There are 8 world Heritage sites in Sri Lanka. The 3 ancient and magnificent cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1982 followed by Galle, Kandy, and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in 1988. The Golden Temple of Dambulla in 1991 and finally the Central highlands were added in 2010. These places of historical and natural significance are not to be missed by any traveler.
Sri Lankan Cuisine
Sri Lankan cuisine has many influences from varied destinations such as North and South India, Persia, Malaysia, Holland and Portugal. Rice, which is usually consumed daily, can be found at any special occasion, while spicy curries are favourites for lunch and dinner. Fish curry is a particular specialty. ‘Kottu’, which is shredded leavened bread mixed and chopped with a variety of roast meats, egg and curry is a popular street food that can be found in every corner. ‘Isso wade’ (shrimp pea-patty) and ‘achcharu’ (pickled fruit) are some other delicacies to be had on the street.
Sri Lanka is home to 2500 year old Buddhist Temples, some, at the time they were built, were comparable in size to midsize Pyramids in Egypt. The cultural triangle of the country connecting Kandy, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura has within is precincts many archaeological and architectural wonders. It is said that Vijaya was the first recorded King of Sri Lanka, who sailed across the waters to the country with his 700 friends; beginning from him until the last Kandyan King, the stories of kingdoms are intriguing, as are the landmark architecture that tell their tales.
Having a history marked by four centuries of colonial rule, the country still manages to safeguard remnants from the past in their original grandeur. Some of the more renowned colonial sites are the Dutch Fort in Galle, the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, the Nuwara Eliya post-office, and the Hill Club Nuwara Eliya.
Ceylon Tea and the Hill Country
Tea was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1867 by James Taylor, the British planter who arrived in 1852. The British went on to transform the lavish hill country in to lush green tea plantations. Today Sri Lanka is the world’s 4th largest producer of tea and tea has become one of the main sources of foreign exchange. Many different types of tea are grown but the most prized is white tea. Also known as ‘silver tips’; this tea was first grown near Adam’s Peak and is harvested and rolled by hand with leaves dried and withered in the sun. It has a delicate taste with notes of pine and honey.
Birds in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a bird watchers paradise with 435 resident species of which 26 are endemic. Most of them are found in the wet zone (south-west Sri Lanka). The winter migrants, including the rare Brown Noddy and Pied Avocet come from distant Siberia and Western Europe. The reservoirs attract a vast number of water birds including the Gray-headed Fish Eagle, Greater Flamingos, and Wood and Green Sandpipers to name a few. The forests attract many other species. There are several bird sanctuaries across the island, most notable are the Bundala and Kumana Bird Sanctuaries.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is as varied as the island itself, home to elephants and leopards to Whales – it is the only place in the world to nurture all three in such close proximity. Sri Lanka is ranked amongst the world’s best biodiversity hot spots. As a country with a high rate of endemism, it has many groups of animals including birds, mammal, reptiles and amphibians which cannot be found anywhere in the world. With over 12 per cent of the country designated for wildlife protection it is easy to get a taste of Sri Lankan wildlife. Safari parks and sanctuaries, particularly in the southern and central zones, offer the easiest way to see animals in their natural habitat. Sri Lanka is an all-year destination for wildlife making this a nature lover’s dream escape.
Being an island, Sri Lanka is surrounded by beautiful golden beaches, certainly a feature not to be missed by any visitor.The East Coast is generally thought to have the finest beaches with Nilaveli and Pasikudah leading the way.The beaches in the west coast and the south coast are no less spectacular and hosts 1000s of visitors each year. Wadduwa, Kalutara, Bentota and Beruwela are the popular resort areas.
However there are fine new properties emerging in the deep south with Tangalle, Mirissa, Weligama and other lesser known beaches coming to the fore.