Adventure > Destination Of Sri Lanka
 
 

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, an island in the Indian Ocean is located to the south of the Indian subcontinent. It lies between 5° 55' and 9° 55' north of the equator and between the eastern longitudes 79° 42' and 81° 52'. The total land area is 65,610 sq. km. and is astonishingly varied. A length of 445 km. and breadth of 225km. encompasses beautiful tropical beaches, verdant vegetation, ancient monuments and a thousand delights to please all tastes. The relief features of the island consist of a mountainous mass somewhat south of the centre, with height exceeding 2,500meters, surrounded by broad plains. Palm fringed beaches surround the island and the sea temperature rarely falls below 27°C

Its people
And beautiful as is much of Ceylon, and interesting as are its historical remains, the Singhalese themselves are what makes the island…an unforgettable and cherished memory' says Raven Hart (1964)." The Sri Lankan people are one of the main attractions of Sri Lanka. This is a nation of ever smiling people and the visitors find them adorable, hospitable and always willing to help. The life of the majority of Sri Lankans is influenced by the compassionate teachings of the Buddha. Even the roots of those Sri Lankans who follow other faiths would in all probability have been nurtured by those teachings, for that it was Buddhism that was the religion of all Sri Lankans before.

Christianity and Islam were introduced to the Island in more recent times. That is what has made them a nation of tolerable and hospitable people. When you travel in the little Island you will meet friendly people; the children will wave from their doorsteps at the passing vehicle or at the visitor trekking on foot.

The population number approximately 19 million. This multi-ethnic population comprises :

Sinhalese - 72%
Tamils - 19%
Muslims - 8%
Burghers (descendants of Dutch and Portuguese) - 1%

The four major religions are:

Buddhism - followed by 69% of the population
Hinduism - followed by 15% of the population
Islam - followed by 8% of the population
Christianity - followed by 7% of the population

Languages The most commonly-spoken languages in Sri Lanka are Sinhala, Tamil and English.
Climate & Seasons
In the lowlands the climate is typically tropical with an average temperature of 27°C in Colombo. In the higher elevations it can be quite cool with temperatures going down to 16°C at an altitude of nearly 2,000 meters. Bright, sunny warm days are the rule and are common even during the height of the monsoon - climatically Sri Lanka has no off-season. The southwest monsoon brings rain mainly from May to July to the western, southern and central regions of the island, while the northeast monsoon rains occur in the northern and eastern regions in December and January

 

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History
Recent excavations show that even during the Neolithic Age, there were food gatherers and rice cultivators in Sri Lanka. Very little is known of this period; documented history began with the arrival of the Aryans from North India. The Aryans introduced use of iron and an advanced form of agriculture and irrigation. They also introduced the art of government. Of the Aryan settlements, Anuradhapura grew into a powerful kingdom under the rule of king Pandukabhaya. According to traditional history he is accepted as the founder of Anuradhapura.

During the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa, a descendent of Pandukabhaya, Arahat Mahinda, the son of Emperor Asoka of India, introduced Buddhism in 247 B.C. This is the most important event in Sri Lankan history as it set the country on the road to cultural greatness. As a new civilization flourished Sri Lanka became rich and prosperous.

In the mid 2nd century B.C. a large part of north Sri Lanka came under the rule of an invader from South India. From the beginning of the Christian era and up to the end of the 4th century A.D. Sri Lanka was governed by an unbroken dynasty called Lambakarna, which paid great attention to the development of irrigation. A great king of this dynasty, Mahasen (3rd century A.D.) started the construction of large `tanks' or irrigation reservoirs. Another great `tank' builder was Dhatusena, who was put to death by his son Kasyapa who made Sigiriya a royal city with his fortress capital on the summit of the rock.

