Marco Polo thought Sri Lanka was the finest island of it's size in the world and you wont have trouble agreeing with him once you've explored any of Sri Lanka's delights. Beaches The costal stretch out of Colombo off Kaluthra , Beruwela, Bentota and Hikkaduwa offers palm – lined golden beaches. Culture Try the Kandyan dances in Kandy. Ruins There's more than enough to see at the ruined ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa. Scenery Head for the Hill country to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya where the plains and the coast fades away to reveal gorgeous rolling hills often carpeted with tea plantation. Wild Life The island is teeming with bird life, plethora of nature reserves such as Yala, Kaudulla and Bundala is home to elephants, Leopards, bears and deer to name just a few. However what makes the difference from to all other destination is the added bonus of welcoming friendly people, Good food, Pleasant places to stay and reasonably low costs.
Geography: An island of approximately 65,610 sq.km. Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of the coast of India. It lies between 5° 55' and 9° 55' north of the equator and between the eastern longitudes 79° 42' and 81° 52'.
The cost line gives way to lowland plains, growing rice and coconut. In the mid country rubber vies with gems. While green carpet of tea clothe the central mountain ranges reaching heights of some 2,432 meters.
Population: Nearly 19 million, 74% Sinhalese,18% Tamils,8% Moors, Malays, Burghers. Literacy rate average 91% - One of the highest is Asia.
Climate: Warm and fine year around . Average temperature around 27° in Colombo going down as the land raises to the hill country to as low as 10°.
The island has 02 wet seasons between may and July in the south west and December / January in the north east.
Climatically Sri Lanka has no off season. Bright sunny worm days and the rule and are common even during the wet season. Sea temperature as a rule remain around 27°.
Main Language(s): Communication is rarely a problem because English is widely spoken in all parts of the country. Place names and signboards are in the national languages and often in English. Official language;- Sinhala, Tamil and English. National Language Sinhala and Tamil. Time Zone: Sri Lanka's standard time is 6 hours ahead of Greenwich.
Few sightseeing options
Sri Lanka's largest and most important city, Colombo was the capital of the country until the seat of the parliament shifted to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. Today, this city of one million plus population remains the political and commercial hub of Sri Lanka.
Lying on the shores of the Indian Ocean in west Sri Lanka is practically a long coastal strip extending 10-12 km south from the central area. The central artery is Galle Road which runs all the way south along the coast to the town of the same name as the A2 Highway. For postal convenience the city is divided into zones numbered 1 to 15 which are not necessarily arranged in contiguous numerical order. The most important are Colombo 1 better known as Fort, which is the main commercial area, Colombo 11 or Pettah, the crowded bazaar area barely a five minute walk from Fort and Colombo 7, earlier known as Cinnamon Gardens and now the fashionable residential area of the city.
Colombo is one of Asia's most fascinating, blending as it does the past with the present. On one hand there is the legacy of the original trading settlers the Portuguese, Dutch and the British evident in the churches and monuments, names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages which have been absorbed by the Sri Lankans while on the other are the modern structures that house bustling commercial, banking and shopping areas and the galaxy of big five star hotels offering night clubs and entertainment. Whether it be cinema halls, theatres, art galleries, museums, health resorts, yacht and rowing clubs Colombo has something to cater to all tastes. More than anything else the friendly hospitality of its people makes a visit to this exotic and most interesting city a worthwhile experience.
Near by Places to visit:
Kandy - 115 kilometres from Colombo
Visitor's statistics prove the point that "No visit to Sri Lankan is complete without a visit to Kandy". After Colombo city Kandy is the most popular destination for foreign visitors and with good reason too. The last seat of the Sinhala kings, who ceded power to the British in 1815 after many battle with the western colonial forces. Kandy retains much of the old charm and tradition of the Sri Lankan life stile.
Among the most picturesque cities in the island, the importance of Kandy is mainly due to it being the home of the "Dalada Maligawa" or The Temple of the Tooth - Which houses the sacred Tooth Relic of lord Budhha.
After the temple of the tooth relic, the most famous land mark of Kandy is it's lake in the centre of the city. The old buildings at it's edge near the temple of the tooth was the Queen's bath. On the other side of the temple, housed in part of the former Royal Palace, is the Kandy Museum which houses excellent exhibits from the Kandyan period of Sri Lanka's history.
