Sri Lanka, The Wonder of Asia
Sri Lanka Wonder of Asia
Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island nation south of India in the Indian Ocean. Its diverse landscapes range from rainforest and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches. It’s famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya, with its palace and frescoes. The city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s ancient capital, has many ruins dating back more than 2,000 years.
The country’s metropolis, former capital and commercial hub, that boasts 400 years of history from tiny fishing hamlet at the mouth of a river to what it is today. This is not your regular urban jungle of just glass, but instead is living history. It still bears the marks and structures of its colonial past and these co-exist in harmony with the modernization that has taken place in the past many decades. A centre of life and beating heart, Colombo is a must see when visiting. Don’t be fooled by its all work-work look at first, but to those who are willing to take a closer look, the city is willing to present treasure after treasure, street by street. From 400 year old stone walls inside a bank to Stupa’s built on stilts to the awe-inspiring sunsets of the golden mile and a lot more.
Sri Lanka’s first ever planned tourist resort Bentota is famous for its sun, sand and water sports. An all year destination located down south, favoured by those on short holidays in search of R & R, because of its close location to the airport; a one and a half hour or less drive. Bentota can also be reached from certain other parts of the country via the Bentota River Airport which makes possible commuting in watercraft. For those who can’t swim, you can visit the turtle hatcheries in nearby Induruwa or Kosgoda. For those interested in architecture and in the know-how on South Asian architecture, Bentota where the late Geoffrey Bawa’s holiday home is located, and open to the public.
It is where the country’s oldest mosque is located and the starting point for the 130+ km of beach that stretches down south from there on. Beruwala is known for its bay and harbour from where the area began and then grew as more Muslim merchants settled in over the years. The town has perennially been known for as a trade hub and is unique because of its high density of Muslim merchants. It was once a hotspot for buying gems brought down from Ratnapura. The Islam driven culture of the town dates back to 8AD and it is a rich treat for the culture vulture.
One part of Sri Lanka’s world famous ‘Cultural Triangle’, and considered one of the most important cities in the country because of its historical, cultural and agricultural value. The area is said to have the largest deposits of rose-quartz in South Asia, and the main highlight is the Dambulla Rock Temple. Built in 1BC by King Walagambahu, the monastic complex is cut right into the rock and consists of five main caverns which contain over 150 statues of the Buddha, ranging in composition, posture and size. Being a sacred pilgrimage site for over 22 centuries, the temple is a masterpiece of ancient engineering combined with modern preservation techniques. For the nature lover, Dambulla’s National Parks, Minneriya and Kaudulla are some of the best places in the island to spot elephants, and for those who are bored of the usual safari, can go about doing it in a hot air balloon.
The capital of the last kingdom of Sri Lanka, Kandy is situated in the central highlands of the island and overflows with culture and history. Famous for the Temple of Tooth that houses Lord Buddha’s sacred tooth relic, home of the Esala Perahera, the beauteous scenes of Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, and much more, Kandy is ideal for relaxation and recreation whilst indulging in the sights, culture and traditions of this quaint yet mighty hilltop capital. With panoramic views overlooking the Temple of the Tooth, the Kandyan Cultural Shows and sights and sounds of the Market Place and Arts & Crafts show room, Kandy comes alive beckoning you to join in.
Little England of Sri Lanka sits high atop the inner highlands blanketed with cool air and misty clouds, the perfect blend of relaxation that comes with a hot cup of tea nipped from the heart of Tea Country. This beauteous town is a continuing memory of Sri Lanka’s British past, as the houses of Nuwara Eliya hold the architectural design elements and look of an English countryside. 1890 meters above sea level, this town is ideal for tea cultivation, which is the usual sight when making your way to the top. Panoramic views are what you will find when on a sightseeing expedition to Lake Gregory or the highest mountain on the island, the mighty Pidurutagala. Even a great shopping adventure at the Nuwara Eliya town and market place, or a few swings on the evergreen Golf Course, being one of the finest 18 holes golf courses in Asia, could be just what you needed. Take the winding scenic route to this mountain top town filled with culture and history for a memorable time.
Make a pit stop at Pinnawala on your way to the hills and take in the sight of the only elephant orphanage on the island. Filled with pachyderms of many shapes and sizes, it is an ideal place to watch these majestic beasts as they take to their daily routines, whether it is feeding or bathing in the river nearby. One of the heart-warming sights at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is to watch baby elephants being bottle-fed. Bring your camera and catch these caring mammals care for their families of pachyderms they have welcomed and formed at Pinnawala.
A towering rock fortress is a beautiful sight as you wake and walk out of your lodgings, powerful and ever reminiscent of the culture and history of the land and that is why Sigiriya is one UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Built in the 5th century by King Kassapa and inhabited for 18 years, this rocky royal citadel is a true wonder and testament to the skills of that era of Sri Lanka. Ringed with a moat and a rampart, the lion rock’s entrance made of lion paws beckons you to discover and climb the 200 metres of rock that juts out from the foliage. The ‘Ladies of Sigiriya’ await you in the midst of the journey to the top to the famous frescoes that have been preserved for centuries. Find the beauty of Sigiriya within your imagination, as you see what was from the remains left behind.
Trincomalee, the port city with heavenly sights from the turquoise waters to the golden sandy beaches, the British and Dutch heritage to the most recent additions to the land that make it worth the journey. From sightseeing to recreational and relaxation, Trincomalee is the place to be. The Koneswaram Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that stands atop a cliff since it’s relocation by the Portuguese, to Lover’s Leap which has a love story connected to it, to the beauty that is Nilaveli beach, Fort Fredrick which was built by the Dutch and much more. This beauteous and colourful city has many stories to tell and many sights to see. One of the famous attractions being the Nilaveli Beach that has golden sand flirting with the turquoise of the Indian Ocean until the eye can see.
All of Sri Lanka’s 24 parks are different to one another, and Yala National Park being one of the most prominent is home to the beauty of the land, and a bounty of fauna, flora and foliage. Found in the southern regions of the island, the Ruhunu Yala National Park is home to jumbo pachyderms, majestic peacocks and skilled leopards roaming the wilderness that is. Yala also boasts of many other attractions found within, from the varying species of animals who have made it’s home at the park to the ancient monastery caves found as well as the Salt Pans of the Palapatuna Sea are all things to look out for, or rather go in search of when you make your way there.
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