Sri Lanka is the 4th largest tea producer in the world and tea culture is tangled with British grandeur and colonial era of Sri Lanka. Since James Taylor, a British Planter introduced tea industry in the island; it has grown to be the major cash crop of Sri Lanka. The official residential houses which are built like typical English country houses are refurbished and converted as resorts, yet still one could breathe the air of a long gone era in their resorts.
A cycling excursion in midst of emerald tea bushes will enable one to see through true rural colors of humble people from the working class of tea estates and factories. Mostly they originate from rural south India few generations ago and to date value their culture which adds color and sparkle to the boundless greenery.
In between the humble chalets of tea workers and high tea served in astounding gardens, a sunny afternoon will be a blissful moment to savor a life time.
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Sri Lanka, pearl of the Indian Ocean is blessed with sandy beaches which stretch as long as 1300 Km around the island. As western and southern beaches boast popular resorts and boutique luxury hotels, eastern beaches are mostly deserted except for Arugambay, Passikudah and Nillaweli.
An adventure seeker opting a long beach stay can experience mindboggling sorts of water based activities such as sailing, snorkeling, diving, surfing, deep sea fishing, whale watching and many more that will make a vacation unforgettable.
In comparison to many islands in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has myriad beaches which are peaceful and quiet along resorts that offer more than luxuries which is a perfect get away point to most of the honeymooners and of course to attain peace through rest, zest and meditation.
Sri Lanka is blessed with one of the world's oldest rain forests, Sinharaja a UNESCO world heritage site, with a spanning area of 18,900 acres. The significance of the Sinharaja forest is that it is home for over 50% of Sri Lanka's endemic species of mammals, birds, butterflies, many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. A trekking expedition into the Sinharaja rain forest is a dream come true for a nature lover.
The Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, a tropical rain forest that spreads over a land of 224 square kilometers situated around the famous Adams Peak is overshadowed by the mighty mountain itself. This little rain forest is home for not only birds and tiny mammals, but also for leopards and elephants.
Currently there are 26 national parks which together cover an area of 5,734 square kilometers, which is an overwhelming fact given that Sri Lanka is a tiny island. The most popular parks being Yala, Wilpattu , Udawalawe and Minneriya national parks for their density of leopards and elephants, there are numerous other options for ones with specialized interests such as amphibians, birds, reptiles and insects.
Sri Lanka is a country with an opulent bio diversity that enchants a nature lover to dwell in its emerald arms.
Sri Lanka is a land of unsung history, although the official written history only begins in 600 B.C, evidence of human colonization appears at the site of Balangoda, human skeletons from an ancient burial and artifacts indicated to be more than 34,000 years old. As the endeavor to surface hidden truth about Sri Lanka continues in various excavation sites, it is eminent that one could not escape the call of soul to search the untold past.
Most of the venues in cultural triangle are archeological sites with easy access, available evidence and information of its splendor. Although Colombo museum beholds a vast collection of ancient artifacts, every important site has its own mini museum with interesting substances which is a ''must see'' for an ardent historian or an archeologist.
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Sri Lanka is home for multi religious communities living in harmony, Buddhism being most influential and vastly practiced, this island is a heaven for Buddhist devotees with numerous holy temples of which Nagadheepa temple, The Kelaniya Royal Temple and Adams Peak are believed to be visited by Lord Buddha himself. The temple of tooth relic in Kandy is a must see to all devotees being home to the holy tooth relic of Lord Buddha.
Hinduism, oldest religion followed by Sri Lankans, there are numerous historically important Hindu worship sites that are visited by devotees around the world. Thiru Koneshwaram temple in Trincomalee is believed to be initially constructed by the legendry great king Ravana as a tribute to his mother; and it is believed that Kataragama Temple is the place connected to tales of Valli and Murugan, son of the ultimate Hindu God Shiva.
Adams Peak is the only site that is embraced by all major religious sects of Sri Lanka, which makes it extraordinary.
Seasonal Parades (Perahera) are the most enticed type of cultural event. The main Perahera of the year is the Esala Perahera which is conducted from the holy temple of Tooth Relic during July or August which attracts thousands of visitors to Kandy City. The parade is a single show of Sri Lanka's unique cultural dances, musicians and related practices which cannot be done justice by words, the Esala perahera is an event that one has to experience and dwell within its alluring grandeur.
The event which is inspired by revival of nature is the Sinhala and Tamil New year which falls on the 13th and 14th of April. This event begins with an auspicious time and many traditions are followed to mark and celebrate the dawn of new year. The youth and children participate in various traditional games and are rewarded with gifts and money. The celebration continues till the auspicious time to begin work and business.
Wesak is the festival of lanterns, cities, towns and villages alike will be decorated with colorful lanterns. The festival falls on the full moon day in the month of May. On this day you will not only experience the magnificence of lanterns but also friendly free food offerings which is called ''Dhansal'' in Sinhala.
