From the moment of your arrival at the Bandaranayke International Airport, Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, you shall become blessed, by the queen of the Islands of the world, for it will be your first step on a journey like no other. Starting from the Colombo city there will be a lot to be experienced. Ranging from having street foods freely as a local person would enjoy a short meal leisurely to seeing marvels of nature unique to this country. In fact, further from entertaining urban nightlife to visiting rich and vibrant chronicles of historic sites.
In the modern world, this tropical island Nation which situated in a well-traveled trade route could not escape from the voyages of explorers. The Southern Coastal city of Galle will offer you a fascinating experience blend with history, traditions, and nature. The Dutch port situated at a crucial tip on the terrestrial landscape is still a living place bounded by rocks from two centuries old engineering. The Gigantic clock tower rising from the middle of the fort is yet committed for his duty assigned long ago by contemporary masters of the seas. Inside the fort, there are dwellings of common public and also those of abandon shelters of the makers of those defenses, the Dutch imperialists, providing a spectacular concert on colonial architecture fused into indigenous traditions of house building. The Rumassala hill nearby along the shore can be considered as a place guarding and preserving an enormous number of medicinal plants, making them hidden in a wonderful greenish floral landscape. ‘Hummanaya’ is, in fact, another major tourist attraction in the southern coast. Being Sri Lanka’s only and world's Second largest marine blowhole this unique geological structure has gained its name from the “hoo” and “hmm” sound that it generates form sea waves traveling through cavern underneath the land which could be heard from miles away while the sound a column of water is raised up to about 25 – 30m depending on the condition of the sea. As this island is home of several ethnic groups as Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, and Eurasians of many faiths, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, Galle is kind of a demographic field of observations having a vibrant culture and a community there. This part of the country also carries a quite different and specialized dialect and way of life of traditions and customs shall necessarily add some more unforgettable memories to a visitor wondering through their well-planned coconut plantations and sandy shores.
The detachment of millions of years in geologic time scale from Indian subcontinent has let Sri Lanka become the habitat for number species of unique flora and fauna, in fact, embedding them in a wonderful abiotic landscape. ‘Yala’ National Park, the second largest in Sri Lanka is a place that you must get in a Safari Jeep with your peers to roam through this tropical dry mixed evergreen wilderness. The park covers a bulk of ecosystems from a bird’s sanctuary to natural waterways. There is no way for anyone to miss the proud Sri Lankan Elephant, which is a long lasted icon of the country from colonial times to swift leopard, the 'boss' of park's food chain along with the spotted dear and sloth bear. The natural Vegetation here has a vast diversity. With a touch of tropical evergreens blessed with the moisture of monsoons and there are even resistible species for semi-arid conditions. Exploring wetland ecosystems located close to humid natural waterways will take you to an energetic world, which is kept alive by, spirits of fresh water.
The lasting Stand of Sinhalese at confronting of British Empire was the Central City of Kandy. Surrounded by a gigantic mountain ranges and river Mahaweli, the longest in Sri Lanka, this UNESCO world heritage city stands with set rich cultural traditions and events mounted on a glamour of nature’s wonderful artwork of central highlands. By the reservoir 'Kandy Tank' you will find one of most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. The Temple of the tooth. This palace is said to guard the tooth relic Buddha, which is kept inside a set of caskets. The Annual procession held as an offering to the relic is surely be recognized by as the most spectacular tradition event of color in Sri Lanka. Traditional dancers with overwhelming blends of colors of their dresses and elegant performances along the streets of Kandy for visitors, in most cases, this is an experience of once in the lifetime. proud and mighty Sri Lankan tuskers and Elephants Roam with the procession in a majestic way as kings this country walked along the same streets There natural eminence of them decorated by specially made costumes of colors and lights and assigned to the most devoted responsibility, holding the casket containing the tooth relic while roaming around during the procession.
