)

Sapphire is a precious gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum, consisting of aluminum oxide (α-Al2O3) with trace amounts of elements such as iron, titanium, chromium, copper, or magnesium. It is typically blue, but natural "fancy" sapphires also occur in yellow, purple, orange, and green colors; "parti sapphires" show two or more colors. The only color corundum stone that the term sapphire is not used for is red, which is called a ruby. Pink colored corundum may be either classified as ruby or sapphire depending on locale. Commonly, natural sapphires are cut and polished into gemstones and worn in jewelry. They also may be created synthetically in laboratories for industrial or decorative purposes in large crystal boules. Because of the remarkable hardness of sapphires – 9 on the Mohs scale (the third hardest mineral, after diamond at 10 and moissanite at 9.5) – sapphires are also used in some non-ornamental applications, such as infrared optical components, high-durability windows, wristwatch crystals and movement bearings, and very thin electronic wafers, which are used as the insulating substrates of special-purpose solid-state electronics such as integrated circuits and GaN-based blue LEDs.

Rice cereal grain and seed of Oryza sativa

Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima. As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia. It is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize.

In 1901, the town of Ratnapura had a population of 4,084, and by 2011, it had increased to 52,170, with Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims each constituting a significant portion of the population.

Hindus Adherent of Hinduism

Hindus are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism. Historically, the term has also been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for people living in the Indian subcontinent.

Christians people who adhere to Christianity

Christians are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ).

Muslims Adherents of Islam

Muslims are people who follow or practice Islam, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion. Muslims consider the Quran, their holy book, to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet and messenger Muhammad. The majority of Muslims also follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad (sunnah) as recorded in traditional accounts (hadith). "Muslim" is an Arabic word meaning "submitter".


The city is ruled by a municipal council headed by a mayor. The council is elected by popular vote and has 15 seats. There were 29,159 registered voters in the 2006 local authorities elections.[ citation needed ]

A municipal council is the legislative body of a municipality such as a city council or a town council.

In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town.


Ratnapura hospital, upgraded to a Teaching Hospital in early 2019, is equipped with three surgical units, three medical units, two orthopedic units, three Obstetrics and gynaecology units, two paediatrics units, an ENT unit, a neurology unit, a neurosurgical unit, a rheumatology unit, a urosurgical unit, a nephrology unit with dialysing fascilities, a dermatology unit, a psychiatric unit, an A&E unit, and a cardiology unit. It has theatre fascilities for routine surgeries, and for 24/7 casualties. It also has two ICU units catering 12 ICU beds at the moment. It is also a post graduate training center for surgical and paediatric pg trainees.It was upgraded as a teaching hospital,with the establishment of Medical faculty in Sabaragamuwa university. [3]


Gem trade

The people of the town depends on the gem trade. Gem pits common site in the surrounding area. Most of the large-scale gem businessmen of Sri Lanka operate from Ratnapura. There are considerable numbers of foreign gem traders in the city too who have recognised the value of the gems found there. Among the foreign traders, Thai (Thailand) traders are in the majority. Every day, large number of traders from suburbs and other towns gather in the town centre to sell or buy gemstones. Large-scale merchants collect gemstones from locals and sell them in the international market. Some traders go out of the city to buy gems. This includes neighboring towns like Kalawana, Bogawantalawa, and Ela-era. After the discovery of world-class alluvial sapphire deposits in the valley of Ilakaka in Madagascar, many Ratnapura merchants travel out of the country to Madagascar to buy gems.


The city's agricultural industry is also well developed. Large plantations of tea and rubber surround the town. Although rice fields also used to be a common sight around the town, rice cultivation presently faces an uncertain future in Ratnapura because many farmers are giving up their rice cultivation and switching to gem mining which is a more productive way of earning money. If many farmers give up on agriculture, it would be harder for farmers to harvest enough food for them and to trade in the markets. Many delicious fruits (like mango and papaya) and vegetables are grown as market products.