As a result of invasions from South India the kingdom of Anuradhapura fell by the end of the 10th century A.D. Vijayabahu 1 repulsed the invaders and established his capital at Polonnaruwa in the 11th century A.D. Other great kings of Polonnaruwa were Parakrama Bahu the Great and Nissanka Malla both of whom adorned the city with numerous buildings of architectural beauty. Invasion was intermittent and the capital was moved constantly until the Portuguese arrived in 1505, when the chief city was established at Kotte, in the western lowlands. The Portuguese came to trade in spices but stayed to rule until 1656 in the coastal regions, as did the Dutch thereafter. Dutch rule lasted from 1656 to 1796, in which year the British displaced them. During this period the highland Kingdom, with its capital in Kandy, retained its independence despite repeated assaults by foreign powers who ruled the rest of the country. In 1815 the kingdom of Kandy was ceded to the British and thus they established their rule over the whole island. Modern communications, western medical services, education in English, as well as the plantation industry (first coffee then tea, rubber and coconut) developed during British rule. By a process of peaceful, constitutional evolution, Sri Lanka won back her independence in 1948 and is now a sovereign republic, with membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations Organization.

Economy
Sri Lanka is mainly an agricultural country. The chief crop is rice with which the country is almost self-sufficient. Tea, rubber and coconut are also important agricultural crops, with tea being a major foreign exchange earner. In addition, other crops of importance are cocoa and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pepper and cloves. Fruit and vegetables, native to both tropical and temperate regions, grow well in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is also a major exporter of precious and semi-precious gem stones. Within the last few years remittances from Sri Lankans employed abroad have contributed a large share of foreign exchange earnings.

The last three decades have seen tourism emerge as an important industry. There has also been a rapid growth in manufacturing industries, which offer a wide range of export goods such as petroleum products, leather goods, ready-made garments and electronic equipment.

Festivals
Festivals are a part of Sri Lankan culture and are observed in grand scale. Sri Lanka being a predominantly Buddhist country Buddhist festivals are more frequent. Full moon day of each month, called Poya day, is a day of religious observance for the Buddhists. On every Poya day there is some form of festival in the village temples. However the major full moon days are Duruthu (January), Vesak (May), Poson (June), Esala (August) and Unduvap (December) observed with greater pomp and colorful pageantry of elephants, dancers, drummers & whip crackers. It would be a delightful experience if one can coincide their holiday with the festival dates.
 
Handicrafts
Objects carved in wood, made of brass and silver, decorated with lacquer, hand woven cloth and lace, beautiful reed mats, attractive batiks, pottery, masks, are among the handicraft items made by the traditional craftsmen of Sri Lanka. Our tours would ensure that you have opportunities to shop for these in reliable and reputable stores.
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Ancient cities
Sri Lankan civilization is more than twenty centuries old. Its history is recorded in Mahavamsa, the Great Chronicle written in the 5th century AD. Remains of this ancient civilization reflecting the character, imagination, culture, philosophy, and the faith of its people are seen in the form of ruined cities, buildings, palaces, reservoirs, parks, dagobas (dome enshrining sacred relics or the bodily remains of the Buddha, or articles used by Him), Buddha images, temples, sculpture and painting throughout the little Island. However it is at the major archaeological sites of Anuradhapura, Mihintale, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy that the glory of the Island's past can be seen in its true form still living among the several ruins. These ancient cities can be reached easily from Colombo in a comfortable morning's drive through green paddy fields, acres of coconut palms and alongside deep jungle where wild animals roam.

Anuradhapura
About 205 km north of Colombo is Anuradhapura, the first capital of Sri Lanka established in the 4th century BC that remained the Royal Capital for over ten centuries. Several magnificent dagobas, buildings, monasteries, ponds, irrigation tanks spanning one thousand five hundred years bear testimony to a glorious and technically advanced civilization. Ruvanveli, Jetavana, and Abhayagiri are huge dagobas that stand majestically having withstood the battering of elements for over fifteen centuries. Foremost among the numerous historical monuments in Anuradhapura is the Sacred Bo Tree - Sri Maha Bodhi, grown from a branch of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment and one of the oldest historically recorded trees. A mass of stone pillars close to the Sri Maha Bodhi, identified as the Brazen Palace, was once a nine-storied building. Isurumuniya is famous for its beautiful stone carvings. Samadhi Buddha image is a masterpiece of sculpture. Among the extensive ruins covering the city of Anuradhapura are Buddha images, temples, palaces, bathing ponds, monasteries, hospitals, alms halls and beautiful stone carvings and irrigation tanks. Archeological remains of Anuradhapura spanning over ten centuries are too vast to be listed in full. However, the place is a treasure house where one can delightfully loose oneself amongst the stupendous relics of a bygone Golden era of a great civilization.

