For most travellers, Sri Lanka has been off the map for too long. Well, it’s back. Discover the vibrant colours, diverse cultures and swaying palm trees of this tropical jewel. You can explore tea plantations and rock fortresses, try stilt fishing in Galle and get inspired at an elephant sanctuary.
Sri Lanka , officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the Indian Subcontinent in South Asia. Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.
The culture of Sri Lanka dates back over 2500 years. Sri Lanka is famous for sandy beaches, sunshine, tropical weather, ancient ruines, elephants, tea, cricket, wildlife. Sri Lankan visitor manufacturing is booming after finishing 30 years of war. Every month number of tourists increasing. Sri Lanka is like a piece of treasure that fell into the Indian Ocean.
The capital is Colombo, which is an important producer of tea, coffee, gemstones, coconuts, rubber, and the native cinnamon, the island contains tropical forests and diverse landscapes with a high amount of biodiversity. Colombo is the commercial and business center of Sri Lanka located on west cost. The city blends together with old colonial type building, high-rise commercial buildings and hotels. It is filled with shopping malls, airline offices bazaars and interesting tourist attractions. Some of the finest structures built during the colonial times still preserved in one part of the City. Colombo is home to majority of Sri Lankan corporate and Government offices.
Galle is magical: the most perfectly preserved colonial town in Sri Lanka, and an atmospheric piece of time-warped island history.This amazing town is located 116 Km from Colombo along the Southwest coast and the city is pure breathtaking. Formerly known as Point de Galle, is the capital of the Southern Province. Galle exports rubber, tea, rope, coconut oil, and coconut fibre. The city also has a seaport which was very significant at the beginning of the 16th century when Portuguese were occupying most of Sri Lanka and then under the rule of the Dutch as well. In the 19th century, the British developed the Colombo seaport and the use of the Galle port declined.
Stilt Fishing in Galle
This is no ordinary fishing, there might be several methods of catching a fish but this one is mind-boggling. Fishermen in Sri Lanka use stilts to catch a fish. Stilt Fishing is an old tradition practiced by around 500 fishing families in Galle.
They usually fish during sunset, noon and sunrise, with each one taking their elevated position and balancing about 2 meters above the water.There is a vertical pole engrafted into the sea bed, attached to it is a cross bar, called petta, on which the fishermen do the balancing act. So with one hand they hold the stilt and the other hand they have a fishing rod or a line to catch spotted herrings and small mackerels, which are then kept in a plastic bag tied around their waist or the pole.
So the fishermen of that area don’t mind sitting for long hours to get their catch, it seems they don’t use a bait either on the hook.
The Hill Capital of Kandy was the last bastion of the Sinhala kings and is a charming city offering a living record of a magnificent past and is set around an attractive man-made lake in scenic hill country. It is also the site of Sri Lanka’s greatest annual spectacle, the Esala Perahera festival in August, also known as the Festival of the Moon when thousands of people from all parts of the country and from foreign countries throng to the Hill Capital to witness the magnificent spectacle. Elephants are paraded in the courtyards of the temple during Esala Perahera. Kandy’s star attraction is the ornate Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) which houses a sacred relic in well-guarded casket. Local women sell lotus flowers to worshippers and monkeys scamper around the buildings.
Many of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka are located within what is known as the cultural triangle, in the centre of the island. The cultural triangle encompasses the island’s most important UNESCO World Heritage sites – Sigiriya ‘s famous Lion Rock fortress, the exquisite Dambulla Cave Temples, the giant 12th-century stone sculptures of Buddha at Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, the ancient Ceylonese city and Kandy with its revered Temple of the Tooth. There are also plenty of other great places to visit in Sri Lanka, including national parks, tea plantations, elephant orphanages and beautiful beaches.
Ceylon Tea Producing
Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea.It is serious business in Sri Lanka. Ceylon, this small Indian Ocean island is famed for producing the finest black tea in the world, grown and produced according to uncompromising, traditional methods and standards. Since the 1880s, Ceylon tea has been the country’s principal and most famous export; for generations, it formed the backbone of the Sri Lankan economy, and plays a major part, even today, in the country’s fortunes.
Ceylon Tea Museum
An essential stop on any Sri Lankan tea tour, this museum occupies the 1925-vintage Hantane Tea Factory, 4km south of Kandy on the Hantane road. Abandoned for more than a decade, it was refurbished by the Sri Lanka Tea Board and the Planters’ Association of Sri Lanka.
There are exhibits on tea pioneers James Taylor and Thomas Lipton, and lots of vintage tea-processing paraphernalia. Knowledgeable guides are available and there’s a free cuppa afterwards in the top-floor tearoom.
Dambulla Cave Temple
The Buddhist cave temple at Dambulla is old. Really old. It’s essentially five adjacent caves filled with colourful statues carved into the surrounding rock. The first was created more than 2,000 years ago.
The largest cave contains 16 standing Buddhas and 40 slightly lazier sitting ones . The other caves vary in size, but all are deeply spiritual places and the complex is still a functioning temple. This meant you had to take off your shoes, cover your knees and shoulders and generally be pretty respectful.
Inside the caves the ceilings are covered with striking paintings, which haven’t lost their impact despite fading over the centuries. The Buddha statues are arranged in various poses, showing the Buddha in different contexts – from Nirvana to death. Walking through the temple was like immersing yourself in a world of spiritual history.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park, one of Sri Lanka ‘s premier eco tourism destinations, lies 24km northeast of Tissamaharama and 290km from Colombo on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, spanning a vast 97,878 hectares over the Southern and Uva Provinces.
The vegetation in the park comprises predominantly of semi-arid thorny scrub, interspersed with pockets of fairly dense secondary forest. Small patches of mangrove vegetation also occur along the coastal lagoons. The park is renowned for the variety of its Wildlife (most notably its many elephants) and its fine coastline (with associated coral reefs). It also boasts a large number of important cultural ruins, bearing testimony to earlier civilizations and indicating that much of the area used to be populated and well developed.
Yala National Park Safari
One of the most important aspects of a Yala National Park safari is having the right kind of guide. Though wildlife is abundant, animals like the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, Sri Lankan Leopard and other big game require the skills of an experienced naturalist guide who knows about the movements of game throughout the Park at certain times, a facility which Mahoora can easily provide. Jeeps are usually the way to go on Yala National Park safaris, and we at Mahoora have excellent vehicles which can easily navigate the varied terrain that the Yala National Park safari is known for. You may want to hang on to your hats though, Yala definitely has areas which provide for some off roading situations, for which suitable Yala National Park safari jeeps are a must.