The wonders of Sri Lanka are luring visitors once again.
With spectacular beaches, historic sites and delicious cuisine it
is a country that offers intrepid travellers experiences that
contrast and surprise.
Sri Lanka's biggest attraction is undoubtedly its coastline
whose sun-baked, palm-scattered beaches offer the perfect secluded
getaway. For those searching for a bit more than simply rest and
relaxation, there are world class surf breaks in the East and
colourful snorkelling and dive sites in the South. Time on the
beach can be broken up by a visit to one of the old colonial
coastal fortress towns like Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
whose magnetic charm lies in it being a unique living museum.
A trip to Sri Lanka's ancient cities is a must for anyone
visiting the island and the intriguing UNESCO World Heritage Sites
of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Polonaruwa offer more than enough
motivation for you to leave your sun bed. Standing supreme
above the dry zone landscape and often dubbed the Seventh Wonder of
the World, Sigiriya is possibly the island's most dramatic
archaeological attraction. It is an impressive 5th century rock
fortress reaching 370m high and features ruined pleasure palaces,
fascinating water drainage systems and centuries-old paintings of
celestial maidens, a handful of which are as crisp and clear as
the day of their creation.
Sri Lanka conjures up images of lush tea plantations that seem
to stretch off into the horizon and it's certainly not just a
figure of the imagination; the rolling landscape of the Hill
Country is decadently carpeted with lush green tea bushes
punctuated by the colourful saris of the Tamil ladies tenderly
plucking the new flush of leaves.
Kandy is Sri Lanka's cultural capital as it plays host to
dozens of Buddhist shrines including the country's most sacred, The
Temple of the Tooth. Here you can join the throng of white-clothed
devotees as they file in, colourful lotus blooms in hand, to
perform their daily puja (worship) to the melodious thumping of
Sri Lanka is an island that teems with wildlife. On its shores
lie no less than 20 wildlife-filled national parks plus many more
wetlands, sanctuaries and reserves. The elephant is one of the
island's most popular attractions - most numerously seen during the
'Gathering' in Minneriya National Park in September and
October- but Sri Lanka is also renowned for being one of the best
places in the world to see leopards and blue whales in their
respective habitats in the wild.
Other creatures that can be seen include sloth bears,
crocodiles, sambar deer, monkeys and wild boar. Of the 435 resident
bird species on the island, 26 are endemic with many more arriving
during the winter migratory season.
Besides its natural beauty, what makes Sri Lanka such a
fascinating country to visit is its diverse society with its mix of
Sinhalese and Tamils, its Muslims and Burghers, and the external
influences of its English, Dutch and Portuguese colonialists. This
contrasting jumble is perfectly reflected in the nation's striking
architecture that can be observed all over the island and also
through its mouth-watering cuisine.
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