Exploring Sri Lanka had been long pending, and it finally happened this month. A strange coincidence that I landed in Sri Lanka on the Dussehra day, a day so closely associated with Sri Lanka. There are various facets of Sri Lanka that I observed and felt.
Just before landing from the Window, I could see this island, with dark grey-green colored, thick and dense forests. I do not remember seeing such thick forests anywhere else. Forests and environment have been well preserved. And they are a part and parcel of the Sri Lankan life is what got re-enforced during the rest of the trip.
Exploring Sri Lanka – Travel Insights
Just a day before going, during a conversation with a friend, he mentioned that People of Sri Lanka have the same consciousness as Ravana, and I must meet people and observe that. I did not get to meet too many people except our guide who was this elderly gentleman called Oscar. But I could see a certain peace on the faces everywhere, a laid back attitude, no hurry, no rush and contentment of being happy with what they have. I am told that most of the islanders are that way, cut off from the world and contained in themselves, just like the islands that they live in.
There was a lot of Indian influence, the ubiquitous being the ‘Bajaj Autos’, they are called ‘Trishaws’ there. Autos almost look like the lifeline of Sri Lanka, you can actually commute between city using them. They are not cheap and the Autowallas seem to have inherited all traits of Bangalore auto drivers. So you need to haggle and haggle to come to the right price. If they realize you are a foreigner, they try to sell you an auto ride around the place. The next were out Maruti Cars, there was this whole range of Maruti vehicles there with an exception Wagon R. The last and biggest influence is the Indian movies and Hindi songs. The FM channels it seems to survive on Hindi film music.
Our guide actually made us speak to an RJ and had a song played for us. Going by the number of attempts he made to connect is to the RJ, it almost looked like that it was a part of our itinerary.
Anuradhapura is the most important city in Sri Lanka’s history, but it was not there on our itinerary, so I missed going there. If I ever make another trip to Sri Lanka, this would be the first place I would visit.
The first place for us was Sigiriya, which also the cultural capital of Lanka. There is a fort on top of a rock, and to climb there you have to climb 1200 steps and believe me they are really steep. Once you are on the top, you can see the whole of ancient Sri Lanka from there. Our next stop was Kandy, a small hill station, and place where Buddha’s tooth is kept. And is kept in so much of security that you can not even see it.
Sita Eliya Temple
From Kandy, we proceeded to Nuwara Eliya, which is a renowned hill station. But this was one place we felt we could have avoided, as there was nothing to be seen. The advantage of having it in the itinerary was that we could visit the ‘Sita Eliya’ temple. Which as per the legend there is the place where Ravana had hidden Sita or the place that we from ‘Ramayana’ know as ‘Ashok Vatika’. There were a lot of Hanuman temples around the country. When I tried to find out how is Ramayana perceived there, I got an interesting point of view. Our guide told us that they believe that while Sita was here nothing good was happening in our country and after she left, everything was good again.
Bentota – The Beach Town
Our fourth stop was in Bentota, which is a beach town. The beach at the place where we stayed was absolutely neat and clean and hence very inviting. The day was the two days before the full moon day, it was amazing to see the sun setting in the sea and moon rising in the sky, something I thought I would be able to see only in Kanyakumari.
The final halt was at Colombo, and we were repeatedly told that Colombo is a shopper’s delight and we must shop for lots of clothes there. But incidentally, we reached there on Sunday and Monday being a full moon day was a holiday. So all the markets were closed and we could manage to save a lot of money by not shopping. We loved the hotel that we stayed in. It was the first hotel in Colombo, having a harbor on one side and president’s house on the other. Dinner at Harbor room, with a live band playing, was a total ‘Paisa vasool’, especially with not many people around.
During our road travel across Sri Lanka, we saw various places like Wood Carving workshop. Where the popular Sri Lankan masks are carved and painted with natural colors. A batik factory which was awfully expensive, a gems / stone cutting factory with a model showing the mines and a video on mining of precious stones. A ceramics factory, a tea garden and a tea factory and bought some high-grown tea. Spice garden which nicely displayed all the spices and sold them at atrocious prices.
Overall exploring Sri Lanka was an interesting trip. Now, need to zero down the next country that I want to see sometime next year…
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