Reasons to visit Sri Lanka
- Monday, 15 February 2016
Sri Lanka known as ‘the pearl of the Indian Ocean’ is a splendid island with incredible diversity. One can drive, just within 4-5 hours from sea level to a height of over 6100 ft. During this short span of drive, a traveler will get a thrilling experience through a host of different geographical and climatic conditions.
Any tourist to Sri Lanka will never forget the evergreen forests with wind-stunted trees, botanical gardens with native flora and green tea estates on the mist-shrouded high mountains touching the sky.
The island’s coast stretching about 1340 km in length owns beautiful pristine sandy beaches in Unawatuna, Arugam Bay, Weligama-Tangalle Bay, Nilaveli-Uppaveli, Pigeon Island, Alankuda, Negambo, Beruwala and Bentota and Kosgoda.
Any traveler will, no doubt, be fascinated with the captivating beauty of lagoons, wetlands, rivers and various types of jungles rich with wildlife. Sri Lanka is one of the most delightful destinations in the world to visit.
Historical Sites and Cultural Heritage
Sri Lanka, the nature’s treasure, is the home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Written history of the country goes beyond 2550 years. Planned cities, magnificent palaces, and expansive man made reservoirs, historical temples monasteries and green gardens are vivid examples showing the grandeur of the history of the island nation.
Sri Lanka’s cultural depth is recognized by the UNESCO, which has declared six archaeological World Heritage Sites in the country:
- The sacred city of Anuradhapura
- The ancient city of Polonnaruwa
- The golden temple of Dambulla
- The ancient city of Sigiriya
- The sacred city of Kandy
- The old town of Galle and its fortifications
The seventh World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka is an ecological example, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
Visitors can see these World Heritage Sites within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle.
The Cultural triangle is situated in the centre of the island and covers an area which includes the World Heritage cultural sites of the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, the Ancient City of Sigiriya, the Ancient City of Dambulla and the Sacred City of Kandy. These sites are considered to be high universal value because of the historical significance of the constructions.
More details at: http://www.culturaltriangle.com
Important Places to visit in the Cultural Triangle
Year Round Festivals
Sri Lanka’s ancient civilization endows the island with a legacy of colourful festivals relating to the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions. Furthermore, these festivals are commemorated with the flair of a people with a genius for pageantry and ritual.
Every full moon day is a public holiday known as ‘Poya’. The most important is ‘Vesak Poya’ which falls in the month of May which marks the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away (Pariniwana). Worth seeing are the illuminated pandals (bamboo frameworks), hung with pictures depicting events in the life of the Buddha.
Sri Lanka’s most tourist-oriented festival is the ‘Kandy Esala Perahera’, held in Kandy over 10 days in late July to early August and climaxing on ‘Esala Poya’. ‘Perahera’ means “procession” and that’s exactly what occurs nightly-a magical passing-by of drummers, dancers, whip-crackers, acrobats and robed elephants. A caparisoned tusker carries the reason for the festival, the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha for the people to venerate.
Hindu festivals include Vel, held in Colombo in July, in which God Skanda’s silver-plated chariot and vel (spear) are paraded across the city, and the Kataragama Festival in the deep south, also connected with Skanda, in which fire-walkers participate.
Ayurveda & Spas
Sri Lanka has always been a place that refreshes not just the mind and body, but also the soul and spirit. And for thousands of years, the most popular method used to restore and rejuvenate tired bodies and weary souls has been Ayurveda-the oldest and most holistic medical system available in the world. Sri Lanka has been a centre of spiritual and physical healing for 2,000 years. Ayurvedic programmes consist of a range of herbal treatments and various types of baths and massages, together with cleansing and revitalization techniques such as yoga, meditation and special diets.
Sri Lanka now has a number of spas, mainly on the west coast, which not only provide Ayurveda but also other Eastern and Western therapies, such as Thai massage, hydrotherapy, herbal baths, reflexology and beauty treatments. For those seeking spiritual nourishment, meditation courses are also available.
The need to conserve the environment was deeply ingrained in traditional Sri Lankan society: in the 3rd c. BC, the country’s first Buddhist monarch established the world’s first wildlife sanctuary. Today, this tradition continues with 13% of Sri Lanka conserved as national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and jungle corridors.
Sri Lanka possesses a high degree of biodiversity. Indeed the island (together with the Western Ghats of India) has been identified by Conservation International as one of 34 world biodiversity hot spots. In addition, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s remarkable is the high proportion of endemic species.
A safari in one of the 14 national parks offers the chance to see some of Sri Lanka’s 91 mammals (16 endemic) - elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, spotted deer, hog, mouse- and barking-deer, wild boar, porcupine, ant-eater, civet cat, loris, giant squirrel, and monkeys such as the macaque, purple-faced leaf monkey and grey langur.
The island is an ornithologist’s paradise, with over 233 resident species, (33 endemic) - but migratory species stretch the number to an astounding 482. There are 171 reptiles (101 endemic including two crocodile species). Thankfully, only five of the 83 snake species are lethal. In recent years there has been a surge in the discovery of amphibians, so that by the time you read this, the figure of 106 (90 endemic), will no doubt have risen.
People and Remarkable Hospitality
Sri Lanka is the home for 21 million people including Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burgers and Malays. Being a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country Sri Lanka has much more to offer to a visitor. It is the Asia’s oldest democracy and heart of religious tolerance.
Unique hospitality is part and partial of Sri Lankan society which will remain forever in the mind of anybody visiting this island.
