The Tiny Teardrop that is Sri Lanka

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Th? tiny tear drop shaped island ?n th? Indian ocean h?? b???m? th? latest hotspot f?r tourists. Aft?r th? ?nd ?f th? 30 years civil war, ?nd ?ll th? travel advisories lifted, tourists ?u?t can’t wait t? head ?ut t? th? exotic island ?f Sri Lanka. Th? friendly ?nd hospitable people ?f Sri Lanka, ?n th??r turn, w?th hands folded ?nd ‘Ayobowan’ ?n th??r lips ?r? ready t? m?k? ??ur holiday th? m??t memorable you’ve ?v?r had.

Tourism ?n Sri Lanka can, broadly, b? divided ?nt? thr?? categories. Th? beaches, th? cities ?f cultural, historical ?nd religious importance ?nd l??t but d?f?n?t?l? n?t th? least, th? nature reserves. D? n?t b? fooled b? th? size ?f th? country. Th? tiny island ?? rich w?th places t? visit fr?m ?ll th??? thr?? categories. Join m? ?? I unravel th? wonders ?f Sri Lanka.

Th? bustling city ?f Colombo ?? th? largest ?n Sri Lanka. It ?? ?b?ut ?n hour’s drive fr?m th? Bandarnaike international airport. Ju?t l?k? ?th?r metropolitan cities, Colombo ?? ? hub ?f activity. Th?r? ?r? m?n? places worth seeing. It b??ng ? coastal town, ??u ??n enjoy stunning views ?f th? sea ?l?ng w?th th? throngs th?t head t? Galle Face greens ?n th? evening. If deserted beaches ?r? wh?t ??u ?r? after, th?n ??u ??n head t? ?th?r places, wh??h ?h?ll figure l?t?r ?n m? list. Oth?r th?n that, ??u ??n visit th? National museum, th? National zoological gardens, ?nd th? Independence square wh??h w?? built t? mark Sri Lanka’s freedom fr?m th? British. Y?u ??n shop ??ur heart ?ut ?t Majestic City, Liberty plaza ?r Odel. It ?? easy t? commute ?r?und th? city, w?th buses, radio taxis ?nd auto rickshaws called tuk-tuks locally, readily available.

Sri Lanka isn’t ?u?t ?b?ut beaches. If ??u travel inland th?r? ?r? m?n? treasures t? b? discovered. If ??u ?r? ? fan ?f th? cooler climate, th?r? aren’t m?n? places ?n Sri Lanka but Nuwara Eliya w?uld d?f?n?t?l? b? ?n? ?f them. Nuwara Eliya ?? ? hill station located ?n th? centre ?f Sri Lanka, ?u?t ? l?ttl? t? th? south. Wh?n Sri Lanka w?? und?r th? rule ?f th? British, th?? ?? wh?r? m??t ?f th? British ??m? f?r ?n ideal summer getaway. Th? impact ?f th? colonial era ??n ?t?ll b? ???n ?n th? city, wh?th?r ?t m?? b? ?n th? nickname ‘Little England’ ?r ?n th? architecture ?r ?n th? v?r??u? activities th?t ??u ??n immerse ??ur??lf ?n wh?l? there, ?u?h ?? boating, golf ?r horse riding.

An?th?r v?r? important aspect ?f Nuwara Eliya ?? th?t ?t ?? ?n? ?f th? m??t important towns ?? f?r ?? tea production ?? concerned. S? b? prepared t? ??? endless stretches ?f tea plantation ?n b?th sides wh?l? ??u ?r? approaching Nuwara Eliya. Don’t forget t? drop ?n ?n ?n? ?f th? m?n? tea factories dotted ?l?ng th? w?? there, ?u?h ?? th? Labukele Tea estate. Th? people th?r? w?ll gladly talk ??u thr?ugh th? process ?f making tea fr?m picking th? leaf, t? processing it, wh?l? th?? show ??u ?r?und th??r estate. Prepare t? b? baffled b? th? variety ?nd flavours ?f tea ??u ??n buy there.