Request detailed Information for Places Of Interest In & Around Anuradhapura. 

Mihintale: Thirteen kilometers from Anuradhapura is Mihintale, the site of introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the year 247 BC. The King of Sri Lanka having embraced Buddhism established the world's first fauna and flora sanctuary at Mihintale in the 3rd century BC. Monasteries, an ancient hospital, dagobas, ponds, caves in which Buddhist monks lived are among the many places of interest that the visitor should see.

Polonnaruwa
The glory of mediaeval Sri Lanka is seen at Polonnaruwa, the mediaeval capital of the Island about 216 km, south east of Anuradhapura. Polonnaruwa used by the Sri Lankan kings as a 'country residence' from the 7th century became the Island's capital in the 11th century AD. Within the ramparts of the Royal Citadel are the ruins of the King's palace, the Council Chamber and the Royal Bath. The Buddha images at the Gal Vihara or the Rock Temple are masterpieces of stone sculpture. Parakrama Samudra or the Sea of Parakrama is a giant man made irrigation reservoir. A visit to Polonnaruwa is incomplete without visiting the new archaeological museum opened by the Central Cultural Fund where the ancient glory of the city has been recreated in scale models.
Sigiriya
A city, palace and a garden complex centering a 200-meter high rock. Sigiriya, is a glowing tribute to the vision of King Kashyapa who created this 'Palace in the Sky' in the 5th century AD. On the summit of the Sigiriya rock (meaning the 'Lion Rock') that is over 1.5 hectares in extent are the remains of a large palace, the earliest surviving royal palace in Sri Lanka, with several chambers and a bathing pond. In a sheltered pocket of the giant rock are the celebrated paintings of 5th century AD, a few which is remaining from around 500 paintings that once covered the rock surface. Meticulously planned water gardens at the foot of the rock are the earliest such gardens found in Asia. The boulder gardens are a fine example of landscaping while conserving the environment. The Mirror Wall, which had been exposed to elements for over fifteen centuries still carry some of the original sheen that has given it the name. This archaeological site unparalleled in South Asia has been declared a World Heritage Site.
Dambulla
Rock Temple is a magnificent gallery of Buddha images and wall and ceiling paintings not seen anywhere else in the Island. It is a complex of five cave temples with its origin going back to the Anuradhapura period (1st century BC). However due to additions and restorations done by various rulers over the past two thousand years what now remains are mostly the works of the Kandyan period (18th century).
Kandy
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. Centre of attraction in Kandy is the Dalada Maligawa, the temple housing the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. Kandy Lake enhances the charm of the City. Kandy is a romantic city any time of the year, but in August, this ancient capital becomes the venue of one of the most legendary festivals in Asia, the Festival of the August 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. The King's palace, audience hall, King's bath, the archaeological museum must not be missed by any visitor to Kandy.
Hill Country
The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka offer a salubrious cool climate. The mountain slopes are covered with acres of tea with its fragrant aroma mingling with the fresh air. Nestled among the mist covered central hills in a cool basin is Nuwara Eliya, the hill resort, resembling a little English village. Road leading to this hill station winds through miles and miles of 'green carpet' of tea bushes where tea pluckers are seen busily picking the 'bud and two leaves' that go to form the most popular brew in the world, the 'Ceylon Tea'.
Waterfalls
Beautiful waterfalls cascading down the mountain slopes enhance the beauty of the hill country. The geographical formation of the Island with the central highland sloping down to the coastal plains has resulted in several rivers and streams starting from the central region flowing down the hilly slopes in a radial pattern, creating beautiful waterfalls in several places in the hill country. Ramboda Falls (100 meters) is seen on the way to Nuwara Eliya. Devon (86 meters) and St. Clair's (73 meters) are two waterfalls seen close to Nuwara Eliya.
Horton Plains
