Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country near the south-east of South India in South Asia. Sri Lanka, known until 1972 as Ceylon , has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.

Sri Lanka has a documented history that spans over 3,000 years, but there are theories to suggest that Sri Lanka had pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to World War II. Sri Lanka is a diverse country, home to many religions, ethnicities and languages. It is the land of the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Moors, Indian Tamils, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Vedda. Sri Lanka has a rich Buddhist heritage, and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, dates back to the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BC. The country's recent history has been marred by a thirty-year civil war which decisively ended when Sri Lankan military defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009.

Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital, and largest city, of Colombo. It is also an important producer of tea, coffee, gemstones, coconuts, rubber, and the native cinnamon, the island contains tropical forests and diverse landscapes with a high amount of biodiversity.

The country has had a long history of international engagement, as a founding member of SAARC and a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, and the Non-Aligned Movement. It is the only country in South Asia that is currently rated "high" on the Human Development Index.

( Wikipedia )
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization. From the 4th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka until the beginning of the 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²). Anuradhapura is also significant in Hindu legend as the fabled capital of the Asura King Ravana in the Ramayana.
Arugambay
Arugam Bay is a bay situated on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka's southeast coast. The bay is located 320 km due east of Colombo. It is a popular surfing and tourist destination. Due to its popularity among low budget tourists, the area has managed a slow recovery. By private initiatives only. The main road through town has still not been repaved. Work is in progress to improve road access to the area. But in Arugam Bay itself, little has changed. As late as May, 2009 no help has been received from any official source or international organizations. An exception is uncoordinated support for fishing folk as well as many school rebuilding programs, resulting in a continuation to provide only separatist schools for each community.
Adam's Peak
Adam's Peak is a 2,243 metres (7,359 ft) tall conical mountain located in central Sri Lanka. It is well-known for the Sri Pada "sacred footprint", a 1.8 m rock formation near the summit, in Buddhist tradition held to be the footprint of Buddha, in Hindu tradition that of Shiva and in Muslim tradition that of Adam.
Batticaloa
A Sri Lankan coastal city famous for golden beaches, Bentota is situated on the southern coastal tip of the Galle District of the Southern Province . The town is a popular tourist attraction. It is especially famous among the foreign tourists. The name comes from a mythical story which dates back to kings time saying a demon called Bem ruled this river ( tota = river bank. Bentota hosts a handful of world proclaimed hotels. It is the hosting land for the famous Sri Lankan Jeweler Aida. Bentota also delivers an ancient art of healing called Ayurveda . Bentota is also famous for its production in Toddy. An alcoholic beverage made out of cocunut nectar. The city's population is estimated to be between 25,000-50,000.
Bentota
Lovely Arugam Bay (aru-gam-beh) is the east coast’s most traveller-friendly destination. It’s basically a single laid-back strip of beach accommodation, following the Panama road and backed by the Muslim village of Sinna Ulla.
Beruwela
Beruwela, is a small resort town in the south western coastal belt of Sri Lanka. The name Beruwela is derived from the Sinhalese word Beruwela (the place where the sail is lowered). It marks the spot for the first Muslim settlement on the island, established by Arab traders around the 8th century AD. A large population of Sri Lankan Moors, many of them are gem merchants, still live in the town-- particularly in the "China Fort". Msjid-ul-Abrar , a landmark of Beruwela and Sri Lanka's oldest mosque, was built by Arab traders on a rocky peninsula overlooking the town.
Bundala National Park
Located about fifteen kilometers east of Hambantota Bundala National Park is one of Sri Lanka's foremost destinations for birdwatchers, protecting an important area of coastal wetland famous for its abundant aquatic (and other) birdlife. The park is also home to significant populations of elephants, Marsh & estuarine crocodiles, turtles & other fauna, including the leopard. Stretching along the coast east of Hambantota, Bundala National Park is ideal for instant gratification: in a four hour jeep ride, we can see elephants, 8ft crocs, giant squirrels & flamingoes. Afternoon safaris in the dry season (December - May) provide visitors with the best chance of seeing the wildlife.
Colombo