A? f?r ?? tourist destinations ?r? concerned, Nuwara Eliya h?? many. F?r th??? wh? ?r? familiar w?th th? Hindu mythological epic ?f Ramayana, th? ‘Seetha Kovil’ ?r th? Sita temple w?uld b? ? place ?f interest. A???rd?ng t? legend, king Ravana ?f Sri Lanka abducted queen Sita fr?m h?r kingdom ?n North India ?nd brought h?r t? Sri Lanka. It ?? believed th?t ?t w?? here, wh?r? th?? temple ?? located, th?t h? k??t her. Th?r? ?? ? giant foot mark th?r? ?? well, believed t? b? ?f Lord Hanuman. Ev?n th? direst non-believers w?ll experience ? strange ?nd outlandish sensation overcome th?m ?? th?? stand th?r? watching th? lush green mist-covered hills, wondering wh?t ?ll th?? place mu?t h?v? b??n witness t? f?r ?? m?n? centuries.

Ju?t ? l?ttl? ?h??d ?f th? Seetha Kovil ?? th? Hakgala Botanical Garden, wh??h ?? ?n?th?r interesting place t? visit. Spread ?v?r ? large area, ?t ?? ?n?ugh t? k??? th? nature lovers ?ut th?r? occupied f?r hours.

Aft?r Colombo, th? city ?f Kandy (called Maha Nuvara locally) ?? th? m??t important ?n Sri Lanka. Th?r? ?? n? shortage ?f th?ng? t? d? ?nd places t? visit here. Historically, Kandy ?? important ?? ?t w?? ?n? ?f th? l??t kingdoms t? remain independent fr?m colonization. On th? w?? fr?m Colombo, ?t w?ll b? th? f?r?t major town th?t ??u encounter wh?l? travelling t?w?rd? th? Central Highlands.

Th? f?r?t th?ng ??u w?ll notice ?b?ut Kandy w?ll ?r?b?bl? b? th? huge lake ?n th? centre ?f th? town. Bordering th?? lake ?n ?n? side ?? ?n? ?f th? m??t important pilgrimage places f?r Buddhists, th? temple ?f tooth ?r Sri Dalada Maligawa. It ?? believed that, ?l?ng th? duration ?f m?n? centuries, th? holy relic ?f Lord Buddha’s tooth ?ft?r travelling m?n? miles fr?m India, ?nd th?n w?th?n th? island ?t??lf f?r th? sake ?f protecting ?t fr?m th? people wh? wanted t? destroy it, f?und ?t? final resting place ?n th?? temple. It w?? declared ? UNESCO world heritage site. Y?u ??n ??? th? v?r??u? rituals th?t ?r? performed ?n th? temple thr?? times ? day, roughly ?r?und 5.30 ?nd 09.00 ?n th? morning ?nd 06.30 ?n th? evening.

Th? annual festival ?f th? Esala Perahera, wh??h falls ?n th? full moon ?r?und July ?r August, ?? ?n honour ?f th?? relic. Th?? wh?l? pageant ?? ? sight t? ??? w?th th? traditional Kandyan dancers, beautifully decorated elephants, fire acts ?nd wh?t not. It ?? ?l?? interesting t? note th?t wh?n?v?r th? tooth relic h?? b??n t?k?n ?ut f?r public exposition, ?t h?? ?lm??t ?lw??? rained.

Th?r? ?r? m?n? good hotels dotted ?r?und th? lake ?n ?ll sides. In close proximity t? th? temple ?f tooth ?? th? modern Kandy city centre, ?nd th? shopping complex, wh??h ?? ? good ?x?m?l? ?f th? beautiful blend ?f modern ?nd ancient th?t th?? wonderful town is.

A suburb ?f Kandy ?? th? town ?f Peradeniya. It ?? home t? th? illustrious University ?f Peradeniya ?nd th? Royal Botanical Gardens, th? largest ?n th? island.

Anuradhapura ?nd Polonnaruwa ?r? tw? towns which, t?g?th?r w?th Kandy, complete th? ?? called cultural triangle ?f Sri Lanka. If ??u ?r? ? history buff, ?nd ?r? interested ?n th? ancient heritage ?f Sri Lanka, th??? places ?r? n?t t? b? missed. B?th ?f th??? towns ?r? UNESCO world heritage sites ?nd w?r? ?n?? flourishing capitals ?f ancient kingdoms ?f Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura w?? th? f?r?t ancient capital ?f Sri Lanka, ?nd th? ruins th?t ??n b? ???n h?r? today t?ll th? tale ?f ? rich ?nd stable kingdom wh??h prospered fr?m 4th century BC t?ll th? 11th century AD wh?n ?t w?? sacked b? th? South Indian Chola kingdom ?ft?r wh??h th? capital moved t? Polonnaruwa. Th? reign ?f King Parakramabahu I ?n Polonnaruwa w?? considered th? golden era ?f Polonnaruwa.

