Travel

Already among the top tourist destinations in 2016, Sri Lanka is filled with cultural and natural treasures. Indians, Portuguese, Dutch and British have all influenced this heaven, making it a dazzling mix of ancient sites, monuments and grand colonial architecture. Palm-fringed beaches are never far away and lush mountainous greenery beckons further inland. It’s understood why Marco Polo claimed Sri Lanka as one of the best islands in the world.

The island offers so much in a very small area. Few places in the world have as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites (eight) packed into such a small area. Sri Lanka's 2000-plus years of culture can be discovered at ancient sites where legendary temples boast beautiful details. Safari tours of Sri Lanka’s pleasantly relaxed national parks encounter elephants, leopards, water buffaloes, all manner of birds and primates.

The central highlands of the island are filled with pictures of stirring mountains with lush green tea gardens, roaring waterfalls mingling with the clouds and landscapes in sunlight, disappearing under the rising mist. Sri Lanka’s fourth highest mountain, Adam’s Peak is said to be the very place where Adam set foot on earth, having been expelled from heaven. Meanwhile Buddhists claim it is Lord Buddha’s footprint itself on Sri Pada which was placed in his final visit to the island. For many, it’s an annual pilgrimage to summit the mountain and worship the footprint before enjoying the beguiling sunrise from the east.

Rampant tea plantations and peaks in central highlands is heaven for trekkers and those who just want to see it on a picturesque train ride. Kithulgala offers white water rafting and adventure sports for enthusiasts. The largest city in the hills, the buzzing town of Kandy is a World Heritage site. It is home to the world famous ‘Temple of the Tooth Relic’ or Sri Dalada Maligawa. The colourful Esala Perahera held in August attract tourists from all over the world.

And then there are the delightful beaches. Dazzlingly white and rarely traversed, they surround the island so that no matter where you go. It doesn’t stop there, many have considered the coast of Sri Lanka as an epitome for world class divers and surfers. Other than taking a dip in the oceans or snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing are the most popular beach sports in the country. Today the oceans filled with coral gardens, multitude of exotic fishes offers one of the best diving experiences in the world. Surfing too has made its mark in the Southern and Eastern coasts of the island.

In the cultural triangle, you find ancient kingdoms Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, where you can discover 2000-year-old monuments, towering stupas and ocean like reservoirs, rich in culture and heritage. Sigiriya, the "Eighth Wonder of World" will open your world to a fascinating fortress in the sky.

Travelling further north the landscape changes drastically, North of Sri Lanka is a world apart from the rest of country. Colorful Hindu temples replace the white pagodas while sari clad damsels roam the streets on bicycles in Jaffna.

In the southern coast is another World Heritage city, Galle, known for its sparkling beach and the colossal Dutch fort which dates back to the 17th century.

On the western coasts of the country is Colombo, the capital city of the island, which displays a rich colonial heritage. A mix of races, religions and cultures, Colombo parades the lavish lifestyles in the island.

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