Bask in the sun, sand, history, and beauty
of this teardrop shaped gem in the Indian Ocean.
The great traveller Marco Polo wrote of Sri Lanka as being, “for its size, better circumstanced than any island in the world”. Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the country offers a diversity that is remarkable for its small area. Hills, beaches, wildlife, history, religion, adventure — indeed, looks can be deceptive. Why, you ask? Read on as #DSSCRecommends 10 things to do in Sri Lanka that will have you enthralled.
The ancient capital of Sri Lanka, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of archaeological and architectural wonders. It is sacred to Buddhists and is surrounded by monasteries across its 40 sq. km. expanse. Visit the Buddhist temple of Abhayagiri Dagoba (brick stupa) that dates back to the 1st century BC and originally matched the scale of the great pyramids of Giza. It is believed that the core of the stupa harbours relics of the Buddha. The site is also home to the Sri Maha Bodhi, the oldest living tree in the world, that is over 2000 years old.
Catamaran Cruise Trip, Trincomalee
Take a morning trip on a Catamaran, sit back, and soak yourself in the warm sun rays whilst enjoying scintillating views of Sri Lanka’s beaches. You can also enjoy delicious barbeque on board. Don’t forget your hat and sunglasses!
Floating Market, Pettah
Established on Bastian Mawatha by the bustling Beira Lake in Colombo is the unusual floating market of Pettah. Consisting of 92 trade stalls, this pretty little market has a variety of knick-knacks to offer including clothes, footwear, jewellery, bags, electronics, and fruits and vegetables. Whilst you shop till you drop, don’t forget to replenish yourself with the variety of fare at their food court.
Casinos in Colombo
The thriving nightlife of the capital of Sri Lanka is a visitor’s delight. With entertaining live music, scrumptious food, and world-class interiors, the bustling nightclubs and casinos of Colombo should be on your must-visit list. As gambling is legal in Sri Lanka, you can try your hand at table games and rolling the roulette at some of the most popular casinos here: Bally’s, Bellagio, MGM Colombo, and Marina Colombo.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historic city is a delight to explore on bicycle or on foot. An old trading port, Galle boasts of picturesque beaches, imposing Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient churches and mosques, grand mansions, and museums. At its core is the Galle Fort, aka the Dutch Fort, which was built by the colonisers in 1588 and fortified extensively until 1633. A splendid marriage of archaeology and architecture, the fort now houses a museum. Its surroundings are abuzz with commercial activity; one can find jewellery shops, cafes, bookstores, and fashion outlets around the fort. If you get tired of walking around, head to Unawatuna Beach in Galle district for a rejuvenating experience at its spas.
Dambulla Cave Temple, Kandy
Also known as the Golden Rock temple, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is housed under a massive granite outcrop, and is adorned with an enormous golden statue of Lord Buddha and a golden dome. Dating back to the 2nd century BC, it is one of the most ancient structures in Sri Lanka. Featuring historic carvings, paintings, and an environment of profound peace, Dambulla is popular with Buddhist and non-Buddhist spirituality-seekers alike.
Kandy to Ella Train Journey
The train journey from Kandy to Ella is one that you’d never want to end. Hop aboard and be mesmerised by the scenic beauty of Sri Lanka’s landscape. The train takes you through lush hills and tea plantations, waterfalls, and tunnels to arrive at the cloud-kissed town of Ella. It is bound to make you feel as though you’re living in a movie, and is certainly an experience that must not be missed.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
This 1,600 year-old fortress was built by King Kasyapa near Dambulla, and was used as a Buddhist monastery until 14th century AD. The frescoes in the fortress are believed to have been painted by the king himself and depict celestial nymphs across its circumference. The gateway to the rock resembles an enormous lion, and the top of the fortress offers a 360-degree view of the hills, forests, pastures, and lakes in the area. The fortress is also surrounded by what are amongst the earliest known landscaped gardens in the world.
Polonnaruwa Sacred City
A 5-hour drive from Colombo, Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka, after Anuradhapura was destroyed in the 10th century. Housing hundreds of ancient structures — tombs, stupas, temples, statues (including those of King Parakramabahu I) — the archaeological park makes for a delightful visit. The nearby attraction of a national park with a thriving elephant population adds to Polonnaruwa’s popularity.
Turtle Hatchery, Bentota
The turtle hatcheries near the beaches of Bentota were started with an aim to prevent the extinction of turtles whose eggs were indiscriminately sold by local fishermen to make profits. The younglings are fed and cared for until they are 2–4 years old. The hatcheries also look after injured or endangered turtles. Today, various species of turtles such as Green Turtle, Leatherback, and Olive Ridley thrive in the area.
As Sri Lanka is situated close to the equator, most of its areas are perennially travel-friendly. So don’t wait for the weather to change. Pack your bags and go!
Featured Image Courtesy: holidayhypermarket.co.uk
Top things to do in Sri Lanka