The name "Colombo", first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505, is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese name Kolon thota, meaning "port on the river Kelani". It has also been suggested that the name may be derived from the Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means "Harbour with leafy mango trees". Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. However it was only made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948. In 1978, when administrative functions were moved to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo was designated as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
Dambulla
Major attractions of the city include the largest and best preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka, and the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, famous for being built in just 167 days. The city also boasts to have the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia, and the Iron wood forest, or Namal Uyana. Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site near Dhambulla cave temple complexes is the latest archaeological site of significant historical importance found in Dambulla, which is located within 3 kilometers of the cave temples providing evidence on presence of indigenous civilisations long before the arrival of Indian influence on the Island nation.
Galle
Galle"Gaul", and in Sinhalese IPA: [ɡaːlːə]) is a town situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, 119 km from Colombo. Galle was known as Gimhathiththa before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, when it was the main port on the island. Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, during the Dutch colonial period. The major river is Gin River Gin Ganga which starts from Gongala Kanda and passing villages such as Neluwa, Nagoda, Baddegama, Thelikada, Wakwella and kisses the sea at Ginthota. In Wakwella over the river there is Wakwella Bridge which is the longest bridge in Sri Lanka.
Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka. It is located in the Southern Province, about 20 km north-west of Galle. Hikkaduwa is famous for its beach and corals. Villages affected were Telwatta, Paraliya, Dodanduwa, Kahawa, Rathgama. The place is on the way from Colombo to Galle on the famous Galle road. It is primarily a tourist destination, and serves as a great beach with options to surf, snorkel and enjoy the sun.
Horton Plains
Horton Plains National Park "Maha-Eliya" in Sinhala, is a national park in the highlands of Sri Lanka. It lies at a height of more than 2,000 m in the central highlands, and its altitude means that it has a much cooler and more windy climate than the lowlands of Sri Lanka, with a mean annual temperature of 16 °C rather than the 26 °C of the coasts. The area was named in 1834 after Lady Anne Horton, wife of Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, then-governor of Ceylon.
Jaffna
Jaffna or Yazhpanam is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Most of the residents of Jaffna are Sri Lankan Tamils with a presence of Sri Lankan Moors and Portuguese Burghers . Almost all Sri Lankan Muslims were driven off from Jaffna by the LTTE in the 1990s, as a result of the ethnic conflict which started in the 1970s [1] which leaves Jaffna exclusively Tamil, apart from the military personnel.
Kalkudah
Kalkudah or Kalkuda (Pronounced Kal-Kuda, Tamil translation rock-bay) is a coastal resort town located about 35 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa, Batticaloa District, Sri Lanka. It used to be a popular tourist destination, however due to 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Sri Lankan Civil War tourist numbers have declined. Pasikudah and Kalkudah are located few kilometers apart.
Kalpitiya
Despite its natural beauty, the western peninsular area of KALPITIYA in the Puttalam district of Sri Lanka is remarkably untouched by tourism. But for those lucky enough to visit, there's a plethora of things to see and do! With the small close-knit fishing community dominating the lives of the local people, visitors can get a real insight into working life away from the city. After watching the night fishing boats return in the morning, a visit to one of the fish markets offers the opportunity to choose the evening meal direct from the fresh catch! The Dutch Fort and St Peter's Kerk church in the town itself are interesting examples of Sri Lanka's rich history and colonial past. Leisurely boat rides up the lagoon and canoe trips down the river are a pleasant way of exploring the coastline, whilst 4WD jeep rides along the deserted sand dunes between the ocean and the lagoon offer a unique way of watching the colourful evening sunsets.
Kandy
Kandy in Sinhala, pronounced is the English name for the city of Maha Nuvara (Senkadagalapura) in the centre of Sri Lanka. It is the capital of the Central Province and Kandy District. It lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy Valley which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka. Kandy is of both an administrative and religious city. It is the capital of the Central Province and also of the administrative district of Kandy.
Kitulgala
Kitulgala is a small town in the west of Sri Lanka. It is in the wet zone rainforest, which gets two monsoons each year, and is one of the wettest places in the country. Nevertheless, it comes alive in the first three months of the year, especially in February, the driest month. The Academy Award-winning "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was filmed on the Kelani River near Kitulgala, although nothing remains now except the concrete foundations for the bridge Kitulgala is also a base for white-water rafting, which starts a few kilometres upstream.
