Wonderful Sri Lanka

Who I am
Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

This time we separated and visited this beautiful country in two different moments: in winter (February) and in summer (August). In both cases, however, Sri Lanka has captured us, fascinated us and left a beautiful memory in our hearts.
What do we tell you? the trip made last August. In this period, the most? suitable to visit? the east one.

Known by several names, including Ceylon, Sri Lanka? an island off the southeastern coast of the Indian subcontinent. This proximity, and its teardrop shape, made it also called the tear of India.

The origin of the Sanskrit word laṃkā, shining island,? yet another name with which? known this pearl of the Indian Ocean, with a thousand facets.

1 day

Departure from Rome with direct flight to Colombo. Once there, we reached Galle in a chauffeured car. The distance ? of about 119 km, it takes about 3h to get there, the cost is around 110 euros (9500R).

Located on the southwestern tip of the island, Galle? one of the cities? pi? important, with a population of up to 100.000 inhabitants.

The city? old, Unesco heritage,? protected by the ancient fortification of the sixteenth century, which? today one of the strongest European fortresses large, remained in Asia.

Galle has always been an important port, even well before the Western dominations. Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Malays kept with the city? important business relationships.

In the 1796th century, Galle pass? under the Portuguese domination and, subsequently, under the command of the Dutch East India Company which built? the fortress. In , with the arrival of the British, the main port became that of Colombo. The Galle fortress lost its defensive functions to become the administrative center of the city.

Also fascinating is the lighthouse which can be reached by walking along part of the fortress walls and some churches, distinctive signs of European domination.

Within the city? old, you can wander through the different alleys. This is where most of the guesthouses and restaurants are concentrated.

Outside the walls, the new Galle develops.
Will walking on the fortress allow you? to admire all of Galle.

We stayed at the Fort Inn Guest House (25? Per night without breakfast).

Galle also hosts an important Cricket stadium, a national sport: the Galle International Stadium. Walking will be? easy to find guys who play and train.

2 day

The next day we leave, by bus, towards Mirissa (you have to take the direct bus to Matara? 55R per person).

Mirissa? A beautiful place; spend a few days in this locality? of the sea, will you like it? definitely. Although the season was not the best, in February the water? a table, our stay here? it was one of the best of the whole holiday.

Still far from excessive tourism, it retains its original charm. However, you will find plenty of buildings and structures under construction.
We slept at the Thitira Guest House (2500R per night, without breakfast), about 500m from the beach.

Unmissable, the symbol of Sri Lanka are the fishermen on stilts.
And yes, here the fishermen prefer to perch all day on these poles, casting their line and waiting for some fish to bite!
It is a very ancient type of fishing and certainly not easy, compared to the traditional one. The positions of the stilts are of great value and are handed down from father to son.

In Mirissa all you have to do is relax, in total relaxation.

From sunset to evening, on the beach you will find clubs with tables right on the sand where you can dine by candlelight or simply have a drink. The sound of the waves and the landscape will surround you: exceptional.
Here, too, you will surely find someone who plays cricket.

Take a few walks and admire the beauty of the place.

From Mirissa, you can easily go and visit a famous tea plantation in the same day, right in the area:? Virgin White Tea?

We have chosen to reach it with a tuk tuk (1500R A / R), to better admire the surrounding landscape.
Arrived at the plantation, we took a nice tour of the various fields, accompanied by a guide who explained the whole process of tea production. At the end, you can taste the whole range of t? products, choosing and wanting even buying your favorite!

3 day

Reluctantly we leave Mirissa and, by bus, we reach Tangalle (bus to Matara 23R each, 20 min. Trip; then another bus to Tangalla 64R each, 1 hour and 20 min).
Continuing along the south coast, this locality? not far from Mirissa.

Not being the ideal season to visit it, wasn't it crowded at all? On the contrary, was the beach practically all to ourselves? gorgeous.
After long walks, between baths and sun, we go inside, far from the beach.
The landscape ? very beautiful?

We spend only one night here at the Starfish Guest House (3000R per night).

4 day

The next morning we leave, this time by car (5 h, 15000R), towards Arugam Bay, the home of surfers!
On the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, finally the most? favorable for August, Arugam Bay? considered one of the main resorts? for surfing.

In those days, in fact, there was a worldwide competition that made it even more? difficult to find accommodation, but that filled the beach and the town with surfers!