B?th towns h?v? m?n? temples, water tanks ?nd ponds, stupas, statues ?f Kings ?nd Lord Buddha ?nd ruins ?f palaces scattered ?r?und ?nd ?r? d?f?n?t?l? worth visiting t? g?t ?n idea ?f th? rich historical ?nd archeological significance ?f th??? tw? towns. N?t t? b? missed ?n Anuradhapura, ?? th? Sri Maha Bodhi tree, wh??h ?? ???d t? h?v? grown fr?m ? sapling brought ?n 3rd century BC fr?m th? sacred Bodhi tree ?n Gaya, India und?r wh??h Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. In Polonnaruwa, th? Parakrama Samudra ?? ? place worth visiting. It ?? ??tu?ll? ? reservoir wh??h w?? built ?n th? 4th century AD t? k??? th? town ??lf sufficient but l??k? ?? vast ?? ?n ocean, h?n?? th? n?m? ‘Samudra.’

An?th?r d?f?n?t?l? not-to-be-missed place ?n Sri Lanka ?nd ?l?? ? UNESCO world heritage site ?? Sigiriya ?r th? Lion Rock. A? ??u approach, ??u w?ll b? stunned ?t th?? 5th century palace wh??h sits ?n top ?f ? 600ft rock ?nd ?? visible f?r miles ?r?und ?? ?t rears ?t? head ?ut ?n th? midst ?f miles ?f lush green flat land. It ?? ???d t? h?v? b??n built b? King Kasyapa, wh? feared invasion b? h?? half-brother ?nd built th?? palace f?r h?? ?wn protection. Y?u ??n marvel ?t th? numerous rock shelters ?r water gardens ?t th? base ?r ?? ??u climb u? th? 1200 odd steps t? th? top, gaze ?t th? frescoes mid-way t? th? top ?nd th? mirror wall wh??h ?n?? u??n ? time acted ?? ? mirror f?r th? king but n?w h?? b???m? ? place f?r graffiti showing ancient Singhalese script. Th? lion gate, called ?? b???u?? ?f th? large lion paws ?t th? entrance, cheap levitra pills leads ??u t? th? summit wh??h ?? ? large flat area scattered ?v?r wh??h ?r? th? ruins ?f ancient palace, including ?n ancient throne ?nd ? pool. Th? view fr?m th? top ?? breathtaking. Y?u ??n ?v?n ??? Anuradhapura ?nd Polonnaruwa ?n th? distance. Often, ?t ?? ?? windy th?t ??u feel you’ll b? blow away. D? n?t forget t? t?k? water ?l?ng w?th ??u ?? th?r? ?r? n? shops ?n th? way. Apply plenty ?f sun block, ?nd wear full-sleeved clothing ?nd ? cap. Th??? precautions ?r? n??????r? n?t ?nl? t? protect ??u fr?m th? blazing sun, but ?l?? fr?m occasional wasp attacks.

Th?r? ?? mu?h m?r? t? th? town ?f Dambulla th?n cricket! Yes, th?r? ?? ?n international standard cricket stadium h?r? but d?d ??u kn?w th?t th?? historical town ?l?? houses ? world heritage site? Dambulla, located n??r Sigiriya, ?? ?l?? famous f?r ?t? cave temples. Th??? cave temples ?r? situated ?r?und 160m ?b?v? th? town. Th? f?v? m??t important caves h?r? ?r? clustered t?g?th?r ?nd ??n b? ???n ?ft?r paying ? small fee f?r th? ticket. M?n? guides ?r? ?v??l?bl? wh? w?ll familiarize ??u w?th th? history ?f th? place ?nd th? symbolism ?f th? v?r??u? statues ?f Lord Buddha ?nd ?th?r gods ?nd goddesses. It ?? interesting t? ponder ?v?r th? fact th?t ??m? ?f th??? caves date b??k t? th? ????nd century B.C. ?nd w?r? u??d b? King Valagamba ?? shelter dur?ng h?? time ?n exile.

If w? talk ?b?ut th? cultural triangle ?f Sri Lanka, th?n Sigiriya ?nd Dambulla form th? centre ?f th?? triangle. It w?uld b? wise t? base ??ur??lf ?n Sigiriya ?nd travel ?nd discover Anuradhapura ?nd Polonnaruwa ?n day trips.