Gem & Jewelry
Marco Polo wrote that Sri Lanka had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts and other precious stones.
Since the ancient times of King Solomon to date royalties of various nations have taken pride in placing rarest Sri Lankan gem stones in their crown jewelry including the modern British Monarch and the ancient Roman Emperors.
The blue sapphires from Sri Lanka are the finest and are known as Ceylon sapphires as they are unique in color, clarity and luster compared to the blue sapphires from other countries. In fact, the recent discovery of the world's largest known Blue Star Sapphire valued at a stunning US$ 100 million and hitting scales at an incredible 1404.49 carats is proof for the majesty of Sri Lankan gems.
Gem stones and gem studded jewels can be purchased in many popular cities at reputed jewelry stores crafted in a unique fusion of modern and traditional designs.
Bullock Cart and Village Life
Sri Lanka is a South Asian country with long held values and traditions, which are mostly practiced to date in rural villages. The country's agriculture centric economy provides the base for the villages to preserve its authenticities.
According to the ancient royal policy making of Sri Lanka, every village will have its own water tank, paddy lands and religious places. This policy ensured both physical and spiritual needs of an average citizen to be fulfilled.
Even today carbon free bullock carts carry many a supplies from village to village in a leisurely routine. The holistic life of these villagers starts in misty mornings with religious observations to favorite deities, then followed by worlds' most important job role of farming.
It will be a definite rejuvenating experience to share a day as one among these simple villagers.
Emerald Mountains Rangers
Sri Lanka is a land with versatile landscapes and central hills are home for beautiful mountain ranges, a treat for a relaxed traveler with scenic views and for an adventure seeker a worthy expedition of hiking through emerald peaks.
Knuckles mountain range is one of the most famous for its bio diversity. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folks and peaks in west which resembles the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from many locations of Kandy District. At higher elevations of the range there are series of isolated cloud forests, concealing a variety of flora and fauna, some of it cannot be found elsewhere in the world.
Ella Gap provides a panoramic view from the Ella town, which is famous for hiking. Many tourists arrive to Ella with the keen interest of enjoying views around Ella. The climb to Ella Rock is not very difficult and the one who reaches the summit could enjoy and appreciate stunning views of Bandarawala range, Poonagala Hills, Narangala, Badulla Train and rail track, Handapana Gala, Buttala and Wellawaya region clearly if there is no mist.
There are many more hill country peaks treasuring panoramic views for adventurous souls.
Carvings, Arts and Handcrafts of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Arts are enriched by a long history of multi-cultural influences, and the pivotal position it had in the ancient silk route. The sculptures, carvings and artifacts from the Anuradhapura, Poloannruwa, Dhambadheniya, Yapahuwa and Kandyan kingdoms are a great example which could be found at the national museum in Colombo.
The texture and colors of Sri Lankan arts, paintings, carvings and handcrafts are exquisite, unique and inspires many hearts. Today many sectors provide necessity and glamour products, for example the handloom clothing sector provides a range of designs, colors and innovative patterns, which are used in manufacturing fashion apparel and home utility items. The carvings and sculptures which are available for purchase add elegance to a modern home as great interior decorative objects.
The richness of sculptures, paintings and carvings owe to the multi-cultural influence over thousands of years' interaction with the Far Eastern, Indian, Middle Eastern and Western inter relations.
Food & Beverages of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan food is not much spoken of, as the larger Indian subcontinent overshadows both cultural and culinary uniqueness of the island, but it is appreciated that the food culture is most influenced by India, Arabia, Malaysian peninsular and the Europeans too, especially the colonies of Dutch, Portuguese and English.
The staple food of Sri Lanka is rice and curry, though it sounds like a simple dish behind the label is a personal banquet with small spiced dishes made from vegetable, meat, fish accompanied by papadam and pickle and the chefs of famous restaurants and hotels have learnt and mastered the art of using the exquisite spices.
Sri Lanka's tropical climate ensures a heavenly fruit platter in all seasons; the cashew fruits, mangos of Jaffna, rambutan of Malwana , star fruits, fresh pineapples, a variety of bananas, avocados, wood apple and many more sweet and sour fruits grow in the island of Sri Lanka.
In terms of beverages, king coconut water plays a key role as it is cheap and widely available in road side kiosks which not only quenches thirst but also cools and protects the body from tropical heat. The Sri Lankan Toddy is a light alcoholic drink made from fermented coconut palm sap, and is usually served in Toddy shacks around the country. Arrack is one of the most traditional drinks in Sri Lanka which is distilled from toddy or palm syrup, and has a much higher percentage of alcohol, a delight if you want to get high by the sea on a cool evening.