Knuckles Range
The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, north-east of the city of Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy District. Whilst this name was assigned by early British surveyors, the Sinhalese residents have traditionally referred to the area as Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning mist-laden mountain range (Cooray, 1984). The entire area is characterised by its striking landscapes often robed in thick layers of cloud but in addition to its aesthetic value the range is of great scientific interest. It is a climatic microcosm of the rest of Sri Lanka.
Minneriya
Minneriya is a small town in Sri Lanka, and is famous for two things , for the great Minneriya lake build by King Mahasen and for the Minneriya wildlife sanctuary which is a hot spot for safari lovers because of the abandons of Elephants. Furthermore it is situated near Habarana which have some high class hotels for tourists and some famous world heritage sites like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya which are relatively close to Minneriya.
Nilaveli
Nilaveli is a coastal resort town located about 20 km North-West of Trincomalee, Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka. It used to be a popular tourist destination, however due to 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Sri Lankan Civil War tourist numbers have declined.
Nuwara Eliy
Nuwara Eliya meaning "city on the plain (table land)" or "city of light", is a town in Sri Lanka. It is located at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) in the central highlands and is considered one of the most important locations for Tea production in Sri Lanka. The town is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka.
Pasikudah
Pasikudah or Pasikuda is a coastal resort town located about 35 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa, Batticaloa District, Sri Lanka. It used to be a popular tourist destination, Pasikudah and Kalkudah are located few km apart.
Pinnawela
The Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage is situated northwest of the town of Kegalle, halfway between the present capital Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy in the hills of central Sri Lanka. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka wildlife department in a 25-acre coconut property near the Maha Oya river. The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungle. As of 2008, there are about 84 elephants.
Polonnaruwa
The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 CE to reunite the country once more under a local leader.
Sigiriya
Sigiriya (Lion's rock) is an ancient rock fortress and castle/palace ruin situated in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. It is a popular tourist destination, also known for its ancient paintings (frescos), very similar to those in the Ajanta Caves of India. The Sigiraya was built during the reign of King Kassapa I (AD 477 – 495), and it is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.
Sinharaja
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The hilly virgin rainforest, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rain forests ecoregion, was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve's name translates as Kingdom of the Lion.
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city on the east coast of Sri Lanka, about 110 miles northeast of Kandy. The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. It is one of the main centers of Tamil speaking culture on the island. Historically referred to as Gokanna, or Gokarna it has been a sea port that has played a major role in maritime and international trading history of Sri Lanka.
Unawatuna
Unawatuna is a beach resort, located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Described as most wonderful beach location by the nature, Unawatuna is one of the best Scuba Diving Locations in Sri Lanka. You can enjoy the beach, Scuba Diving, Surfing and Sea Food in Sri Lankan Style. The Jungle Beach, Roomassagla Hills, Kathaluwa Temple, Galle Fort are interesting places to visit.
Weligama
Weligama is a fishing town in Matara district on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The term Weligama literally means `Sandy Village' which refers to the area's sandy sweep bay. Situated at a distance of 143 km from Colombo, Weligama is a popular tourist destination and hosts several boutique hotels. It is most famous for its distinct stilt fishermen and an off shore islet known as Taprobane, where a dream house of French Count de Maunay was built.
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu National Park is a park located on the island of Sri Lanka. The unique feature of this park is the existence of “Willus” (Natural lakes) - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo). The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu. Wilpattu is one of the largest and oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is among the top national parks world renowned for its Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population. The Leopard population in Wilpattu is still not yet known.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is a national park in Sri Lanka. The reserve covers 979 km², although only the original 141 km² are open to the public. It was established in 1894 as a Game Sanctuary. Much of the reserve is parkland, but it also contains jungle, beaches, freshwater lakes and rivers and scrubland. The latter zone is punctuated with enormous rocky outcrops. The range of habitats give rise to a good range of wildlife.
