Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation in the Indian Ocean, geographically located to the south of the Indian subcontinent. Sri Lanka is a destination full of pleasant surprises, including beautiful tropical beaches, verdant vegetation, ancient forts and monuments, and innumerable attractions. This island nation can be termed as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, which boasts of unique cultural and geographical features.
The beauty of Sri Lanka is hard to put in words, as it is full of romantic landscapes, tall mountains, lush green tea gardens and golden beaches. Sri Lanka promises to captivate you with amazement at every step.
The rich history of Sri Lanka can be traced back to over 500, 000 years. The country finds its mention in the Indian mythology, Ramayana. The early inhabitants of Sri Lanka are considered to be the ancestors of the locals, called the Veddas. It is the rich history of Sri Lanka that gives rise to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
People, Language and Culture
The locals of Sri Lanka are majorly Sinhalese, and speak Sinhala. The commercial language of the country remains English. This multi-cultural island has four major ethnic groups - are the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers.
Sri Lanka is a blend of modern and traditional elements. A diverse country like Sri Lanka is inhabited by people from diverse religions like Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Theravada Buddhists.
The culture of Sri Lanka has long been influenced by the heritage of Theravada Buddhism, passed on from India. Famed for its regional diversity, Sri Lankan culture includes a lot of rituals. The glorious culture of this country is reflected in its arts, architecture, sculptures and even its food. One of the main features of the culture here is its Indian and European influence.
Fairs and Festivals
One will be delighted to know that Sri Lanka has more festivals than any other country. In fact, the festivals here offer visitors a perfect chance to experience the mixed culture of the local lifestyle.
Sinhala and Tamil New Year is one of the major festivals of Sri Lanka. This festival is not only celebrated by the Buddhists, but by Hindus as well. Celebrated on the 13th or the 14th of April every year, the festival marks the end of harvest season and spring.
Vesak is another major religious festival of Sri Lanka. Celebrated on the full moon day of the lunar month of Vesak, the streets, shops and houses are decorated with colourful lanterns. The vibrant light decorations signify the light of the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. During the festival, the entire country and mainly Colombo shines bright with decorations.
Poson Festival is also a prominent festival of Sri Lanka. Also known as the Poson Poya Day, the festival is celebrated by Buddhists to commemorate the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Holding great historical and religious significance, this is the second most important festival for Buddhists, after the Vesak.
Another festival is the Kandy Esala Perahera festival, also known as the Festival of the Tooth. The festival is celebrated every year on the full moon day in July or August, as homage to one of the only two survival sacred tooth relic of Gautam Buddha.
Other major festivals of Sri Lanka are Kataragama Festival, Vel Festival, and Deewavali.
The cuisines of Sri Lanka are as unique as its culture. The cultural festivals here are celebrated with milk rice and special sweets with coconut milk, floor and Honey.
The food varieties in Sri Lanka are many, and they come with various colours and flavours blended in Sri Lankan Hot Spices. The majority of the population here prefers vegetarian food. While the cuisines are known for its fiery hot spicy flavours, coconut milk is a dominant feature of Sri Lankan cuisines. The specialty in Sri Lankan food is that same food is differently made in different regions.
The spices that are dominant in Sri Lankan food include, Cloves, Cardamoms, nutmeg and pepper. Staple diet of Sri Lanka is ‘Rice and curry’. From Soups, meat, Sea food, Lentils, Vegetables, Sambols, Mallums, Phies to Achcharus, the country serves variety of food options to try from. Sri Lankans also enjoy several juicy sweetmeats like Kavum, kokis, Halape, Thalaguli and Wattalapam etc.
When it comes to wildlife, Sri Lanka is an exotic enchantment. The country is home to some of the most impressive wildlife found in Asia. It is the land of Asian Elephants, Leopards, Hairy Sloth Bear and various birds. There are around 22 National Parks, which are undoubtedly the best in the world. Attracting wildlife enthusiasts from around the world, no one can deny the visual treat provided by elephant herds, enormous whales, leopards, dolphins and colourful reefs perfectly teeming with rainbow-coloured fish.
Sri Lanka is famous as a beach destination, all over the world. Exuding beauty in every form, the beaches of Sri Lanka are a breathtaking blend of azure waters, white sands and lush green forests. The turquoise blue waters will give you the twin benefit of basking in the sun and at the same time indulging yourself in some heart pumping adventure activities too, such as snorkeling, surfing and swimming too. Lazing on the beaches of Sri Lanka is one of the best experiences to have when in Sri Lanka.
Ayurveda and Spa
Sri Lanka is also looked upon as a popular destination to rejuvenate one’s mind, body and soul. Healing every tired nerve in your body, Sri Lanka has mastered the art of soothing the soul. For thousands of years, popular methods have been used to restore and rejuvenate through Ayurveda. Ayurvedic programs in Sri Lanka consist of a range of herbal treatments and various types of revitalizing methods like yoga, meditation and special diets.
Best time to visit
December to March is the best time to visit Sri Lanka. If you plan on seeing the east coast, you'll get the best weather from April/May to September.
How to reach
By Air - The busiest international airport of Sri Lanka is the Bandaranaike Internal Airport. Located in Colombo, Sri Lankan flights from the major countries of the world arrive here.
By Road & Train - Being a separate island country away from India, Sri Lanka is completely inaccessible by train and road.
By Sea - There are few ships that operate from Mumbai port to Colombo on a luxurious cruise liner. The 7-day cruise departs at Mumbai and reaches Colombo, taking you to all the essential destinations like Kandy and Nuwara Eliya along the way.