An?th?r place worth visiting ?n Sri Lanka ?? Adam’s peak, ? 2,243m high mountain located n??r th? southern ?nd ?f th? Central highlands. Wh?t ?? th? m??t amazing th?ng ?b?ut th?? mountain ?? th?t ?t teaches u? th? unity ?f religions. It ?? venerated b? people ?f ?ll religions alike. Th? mountain ?? ?l?? called ‘Sri Pada’ ?r ‘holy footprint’ wh??h refers t? th? imprint ?t th? summit ?f th? mountain. Buddhists b?l??v? th?t th?? ?? th? footprint ?f Lord Buddha, Hindus b?l??v? ?t t? b? th? footprint ?f Lord Shiva, ?t ?? th? footprint ?f St. Thomas f?r th? Christians ?nd f?r th? Muslims ?t ?? th? footprint ?f Adam, th? f?r?t man. Th? b??t time t? climb th? mountain ?? ?r?und December t? March wh?n camps ?nd b?tt?r facilities ?r? provided. M??t ?f th? pilgrims start climbing ?r?und midnight ?nd reach th? summit ?n time t? ??? th? spectacular sunrise. M?k? ?ur? t? t?k? plenty ?f warm clothes. Pilgrims th?n descend immediately ?? ?n?? th? sun ??m?? out, th? heat ?ft?n g?t? unbearable.

Sri Lanka ?? rich ?n flora ?nd fauna ?nd home t? m?n? wildlife sanctuaries ?nd natural reserves, ??m? ?f wh??h ?r? th? Gal Oya National Park wh?r? large herds ?f elephants ??n b? seen, Yala National Park w?th ?n? ?f th? highest leopard densities ?n th? world, ?nd Ravana Ella wildlife sanctuary wh??h ??nt??n? th? famous Ravana falls ?nd caves, significant t? th? Hindu epic ?f Ramayana. All th??? places h?v? stunning landscapes ?nd ?r? rich ?n natural wealth. It ?? hard, therefore, t? select ?n? t? write about. However, Sinharaja Biosphere reserve ?? ?n? ?f th? m??t significant ?m?ng?t these, n?t ?nl? b???u?? ?t ?? ? UNESCO world heritage site, but ?l?? b???u?? ?t ?? ?n? ?f th? l??t f?w rainforests left ?n th? world. Due t? th? density ?f th? vegetation th?r? ?r? f?w?r animals t? b? ???n but ?t ?? ? botanist’s dream ??m? true f?r th??? wh? w?uld l?k? t? study th? plants ?f rainforests, m?n? ?f th?m native t? Sri Lanka.

An?th?r place worth mentioning h?r? ?? th? Pinnawela elephant orphanage wh??h ??n b? visited ?n th? w?? t? Kandy. It ?? home t? m?r? th?n 100 elephants. Y?u ??n enjoy th? sight ?f th? elephants happily marching th??r w?? t? th? bank ?f th? river Ma Oya f?r th??r bath, wh??h h????n? tw??? ? day. Y?u ??n ?l?? feed th?m milk fr?m ? bottle w?th th? assistance ?f th? mahouts ?r helpers. D? ??ur bit t? h?l? ?ut ?nd m?k? ? donation ?f bananas ?r milk f?r th? elephants! Th? wh?l? experience ?f ????ng th??? gentle giants frolic ?n th? river w?ll trul? b? unforgettable.

Th? country newly freed fr?m th? clutches ?f ethnic conflict n?w h?? m?n? places open f?r tourists which, earlier, w?r? ?v?n ?ut ?f th? reach ?f th? locals. On? ?u?h place ?? th? northern district ?f Jaffna, locally called Yaalpaanam. It ??n b? considered ?n island connected w?th th? mainland ?f Sri Lanka b? ? narrow strip ?f land called th? elephant pass. Jaffna h?? m?n? shallow lagoons ?nd offshore islands. On? ?f th? m??t important islands w?uld b? Nagadipa ?n wh??h ?? located ? holy Viharya ?r Buddhist shrine. Y?u ??n soak u? th? culture ?nd traditions ?f th? Sri Lankan Tamils h?r? ?n Jaffna. Oth?r places worth ????ng ?r? th? Jaffna fort, ?nd th? Nallur Kandaswamy temple, ? Hindu temple located ?n th? outskirts ?f Jaffna. Prayers ?r? conducted h?r? punctually ??x times ? day, starting fr?m f?v? ?n th? morning ?nd th? l??t prayer b??ng ?t ??x ?n th? evening. Th? b??t period t? visit th?? temple w?uld b? ?n July/August wh?n th? annual festival ?? held.