Information from sltda.gov.lk
Try Surfing
Sri Lanka is a beginner surfers paradise. Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka’s south west coast is the popular spot for surfing. The sandy break cushions your fall and the waves are not the gigantic intimidating pipes seen in Hawaii or Australia. Even expert surfers can enjoy themselves in Sri Lanka though. On the west coast there is a popular beach that offers bigger and better waves. The season is different than Hikkaduwa’s however, so make sure to check when surfing on the west coast is popular. If you have never surfed before Sri Lanka is the place to do it. It is very easy to learn here and the conditions are perfect for the first timer.
Sip Tea and explore the hill country
Sri Lanka is one of the most important tea producers in the world and its hill country is stunning. Colonial towns dot the landscape surrounded by tea plantations. The vegetation is lush and green and the rolling hills make for an awesome site. Pretend you are in jolly old England for a few days. Stay in old plantation homes, drink tea and eat baked goods. It doesn’t get any more civilized than this. Don’t miss going to Ella and Nuwara Eliya to see the tea plantations of Sri Lanka.
Go on a Pilgrimage
Adams Peak is Sri Lanka’s most sacred site and you can join thousands of pilgrims for 2 months of the year as they pay homage to the first place that Adam stepped foot on earth when he was cast down from Heaven. It is a climb that doesn’t require any technical skill, but it is a work out. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment taking part in this spiritual journey. This is by far our top recommendation of things that you should make sure to do when visiting the country.
Ride the Train
Sri Lanka’s trains are like stepping back in time. They chug slowly along through hills and valleys. It is the slow journey that makes it special. Looking out over the mountains and tea plantations rival any view in the world and the people that you meet on the train will be remembered forever. So if you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka, make sure to take the time to travel by train. It will be an experience you will remember and cherish forever.
Yala National Park
Do you want to see leopards? Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is the best chance in the world that you are going to get to see them. It is an incredible park filled with wildlife. Elephants, peacocks, monkeys, jackles, crocodiles and monitor lizards to name a few. You won’t be disappointed on a jeep safari here even if you don’t see a leopard, you will see a beautiful landscape and an abundance of wild animals. However, chances are pretty good that you will see a leopard and prices are so reasonable, that even if you don’t, you can try to see one again on another safari.
Go to Udawalawe National Park
Sri Lanka is filled with national parks and trekking through Uda Walawe is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the towns. What is special about this park however is the Elephant Transfer Home an orphanage and rehabilitation centre for orphaned and injured elephants supported by the Born Free Foundation. You can watch elephants being fed, but unlike the Pinawale Orphanage, the ETH cares only for the elephants well being. They have as little interaction with humans as possible. So far 65 elephants have been rehabilitated and let back into the wild. If you have your heart set on seeing and helping elephants, we suggest going to Udawalwe over the other Elephant Rehabilitation Centres. They are doing a great job.
Visit a Turtle Hatchery
Turtles are under great threat due to fishing, pollution, habitat loss and hunting. Turtle Hatcheries are doing their best to keep the turtle numbers alive and wel. One of the best is The Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. He loves turtles and lets them into the ocean nightly. You can even take part in their release if you go at sunset. A person can’t go to Sri Lanka without visiting a turtle hatchery. It is a right of passage of visiting the country.
Laze on the Beach
Sri Lanka has some great beach life. Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna and Kosgoda are some popular beaches, but you can still find secluded beaches all along Sri Lanka’s coast. Some are eroding away, but others are pristine. Rent a bicycle or motorbike and get out there to explore the island. The beaches are the number one reason why people come to Sri Lanka and once you see them, you can understand why.
Visit Sigiriya
The important archeological site Sigiriya is impressive. Gracing the covers of many Sri Lankan Guide books, hanging in the office of tour companies and standing proud on the cover of several coffee table books, it just may be Sri Lanka’s most recognizable site. It is also set in a beautiful location. Surrounded by jungle, villages and farmland Sigiriya is a location set back in time. Monkeys play on the trails and crocodiles dwell in its moat. The entry price is steep, but it is a beautiful view with an impressive museum as well. If you love history and archeology, Sigiriya is for you.
Have dinner with a local family