This is the island's last remaining mountain forest 3,160 hectares in extent located in a plateau high up on the hills at an elevation above 2000 meters. A vast expanse of grassland interspersed with little streamlets and craggy trees covers the center of the plateau providing a pleasant walk of about 5 km. leading to an awe inspiring edge called the 'World's End'. It is a sheer drop of over 800 meters sloping down further away over mist covered treetops fading into the distant sea offering a breathtaking yet the most beautiful sight in the entire country. The jungle bordering the grassland abounds with wildlife. Among the animals that can be seen are the leopard, sambur, barking deer, wild boar and monkeys. Horton Plains is a bird watcher's paradise.
Sri Pada
The hill country not only provides natural beauty but also offers a sanctified place of veneration to people of all faiths atop a 2,243-meter High Mountain in the southwest corner of the highlands. It is Sri Pada, which bears the footprint of the Buddha. People of other faiths also adore it. Christians say it is the foot print of Adam and call it Adam's peak. Thousands of pilgrims of all faiths climb this mountain during the pilgrim season (December to May). Watching the sunrise from the summit is an unforgettable sight.
Nuwara Eliya
In 1819, during the British colonial era, a few Britishers on a hunting expedition in the hill country spotted the site where the present day Nuwara Eliya town stands 1890 meters above sea level and decided to set up a health resort for their use. It was Sir Samuel Baker who later converted it to a holiday resort with a touch of an English village, which earned it the name 'Little England' where the temperature sometimes drops down to 9°C.. The 18-hole golf course is very popular with the locals and the foreign tourists. Haggala Botanical Gardens a few kilometers away is an added attraction.
Fauna & Flora
Fauna and flora of Sri Lanka that beautify the little Island are protected and preserved in several national parks and nature reserves offering the visitor an opportunity to taste the natural beauty. There are eleven such National Parks in the Island but the most popular for viewing animals are the Ruhuna (also called Yala), Uda Walawe and Wilpattu National Parks. From the safety of a park bungalow or a covered jeep, visitors can watch several species of animals and birds roaming freely in these extensive reserves. Horton Plains in the hill country is a special attraction (click Hill Country). This remote plateau is the island's last remaining mountain forest – the home of some fauna and flora species not found anywhere else in the world. Sri Lanka is the only country providing safe haven to young elephants orphaned in the wild. There are two such Elephant Orphanages in the country, one at Pinnawela and the other at Uda Walawe.
Yala National Park
The Ruhuna (Yala) National Park is at the southeastern corner of the Island, 288 km. From Colombo. It is the second largest national Park of the country with an area of 97,878 hectares. A wide range of wild animals including elephants, leopard, bear, sambur, spotted deer and a variety of birds including the jungle fowl and the peacock roam freely in this jungle.
Uda Walawe
Located near Embilipitiya in the catchment area of Walawe River bordering Ratnapura/Moneragala Districts is the popular Uda Walawe National Park 30,821 hectares in extent famous for its large herds of wild elephant.
Elephant Orphanages (Pinnawala & Uda Walawe)
Sri Lanka is the only country in the world to open elephant orphanages to protect the destitute young wild elephants. Young elephants left in the jungle without care are brought to this orphanage and tendered till they reach maturity. Interesting time to visit the orphanage is at the bathing time when the herd is brought to a river flowing close by or at feeding time to see the babies being bottle-fed.
Avi-fauna
Sri Lanka has a wide range of both resident and migratory birds that arrive from far away lands to their favorite roosting places in the Island. A number of bird sanctuaries have been designated in addition to the national Parks. The most popular bird sanctuaries are at Kumana, Bundala National Park, Weerawila and Udawattakele in Kandy.

Flora
Nearly 4,000 species of plants constitute the rich and diverse flora of Sri Lanka. This wide range of plant species is spread through the wet and dry zones of the country. Sri Lanka's endemic flora is protected within a tropical rain forest reserve called Sinharaja. There are three botanical gardens in Sri Lanka at Peradeniya, Hakgala and Gampaha displaying a large collection of tropical and sub tropical plant species. Sri Lanka's orchids are world-renowned. About 166-recorded species of orchids are found in the Island of which about 66 are endemic.

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