The alluring Sri Lanka

The alluring Sri Lanka

Travel tales

The alluring Sri Lanka

A trip to the enchanting emerald island, Sri Lanka, is bound to leave the traveller mesmerised by its serene surroundings, fascinating culture and the epicurean delights of the island’s delectable cuisine.

One is spoilt for choices by the diverse wildlife, ancient sites, endless idyllic beaches and the lush green tropical forests. I visited our southern neighbour with family for a short sojourn of seven days and our itinerary included Colombo, Kandy, Sigirya, Polonnaruwa, Kaudulla National Park (Habarana) and Galle.

At Colombo, we stayed in the iconic Grand Oriental Hotel overlooking the Colombo Harbour. The hotel was completed in 1937 by Sir Horton and was originally meant for military use. We set off for the city tour covering Pettah market, the majestic Galle sea face, Parliament building and Colombo trade centre.

We had lunch at the famous ‘Ministry of Crabs’ restaurant located at Dutch Hospital precinct. The restaurant is owned by Sangakkara, Mahela Jayewardene and renowned chef Darshana Munidasa. As night fell, we went to the Independence Square in Cinnamon Garden area. The arcade has the Independence Memorial Hall and houses coveted luxury brands, gourmet restaurants (‘Kaema Sutra’ being one of them, co-owned by Jacqueline Fernandez) and  left us spellbound with its superb ambience.

We embarked on a train journey from Colombo for the holy Buddhist city of Kandy. The journey through the hills, waterfalls with some breath-taking sights is really a traveller’s delight. Kandy has a picturesque lake (Bogambara Lake) at its centre and also has several old colonial buildings having Dutch and Portuguese influence. The cynosure is the Sri Dalada Maligawa (‘Temple of the Tooth Relic’).The left canine tooth of Buddha was brought to Kandy after the conflict in Kalinga, 800 years after Buddha’s death. At Kandy we opted for homestay at Lakeside resort.

No visit to Sri Lanka is complete without a visit to Sigiriya rock fortress (UNESCO World Heritage Site). We left for Sigiriya by bus from Kandy via Dambulla, another centre for Buddhist culture. A series of staircases lead to the summit which emerges from the mouth of a lion.

The caves and the walls have numerous frescos and paintings. The fortress was once the capital of King Kassapa (477-495 CE). From the summit one can have a bird’s eye view of the city of Dambulla and the water gardens below. The view from the top is simply stunning and epitomises unadulterated nature. We stayed at the Sigiriya Lodge (homestay) and at night we had an authentic spread of Sri Lankan dinner.

We travelled by bus to the ruined city of Pollonaruwa (UNESCO World Heritage site) from Sigiriya. The city has the ruins of gardens and temples created by King Parakramabahu in the 12th century. From Pollanaruwa, we went to Kaudulla National Park at Habarana via Girithale. The Girithale Lake is an artificial lake created by King Agbo in the 12th century for irrigation. We hired a jeep for SLR 3000, for a two-hour safari in the Kaudulla forest. The ride inside the national park is indeed thrilling. Herds of elephants and cubs were spotted near the Kaudulla river.

We came to Colombo and took a train for Galle. The train travelled along the Indian Ocean and at some places, the waves kissed the railway track. The vast expanse of the ocean and the fishing villages enroute made this journey a truly remarkable one.
At Galle we checked in at Greenwood Garden (homestay). At night, we savoured the famous ‘Kotthu Paratha’, a Sri Lankan favourite, at the Galle central bus stand.

    Galle is renowned for the Galle Fort overlooking the Indian Ocean and the Galle cricket stadium. It has the iconic clock tower. The Fort area has many churches and buildings by the Dutch, the Meera Mosque and a luxurious hotel Amangalla.

From Galle, one can also visit the nearby beach towns of Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna, known for their water sports and whale watching.

Finally, it was time to bid adieu to this wonderful country. Sri Lanka has so much to offer to every traveller. The pristine beaches, sumptuous local food, forts and the rich history leaves us wanting for more. It is a heaven for sea food lovers.
‘Bohoma Sthuthi’ (thank you) Sri Lanka for the wonderful memories.

How to get there

Numerous flights from Bangalore and Chennai, though from Chennai cost is less.

Where to stay

There are several luxury and budget hotels all over which can be booked online. But to know the people, food and their tradition, try the homestays. (Check out Airbnb.com)


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