Ratnapura city is located in the A4 Highway which connects capital Colombo to Kalmunai in the Eastern Province. Another Highway A8 connects the town with Panadura in the western coast of Sri Lanka. During the British occupation of the Island, narrow gauge train track was laid in 1912 connecting Colombo – Avissawella – Ratnapura – Opanayake however line Avissawella onwards removed in 1976. Thus reducing the mode of transportation to road. In 2006, construction started on a new broad gauge railway line to Rathnapura only. In 2014, the government gave approval to the E06 Ruwanpura Expressway which will connect Rathnapura with Sri Lanka's Expressway Network.


Ratnapura features a tropical rainforest climate under the Köppen climate classification. The city is located in the south-western part of Sri Lanka, the so-called wet zone. The town receives rainfall mainly from south-western monsoons from May to September. During the remaining months of the year, there is also considerable precipitation due to convective rains. The average annual precipitation is about 4,000 to 5,000 mm. The average temperature varies from 24 to 35 °C, and there are high humidity levels. The city is 21 m (69 ft) above sea level.

Climate data for Ratnapura
Daily mean °C (°F)27
Average rainfall cm (inches)13
Source: temperature, rainfall


Much of the city of Ratnapura is situated in the flood plain of the Kalu River. As a result, it experiences regular floods, usually during the month of May. There are no large-scale dams upstream on the Kalu to control Spring runoff. Proposals to reduce flood risk in the city have yet to reach the feasibility stage. [4] In May 2003, the town experienced the largest flood since the independence of Sri Lanka from Britain in 1947.

Places of worship

Ratnapura Maha Saman Devala premises Maha Saman Devalaya.jpg
Ratnapura Maha Saman Devala premises

There are a number of places of worship in and around Ratnapura, including:

Sri Pada (Adam's Peak)

Ratnapura is the starting point for the 'classic' or hard route up 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. King Parakramabahu and King Nissanka Malla of Polonnaruwa provided ambalamas or 'resting places' for weary pilgrims along the mountain route. The other more popular route is through Dalhousie (pronounced 'Del-house') close to Dickoya.


Schools in Ratnapura include:



Gem Mines

There are numerous gem mines located around the area, especially in paddy fields on lower ground. The mines are generally around 10 m (33 ft) to 50 m (160 ft) deep. Portable hand operating tools used for the mining process, include shovels, picks, pans (specially made from bamboo) and cradles. Once the soil is extracted from the mine, water is used to wash the dirt and mud away using pans and any gemstones, which heavier than normal stones, will remain at the bottom of the pan.

Local heroes

Ehelepola Nilame

In the time of the Last king of Sri Lanka "Sri Vikrama Rajasinha", Ehelepola Nilame was sent to Sabaragamuwa (Ratnapura) as "Disawe" or local governor of Sabaragamuwa. He built a small reservoir and water canal to support local rice farms. The works of this hero are still visible around the Ratnapura area and local people benefiting from his works even today. His house which is situated in the middle of Ratnapura city is now being used as the national museum building.

The portrayal of Ehelepola as a hero is quite controversial. Once he conspired with British and betrayed the Kandy king. The King ordered the execution of his family unless Ehelepola surrendered to the king (according to the prevailing laws). He became a coward and he let king execute his whole family in Kandy. His younger son became a child hero by bravely facing death by guillotine, while his elder brother was hiding behind his mother (who was drowned).


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  1. Suckling, Horatio John (1876). Ceylon: A General Description of the Island, Historical, Physical, Statistical (Volume 1). London: Chapman & Hall. p. 10. OCLC   3864935.
  2. Ariyaratna, D. H., President of the Sri Lanka Gem Association of the United Kingdom (2006). Gems of Sri Lanka (Sixth ed.). Colombo, Sri Lanka: D.H. Ariyaratna. p. 31. ISBN   978-955-95494-4-4.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. "Rathnapura General Hospital (Government Main Hospital)". SriLankaTravelMap. Archived from the original on 12 July 2016.
  4. "Flood Hazard Mapping in Ratnapura City" (PDF). International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM). Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 January 2013.