Sri Lanka is more than just a destination: it’s a feeling. So magical, so wild, so friendly, so spiritual
Despite its small size Sri Lanka boasts of one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world whether in plants or animals and is included among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. Of the ninety-one species of mammals found in Sri Lanka Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes engages the majority of the attention of wildlife enthusiast. Yet the rarest mammals of Sri Lanka are the red slender Loris, Toque Macaque, and Purple-faced Langur, who according to IUCN clarifications are endangered due to habitat loss.
Meanwhile the ocean around Sri Lanka is home to large families of cetaceans including the mighty blue whales, sperm whales and lively dolphins. Altogether 26 species of cetaceans rule the waters surrounding the country, making it one of the best locations for whale and dolphin watching.
Despite the mighty elephants and rare amphibians found in the country birds are the glory of the Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Boasting nearly 433 bird species of which 233 are resident Sri Lanka holds 20 endemic species while another 80 species have developed distinct Sri Lankan races, compared to their cousins in Indian mainland.
Although less celebrated, Sri Lanka has one of the richest diversity of amphibians in the world, containing over 106 species of amphibians of over 90 of which are endemic. The country has long claimed to have the highest amphibian species density in the world with a high concentration in the Sinharaja rainforest.
With varying climates and Geography packed into a small island Sri Lanka offers a range of adventures from the top of the mountains to the depths of the oceans.
Other than taking a dip in the oceans or snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing are the most popular beach sports in the country. Scuba diving has long history in the country. Today the oceans filled with coral gardens, multitude of exotic fishes and ancient wrecks Sri Lanka offers one of the best diving experiences in the world. Although comparatively new to the country surfing too has made its mark in the Southern and Eastern coasts of the island for the last twenty five years. The sea around Sri Lanka is also one of the most challenging marine game fishing locations while white water rafting, Kayaking and canoeing are some of the relatively new water sports practiced in the country.
With multitude of roads winding through expanding mountains, lush green forests, paddy fields, parks and sleepy villages, Sri Lanka also offers many opportunities to keen hikers and trekkers. Trail blazing through the tracks and paths on horse or elephant back too is a novel experience introduced recently.
Experience the thrills of crumbling rocks beneath the feet, head spinning heights and the earth expanding beneath when conquering many mountains of Sri Lanka or take over waterfall climbing with exciting climbs like the rock face of Bambarakanda waterfall, the tallest in the country.
With many an adventures packed within few miles of each other Sri Lanka is an adventure itself waiting to happen.
With a history expanding over 3000years, Sri Lanka holds some of world’s ancient cities including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla; their once glorious townships, palaces, temples, monasteries, hospitals and theaters intricately carved and modeled out of stone lay and abandoned and forgotten with time amidst the soaring jungles.
Of all the ancient cities of Lanka, the most famed and most exquisite is the Kingdom of Anuradhapura. Sri Lanka’s third and the longest serving capital and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world is also one of the most sacred cities of World Buddhists. It was the capital of Sri Lanka from the Fourth Century BC up to the turn of the eleventh Century and was one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia.
Sigiriya, a fifth century AD fortress and a water garden displays some of the most futuristic elements of landscaping and some of the oldest murals recorded in the country.
Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient kingdom of the country boasts of Irrigation systems that are far superior to those of the and they still provide irrigation water to the farmers in and around Polonnaruwa.Digamadulla, the Eastern kingdom of Sri Lanka was the agricultural and spiritual capital of the country during the Anuradhapura kingdom.
Sri Lanka’s last kingdom the Kingdome of Kandy is a testament to the Sri Lankan’s ability to pick up and rise from ashes. After being burned and ravaged more than thrice by the invading Portuguese the Kandyan Kingdom still holds beautifully carved and built houses, palaces and temple preserved for nearly 500 years.
With nearly 1600 km of of palm fringed Coastline baked to perfection surrounding the country Sri Lanka is the ideal destination for beach bums worldwide. May it be windsurfing, kayaking, yachting, water skiing, scuba diving or jut lazing around for the perfect tan, Sri Lanka offers it all.
The two monsoon winds providing rain to the two corners of the country at various periods, makes Sri Lanka’s beach holiday a year round prospect. The north east winds make the south western coast sunny and the sea calm from November to March. The South West winds make the East Coast waters quiet with the constant sun shine happily in agreement.
The best of the Southern beaches include Tangalla, Beruwala, Mirissa, Bentota and Unawatuna with varying options including chic boutique hotels, glowing coral reefs, gentle sandbars and undiscovered corners of paradise.
Although Sri Lanka’s southern beaches has been long discovered by the international traveller the east coast is yet to be fully discovered. The most known among the Eastern beaches is the Arugam Bay, the high church of surfing enthusiasts’ in the region. Once a mere rumour, Uppuveli beach is also open to the sun seekers after a three decade long civil war.
On the Western corner of the country to the north of Colombo is the Negambo lagoon. Its beaches, an old favourite with local and foreign visitors and lagoon famed for lobster harvesting. Despite having a ring of sandy beaches surrounding the country, Galle Face Green, a half a kilometre stretch between Galle Road and Indian Ocean is the playground of the Colombians.
With a population composed with many a races and religions, Sri Lanka is never short of festivals and celebrations. Every month brings a celebration either religious or cultural importance, making Sri Lanka one of the countries with highest number of celebrations and holidays.
The Sinhala-Tamil New year festival in April is the most important cultural festival in the country. The festival marks the beginning of the New Year and the end of harvesting season. A lengthy holiday and a table full of oily traditional delicacies like kokis, makes the New Year festival one of the long awaited festivals in the country.
The May full moon poya day or Vesak is the most important religious celebration in Sri Lanka, where Buddhists celebrate the nativity, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha with many celebrations. Sri Lankans of every religion crowd the roads to enjoy Vesak decorations including pandals and lanterns and many a makeshift alm houses that line the roads offering every food item from beverages, dessert to main meals.
In August are the Esala festivals in Kandy and Kataragama. The Kataragama Esala Festival is a multi-religious festival where devotes use fire walking and extreme self-penance to shows their piety to Lord Kataragama. The Kandy Esala Perahera or the Dalanda Perahera is the largest cultural parade in the world and showcases the best of Sri Lankan dancing and music and the best of the domesticated tuskers in the country.
Despite being a relatively small island, Sri Lanka is endowed with a diverse collection of landscapes, climates and natural features. Sri Lanka’s infamous beaches have been enticing visitors for many years. However, the rest of the island harbours many more idyllic vistas.
The central highlands are carpeted with emerald tea plantations interspersed with occasional waterfalls. Cool climates, misty views, and quaint estate bungalows are a throwback to bygone eras.
The cultural triangle in the centre of the island holds a certain magic, with ruins from several ancient kingdoms, majestic tanks, hidden rock caves, and ancient sacred temples, revealing the fascinating and almost unbelievable ancient architecture, art, and engineering.
The North of Sri Lanka is a vibrant concoction of essences, with a unique flavour and culture. Despite still bearing the scars from the civil war, the north truly bears testament to the diversity and variation that comprises the island. Influences include Portuguese, Dutch, Tamil, Muslim, and British characters. Chains of islands are scattered off the shoreline, with their own unique habitats, waiting to be explored.
The east of the island is home to lush paddy fields, spectacular sunrises, and a quieter more rural pace of life. Colourful places of worship, national parks, ports and harbours, and pristine clear waters offer a mellow experience to any weary traveller.