The Peradeniya Gardens is easily one of the best of it's kind in the world. The many beautiful avenues will lead one to sections which provide a burst of tropical colour. The great lawns highlight huge tropical trees while you will be surprised at the variety of bamboo that can be found in one place.
Visit to a spice garden will give you a first hand introduction to the trees, plants and creepers that produce the special spices of Sri Lanka. The Herbarium grows many of the plants used for the traditional Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia.
Hill Country ( Nuwara Eliya) - 190 kilometres from Colombo
Hill country is the heart of the island. Rises from 3000 ft to over 8000 ft will surround you with velvety green freshness all around. As you travel you will see the vegetation change from tropical profusion to gentle sprawling rubber plantation to cool green hills, the home of Ceylon Tea.
The nostalgia of the empire builders is reflected in Nuwara Eliya. The town is decorated with buildings ranging in style from Georgian to Queen Anne.
Parks. Trout streams, an 18 hole Golf course complete with gorse, the post office with the clock spire, the Anglican Church with a lych-gate are few of the highlights of the town.
Piduruthalagala, the islands highest peak is a short track away and the breath taking view is worth the climb and six miles from the town is an excellent botanical garden, The hakgala Botanical Gardens at Hakkgala.
Hortian Plains, (27 km) is a nature reserve with a charm of it's own. Commanding a panoramic view of the surrounding area it contains rare and beautiful plants and trees and baker's fall, a magnificent water fall in the high altitude and the cool climate.
Ancient City's (Sigiriya / Annuraddhapura and Pollonnaruwa)
The ruined cutie's of Sri Lanka take the visitor back through many centuries during which a unique civilisation flourished. Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Pollonnaruwa, Extending from the 3rd centiure BC to 12 Century AD record a grandeur unsurpassed.
Sigiriya was an interregnum of great excitement. Built by King Kasyapa who killed his father to gain his wealth , this literal fortress in the sky is a masterpiece of construction, artistry and irrigation. It was a resort pleasure, a citadel of beauty and fortress of strength. Sigiriya has been made famous throughout the world for the frescoes on it's rock wall. The heavenly maddens, preserved as part of the world's artistic heritage. While the frescoes are certainly captivating, there is much more to see and discover at Sigiriya, which was later a monastery.
Pollonnaruwa, Shows the interesting blend of the influence of south Indian Hindu culture on the Sinhala Buddhist art and architecture.
Anuradhapura: The Ruvanveliseya, Abhagiriya, Jetawanaramaya, Thuparama are few of the Daboba still venerated by the Buddhist. Well preserved and restored these grand Buddhist shrines of the past reveal the past glory of a city which in it's heyday, exceeded in seize some of the largest cities of the modern world.
Golden Beaches : (Kaluthra / Berueela / Bentota and Hikkaduwa )
Sun worshipers prepare to stretch out, curl your toes in the fine white sand and get a glorious tan on sun-drenched. Palm - caressed beaches that adorn over a 1000 miles of the coast of Sri Lanka.
It's paradise of unlimited sun, sea sand and surf all year around. The coat often twists and curves into little nooks, bays and coves, ideal romantic hideaways.
Diving in these waters takes you in to a entirely different and equally delightful world, scattered with fantastic coral formations and colourful fish. You may also com across interesting sunken wrecks at certain points along the coast. Don't look out for sharks, they are unheard of in this part of the world.
National Parks : (Yala / Kaudulla / Wasgamuwa)
The jungles of Sri Lanka abound in a variety of wildlife which is surprising for an island of it's size in the tropics. From ancient days the elephants and peacocks from the Sri Lankan jungles were price exports to have kingdoms of East and West. Apart from these well known examples of the fauna, a visit to the Sri Lankan jungles is to enter a whole new world where nature has largely stayed still. This will include animals such wild elephants, wild boar, wild buffalo, bear, deer, crocodiles and if you are lucky leopards.
The Colombo city is filled with restaurants, which serves a range of international cuisines at very attractive prices.
