Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sri Lanka revisited

My last and only visit to Sri Lanka was in June 2006. Although I only made one trip, I spent about 2 weeks there and therefore had the opportunity to see many places. Now with Air Asia flying from KL to Colombo, it's high time for a return visit. More importantly, with the civil war over, we may be able to travel to places that were off-limits previously.

View from Ella Grand Motel, of Ella Gap, a view all the way to the sea.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress (UNESCO World Heritage)

Inside Dambulla Cave Temple (UNESCO World Heritage)

Sleeping Buddha at Polonnaruwa (UNESCO World Heritage)

Tea picking at hill country nearby Nuwara Eliya

Mt. Lavinia beach nearby Colombo

UNESCO World Heritage sites

Sri Lanka has 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites, which I list below with text description from UNESCO's website and a wikipedia link for you to read further:

1) Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. It comprises, besides the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas, the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.

2) Ancient City of Sigiriya
The ruins of the capital built by the parricidal King Kassapa I (477–95) lie on the steep slopes and at the summit of a granite peak standing some 370 m high (the 'Lion's Rock', which dominates the jungle from all sides). A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster provide access to the site.

3) Sacred City of Anuradhapura
This sacred city was established around a cutting from the 'tree of enlightenment', the Buddha's fig tree, brought there in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Anuradhapura, a Ceylonese political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years, was abandoned after an invasion in 993. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, is now accessible once again.

4) Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications
Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.

5) Sacred City of Kandy This sacred Buddhist site, popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, was the last capital of the Sinhala kings whose patronage enabled the Dinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the occupation of Sri Lanka by the British in 1815. It is also the site of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of the Buddha), which is a famous pilgrimage site.

6) Sinharaja Forest Reserve Located in south-west Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the country's last viable area of primary tropical rainforest. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka's endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.

7) Golden Temple of Dambulla
A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist mural paintings (covering an area of 2,100 m2) are of particular importance, as are the 157 statues.

Other attractions in Sri Lanka include:

1) Adam's Peak (Sri Pada) - popular mountain pilgrimage for Buddhists, Hindus and also Christians & Muslims. The footprint found on top is believed to be that of Buddha, Shiva, St. Thomas or Adam (of Adam & Eve) depending on your religious viewpoint.

2) Kataragama is another popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims.

3) Horton Plains, a scenic high plateau national park that include's World's End, where the plateau suddenly drops almost straight down for 880m.

4) Nuwara Eliya, the cool climate resort town surrounded by tea plantations.

5) Colombo, the financial and business center of Sri Lanka - many attractions to visit and shopping to be done here

6) Beaches - plenty of choices on this island nation

I hope the above arouse you to plan for your Sri Lankan vacation.

For PHOTOS taken during my 2006 visit and by our clients who took our tours, visit:

Here are photos of some quality hotels & resorts you can stay while in Sri Lanka:

Here's a list of package tours to Sri Lanka. Contact me at 016-210 6951 or for arrangements.

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