The University is situated east and south of Peradeniya town where the Colombo-Kandy highway crosses the Mahaweli and spreads part of the way up the Hantana ranges on the east. The Mahaweli Ganga flows across the campus in a northerly direction enhancing the natural beauty of the university site.
The elevation of the campus area above the mean sea level ranges from around 500 meters on the banks of Mahaweli to nearly 1000 meters on the crest of the Hantana Range. The campus has a mild climate endemic to the mid-elevations of the Sri Lankan hill country. The temperature fluctuates between 18 centigrade to 30 centigrade with an average of around 25 centigrade during the year. In the March-April period the climate is warm and humid. In the December-January period the nights are cool and the mornings misty. Peradeniya comes within the wet zone of the hill country and the climate is generally wet. The rainfall averages around 2,300mm per year with a short dry season in January and February. The flow of the river often reduces to a minimum during this-period.
The University covers about 700 ha of land located on the flood plain of the Mahaweli as well as in the lower slopes of the Hantana Range. The developed area covering about 130 ha is occupied by buildings of the faculties, halls of residence, staff bungalows, playing fields and other infra-structures. Considerable landscaping has been done in the university park which is planted with a variety of flowering and shade tress. Although seasonal changes are imperceptible in the climate of the campus, most trees begin to bear flowers in early March giving a touch of spring. Some of the campus pathways such as the Lovers Lane and the Lower Hantana Road provide a rare aesthetic beauty through their rich foliage. A panoramic view of the campus can be obtained from the upper Hantana Road near the campus mosque.
Some forests which formed the natural vegetation of this region centuries ago have disappeared due to plantation agriculture. When he University was established in the late 1940s much of the land remained under rubber and tea. Over the years most of these plantations have been abandoned. At present, there is a forest reserve on the upper region of the Hantana Range covering about 150ha. Some natural vegetation is found along the stream banks of Maha Oya, a small tributary of the Mahaweli Ganga which flows through the campus and joins the main river near the university gymnasium and the new swimming pool complex still under construction. Some students walk up the bed of this stream for a bath in th rocky pools during warm weather. However, students are generally advised to avoid bathing in the Mahaweli River for their own safety. Students also prefer to undertake hikes to the of Hantana Range which takes more time and effort.
The building of the campus are well known for their architectural beauty. The style of architecture which was chosen to blend with the natural landscape is based on traditional Kandyan design. The Arts Theater, Library, the older halls of residence and many others have ornamental pillars, arch ways and door ways with local sculpture and carvings. Some of the repositories of ancient fine art such as The Sri Dalada Maligawa, Embekke Shrine and Gadaladeniya Temple are within close range of the University. Many symbols of ancient culture such as Pun Kalasa (symbol of prosperity), Sandakada Pahana (moonstone), lions and guard stones could also be seen at points in the campus.
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