Sri Lanka: The Pearl of Indian Ocean
Just a few kilometres away from the southern tip of India lies this beautiful Island, called Sri Lanka. It is close to India for many reasons. The southern part of India even shares a strong social and cultural connection with this Island.
The Island nation recently witnessed a regime change. Putting a sudden end to political uncertainty, the Rajapaksa family re-entered the corridor of power. Solider-turned-politician Gotabaya Rajapaksa sworn in as the President of the Island, and his brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa inducted as the Prime Minister. The newly elected Sri Lankan President was quick to reach up to India. He selected the world’s largest democracy as his first official trip destination.
The preliminary signs indicate that what is about to come is the glorious period of the India-Sri Lanka relation. Sri Lanka has a bitter past – the past of a brutal civil war. Tens of thousands of people lost their life during the civil war and several people are still missing. Though the war officially ended with the fall of the LTTE in the year 2009, the wound it inflicted has not yet been healed.
The Island country is yet to fulfil many assurances it has made to the global community – including the assurance of bringing the war devastated northern region back to its glorious past – at least, to normal. Though the induction of a war hero as the top leader of the country is like advising the affected population to ditch their hope that the country will serve justice to them some day, the President’s promise that he will be the President of all Sri Lankans strengths the hope of the affected.
Anyway, only the future can tell whether the President will act more than his lip service or not. Needless to say, owing to the decades-long civil war and political instability, the Sri Lankan economy is in a very bad state. Actually, it is under a bitter debit trap. To recover from the trap, the country urgently needs a financial boost. It looks eagerly
on its tourism sector for that boost. Fortunately, that sector has the capacity to gift the needed support.
The Indian Ocean Island is blessed with splendid beaches, fetching monuments, mind-blowing historic ruins, magnificent museums, peaceful religious sites, vibrant cities, impressive villages, soothing rivers, playful waterfalls, silent forests and many more less explored treasures. Sigiriya, Colombo, Kandy, Galle and Nuwara Eliya are the five major attractions in this part of the world.
Sigiriya, also called Sinhagiri, is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. It showcases how advanced the ancient Sri Lankan people – especially their town planning system – was. It was built by King Kashyapa, according to Culavamsa, the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle. It was his palace, and the place where it is situated was his capital city. He lived in the palace till his death. Later, it was inhibited by Buddhists, and they lived there until the late fourteenth century. The structure of the palace is in the form of a lion, and that is why the place is known by the name Sinhagiri. The palace is situated in the Matale district of Sri Lanka, which comes in the central region of the Island country.
Colombo, as you all know, is the capital of Sri Lanka. It speaks loudly about its colonial past – the city succumbed to almost all the major colonial invaders such as Portuguese, Dutch and Briton. The city’s rich colonial past gifts it several attractive colonial ruins. If the city is closely observed, it can be understand clearly the city is not over with its colonial hangover. The city is the most developed region in the country. It is its business centre, as well as its administrative centre. It is home to most of major government buildings in the Island. Colombo National Museum and Viharamahadevi Park are the prime attractions in this city. The city offers an exceptional shopping experience too.
Kandy is an exceptional city surrounded by mountains. Bogambara Lake is the prime attraction in the city. It is home to several Buddhist monuments and temples; Sri Dalada Maligawa shrine, popularly known as The Temple of the Tooth, is the most popular among them. What makes the city different is it splendid scenic beauty.
Galle is where one should go to see the real glimpse of the Island country’s rich colonial past. Galle Fort, the city founded by Portuguese colonials, are the prime attraction in the city. Apart from the Fort, there are several colonial ruins such as Stone Sea Wall and Reformed Church erected by Dutch. Galle Lighthouse is also a main attraction. Other than all these, the city’s beaches are what that makes the city a true tourist heaven.
Nuwara Eliya is a city in the tea country hills. The colonials’ invasion to Sri Lanka was not without a reason. It was their discovery of the potential of the land to be turned into the biggest tea production centre close to the International shipping channel that prompted them to try their hands at this land. They succeeded in their
plan to an extent. What is seen in this city is the ruins of that big plan envisaged by the colonials. Anyway, Sri Lanka still benefits from that plan. It produces some of the finest tea products, though its production capacity does not match its rivals in the region. Interestingly, the Sri Lankan plantations do not only serve to its agriculture goals, but also to its tourism goals, as more and more tourism come forward every year showing interest to visit the plantations. This city stays in the list of attractions as per that trend. It is the best place to experience a Sri Lankan tea plantation. Apart from the tea plantations, in this city, there are several attractions such as Seetha Amman Temple (the temple which has an interesting story behind it), Hakgala Botanical Garden and Galway’s Land National Park. It is the best place to get a glimpse of some of rare birds live in this Island like blue magpies, bulbuls and
The Sri Lankan cuisine is not very different from the Indian cuisine, though there are some indigenous dishes and some colonial inspired dishes special for the Island. The country is perfected connected. Its people are friendly. The present Sri Lanka does not look much like the Sri Lanka of the war days. What that is covered in this article is very less and what is needed to be covered is extremely huge. That means this land offers much more than what little is mentioned in this small travel write-up. Sri Lanka is slowly emerging as a prefect budget tourism destination in Asia. The expense part is not different from India.
Let’s plan a trip to this Island soon.
Pic Courtesy: google/ images are subject to copyright