Nothing feels better than being invited to someones house for dinner. The Sri Lankan people are a giving bunch. They are the friendliest people we have met in all our travels and we made great friends with our Tuk Tuk driver Ajith and his family. What a wonderful experience getting a glimpse of local life in the country. If you are privileged enough to be invited to dinner, take it. It is a heartwarming evening filled with genuine hospitality.

Sri Lanka has everything that a traveler could possibly want. Adventure, spirituality, fine beaches and nightlife. A vacation to this destination will never disappoint.

Information from theplanetd.com
Rice and Curry
It is the main meal in almost every household. A typical Sri Lankan meal consists of rice served with curry of fish, meat or poultry, several other curries made with vegetables and pulses such as lentils (Dhal). Condiments such as chutneys and sambols are included. These are generally spicy and are made from various ingredients such as coconut, onions, lime juice and chillies. All the dishes are placed on the table at the same time for consumption.
Milk Rice (Kiribath) with Onion Sambola
Milk rice is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made with rice. It is a popular food served in auspicious and festive occasions (eg. Sinhala New Year, first day of each month). The dish is prepared by cooking rice with coconut milk. This is normally served with Onion Sambola (lunu miris), a fiery hot mix of red onions and spices, or bananas. This is also a traditional breakfast in Sri Lanka.

There are varieties of kiribath especially Mun kiribath, where green gram is added and the delicious Imbul Kiribath with its center filled with coconut and jaggery (Honey).
Sweetmeats – Kavum, Kokis, Asmi etc.

Traditional juicy sweetmeats are commonly prepared during Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrating times and other special occasions. These include Kavum, Kokis, Asmi, Halape and Thalaguli.

Kavum is a mushroom-shaped battercake of ground rice and treacle, fried in oil. There are several varieties of kavum. Among them the konda kavum is very popular.
Kokis is a dish made from rice flour and coconut milk.
Asmi is also a traditional sweetmeat in the shape of’string hoppers dipped in treacle.
Halape is a mixture of jaggery and flour, wrapped in a leaf.
Thalaguli is a ball of confectionary liberally peppered with sesame.

Other Sri Lanka sweetmeats include Kaludodol (a rich, dark, confection made from coconut milk, jaggery and cashew nuts), aluva, pumpkin preserve (puhul dosi) and Panivalalu (honey bangles).

Kottu
Kottu is very popular street fast food in Sri Lanka. It is made of shredded pieces of Sri Lankan paratha bread that are stir fried with an assortment of spices and a choice of other meaty (or vegetarian) ingredients.
Pol Sambol (coconut sambol)
Pol Sambola is prepared with grated coconut, onions, red chilli powder, lemon, salt and Maldive fish (cured tuna). It is usually eaten with rice. There is also Seeni Sambol: a very dark, rich, spicy-sweet onion relish.
Mallum – Gotukola sambal
Mallum is more like a green salad and prepared by mixing shredded green vegetables, onions, coconut and some basic spices for garnishing. The name Mallum literally means “mix up” and is usually a combination of shredded greens, onion, chilli, Maldive fish (Umbalakada) and coconut. Gotukola (Centella asiatica), Mukunuwenna (Alternanthera sessilis) and Kankung (Ipomea aquatica) Leaves are the local green leaves commonly used in Mallum. The most famous Green sambol (mallum) is made from fresh.
Thosai (Those)
Thosai and Vadai Is basically a lentil pancake soaked and ground to form a smooth batter, flavoured with fried shallots, curry leaves, fenugreek and cumin cooked in a hot griddle with sesame oil. Eaten with ground coconut and chilly sambol. VADAI: Classical accompaniment to dosai- a triumph of tamil cuisine, they are small savoury rissoles fashioned into cakes and deep fried in coconut oil.

It is prepared with Ulundu flour, Rice flour, wheat flour, Sugar, Salt, and yeast.
Dhal or Lentil currry (Parippu Hodi)
Dhal (Daal) curry is one of the main curries Sri Lankans eat day to day with rice, bread, roti or parata. The dhal lentils are often cooked with coconut milk and made into a rich stew that acts as a gravy for rice.
Hoppers (Appa) and String Hoppers (Indi Appa)

Hoppers and Egg Hoppers served with Sabmol and Banana

Hoppers and string hoppers are popular breakfast or dinner dishes in Sri Lanka.

Hoppers are much like sour-dough pancakes. The batter is fermented in the traditional way with a light palm toddy, which gives the hoppers a delicious liquor tang. Usually served with sambol. There are several types of hoppers – egg hoppers and a couple of sweeter varieties.

String hoppers are made from rice noodles curled into flat spirals. It is served for breakfast and dinner with a thin fish or chicken curry, containing only one or two pieces of meat, a dhal dish, and a spicy sambol or fresh chutney.

Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour fish curry)
Ambul Thiyal is a popular dried fish curry with a sour taste made in many homes in Sri Lanka. The dish can be stored for days at room temperature without getting spoilt. Goraka (Garcinia gummi-gutta) is the ingredient which helps to preserve the fish. It’s also responsible for the sour flavor in the dish.
Information from trip2lanka.com
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Village Fairs and Bazaars

Fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruit from village home gardens to home made buffalo curd and honey, or a hot cup of tea is always at hand for you to buy along the way as you explore the island. If you want to get a feel for the trading heart of Colombo, spend a hectic morning wandering the narrow streets of Pettah Bazaar where you will find anything from steel pots to the latest mobile phones. If you accept anybody’s offer to act as a guide, ensure you know the financial basis upon which this has been offered!

