Sri Lanka really surprised me with it’s rich history and culture. Before arriving, I knew very little about the country other than where it is and Ceylon tea comes from there. However, after ten days of traveling around the Central region I was blown away by what I discovered. I learned about the long, rich history of Sri Lanka people, the food, landscape, and culture. It truly was life changing and I look forward to another visit to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka and Buddha
The Buddha is everywhere in Sri Lanka. Seems about every turn you see some reminder of his influence. Buddhism was introduced in Sri Lanka in the third century BCE and has deep roots in the culture. There are temples, statues, signs & symbols nearly every place you go or look. And quite frankly, it was very inspiring and calming to be around.
Dambulla cave temple
Dambulla cave temple is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka, situated in the central part of the country. Atop the hill is a large temple complex with many statues tucked into large cavelike rooms.
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 990-CE. It is mostly ruins now however several important structures remain well enough for you to see and imagine their original magnificence.
We hired a guide and he walked us around and was very helpful explaining all the sights.
Temple of the Tooth
The temple of the Tooth is where the relic of The Buddha’s tooth is kept. After the Buddha’s body was burned his remains were taken by followers and cherished as relics. Apparently, on of his teeth is kept and protected at the Temple of the Tooth. Unfortunately the general public cannot just walk in an look at it. The tooth is kept in a vault like enclosure to protect it.
The legend is whoever posseses the tooth is the rightful ruler of Sri Lanka. Every year there is a huge parade and ceremony in Kandy city where the tooth (actually a copy) is put on an Elephant and walked around the city. It’s a big deal and quite a party.
The food in Sri Lanka is fantastic. I cannot really state a favorite but I do have fond memories of the spicy curry dishes. Lots of fresh fruits to enjoy and the mangos were deliciously sweet with a hint of tart.
Sri Lanka is famous for its Ceylon tea and the people there are quite proud of it too. Tea was brought to Sri Lanka by the British and because of the excellent growing conditions it soon became a primary export. After Sri Lanka gained it’s independence they renamed the country from “Ceylon” to “Sri Lanka” but the tea is stilled called Ceylon.
An interesting tradition for Sri Lankan’s is to have their tea with jaggery, a caramel like sugar cube. You take a sip of tea and a nibble of the jaggery.
Sigiriya is one of the most important archeological sites in Sri Lanka. The rock fortress, known as LIon Rock, has been used both as a palace and a monastery. On the top of the big rock is the fortress and palace complex. Mostly ruins now but you can clearly see what is what.
The walk up is pretty easy but on hot, crowded days it’ll be challenging. The assent is mostly narrow stairs but it’s totally worth doing. About half-way up are nice looking cave wall paintings of women. I highly recommend using a guide because there is so much to see and details you may otherwise walk past.
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1975 for feeding and providing care and sanctuary to orphaned baby elephants that were found in the wild.
When we got there many elephants were in the river playing and washing up. Most of it is for show so the tourist can watch elephants.
In addition to elephants we got to watch a snake charmer showing off his cobra and boa. Kids like it and they even got to touch and hold the big boa constrictor.
Also worth doing is a safari ride in one of the parks to see elephants and other wildlife.
We had the great pleasure of staying at The Blue Water Hotel just south of Colombo. This hotel is great and a little more quite than the ones up the beach toward Colombo city.
We just relaxed and enjoyed the perfect weather. It was simply wonderful.
Wait, There is More
One of amazing things about Sri Lanka is there is just so much to experience and share. This blog is just a sample of all that we experienced. Each day was filled with new adventure.