So, two nights, two different structures, fortunately, in the center, close to each other and to the sea. The first at Arugam Bay Surf Resort (4500R per night, without breakfast) and the second at Deans Beach Hotel Point View (3500R, without breakfast)

The beach ? wide and long, and? really characteristic.

At any moment someone or something will catch your attention, starting from the numerous fishing boats, to the local people, up to the monks on the beach.

In the water, you will notice groups of surfers? Perched? each on their own table, waiting for the perfect wave.
Compared to the main beach, with the wind more? weak, turning the corner, where the waves are perfect, you can admire the surf more? beautiful.

5 day

Leaving Arugam Bay, we move north, to Trincomalee and more? precisely in the splendid Uppuveli. To get to our destination we decide to share the car with a French couple, who are also headed there. Wake up at 7 and departure; the trip will last? about 5 and a half hours (16000R total to be divided by two couples).

In Trincomalee we only go to withdraw and change money. Once in Uppuveli, we say goodbye to the French and begin the search for accommodation which, once again, is not easy. In the end, however, our efforts are rewarded by a wonderful place, in which we have left our hearts and which we often think about.
We decide to spend three nights here, our stay to reveal? perfect.

The guesthouse was the Club Dive Paradise (6000R per night, without breakfast).

Directly on the beach, our room was simple but with every comfort, bathroom and air conditioning.

In three days we have never worn shoes - always barefoot and in costume.

The most? nice was waking up, diving in and having breakfast.

The sea? dream!
On the beach, from time to time, you will also find some cows!

Although the season was the right one for this part of the island, there were very few tourists on the beach; mostly? the locals ... and some fishermen.

6 day

Pigeon Island? a pleasant excursion that you can do from Uppuveli. Baster? reach the nearby Nilaveli and embark from there, the distance? only 1 km.

The island is worth a visit.

Take a tuk tuk from Uppuveli to Nilaveli Beach (500R each way), the ticket to the island costs 4200R for two people, that of the boat to get there 1800R A / R for two people).
The island? one of the marine national parks of Sri Lanka.

It has many corals, the best remains of the Sri Lankan reef.
Before being declared a national park in 2003, the island was designated a sanctuary in 1963.
Between one bath and another, we also spotted a shark !!

7 day

IS? departure day: next stage Jaffna, in the most? northern Sri Lanka.

To reach it, we take a car. Will the trip last? 5 h for a cost of 18000R.

Along the way you will find numerous checkpoints: many years of isolation and civil war have moved this area away from the rest of the country. Tourism? still quite limited, the people, mainly of Tamil origin,? rather shy and reserved. Nothing to do with the ease of southern Sri Lankans.

The charm of the place, actually? just this, arriving there you will realize that the north? a world apart, separated from the rest of Sri Lanka.

The whole region is slowly recovering from all these years of suffering and devastation.

Jaffna, the capital of the north,? a mix of colonial style and Tamil culture.

We spent 3 nights here at the Theresa Inn guesthouse (2700R per night).

Consider that there are not many hotels in this area yet. This, all in all, could go.

Despite the deadly heat, we begin the visit of the city.
First stop: the Fort from which you have a first overview of the peninsula. Work of the Portuguese, it was built in 1618, after the conquest of the territory.
The surrounding area? rather desolate, perhaps due to the work in progress.

After the Fort? the vault of the beautiful national library, now home to the university.

World-renowned, it contained approximately 90.000, and? destroyed in a fire in 1981 following pro-government unrest.

Let's continue on foot to discover the city? and walking, we reach the Jaffna Market.

In the late afternoon, we reach the Nallur Temple, one of the most? important ind times? of the district.
It was 17:00 and fortunately, at that time, the last Puja of the day was taking place. Attend? been exciting. Men must enter shirtless (the temple is closed between 13pm and 00pm).
Unlike the other Indian temples, which are generally very colorful, this one is in one color - really fascinating.

8 day

In the morning, by tuk tuk (2500R), we leave for Nagadeepa Island (allow 1h to go and 1h to return). The time taken will come? rewarded by the view of the whole Jaffna Peninsula and its villages. To us ? liked it very much.
To reach the island, you will also need to take a boat. Will the tuk tuk wait for you? at the pier, at the time you decide.
The island? very beautiful, especially because of its atmosphere cos? religious. IS? seat, in fact, of two temples: the Nagadeepa Vihara, one of the most? saints visited by Buddhists and an Indian temple.

Both beautiful, they will fascinate you.

9 day

The following day, we set off again by car towards Anuradhapura. The trip takes 4 and a half hours and costs 18000R.

