Hanging like a teardrop from India’s Southern tip, Sri Lanka has been unfairly out of everyone’s itinerary until very recently. One of the most beautiful island nations of the world, this tropical treat is now finding a place on every traveller’s radar for its myriad charms.
Garlanded by palm-fringed beaches and protected by high mountains adorned with tea plantations on the outside, Sri Lanka’s interiors are rainforests roamed by exotic species of Leopards, Water Buffaloes, and Elephants. Boasting of a culture that is over 2000 years old, Sri Lanka throws your way amazing ancient sites and celebrated temples.
The pace of life in Sri Lanka is slow and sedate, so take your time with this charming country. Stay a while on your favoured beach, meditate in the mornings, explore the quaint villages, dive deep into the local cuisine and culture, fare into the wilderness to witness the wonderful wildlife, ride in a tuk-tuk or traverse through the beauty of the country in a local train and in the end, savour a sip of the bracing Ceylon tea before waving goodbye.
To cut a long story short, Sri Lanka is sensational, picturesque, affordable and full of simple, smiling people.
Sights to See: The Geographical Gems of Sri Lanka
Mother Nature has blessed Sri Lanka with an undeniable allure; no wonder UNESCO has recognised 8 World Heritage Sites in the country. That is very impressive for a small island!
Featuring the best of old and new Sri Lanka, Colombo, also popular as the ‘Garden City of the East’, is as much an ocean city as it is an ever-expanding metropolis.
A fan-favourite sun and fun playground, Bentota is also the water sports capital of the island, popular for its mangrove swamps and boat rides up the lagoon.
Also referred to as Trinco, Trincomalee has Fort Frederick as its centerpiece surrounded by a world-famous harbour.
A big city with a small-town feel is best to describe the hill city of Kandy that houses a lovely lake at its center.
Strikingly different than any other part of Sri Lanka, Jaffna is a cultural center crowded by churches and colonial villas.
Best explored on foot, Galle is a perfectly-preserved colonial town featuring ancient churches, mosques, mansions and museums.
Yala National Park
With the most varied and exotic collection of wildlife, Yala National Park is the best bet of Sri Lanka. Spot elephants, sloth bears and leopards roaming free in all their pride and glory.
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Quiet and Quaint: Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle
Much of Sri Lanka’s history and heritage is contained in the regions stretching from medieval Kandy to Anuradhapura in the North and Polonnaruwa in the East.
Temple of the Tooth
This golden-roofed temple in the city of Kandy houses an important Buddha relic – his tooth. Visitors do not actually get to see the tooth as it is kept in a gold casket which contains another six caskets, but the temple is worth a visit.
The sacred city of Anuradhapura was built around Buddha’s ‘Tree of Enlightenment’ and it houses still-intact statues and reconstructed stupas of the erstwhile Sinhalese Kingdoms.
Dambulla Cave Temple
Also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, this scenic cave temple contains cave paintings and statues in praise of Lord Buddha.
An erect Buddha carved out of a rock boulder, Aukana Buddha is best to visit during dawn when the first of the sun’s rays shine light on the statue’s fine features.
Sigiriya – The Lion Rock
Towering high above the surrounding plains, Sigiriya Lion Rock citadel is the country’s most stunning natural landmark.
Joys of the Journey: Must-do Things in Sri Lanka
Travel by Train from Ella to Kandy and bask in the beauty of surreal sights, from tea plantations to coconut groves and azure rivers.
Spot Dolphins, Blue Whales, Bryde’s Whales, Killer Whales and Pilot Whales at Dondra Point in Mirissa.
Camp in the rainforests of Kitulgala Forest Reserve which comprises of adventure activities like Jungle walks, Adventurous stream jumps, Mountain Biking and much more.
Tour the terraced tea estates of Nuwara Eliya or Hill Country’s Haputale Mountains. Sip some tea, watch the tea pickers go about their day and bring some tea samples back home as souvenirs.
Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Discover the unexplored islands of Sri Lanka’s northernmost end, namely Neduntheevu and Eluveitie.
Indulge in Underwater Activities such as diving, snorkelling and look for sunken treasures in Galle.
Visit a Turtle Hatchery to see Green Turtles, Leatherbacks, and Olive Ridleys.
Go on a Wildlife Safari in Yala National Park or Minneriya National Park to sight some Elephants, Leopards, Sambars and purple-faced Langurs.
Food Focus: Sri Lanka’s Sumptuous Cuisine
The Sri Lankans, surely, know their way around spices, which is why their cuisine is one of the best in the world. Its multi-ethnic society guarantees that the food is rich and varied.
Rice is the mainstay of their cuisine – so be prepared to be served rich-based deliciousness from breakfast till dinner. Snack on Hoppers, which are crispy, bowl-shaped pancakes served with chutney or sambol, a chilli-based condiment. Order yourself a plate of Rice and Curry, the national dish of Sri Lanka, spice it up with a side of dals, okra or banana blossoms. From roadside outlets to cafes and hotels, the dish is fantastically flavourful everywhere. Remember to treat your taste buds to the super-scrumptious Crab Curry at Colombo’s Ministry of Crab. Other dishes you must sneak a taste of are Pol Sambol, Kavvum, Watalappan, Lunu Miris and Kiribath.
For dessert, choose the sinful indulgence of Love Cake, which is made with semolina, cashews, and honey, perfumed with nutmeg, cinnamon, and rosewater.
Weather Wonderland: Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka
Many believe that Sri Lanka is a year-round destination, but that is not exactly correct. The country witnesses dramatic weather changes, sometimes on the same day. Although it is warm all through the year, the monsoon months (July to October) are best avoided. Between December and March is the most favourable time for travelling in Sri Lanka, as the weather is not only pleasant but also remains dry.
Experience the serendipity that characterises this amazing island, which is picture-perfect all around the year.