3 Distinct Experiences
Despite its fame as a resplendent island and a leading tourist destination, the secret of Sri Lanka’s attraction lies with its people. The spice addicted, cricket crazy and tea drinking people of Sri Lanka are famed for big smiles and a bigger heart. With a culture enriched with three thousand years of knowledge, Buddhism and many a colonial traditions, the Sri Lankan society is a potpourri of religions and races different yet similar in many a ways.
With a history expanding over 3000 years, Sri Lanka holds some of world’s ancient cities including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla; their once glorious townships, palaces, temples, monasteries, hospitals and theatres intricately carved and modelled 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 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.
Festive Sri Lanka
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.
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