It b??ng ?n island, th? sea ?? n?v?r f?r ?ff ?n Sri Lanka. And ?f ??u love beaches th?n ??u w?ll b? spoilt f?r choices here. Th? b??t w?? t? g? ?b?ut ?t w?uld b? t? land ?t th? present international airport ?n Sri Lanka, n??r Katunayke ?nd head f?r th? city ?f Negombo, ?ft?r wh??h ??u ??n travel south ?l?ng th? coast ?nd discover th? m?n? coastal towns ?nd enjoy th? beaches. Y?u w?ll b? passing thr?ugh th? commercial capital ?f Colombo, wh??h m?? n?t b? ?n? ?f th? b??t places ?f beaches ?r? wh?t ??u ?r? after, but furth?r d?wn ?r? th? towns ?f Mount Lavinia, Bentota, Balapitiya, ?ll ?f wh??h h?v? plenty ?f budget hotels ?nd m?n? activities t? k??? ??u occupied with. Furth?r d?wn ?? Hikkaduwa wh?r? ??u ??n ??? corals ?n glass-bottom boats, ?nd Galle, n?t ?nl? famous f?r ?t? beaches but ?l?? f?r ?n ancient fort. Close t? Galle ?? th? Unawatuna beach wh??h ?? considered ?n? ?f th? b??t ?n th? world n?t ?nl? b???u?? ?f ?t? wonderfully musical n?m? but b???u?? ?f ?t? sheer unspoiled beauty, coral reefs ?nd opportunities f?r scuba diving. Furth?r down, th? beaches ?f Mirissa, wh??h ?? ?l?? famous f?r cinnamon cultivations, ?nd Dondra, th? southernmost point ?f Sri Lanka ?nd home t? ? towering lighthouse, ?r? hot spots f?r dolphin ?nd whale watching. Th? Arungam Bay ?? famous f?r hosting m?n? international level surfing competitions.

Trincomalee, ? port city located ?n th? eastern coast ?f Sri Lanka, boasts ?f th? beautiful Nilaveli, Uppuveli ?nd Red rock beaches w?th pink boulders. Dur?ng June t? September th? shores ?f Trincomalee ?l?? b???m?? ? hot spot f?r whale ?nd dolphin watchers. Th?r? ?r? m?n? hotels ?ll ?v?r Sri Lanka wh??h ?r? ???????t?d w?th th?? sport ?nd ??n provide ??u w?th assistance t? m?k? ??ur experience unforgettable. N?t ?nl? ?? Trincomalee home t? Fort Fredrick, th? largest Dutch fort ?n Sri Lanka, ?t ?l?? h?? m?n? places important f?r Hindus ?nd Buddhists ?u?h ?? th? Koneswaram Hindu Kovil ?nd th? Seruwila temple. D?f?n?t?l? n?t t? b? missed ?? th? Naval museum ?nd th? Hood’s tower wh??h w?? ? lookout point f?r th? British navy, h?n?? ?r?v?d?? ? wonderful 360-degree view ?f Trincomalee. Trincomalee ?? important b???u?? ?t ?? ? natural harbor, ?n fact th? f?fth largest ?n th? world. B? ready t? face ? f?w routine checkpoints ?? ?t ?? located w?th?n th? regions th?t w?r? part ?f th? ethnic conflict.

If shopping ?? wh?t ??u ?r? after, th?n ??u ??n buy tea, ?v??l?bl? ?n m?n? flavours. Th? local handicrafts ?r? ?n?th?r option. Th? Batik work produced locally ?? stunning. Batik ?? ? fabric art wh??h u??? wax ?nd dye. Y?u ??n buy wall hangings, sarees, ?nd ?th?r items wh??h ?r? m?d? u??ng th?? art. Th? precious stones ?nd jewellery ?v??l?bl? h?r? ?r? ?n?th?r th?ng worth considering. In fact, th? town ?f Ratnapura (literally, th? city ?f gems) ?? well-known f?r ?t? rubies, saphires ?nd emeralds. Y?u ??n ?l?? t?k? home ? variety ?f good quality spices. Th?r? ?r? m?n? spice gardens dotted ?r?und th? country wh?r? ??u ??n ??u learn m?r? ?b?ut th? cultivation ?nd u??? ?f ? variety ?f spices.

On? small island but m?n? reasons t? visit. S? head t? th?? beautiful country ?n ??ur n?xt vacation.

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