A melting pot of many cultures, Sri Lanka is steeped in myths and legends. But it's also a land of mystery, superstitions and hauntings. Whether it's paranormal activities or ghost-busting thrills that arouse your curiosity, you don’t need to travel into hinterland of the country to discover its spooky places.

Travel up- country, away from Kandy, to the picturesque heights of Nuwara Eliya, where locals have still not gotten away from the legacy of hauntings of at least two places here.

The first of these is the General’s House, dating to the 19th century. Located close to the Nuwara Eliya Hill Club, along the Grand Hotel Drive, in the highlands, this was the country residence of Members of Parliament and a popular holiday retreat. It is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a lady who died in her room rather mysteriously. Though the property is still available for the exclusive use of members of parliament and their families, the General’s House has not been able to shed its ghostly past.

According to a report, a present-day Member of Parliament spent a night here with friends, with talk moving around to the resident ghost. With much bravado, he told them he was not afraid to spend the night in the old wing of the property in Room 16 in which she was found dead and is supposed to still haunt. It was around two o’clock at night when he woke up to use the loo; as he tried to go in he felt a jolt, as if someone had pushed him. Apparently, it was strong enough for him fall down and hurt his chin…But he couldn’t see who had done it. But the push, he said, was from someone or something in the washroom. He said he had heard of other such incidents at Generals House— and his experience still haunts him and fills him with curiosity.

When you find yourself in the lovely spot at the Lover’s Leap Waterfall, don’t be surprised if locals caution you not to venture there after sunset.  The falls accessed from Pedro Tea Estate in Nuwara Eliya highlands, are located on the eastern edge of the Pidurangala Forest Reserve. Lover’s Leap Waterfall has several ghostly tales linked to it. The most popular one is about a Kandyan prince who fell in love with a village girl who helped him find his way out of the forest when he got lost. It appears that the prince’s family opposed the union and the lovers, because they could not be together, chose to leap to their death from the cliff from where the waterfall dropped from a height of 30m.

Whatever the stories may be, what is undeniable is the locals telling you to shun the place at night as you can hear the shrieks of the couple and the sound of a big splash at the pool at the end of the falls. Others claim that if you are too close to the edge of the cliff you feel like someone might push you down!

In Kandy, Helga’s Folly, a beautiful chateau-style hotel, has played host to several world leaders and big-ticket celebs like Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier, in the past. Helga’s mother Esma originally designed the property as their family home. The house with its haunted-house theme and spooky vibes has given rise to local lore— that it is also host to a ghost. But the spirit of this ‘haunted house’ apparently lives on the top floor and lets its whimsical presence be felt by overnight visitors on the occasion.

Helga De Silva Blow Perera, who once modeled for Dior and a luminary on Sri Lanka’s social circuit, took over the hotel from her parents and filled its rooms and corridors with a lot of abstract art — some quite eccentric — and definitely with spooky overtones. The atmospheric guesthouse-cum- art gallery-with its haunting vibes, and surreal artworks is a popular tourist spot.

Located in Pettah in Colombo, Wolvendaal Church is still a living church conducting Eucharistic celebrations on Sundays. What has given rise to the stories of hauntings after dark are the graves of the dead Dutch, from its 17th-century colonial days, underneath this church. It can get quite creepy after sunset as the ghost of a Dutch governor’s daughter, who died in a tragic accident on the church grounds, is said to be on of the restless visitors. People who’ve been brave enough to check out the dilapidated structure have claimed to have heard footsteps, seen ghostly apparitions wandering around the place…heard unearthly sounds…and even felt the chills bought about by some paranormal presence! The area is steeped in ghost lore and superstitions.  Another Dutch location said to be haunted is the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct where a Dutch officer died at the hospital. Some visitors claim to have heard strange sounds, unexplained sightings, and even a feeling like they were being watched while exploring the area.

The Galle Face Hotel, in the heart of Colombo’s Fort district, is another haunted place with visits by the ghost of an English soldier who died in World War II. The National Museum of Colombo is also believed to have some form of paranormal activity by the ghosts of the past. Tales of hauntings are possibly perpetuated by the museum’s documentation of miseries and horrors of wartimes in its exhibits.

Search hard enough and you’ll surely find many other spots around the island which will connect with your curiosity about Sri Lanka’s ghostly adventures. Check out the local lore to find these hidden gems.

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