By Yadhu Roshan
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, earlier called Ceylon, is an island nation situated to the south of India.Its surrounded by the Indian ocean , the gulf of munnar and the palk strait.Its an island of surreal beauty surrounded by the sea in all directions and blessed with allot of Forests and wildlife.Sri Lanka has also been a center of the Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times and is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia. The Sinhalese community forms the majority of the population,Tamils concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include Moors,Burghers, Kaffirs, Malays and the aboriginal Vedda people.Its a perfect destination for a relaxing vacation or to experience nature at its best.
Colombo is the Largest city and the commercial capital of Sri lanka. It is located on the west coast and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte,the administrative capital.Its a fully commercialised city,perfect for shopping, to taste to the fine cuisine’s of Sri Lanka.People of all ethnicity’s live in this city.There are many cultural and Historical places to visit in this city like,The Fort,Cinnamon Gardens and Pettah.There is a Port in this city.The port is a great commercial value and dominates one of the major trade routes of south Asia.
2.Adams peak (Sri pada) :
Located in the southern hills of Sri Lanka ,this place many mythological stories for its origins.This place is known by many names, Adam’s peak (believed to be the place where Adam first set foot on earth after cast out from heaven),also called Sri pada (a sacred foot print is present believed to be the foot print of Buddha himself as he headed towards Paradise.Also known as Samanalakande (Butterfly Mountain, where butterflies go to die). Some believe the huge ‘footprint’ on the top of the 2243m peak to be that of St Thomas, the early apostle of India, or even of Lord Shiva.Its one of the pilgrimage spots of Sri lanka.The pilgrimage season begins on poya day in December and runs until Vesak festival in May. The busiest period is January and February.
Anuradhapura is the ancient political and religious capital of Sri Lanka.Its a sacred city established when a cutting from the`Tree of enlightment’ Buddha’s fig tree was brought to Lanka in the 3 rd century B.C by Sanghamitta,daughter of Asoka the Great of India and founder of an order of Buddhist nuns in Lanka.It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.Its a place of great religious and Historical importance in Sri Lanka.
Pollonaruwa is yet another city which has survived through ages from ancient Sri Lanka.It is also a world heritage site.It used to be the Sri Lankan Kings “country residence”.Samudra and irrigation tank of 5490 acres , The Royal citadel which housed the palace and the various administrative buildings.Gal Vihara – a rock cut buddhist shrine of 12 th century.Vita-de-Ge : A relic chamber built in the ancient architectural styles of lanka and The Lotus pond – a stone pond in the shape of a lotus are the major attractions in this city.
Locally known as Maha Nuwara (Great City) or just Nuwara (City), Its the hill capital of sri lanka . A strong hold of the Sinhalese kings untill it fell to the British in 1815 after defying the dutch and the portugese .Its 448 metres above mean sea level and next to Colombo.The Golden roofed Dalada Maligawa,where the sacred tooth relic of Buddha is enshrined.Its Buddhist religious place.The town, and the countryside around it, is lush and green and there are many pleasant walks from the town. The town centre, close to Kandy’s picturesque lake set in a bowl of hills, is a delightful jumble of old shops, antique and gemstone specialists.Kandy is particularly well known for the great Kandy Esala Perahera, held over 10 days leading up to the Nikini poya (full moon) at the end of the month of Esala (July/August).
Its one of the places of serene beauty in Lanka.There are numerous beautiful beaches around this place.There are no must-see sights.But the natural beauty still remains untouched .It a place of great natural beauty and a good place for nature lovers to relax in the natural beauty.This place still remains untouched by the commercialisation and the natural beauty of the place still remains intact.
Trincomalee (Trinco) appeals to tourists primarily as the gateway to the fine Uppuveli and Nilaveli beaches. Possibly the site of historic Gokana in the Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle), the town itself is mildly attractive and is situated around several picturesque bays and rocky peninsulas.It has one of the world finest Deep sea ports which attracted alot of foreign eyes : the Danish preceded the Portuguese, who desecrated the city’s holiest Hindu shrine before losing to the Dutch and finally the British.During the second world war it suffered from the Japanese air raids also.
8.Arugam Bay :
Its the east coasts most tourist friendly destination of sri lanka.A single laid back beach following the Panama road and backed by the Muslim village of Sinna Ulla.Its a surfers playground.From April to October it has the best surfing waves in Sri lanka.A great place to indulge in the delicacies of the sea and a mellow party scene. The surrounding areas also offer some nice places for viewing birdlife,crocodiles and elephants.
Its one of the nice places along the coast to relax and feel the sun.The white sands of medaketiya beach stretch 3 km to the northeast.There are numerous bays and beaches on the southwest direction.The beaches are really beautiful. this place suffered during the Tsunami and most of the places got destroyed by the sea.
This place is well known for its cave temples(officially known as the royal rock temple) atop a massive hill.A day trip away from Kandy.The beautiful royal rock cut temple sits 100 m above the road.This also another world heritage site of lanka. Dambulla Cave Temple features 5 well-preserved caves, each of which houses ancient statues of the Buddha and historic artwork depicting the Buddha’s life. The Dambulla Cave Temple grounds also features a functioning Buddhist Monastery dating back to the third and second centuries B.C.
