Journey through the Pearl of Paradise – Sri Lanka
It is truly an island paradise, home to varied communities with their rich customs, with its hills of tea and waterfalls, lowlands of gems and rainforests, and national parks where leopards roam. Although it has been known by various names throughout history, including Serendib, Taprobane, and Ceylon, but the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” has outlasted them all, as it is fondly and passionately being embraced, even today. This land, now known as Sri Lanka, has captivated the hearts of countless tourists and explorers throughout the years, and it continues to do so. With a rich history and culture dating back over 2500 years, the patrimony of legacy lives on. The wonderful land, which is brimming with natural resources, many of which are still unexplored, keeps the -ians and -ists busy digging and discovering. Therefore, Sri Lanka defies the word history of the past, but her story in the present.
From the heart of the island, stretching out to its shores, are sights, sounds, and scents to entice the senses and enrapture the soul. A land like no other, this teardrop isle offers visitors myriad experiences that they will forever treasure. How important are beaches to an island paradise? They are, as one might expect, in high demand due to the images they evoke: sunshine, surf, soft sands, and sea breeze. In Sri Lanka, each of the four coasts boasts sunlit beaches – Casuarina in the North, Unawatuna in the South, Pasikudah in the East and Kalpitiya in the West, among others. Offset by coconut or palmyra trees growing high or, at times, bending and stretching out low across the golden sands, these pristine beaches are very popular among tourists, foreign and local alike.
At times by the beach, and more commonly in small shops and stalls, are sold beautiful, expertly crafted Sri Lankan handicrafts. These include masks, handloom products and clay pots to name a few. Such items offer excellent options for home or other interior décor.
Aside from items of aesthetic value alone, products from the Sri Lankan garment industry are also well worth purchasing as they offer the wearer not only beautiful colours and designs, but also comfort in the warmer climate of the island. One of the most popular clothing designs, which is sold at pavement stalls and air-conditioned shops alike, is batik. Batik clothing comes in a variety of bright colours and unique designs, and is known to keep the wearer cool and comfortable.
When saying its name, what Sri Lanka often brings to mind is the types of crops that grow in the country; broadly, two of the internationally best-known are tea and spices. Needless to say, the spontaneous and instant names, Ceylon Tea and Pure Ceylon Cinnamon, as they are popularly uttered by the people of this world, which are almost the household names today. These two with its flavours and varieties makes this country stand out as one of the most popular global destinations for tea and spices. Invariably, the name “Ceylon” (name of Sri Lanka in the yesteryears) had built the confidence in the hearts of people that any product bore the name Ceylon has to be good, and it is ably justified. The source of these where they are cultivated are also something that adds to the country’s scenic beauty – the tea estates of the highlands. The highland mountains in districts around Haputale and Nuwara-Eliya are known for their hectares of lush tea plantations (lighter and subtler the tea). In the Lowlands like Galle and Matara (near the southern coastal) where low-grown teas are cultivated, which are stronger and less subtle the tea.
Another type of crop which is of great prominence in this nation is, as mentioned above, spices. There are many examples of herbs and spices native to Sri Lanka. However, one of them certainly stands out – Pure Ceylon Cinnamon. With its sweet yet spicy taste, flavour enhancing properties and multitude of health benefits, cinnamon is of great value both in terms of local use and exports. Together with other varieties, cinnamon is a spice that has helped Sri Lanka become recognised as a true “spice island”. The herbs and spices of the island are widely used in traditional cooking. A real Sri Lankan rice and curry meal is one that is always eagerly anticipated and enjoyed. Other foods include native fruits such as king coconut, which never fails to provide a refreshingly satisfying drink, especially on hot days.
Parts of Sri Lanka, specifically the city of Ratnapura, hold treasures of beauty and high value – gemstones. The most famous such mineral on this island is the Sri Lankan sapphire. Famed for their hues and quality, these stones are highly valued in the gem industry. It is no surprise that the name “Ratnapura” means “City of Gems”. Other minerals found in Sri Lanka include graphite, calcite, and limestone, in addition to gemstones. Due to its exceptional quality, graphite extracted from Sri Lankan mines is highly appreciated around the world. The Kahatagaha and Bogala graphite mines are two of Sri Lanka’s most well-known graphite mines.
Other parts of Sri Lanka are popular among tourists due to different features: national parks, sanctuaries and nature reserves. Among these, one of the best known is the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A tropical rainforest, Sinharaja is rich in biodiversity and contains a wealth of endemic plants, mammals, birds and butterflies. Other famous destinations that attract wildlife enthusiasts are the national parks, of which some of the best known are Yala, Wilpattu, Kumana and the Horton Plains. National parks such as Yala and Wilpattu are frequently visited by those who wish to try and spot leopards in their natural habitats. Other wildlife that tourists desire to see while on Sri Lankan safaris includes elephants, peacocks and bears.
Heading inland once more to the central highlands, mountains and waterfalls, majestic and lush, will provide a feast for the traveller’s eyes. Besides being well known for the tea that grows here, this part of the island is also renowned for its breath-taking scenery, historic landmarks and culture. National landmarks of Sri Lanka include the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, which is also known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic; Sigiriya Rock Fortress, popularly called the “Lion Rock”, the rock stands at 200 m height with about 1200 steps to climb (by feet), not difficult per se yet demanding and giving a kind of adventurous and fulfilling experience. Adams Peak, which is of religious importance to Sri Lankans of multiple faiths. For those who desire a taste of Sri Lankan culture, the Kandy Perahera, which is held in July, is not to be missed. This event comprises a parade which features Kandyan dancers, elephants, fire and lights.
Travelling approximately 120 km westwards from Kandy, one can reach the nation’s commercial capital, Colombo. Colombo City is the part of Sri Lanka where one can enjoy shopping, movie theatres, restaurants and other forms of modern-day entertainment and sightseeing. Thanks to its proximity to the airport and its multitude of hotels, grand and small, it is easy for a holidaymaker to make Colombo the first and last destination to be enjoyed during their stay in Sri Lanka. All in all, with its abundance of natural resources, breathtaking scenery, historic sites, culinary feasts, cultural wonders, diverse shopping venues, and modern comforts and conveniences, Sri Lanka stands out as a choice destination for many a traveller.
Why Sri Lanka – The Gist
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has played a key role in resource optimization by identifying and creating tourist-specific products and services, as well as developing and executing tourism development standards. In keeping with the 12 letters in the slogan “Wonder of Asia,” there will be 12 unique theme events throughout the year.
Sri Lanka has regained its pride as a bride adorns herself with the finest trinket of jewels, with vast green pastures as far as the eye can see, a pristine coastline that embraces gorgeous sandy beaches, diversified adventure and wildlife exploration, coolest hilly zones, fascinating botanical gardens, religious and unblemished historical landmarks and cultural heritage, fun and romantic activities. Because Sri Lanka is an island country, you can go to an entirely other section of the country in just a few hours, and in a completely different temperature.