Sri Lankan Food
Palmyrah Restaurant - Hotel Renuka, Kollupitiya -||- Curry Bowl - 24 Deal Place, Kollupitiya -||- Pagoda Tea Room, Chatham Street (western food also) -||- Green Cabin, 453 Galle Road, Colombo 3 (multi cuisine).
Rohan's North Indian Food, Reddy's Indian restaurant, Amarawathi Vegetarians restaurant, Collpity, Pavilion, Colombo 07. Mathura, Colombo 06. Navaratna, Taj Samudra hotel. Indian Restaurant, Colombo Plaza, Shanthi Vihara, Colombo 04.
Beach Wadiya, Colombo 03.Korean Sea Food restaurant Colombo 07.
Kinjo Chinese restaurant Colombo 05. Chinese Dragon, Colombo 04. Flower lounge, Colombo 07. Flower Drum, Colombo 03. Great wall, Colombo 03. Jade Gardens, Colombo 05.
International food chains:
Pizza Hut, KFC, Mc Donald's, Domino's
Sri Lanka's deep-rooted and ancient civilisation endows the island with a legacy of colourful national and religious festivals. Hardly a month goes by without a unique national or religious celebration of diverse cultures and religions, celebrated with the flair of people with a genius for pageantry and ceremony.
The full moon (Poya) day of each month known by their traditional Sinhala names (please see back cover) is of special religious significance. The exact dates of Sri Lanka's festivals change from year to year as they depend on lunar or solar phases.
Sports events in Sri Lanka too attract fanfare. While Sri Lanka is internationally known for sports like cricket and athletics, an increasing array of sporting events including golf tournaments, water-sport events and motor races are becoming popular attractions in some the most scenic.
Duruthu Perahera - January 05th & 06th
A colourful religious pageant at the Kelaniya Temple 12 km away from the city of Colombo. This pageant is to commemorate the third visit of Buddha to Sri Lanka. It is a colourful procession of caparisoned elephants, torch bearers and traditional dancers.
Hadji Festival - February 01st
This day commemorates the granting of independence to Sri Lanka by the British on 4th February 1948. it is a grate patriotic and national occasion celebrated with colourful parades and pageants achievements.
Nawam Perahera - February 05th, 06th & 07th
A colourful traditional perahera organized by Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo parades the city streets for two nights. Dancers, elephants, whip crackers make it an unforgettable event.
Vesak Full Moon Poya Day - May 04th
Vesak is a thrice blessed day for Buddhists throughout the world. It commemorates the birth of the Prince Siddhartha, his attaining enlightenment and passing away into Nibbana as Gauthama Buddha. It is a day of great sanctity devoted to religious observances and charity. The day is also celebrated with festivity with numerous colourful decorations and illuminations, pandals and pageants. Wayside stalls distribute food and refreshments to the pilgrims and passers by.
Poson Full Moon Day - June 02nd
Poson, the full-moon festival commemorates the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. the day is celebrated with religious observances. The centre of festivities is at Mihintale (about 10km) from Anuradhapura where the Buddhist doctrine was first preached by Arahat Mahinda, son of the great Emperor Asoka of India. Apart from religious festivals there are illuminations and decorations and processions in various parts of the island.
Esala Festival (Kandy Perahera) - July 22nd - August 01st
Esala (July/August) is the seasons of festivals in Sri Lanka and the full moon day of Esala is the climax of some of the festivals. The most magnificent of these festivals is the Kandy Esala Perahera. A spectacular medieval day pageant is held for 10 nights climaxing with the Kandyan dancers and drummers in colourful traditional costumes. Kandyan Chieftains in medieval court dress, more than one hundred caparisoned elephants whip crackers, torch bearers etc., make it an unforgettable experience.
Scheduled dates of the Kandy perahera 2004 is as follows:-
22nd to 26th July 2004 - Kumbal Perahera
27th to 30th July 2004 - Randoli Perahera
31st July 2004 - Maha Perahera
1st August 2004 - Day Perahera
Kataragama Festival -
The Kataragama festival is another of the major Esala Festivals. Kataragama in the South-East corner of the island is a jungle shrine dedicated to God Skanda and is a popular pilgrim centre for Buddhists and Hindus. Five walking and the annual perahera in July/August are some of its highlights.
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