Antiques

Sri Lanka’s rich heritage with a blend of Asian and European influences extends to furniture and object d’art. There are several antique shops where antique Colonial period furniture to ornaments, Moorish porcelain, brass lamps and pottery can be purchased. Ambalangoda and Galle Fort are the most famous for antiques. There are several shops in Colombo as well where prices are somewhat higher than along the west coast.

Traditional Crafts

Traditional arts & crafts are produced in different parts of the island as home based cottage industries where intricate skills are passed down in generations. These crafts are best purchased from the villages where you can observe how they are produced. You can also purchase these crafts from the government run Laksala outlets in Colombo and Kandy or Lakpahana in Colombo.

Contemporary Crafts

Several local artisans and entrepreneurs have developed exquisite arts and crafts blending Sri Lankan heritage with contemporary design. These products are made of indigenous materials such as recycled paper, elephant dung, terracotta, and scented woods and oils, and handloom fabrics. Elephant dung stationery, scented candles, relaxing massage oils, handloom toys and linen, Sri Lanka T-shirts and souveniours as well as beautiful hand crafted object d’art are available for your home or for gifts.

Books

Shop for books on Sri Lanka’s ancient heritage, wildlife and nature, and its beautiful landscapes online at our own Red Dot Tours Bookshop. We stock an interesting range of titles on different topics that gives you a good overview of the country’s culture and its people. These titles as well as literary works of contemporary Sri Lankan authors are also available at all leading bookshops in Colombo, Kandy, and Galle. Books on Buddhism are available for purchase at Buddhist centres in Colombo.

Clothing

The Sari with its six yards of colourful fabric in silk or cotton is a must have for a woman heading home after a journey of discovery on this tropical island. Drape it on you, your bed or hang it on the windows and let it catch the sun as it sways in the wind. Saris vary from cotton ones for daily wear to exquisite handworked ones for special occasions including weddings. Saris are available across the country. Shops in Colombo have the best selection. The versatile sarong which is ideal to laze about in whether at home or on the beach, is another popular local dress for men and women. Visit Barefoot for their colourful handloom sarongs. Sri Lanka is also well known for its export quality western clothing with many of the international companies having their manufacturing factories on the island.

Art & Music

From temple paintings to contemporary design, the creative arts are vibrant and readily available for purchase in Sri Lanka. Just stroll down Colombo seven’s leafy Green Path where art works are displayed right along on the road. These are created by young students and other local artists. Purchasing directly from them ensures a much needed income which supplements their studies or full-time jobs. Once a year, Green Path becomes a hive of activity with the 'Kala Pola' – an art fair where artists from the regional towns also bring in their creations to sell. Works of well known local artists including George Keyt, Ivan Peries, Richard Gabriel, Lionel Wendt, Senaka Senanayake, Jagath Weerasinghe, Druvinka, and Muhanned Cader are exhibited in galleries such as the National Art Gallery, Sapumal Foundation, the Lionel Wendt, Barefoot Art Gallery and Paradise Road Gallery Café. Classical to contemporary fusion local music in Sinhala, Tamil and English is available on CD at various outlets in Colombo, Hikkaduwa, and Kandy. Take home a CD of the Hikka drummers and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see them performing live in Hikkaduwa whilst on your travels.

Cricket & Sports Good

Most internationally known brands including Nike, Reebok, Puma and Addidas have their outlets Colombo and sell a range of sports goods from clothing, shoes to sports gear. The ODEL sports shop located in the main Alexandra Place Department Store sells all these main sporting name brands. The Cricket Shop in Colombo 3 specialises in Cricket gear and for those interested in purchasing Sri Lankan cricket memorabilia, the souveniour shop at the Board of Control for Cricket has an interesting range.

