Sri Lanka is an island in the north of Indian Ocean located to the South of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Known as Ceylon until 1972 Sri Lanka has nautical frontiers with India to the northwest across the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait and the Maldives to the southwest. The close proximity of the subcontinents has contributed to strong influences in the Sri Lankan history and ecology. Experiencing Sri Lanka is to undertake an expedition full of life lead by its people who open their culture and share their heritage.
Sri Lanka is a diverse republic which homes various religions, ethnicities and languages. The majority of the people residing is Sinhalese while Tamils, Burghers, Muslims, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Veddahs are also some of the civilisations which exist. Sinhala is the official language while other languages like Tamil and English is widely spoken. Sri Lanka has an opulent Buddhist legacy and customs which date to more than 2000 years that was disseminated from one generation to another. The most prominent feature of the Sri Lankan culture is its colourful festivals which is one of the most appealing enticements. Religion plays a significant role in moulding the Sri Lankan cultural customs. In addition to this the use of art, architecture, sculptures and even food also reflects the way Sri Lanka resembles. One of the foremost aspects of the culture is its Indian and European influences. Hospitality is also one of the prominent characteristics of the culture, making Sri Lankans one of the friendly nations in the world.
Sri Lanka is an imperative producer of tea, rubber, coconut, coffee, gemstones and the native cinnamon. It is acknowledged as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean because of its eternal beauty, its shape and location and also known as the nation of smiling people. This island encompasses combination of stunning landscapes, tropical forests, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within a compact location.
Indigenous medicine is also a huge part of the culture which is believed to cure fatal diseases such as cancer. There are numerous ayuruvedic spas and clinics throughout the country. Art plays an integral part in the history of Sri Lanka providing a figurative gold mine to archaeologists and anthropologists, since art speaks a lot about the Sri Lankan way of life. Sports in Sri Lanka play a significant part of the Sri Lankan culture. Volleyball is the national sport in Sri Lanka while Cricket is the most popularly played sport.
The cuisine of Sri Lanka draws influences from India especially from the Kerala region, colonists and foreign traders. Rice is the staple food and is consumed daily with any spiced curry. Sri Lankan curries are known for their fiery hot spicy flavours and coconut milk is a distinct feature of the Sri Lankan cuisine. Milk rice or kiribath is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made from rice. It is popular festive dish and also made at any auspicious moment at every household. A typical Sri Lankan meal consists of a curry either fish, chicken or mutton along with several other curries made with vegetable and lentils. Side-dishes include pickles, chutneys and sambols which can sometimes be fiery hot. The Lamprais is a Dutch-influenced Sri Lankan dish which is rice boiled in stock with a special curry, accompanied by meatballs and wrapped in a banana leaf. One of the most famous dishes of Sri Lanka is the Kottu rotti; it is a spicy Sri Lankan stir fry of shredded roti bread with vegetables optionally with other ingredients such as egg, meat or cheese. Hoppers known as Appa in Sinhalese is prepared using fermented batter, usually of rice flour and coconut milk with spices. String hoppers and pittu are two commonly preferred dishes among Sri Lankans. Watalapam is a steamed pudding made with coconut milk, eggs and jaggery; it has become a staple Sri Lankan dessert. The commonly served beverages are faluda, fruit juices, toddy and arrack. Being one of the largest producers of tea in the world, Sri Lankans drink a lot of tea. Tea is served to any guests at every festivals and gatherings or just for breakfast.
Colombo is Sri Lanka’s most iconic city which bursts a life filled with sights and sounds that effortlessly fuses colonial style buildings with modern life. The legacies of colonial Colombo’s garden roots are still very much intact along its often shady boulevards. Fort is in the midst of widespread historic restoration of its landmark colonial architecture. Colombo’s cosmopolitan side supports ever-more stylish eateries, galleries and museums.
The southwest coast is especially popular with resorts like Negombo and Bentota offering an array of exquisite hotels including everything from old colonial favourites to modern and classy resorts. Bentota is one of the southwest coast’s most reputable beach resorts and comprises of enormous range of accommodation to suit all styles and classes along with its vast expanses of golden sand. Located between the beautiful Bentota River and the gleaming Indian Ocean it offers the best of both worlds with romantic river cruises, soft sand and myriad of great diving opportunities like parasailing, jet skiing and surfing. Other attractions such as kosgoda turtle hatchery and muthurajawela bird sanctuary are also available for thrilling excursions.
Habarana is a small city nestled within the Anuradhapura district; it provides a great gateway to safaris in both the Habarana Jungle at the Minneriya Sanctuary and is a home to a great many Sri Lankan elephants as well as the leopard, loris and sloth bear. Anuradhapura is one of the ancient cities of Sri Lanka and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An ideal addition to any itinerary, Anuradhapura was the capital of Sri Lanka from the 4th Century B.C. and offers well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. The history of Sri Lanka is drawn in the Sigiriya or the Lion Rock which is a monument of stone that rises up at the cultural heart of Sri Lanka. The two lion paws at the foot of the rock heralds the steps that lead to the summit where once the royal palace stood.
Galle is a colonial area in the Southern region of Sri Lanka with the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle which is a phenomenal example of a Dutch fortified city that is encircled with walls and interspersed with fortresses and earthworks which overlook the deep cerulean ocean from its peninsula. Shopping is best done in Galle, where jewellery studded with Sri Lankan gems, textiles, spices, antiques and local handicrafts can be found.
The East coast is one of Sri Lanka’s imminent areas with beautiful swathes of beach that gives way to the calm shallow waters. It is a home to some of the finest beaches in Sri Lanka with plenty of luxurious resorts and hotels. Trincomalee on the east coast is also a popular destination with a quieter option off the tourist trail. Diving, snorkelling, surfing and whale watching are extremely prevalent in those regions. This region is just perfect for escaping over the summer holidays. Polonnaruwa is one such site, which is both a working town and ancient city. Once the capital of Sri Lanka, it still retains much of its ancient buildings including the royal palace and statues of Buddha. Kandy is a home to archaic treasures, lush flora and fauna and people who envelope with their warmth and culture. The temple of the tooth is set within the royal palace complex in Kandy and is believed to house the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. It is encased in seven golden caskets within the beautifully embellished temple.
Nuwara Eliya the ‘Little England’ exudes serenity and peacefulness with rolling hills covered in tea, colonial mansions and tranquil retreats all nestled within the verdant landscape. Located in the north of Sri Lanka is Jaffna an alluring mix of colonial charm and vibrant Tamil culture. Jaffna is a city with extensive suburbs, commercial centre and a vast temple district.
Flora and fauna are found in profusion in this nation with a plethora of National Parks that allows exploring the wilder side of the island. Yala is Sri Lanka’s second largest national park which homes approximately 215 species of bird and myriad of wildlife including the leopard, elephant, water buffalo and crocodile. Another of Sri Lanka’s larger national park is Udawalawe which is known for its elephant transfer home. The park itself is a home to massive herd of elephants and is a rehabilitation centre for orphaned elephants.