Sri Lanka is an island that is captivating both by its name – that means Land of Splendour – and by what it actually offers to the visitor. The attractions of Sri Lanka – known to the worldby several names from ancient days – have been known through the centuries. While legend has it that this is the Lanka of the Ramayana, it is the name by which it has always been known to its own people
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The tropical island nation of Sri Lanka Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia has a history dating back to the birth of time. It is a place where the nature’s beauty remains abundant and unspoilt and where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes. With the remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location Sri Lanka becomes one of the few places in the world can offer such a delight to the traveler. It is a land in the shape of a small drop but the drop has golden beaches, rising waves, misty mountains, mighty elephants, stealthy leopards, giant whales, a majestic past, lovely tea and warm smiles
A traveler could be riding the waves in the dawn and admiring the green carpeted mountains by dusk all thanks to the many sites and scenes bottled up in to this small island. An array of holiday experience, from sun kissed beach holidays to a marathon of wildlife watching, adrenaline pumping adventure sports and pilgrimage to some of the oldest cities in the world Travel, are provided by the destinations in Sri Lanka. With the combination of the world famous smiles and hospitality and its spicy food, exotic fruits and array of sweetmeats found nowhere in the world along with so many cultures living next to each other life in Sri Lanka continues among a series of festivities throughout the year, makes Sri Lanka an ideal recipe for fun and leisure.
The compact physical diversity of this pearl-shaped island and its diversity extending to virtually every aspect of life makes Sri Lanka a small miracle. The island possesses a coastal plain containing a host of geographic features such as lagoons, wetlands, rivers and various types of wildlife-rich jungle while fringed by variously-shaped sublime beaches, from straight expanse to rocky cove. The plain ends in the central area where the land starts to ascend into mist-shrouded mountains, covered in forests of wind-stunted trees, plains known as patanas, and rolling tea plantations. In addition, the hillsides are invariably punctuated by dramatic waterfalls. For its size Sri Lanka has perhaps the largest number of waterfalls of any country.
Visitors can experience the World Heritage Sites within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle ranging from enormous dagobas and remains of ancient buildings in the ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, to the awesome stairway to the temple at Dambulla and the sensual frescoes of heavenly maidens at the palace at the rock of Sigiriya. In contrast, experience the colonial heritage of the country by heading south to the mid-17th c. Dutch fort at Galle, the best preserved in Asia. The fort bustles with life just as it did when Galle was the country’s main port With 14 massive bastions, a grid system of streets, and some original Dutch bungalows.
Sri Lanka’s cultural depth is recognized by UNESCO, which has declared six archaeological World Heritage Sites in the country:
(The seventh World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka is an ecological example, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve.)
Festivals Year Round
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.
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. 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.
The need to conserve the environment has been deeply ingrained in traditional Sri Lankan society. Today, this tradition continues with 13% of Sri Lanka conserved as national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and jungle corridors possessing a high degree of biodiversity. Indeed the island 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.
Adventure and Special Interest Sports
Sri Lanka is an ideal location for wind-surfing, water-skiing, surfing, sailing, scuba-diving (including wreck-diving), snorkeling, speed-boating and banana-boating considering its over 1,600km of coast. 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. 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 offer 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 enjoys a varied and select cuisine ensured by the cultivation of many types of rice, spices, vegetables and fruit, coupled with past foreign influences. As a staple, rice is consumed with an assortment of colorful curries that range in potency from delicately-spiced to near-dynamite. 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: 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. Sri Lanka naturally has a tradition in jewellery-making, so you can bring your gems to life with the widest variety of precious stones among the world’s gem producing countries - blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, cat’s eye, garnets, moonstones, aquamarines andtopazesbeing just a dazzling handful.