The Milano Tourist Rest? our choice for the stay. We spend 2 nights here (3500R per night, without breakfast).

As soon as we arrive, we decide to take advantage of the afternoon to start visiting the area. We choose to do it by bike !!
We reach the city? sacred (3250R entrance) with its famous Sri Maha Bodhi (200R), a sacred fig tree, direct descendant of the Bodhi tree under which Siddhartha Gautama obtained bodhi and that is? enlightenment while he was meditating. There followed Nirvana and subsequent buddha status.
The city, in 380 BC, was built under the reign of Prince Pandukabhaya, right around Sri Maha Bodhi.

Ancient capital of Sri Lanka,? today one of the main archaeological sites in the world. Heritage of Unesco since 1982, it preserves the remains of ancient civilizations in excellent condition. locals.

In the past it was one of the most? stable, one of the most political and cultural centers? important from all over South Asia.

Anuradhapura? also a point of reference for Hinduism.
A short distance from the sacred tree is the imposing Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba.

Still nearby, we admire the Thuparamaya, another sacred place of Buddhist veneration.
Don't miss the seated Buddha statue, associated with his first meditation. IS? one of the best in Sri Lanka.

10 day

Still by bike, the next day, we conclude the visit of the archaeological sites and the city.

11 day

The next morning, by tuk tuk (2500R? 1 hour and a half journey), we reach Dambulla.
Here we stay one night at the Sun Flower Inn, which boasts a very convenient location, a 5-minute walk from the famous Golden Temple.

We dedicate the whole morning to visiting the temple which seems to be the best rock temple that you? preserved throughout Sri Lanka.

The main attractions are scattered in 5 different caves, and include statues and paintings mainly referring to the Buddha and his life.
The interior of the caves? very nice, every corner? painted, no detail left to chance.

Consider a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 of Sri Lankan kings and 4 of other gods or deities.

From Dambulla, always with the tuk tuk (2000R? 30 min.) We arrived in Sigyria.

Also known as Lion Rock,? one of the eight heritages of humanity? Sri Lankan.
It is an extraordinary natural rock formation on the top of which? there are the remains of what was once the palace of King Kasyapa (477? 495 AD).

Obviously we climbed to the top, the height of the hill? of 370 m. The entrance costs 3900R and all in all the climb? rather simple, although from below it is difficult? to believe it.

It's worth it. Once you get to the top you will be glad you made it this far.

Along the way, several attractions will distract you from fatigue. First of all, in the middle? of the climb, inside the rock, you will find one of the most? famous of the country:? Le Fanciulle? by Sigyria.

12 day

Last stop: Kandy which we reach with a bus which will take us? 2 hours.

In this period one of the religious festivals of the town takes place: the Esala Perahera.

We decide to attend the show seated, among the locals.

If you want to stay longer? comfortable c ?? the possibility? to reserve a seat in the front rows. Any hotel can you? sell tickets. We preferred to enjoy the show together with the locals, for free, sitting on the floor on the sidewalk. If you decide to do as we do, you should go to the seats a few hours before, to secure the seats in front.

L? Esala Perahera? one of the main festivals of Sri Lanka that has been occurring for several centuries now. It lasts 10 nights during the full moon of the month of Esala which falls between July and August and the climax takes place on the last night.

It is a glittering and sparkling parade of musicians, dancers, acrobats, all in traditional costumes; games of fire, torches and many elephants, more? of 50, richly decorated. One of these, usually the most? large, on the last evening, he carries on his back a canopy with the copy of the casket that contains the relic of the Buddha Tooth.
Attending the party? fascinating, especially if you look around and discover the enthusiastic and excited faces of the faithful and the crowd. It is, in fact, a strongly felt recurrence; in those days the city? is stormed.

We stay two nights at the Kandy Majestic Tourist Hotel (12000R total). In this period the costs go up a lot, if you decide to come here for the party we advise you to book early.

13 day

The next day we dedicate it to a tour of the city, starting from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth or Dalada Maligawa, which houses the most important relic. imported from all over Sri Lanka, the sacred tooth of Buddha.
The temple is located inside the Royal Palace, in the heart of the city.

Kandy develops around the lake, which? very beautiful. Take a walk and get to the viewpoint and admire it from above.

Here, unfortunately, our journey ends.

Before going to the airport, we indulge in a dinner at the home of a Sri Lankan lady, known in Fiumicino, near Negombo who, very kindly, invited us to her house!

Sri Lanka really deserves to be discovered!

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