Within a few hours from lazing on golden sands surrounded by swaying palms as the clear aquamarine waters crash around brightly coloured fishing boats one can be sipping tea in rose gardens situated in the cool climate of the highlands or on safari and having a close encounter with a wild elephant or furthering one’s education at the four UNESCO World Heritage archæological sites or be overwhelmed by the largest building constructed in the first century AD or just relaxing while having an Ayurvedic massage. These are a few of the things that can occupy one’s time while visiting this island paradise.
As I lay on the beach resting my tired legs after climbing innumerable steps to visit sacred monuments I reminisced about my trip. What did I enjoy the most? There was so much to see and do, was it visiting the Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth relic in Kandy or the Gathering of the elephants at Minneriya National Park or wandering through the tea plantations or just enjoying a Sri Lankan rice and curry.
As there is so much to see in Sri Lanka one needs to plan their journey well, otherwise you will end up rushing from one place to another and not being able to enjoy any of the places. A good place to start a journey is the Cultural Triangle near Polonnaruwa and Habarana, where there are four UNESCO World Heritage sites, a National Park, several wildlife areas and Habrana is the centre for Ayurvedic massages.
This gives the traveller the opportunity of combining archaeological sites, nature and relaxation. Polonnaruwa an ancient capital of Sri Lanka was built in the 13th century and has moats, ponds, palace complex, some wonderful carved figures and incredible statues of Buddha.
Minneriya National Park is world renown for its Gathering. This occurs in the dry season, July/August when about 200 elephants gather at the reservoir every evening, along with numerous birds and other animals. For the fortunate few you may spot the elusive leopard.
Kandy, the hill city, is a must to visit, as it is home to the Dalada Maligawa and wonderful Botanical gardens. This beautiful city is home to Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim shrines.
Nearby is the Lion Rock, Sigiriya, which rises 200 metres to a flat area containing fifth century moats, ramparts and water gardens. On the climb to the top are the famous frescos painted on the rocks and dubbed as ancient graffiti.
The above are only the tip of the iceberg of Sri Lankan treasures; there are the wonderful beaches on the East Coast, the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Yala National Park, Galle and much much more. However a trip to Sri Lanka is not complete without a traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry.
All the images were taken with Nikon D700, Nikon D90 and V1 cameras with a wide range of lenses from 14mm to 450mm.