Galle ( Gawl – English , Gaare-le : sinhala).It is one of the old European settlements of Sri Lanka.It shows the ancient european architecture.Built by the Dutch beginning in 1663, the 36 hectare Fort occupies the older Galle.Just wandering the streets at random yields one architectural surprise after another along with an enchnating view of the sea encircling the walls of the fort.UNESCO has recognised Fort as a World Heritage Site.The Fort still remains a working community: there are administrative offices, courts, export companies and lots of regular folks populating the streets.
This is a fisherman town located next to the bandaranaike international airport.Negombo was once a dutch colony.Negombo was one of the most important sources of cinnamon during the Dutch era.Its Sri Lanka’s second largest Fish market at Llelama.Attractions are boat trips in the lagoons,fishing trips into the sea.Water sports are also present.There are some well preserved coral reefs,there’s also a 50 year old shipwreck which provides as an artificial reef for many fishes.There are also local handicraft sales on the beaches and the shops near the town.
13.Nuwara Eliya :
This a hill station.Its set in the tea country of Sri Lanka.British style homes,golf course , beautiful parks and the church are the pretty sights of this place.Its a place to relax and laze around away from the bustling fast city life.It has allot of beautiful vegetation all around.. It was a favoured stomping ground for the tea planters – the ‘wild men of the hills’ as one British governor called them. The old post office, the racecourse, the English country house–styled Hill Club with its hunting pictures, mounted fish and hunting trophies and the 18-hole golf course all show the British influence of this place. Nuwara Eliya is the ‘in place’ for socialites during April, around the Sri Lankan New Year.
Ella is a beautiful small village in Sri Lanka’s hill country. The sleepy village stares down to the plains down and across to the coast.On a clear night one can see the light houses.There are many breathtaking views from this village surrounded by hills. Ella is perfect for walks through tea plantations to temples and waterfalls. Ella received electricity only by 1984.
15. Sigiriya :
Sigiriya also called “Lion mountain”.Its a flat topped rock standing erect amidst a thick jungle.The ruins of the capital by parricidal king kassapa I lie on the steep slopes and summit of the granite peak 370 m high.It was actually a fortified palace in the ancient times.A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion of bricks and plaster provide access to the place.there are many poems inscribed on the rocks known as “Sigiri Graffiti”.Its a world heritage site.The village at its base serves the comings and goings of tourists and pilgrims.
16.Bundala National Park :
Its an important wetland sanctuary of Sri Lanka.It shelters 150 species of birds within an area of 62 square kilometre.Many migratory birds from the arctic circle and the Rann of Kutch in India come here between august and April.It’s also a winter home to the greater flamingo, and up to 2000 have been recorded here at one time. At most times you can see wild peacocks crossing the road.There are also elephants,giant squirells and crocodiles living in this scrub jungle.Bundala’s lagoons, beaches, sand dunes and scrubby jungle stretch nearly 20km along a coastal strip, starting just east of Hambantota.Bundalas northern region was damaged by the Tsunami and is difficult to access.
17.Udawalawe National Park :
Udawalawe national park is like the ‘Savannah’ reserves of Sri Lanka.Its a well preserved national park,elephants,wild buffalo,sambar deer and leopards are the inhabitants in this habitat.Its really beautiful and covers 30,821 hectares.There is a large water reservoir called UdaWalawe Reservoir fed by the Walawe Ganga at the center.There is plenty of wildlife in this reserve especially around the water area.Apart from stands of teak near the river, there’s little forest in the park. The tall pohongrass, which grows in place of the forest, can make wildlife-watching difficult, except during dry months.There are numerous accomodations with vehicles and trackers available around the park.
18.Willpatti National Park :
Covered in dense pockets of jungle scrub interspersed with small clearings, and tanks that shrink in the dry season and swell in the monsoon, Wilpattu National Park is home to up to 50 elephants and 50 or more leopards, as well as spotted deer, sloth bears, wild pigs, crocodiles and more. At 1085 sq km, it is Sri Lanka’s largest national park.At one time it was the most visited in the country, but it was closed due to ethnic violence in 1985. In the following years it was a base for rebels and poaching was rife. However, the park reopened with a new visitors centre and an enthusiastic staff in 2003.This park is a perfect place to spot animals in their primitive or original natural surroundings.
Jaffna a colonial port town during the Portuguese occupation of the Jaffna peninsula in 1619. It changed hands to the Dutch colonials, who lost it to the British in 1796.Jaffna is the northern capital of sri lanka and was occupied by the LTTE.The majority of people living there are tamils. Mostly it’s a middle-class colonial-era suburbs, almost lost in lush foliage and palms. But all this comes to a halt in the commercial centre, which, in turn, leads to the gaping holes and rubbles from bombsites, former civic offices. It’s an intriguing, friendly and utterly untouristed place.
Sitting near the centre of a number of richly watered valleys between Adam’s Peak and Sinharaja Forest Reserve.Ratnapura (‘City of Gems’ in Sanskrit) is famous as a trade hub for the area’s ancient wealth of gemstones. The region’s wet and humid climate encourages the formation of river beds, which are in turn the perfect environment for gemstones to develop.It is the centre of a long-established industry of precious stone mining including rubies, sapphires, and other gems. Apart from gem mining, the town is known for rice and fruit cultivations. Large plantations of tea and rubber surround the town. Tea grown in this region is called low-country tea.
Roshan is a Regional Representative for Asian Correspondent based in Chennai, India. He writes about Sri Lanka and south India.