Adventure and Special Interest Sports
With over 1,600km of coast, Sri Lanka is an ideal location for wind-surfing, water-skiing, surfing, sailing, scuba-diving (including wreck-diving), snorkelling, speed-boating and banana-boating. Prime water-sports sites are located in the Negombo region on the west coast, Wadduwa, Kalutara and Beruwela on the south-western coast, and Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna, Koggala, Tangalle and Hambantota on the southern and south-eastern coasts. Water-sports providers are run by local and foreign professionals (including PADI-qualified instructors) and rent state-of-the-art equipment.
Sri Lanka possesses over 100 hundred rivers, together with lagoons and ‘tank’ (irrigation lakes), so there are plentiful opportunities for year-round kayaking and canoeing, perhaps combined with a camping trip. Two popular locations are the Kalu Ganga and the Kelani Ganga (rivers).
The Kelani Ganga near Kitulgala has fast headwaters and rapids ideal for white-water rafting (from November to April only), with names such as Virgin’s Breast, Head Chopper, Killer Fall, Rib Cage and Slot and Drop.
Varied landscape, wildlife, and archaeological sites offers excellent opportunities for trekking. Nature trails of exceptional interest include the Sinharaja rainforest, the cloud-forests of Horton Plains, the Knuckles (mountain range), and Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve.
In addition, para-gliding, rock climbing, cave treks and mountain biking are possible.
Sri Lanka has an assortment of accommodation options. Colombo features not only a host of modern five-star hotels but also iconic colonial-era hotels with the charm and romance of a bygone era.
The island is generally blessed with impressive hotels usually situated in stunning settings. The coastal areas, especially the west and south, have innumerable resort hotels, where package tourists mostly stay. Several are designed by Geoffrey Bawa, one of the 20th-century’s foremost Asian architects. Bawa’s vision encompasses a style referred to as ‘tropical modernism’ in which forms of modernism are beautifully softened and enriched by traditional influences and surrounding landscapes. There are also an increasing number of boutique hotels on the west and south coast, mainly centred at Galle.
Hill country towns such as Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela feature colonial era hotels, and for those who venture farther afield, perhaps to indulge in adventure sports, there are beautifully converted colonial homes, tea and rubber plantation buildings, jungle cabins, tree-houses and eco-lodges as well as camping under canvas.
The cultivation of many types of rice, spices, vegetables and fruit, coupled with past foreign influences, ensures that Sri Lanka enjoys a varied and select cuisine. As a staple, rice is consumed with an assortment of colourful curries (eggplant, potato, green banana, chicken, fish) that range in potency from delicately-spiced to near-dynamite.
Other Sri Lankan staples include hoppers (a pancake-like snack), string hoppers (steamed rice noodles) and pittu (a mixture of flour and coconut). Lamprais - rice and accompaniments baked in plantain leaves - is a legacy of the Dutch. Seafood lovers will rejoice at the fresh fish, prawns, crab, squid and crayfish available. Desserts include buffalo curd eaten with palm-honey, and the Malay-derived caramel-like wattalapam.
Sri Lanka has a wonderful array of snacks, known as short eats, named cutlets, patties, malu pang (fish bun), and kimbula bunis (crocodile-shaped bun!) that are excellent for trips.
Delectable fruit includes the popular mango, pineapple, banana and papaya, but also many lesser-known but distinctive examples such as sapodilla, mangosteen, rambuttan, woodapple, custard apple and beli.
Shopping in Sri Lanka can take many forms: haggling with a handicraft-seller while sunbathing on the beach; choosing fruit from the traditional village store, the kadé, while side-stepping sacks of rice; or checking out the bargain-priced latest international fashions (Sri Lanka is a major garment exporter) while enjoying the ambience of a luxurious shopping centre in Colombo.
And there’s much inbetween. Visit a handicraft shop and familiarize yourself with traditional designs such as makara (a mythical animal, lion, swan, elephant and lotus which are most evident in brasswork (boxes, trays, lanterns, vases) and silverware (ornately carved and filigree jewellery, tea-sets) that make excellent souvenirs. In addition, ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and handloom textiles, lace, and wood carvings are popular.
Last but certainly not least, Sri Lanka has the widest variety of precious stones among the world’s gem producing countries - blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, cat’s eye, garnets, moonstones, aquamarines and topazes being just a dazzling handful. What’s more, Sri Lanka naturally has a tradition in jewellery-making, so you can bring your gems to life.
Enormous Activities Throughout the Visit
Tourists to Sri Lanka will have the opportunity to engage in many activities. Some of the activities are given below.
- Enjoy A City Tour
- Eat Some Seafood on Mount Lavinia Beach
- Indulge in a Massage at One Of Colombo’s Spas
- Play a Round of Golf at The Royal Colombo Golf Club
- Take in Some Art
- Do Shopping at ‘LAKSALA’
- Visit a Temple
- Visit Dehiwala Zoological Garden
- Eat Some ‘Kothu Rotti’ at restaurant
- Go for a Ride in a Trishaw
- Visit Yala National Park
- Go to Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala
- Visit the Golden Cave Temple in Dambulla
- Spend a day at Unawatuna Beach in Galle
- Visit Citadel of ‘Sigiriya’, Matale
- Visit ‘Udawalawe National Park’
- Visit a Turtle Hatchery
- Having dinner with a local family
- Go to the Independence Memorial Hall
- Visit Wolvendaal Church
- Visit Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque
- Watch a Cricket Match at R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo
- Visit Colombo National Museum
- Drink Sri Lankan Tea or young coconut
- Fly a Kite at Galle Face Green
Courtesy: Sri Lanka Tourism