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Sri Lanka - Island of Serendipity
Sri Lanka Travel Guide
Sri Lanka Travel Guide
 
  Sri Lanka Travel Guide  
     
 

Sri Lanka , an island in the Indian Ocean is located to the south of the Indian subcontinent. Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, is a fascinating city, not only for its comfortable blend of the east and west, but also for its cosy mixture of the past and the present.

For a tourist, Sri Lanka has many things to offer. A heritage of 2500 years, Beautiful Hill Country where Colonial memories are still alive, Abundant Wildlife with huge number of Wildlife Parks and cannot forget - Miles of Golden Sandy Beaches.

 
     
 
Location
With a length of 445 km and breadth of 225 km, Sri Lanka encompasses beautiful tropical beaches, verdant vegetation, ancient monuments and a thousand delights to please all taste buds. The relief features of the island consist of a mountainous mass somewhat south of the centre, with height exceeding 2,500 metres, surrounded by broad plains. Palm fringed beaches surround the island and the temperature of the coast rarely falls below 27OC.
 
 
     
 
 
Climate
In the higher elevations it can be quite cool with temperatures going down to 16OC at an altitude of nearly 2,000 metres. 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 south west monsoon brings rain mainly from May to July to the western, southern and central regions of the island, while the north-east monsoon rains occur in the northern and eastern regions in December and January.
 
     
 

Economy

Within the last few years remittances from Sri Lankans employed abroad have contributed a large share towards foreign exchange. 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.

Demography
Sri Lanka has a population of 18.5 million of whom the majority are Sinhalese (74%). Other ethnic groups are made up of Sri Lankan Tamils (12.6%), Indian Tamils (5.5%), Moors, Malays, Burghers (of Portuguese & Dutch descent) and others (7.9%).

Although Sri Lanka is a multi-religious country, Buddhists constitute the majority with 69.3%. Other religious groups are Hindus 15.5%, Muslims 7.6% and Christians 7.5%. Sri Lanka 's literacy rate of 88.6% is one of the highest in Asia .

Language & Religion
Sinhala and Tamil are official languages in Sri Lanka . Sinhala, a language of Indo-Aryan origin is the language of the majority. English is widely spoken and understood. Place names and sign-boards on buses and trains are usually in all three languages. Sri Lanka is a land of religious freedom and tolerance. Wherever you travel you will come across a Buddhist Temple or 'Dagoba', a Hindu 'Kovil', a Christian Church or a Mosque, each with its own distinctive architecture. When visiting holy places please conform to the requirements as regarded. Dress in order as to not show disrespect.

Government
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a free, independent and sovereign nation. A system of administration through provincial councils was introduced in 1988. Legislative power is exercised by Parliament, elected by universal franchise on a proportional representation basis. Executive power of the people, including defence, is exercised by the President, who is also elected by the people.

 
     
     
 
Places of attraction in Sri Lanka
 
     
 
 
Colombo
Colombo was Sri Lanka's first capital up to recent times. To the north of the city is the Fort district, the country's business centre. South is Galle Face Green, a seafront expanse of occasional green graced by cricket games and trysting lovers. Cinnamon Gardens , further south, is the most fashionable neighbourhood, with mansions and tree-lined streets.
 
     
 
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka 's first capital, a potent symbol of Sinhalese power, and the most extensive and important of island's ancient cities. It became a capital in 380 BC and for over 1000 years Sinhalese kings ruled from this great city.
The Sacred Bo-Tree is the city's holiest site, and was grown from the tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. The Thuparama Dagoba, the oldest of the many temples in Anuradhapura , is believed to contain the right collar-bone of Buddha.
 
 
     
 
 
Galle
The port of Galle , thought by some to be the Biblical city of Tarshish , splendidly illustrates the solidity of the Dutch presence in the island. The 36ha (89ac) Dutch Fort, built in 1663, has withstood the ravages of time. Its massive ramparts surround the promontory that forms the older part of Galle , and shelters within its walls sturdy Dutch houses, museums and churches. This World Heritage Site is an impressive place where the old and the new blend in perfect harmony.
 
     
 
Kandy
The serene 'capital' of the hill country, and the historical bastion of Buddhist power, is built around a peaceful lake and set in a picturesque bowl of hills. It has a distinctive architectural character and the town centre is a delightful compendium of old shops, buses, markets and hotels.
Its standout attraction is the octagonal Dalada Maligawa, a temple which houses Sri Lanka 's most important religious relic - the sacred tooth of Buddha. There are daily ceremonies of homage to the Tooth Relic, each attracting white-clad pilgrims carrying lotus blossoms and frangipani.
 
 
     
 
 
Sigiriya
The enchanting rock fortress of Sigiriya is an impregnable fortress, a monastic retreat, and a rock art gallery. Built in 5th century AD to fend off a feared invasion, it is situated atop a 200m (656ft) high rock, and at the height of its glory must have been akin to a European chateau plonked on top of Uluru. There are water gardens, 5th century rock paintings of well endowed damsels, a 1000-year-old graffiti wall recording visitors impressions of the pin-ups, a couple of enormous stone lion paws and tremendous views.
 
     
 
Nuwara Eliya
Set in the heart of the tea country, it is ideal for nature lovers who will revel in its wide, patna grass covered plain which is the haunt of many wild yet harmless animals. Once the favourite hill station of the British, Nuwara Eliya still retains the vestiges of Empire: a blend of Tudor and Georgian architecture, gabled roofs, immaculate lawns and moss-covered gravestones.
 