If you are a person who has seen the world much and experienced the best, your love for Ceylonese Tea and quest to see its origins shall have to be well-founded. Starting from the colonial tradition of plantations Nuwara Eliya district of Sri Lanka has evolved to a country of lush green. This the highest region in Sri Lanka carries a fabric of breathtaking sceneries wrapped on the terrain of a mountainous landscape. Here slopes and hilltops covered with a thick carpet of tea plantations make the hill country of this island nation offers it a look of somewhere in Europe for the area is also called as 'Little England'. You can be a hard tea lover or otherwise it does not matter for you to Montane forest of rich vegetation and natural paths water flows producing more eye-catching structures from pools to waterfalls completes this picture of beauty. Flowers which blossom, in this land of crests and troughs, not only in the spring but also in any time facing the sun, gives both warm and cold sensations to eyes with their fragrances, while playing a crucial role in natures cycles.
Traveling more towards North of the island makes you reach another magnificent site on a monad knock in the dry zone. Sigiriya, or the 'rock of lion' is such a ‘wander’ built in the time of King Kashyapa (4th century A.D) to have still functioning water fountains even today, after a time span of more than one thousand five hundred years. This well-equipped fortress is surrounded by defensive barriers such as walls, large drains and scenic gardens, works of arts, ponds, and is home for a masterpiece of excellent city planning in the first millennium. While 'Sigiriya frescos' depicts tremendous knowledge in the field of art, 'Mirror Wall' containing hundreds of graffiti, in form of poems and prose by visitors to the palace, after it was abandoned by kings, is a reflection of the contemporary rich culture of literature that prevailed here. Being both a fortress and a Citadel, a palace had ingenious ways to carry water to pools at heights of about 200m and an iconic entrance through forepaws of a lion (It is believed that in early time the passage to the palace was through the throat of a lion). This UNESCO world heritage ‘palace of defense’ offers a majestic travel experience here in Sri Lanka.
Being the capital of North Central Province today, Anuradhapura was the first capital of the Sinhalese kingdom. In fact, as the world's most long lasted capital, it is home to a multitude of ancient and sacred monuments. Swarnamli (Ruwanwali) Sthupa, which is said to contain a bowl of Buddha’s bone relics acquires the foremost place. Having being built twenty-two centuries ago chronicles mentions that it is still in its original size and form. If there is tree titled as the one with longest recorded history you are going witness it in this sacred city. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi planted more than two millennia’s ago is believed to be the right branch of the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya where Load Buddha reached enlightenment. Furthermore, there stand ruins two major international monasteries, in modern vocabulary 'universities'. Jethawana Vihara with its Sthupa the considered as world’s tallest mud brick structure and Abhayairi Vihara which was the residence for more than 5000 Buddhist scholar-monks in this island, is the Centre for Theravada branch of Buddhism even today. Sri Lanka possesses a rich heritage of agriculture mainly focused on paddy cultivation. Since the civilization of this country was born and cherished its first half of history in the dry zone, Ancients had found an ingenious way of collecting ‘monsoons,’ which is now called as the tank or ‘ Wawa’ in the native tongue. Around the city of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, a plenty of those ancient reservoirs can be seen and you can come feel its majestic feats, for not just being a mere engineering task but a unique manmade ecosystem which retains a perfect harmony with nature.
Pearl of the Indian Ocean is surrounded by an eye-catching coast of dazzling blue waves and golden sandy shores. Pigeon Island National park, located by the North Eastern Port city of Trincomalee is an unavoidable tourist destination. Having derived its name from rock pigeons inhabited, this shooting range of colonial-era today serves the country as the possessor of some of Sri Lanka's best Coral reefs. This colorful carnival of nature with all tri-fold aquatic, terrestrial and aerial beauty including the fantastic scuba diving site the park serves the country as a place of high economic value in coast which even survived through Tsunami Hazard in 2004.
This Island nation situated in a crucial position in the atlas of global transportation and economy has evolved through the course of history, today to a paradise opening the door to an ‘original’ bulk of travel experiences, which are, of course, to be just witnessed and not be read about. With all of those, this shining pearl of warm Indian Ocean is waiting to quench that thirst to see the world of anyone who is enthusiastic enough to engage in. As it is said in the beginning your time here shall be worth a lifetime of world travel.
By Aurasa Gayanuwan.