 
     
 
 
Aukana
Aukana is the site of an impressive 43-ft/13-m statue of Lord Buddha, which dates from the 5th century AD. Aukana is generally seen in conjunction with Anuradhapura . Seven mi/11 km west is a slightly smaller statue of Buddha, chiseled at the same time as the statute at Aukana, but not as delicately crafted.
 
     
 
Yala
Located at the southern tip of the island, the total protected area covers 98,000 hectares. The park contains elephants, wild boars, peacocks and other birds. Certain areas are strict natural reserves. Yala west with its scrub jungle, rock out crops, tanks and lagoons is open to visitors.
 
 
     
 
 
Ratnapura
This is the place to go if you want to learn about gems. Your guide will show you the entire process - from digging in the gem pits to polishing and setting the stones. There's an excellent gem museum in town, too. Ratnapura produces sapphires, rubies, cat's eye, topaz, amethyst, garnet and several other glittering precious stones.
 
     
 
Polonnaruwa
An ancient city, Polonnaruwa features 12th-century stone sculptures, an old irrigation system with huge tanks, and the Gal Vihara: three enormous Buddha figures - one reclining (it's 44 ft/13 m long), one standing and one sitting. The statues, located in a cluster along a dirt road, are revered as being among the most sacred monuments in Sri Lanka . There are also palace ruins and great bas-reliefs and friezes (especially the elephants carved around the Audience Hall).
 
 
     
 
 
Dambulla
At Dambulla you can visit a series of caves on a mountain ledge. These contain frescoes showing some of Buddha's epic struggles against evil. Like Sigiriya, Dambulla too is a vast isolated rock mass and it was here that King Valagam Bahu took refuge during the 1 st century BC.
 
     
 
Trincomalee
Trincomalee lies at the union of river and sea, forming one of the loveliest harbours in the world. It also boasts a 35-mi/55-km white beach with coves, bays, islets and hot springs . The Koneswaram Hindu temple sits on a hill 400 ft/122 m above the ocean. Also on higher ground is a 16th-century Dutch fort. It's possible to dive among wrecks ranging from World War II naval casualties to old galleons.
 
 
     
 
 
Hikkaduwa
This popular resort offers spectacular beaches, good waves and a wide range of inexpensive hotels and restaurants. The reefs just offshore attract divers and snorkellers, but the coral is beat up and the glass-bottomed boats are too numerous for our taste.
 
     
 
Unawatuna
West coast of Sri Lanka, a popular tourist destination is a also a breeding ground for turtles. Legend say that Unwatuna was created from a piece of earth from Himalaya, that had fallen from Hanuman in the Ramayanaya epic.
Rated as one of the twelve best beaches in the world , Unawatuna was known for its picturesque beach along a sheltered bay more suitable for swimming and snorkelling than most of the other beach destinations in Sri Lanka.
 
 
     
 
 
Wilpattu
Occupying about a 110km's (425 sq mile) tract of shore line and jungle on the North west coast, around 180km (110 miles) north of Colombo and 50km (30 miles) west of Anuradhapura , Wilpattu is Sri Lanka's largest national park and a refuge for Elephants, Leopards and sloth bears.
Wilpattu could become an eco tourism destination to rival Ruhuna in the south, with huge expanses of forest and an array of rare mammal and bird species.
 
     
 
Negombo
Negombo is a charismatic fishing town north of Colombo, located a mere 6 km from the international airport . Set amidst lush groves of coconut palms, it breathes the spirit of the sea. Negombo is a gourmet's paradise with sea food aplenty. Old - world fishing craft, like the outrigger canoe and the catamaran, bring seer, skip jack, herring, mullet and amber jack, while lobster and prawn are caught in the lagoon.
 
 
     
 
 
Hortain Plains
Traditionally called as Maha-Eliya was founded by Sir Robert Hortain , the British Governor in 1831-37 . Established as a nature reserve in 1969 and a National Park in 1988. Hortain Plains is situated in the hills of Sri Lanka , which is approximately 32 Km from Nuwara-Eliya . At a height of approx. 2300 meters, the land area it covers is 3159 hectares. The popular "Word's End" with drop of 275 meters and the big "World's End" with a drop of 885 meters is situated at Hortain Plains. With average temperature of 15ºc - 22ºc. It is home for Samber and endemic birds of Sri Lanka .
 
     
 
Sinharaja Rain Forest
Sinharaja Forest , one of the least disturbed rain forests in Sri Lanka . The forest covers an extent of approx. 11187 hectares. The forest is about 21 Km in length and 4 Km in width. This forest reserve ranges from 200m to 1300m in height, located somewhat Southwest in the low land wet zone. The whole forest comes under the Galle , Matara and Rathnapura districts. Sinharaja was declared as a World Heritage Site in 1989 . The unique features it inherits are 66% of the endemic trees, 95% of endemic birds and almost 50% of the mammals and butterflies live in the forest reserve.
 
 
     
 
 
Bentota
Just 60 kilometres south of Colombo, signals the start of a beach stretch of 130 kilometres with magnificent resort hotels. The sea is generally suitable for bathing during November to April.
 
     
 
Udawalawe
Udawalawe National Park was established in 1972 with an area of 30,800 hectares. This park is a home for herds of Elephants . There are approximately between 300-400 Elephants living in the park. Besides Elephants you could also come across Deer, Samber, Hornbills, Peafowl and various other mammals and birds.
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
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