Gems & Jewellery

Sri Lanka is famous for its precious and semi-precious gemstones including Blue Sapphires, Red Rubies, Cat’s Eyes, Alexandrites, Tourmalines, Zircons, Garnets, Amethysts and Topaz. The town of Ratnapura is home to a thriving gem and jewellery industry that dates back to ancient times. Here you can see gems being mined, cut and polished as well as purchase gems. This industry is monitored by the National Gem and Jewellery Authority which has outlets located in Colombo and Ratnapura to check the authenticity of gems that you have purchased. You can purchase exquisite gem studded jewellery set in gold, white gold or platinum in jewellery shops in Colombo, Galle, Kandy and Ratnapura. Given a period of about five days, they will create exquisite pieces to your specifications. Colombo has the best choice of reputed jewellery shops. When you are shopping for gems across the country, make sure you purchase stones from shops that are licensed with the National Gem and Jewellery Authority.

Handloom Products

Clothing, table linen, cushions, curtaining and upholstery fabrics in handspun cotton fabric made in the villages are popular for homes in the towns as well as for holiday homes on the beach. Barefoot’s signature fabrics with vibrant checks and stripes are wonderful to brighten up your home. Handloom soft furnishings and fabrics are also available at Seylin in Kurungella on the way to the Cultural Tirangle. Seylin also has an outlet in Colombo 5.

Tea

Take home a packet of world famous Ceylon Tea. You have the choice of savouring different blends of tea in a hill country tea factory and purchasing directly from estates such as Labookelle Tea Estate close to Nuwara Eliya, Bogawantalawa Tea Estates in Dickoya, Dambatanne Tea estate in Haputale, and the Tea Research Institute in Talawakelle. These teas are also marketed in specialist tea centres and grocery stores such as Cargills Food City and Keells Super in the main towns across the island. We highly recommend the world renowned Dilmah Teas and Mlesna Tea.

Spices

Sri Lanka is the world’s second largest cinnamon exporter. This precious crop is grown in estates along the south coast. You can purchase fresh cinnamon from plantations in Mirissa as well as in Koggala where villagers process cinnamon on an island on the Koggala Lake. Various aromatic spices and condiments such as mixed curry powder, chili powder, saffron, turmeric, cloves and cinnamon can be purchased from the main grocery stores. Ma’s spices are highly recommended.

Information from www.reddottours.com
Diversity

Sri Lanka is a small miracle partly due to the compact physical diversity of this pearl-shaped island - but, as we shall see, this diversity extends to virtually every aspect of life. Fringed by variously-shaped sublime beaches, from straight expanse to rocky cove, the island possesses a coastal plain containing a host of geographic features such as lagoons, wetlands, rivers and various types of wildlife-rich jungle.

The plain ends in the central area where the land starts to ascend into mist-shrouded mountains, covered in forests of wind-stunted trees (in fact there are seven different types of forest in Sri Lanka), plains known as patanas, and rolling tea plantations. In addition, the hillsides are invariably punctuated by dramatic waterfalls.For its size Sri Lanka has perhaps the largest number of waterfalls of any country.

People

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society, a reflection of the island’s encounter with successive foreign immigrants. But it all began with indigenous people, the Veddahs, hunter-gatherers who exist today.

The main ethnic groups are the Sinhalese and Tamils, both originally from the Indian subcontinent. Then there are Muslims, who settled in the island from the time it became an ancient trading centre. Similarly, Malays and Chinese were also attracted to the island.

The Portuguese and British brought with them Kaffirs from Africa, and the Dutch an assortment of European traders, the Burghers. There are other communities too, the Chetties from South India for example. . . the list is extraordinary

Whatever their situation in society, the people of Sri Lanka possess a warm and friendly nature reflected in persistent smiling faces and eagerness to help those unfamiliar with aspects of local life. You’ll find that Sri Lankans are very hospitable and take pride in inviting people to their homes, however modest they may be. So don’t be surprised if a driver or guide, or indeed virtually anyone encountered, requests the pleasure of your company. And don’t decline, as Sri Lankan hospitality is taken very seriously!

Cultural Heritage

Sri Lanka’s cultural depth is recognized by UNESCO, which has declared six archaeological World Heritage Sites in the country:

The sacred city of Anuradhapura
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa
The golden temple of Dambulla
The ancient city of Sigiriya
The sacred city of Kandy
The old town of Galle and its fortifications
(The seventh World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka is an ecological example, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve.)

From enormous dagobas (dome-shaped structures) and remains of ancient buildings in the ruined cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, to the awesome stairway to the temple at Dambulla and the sensual frescoes of heavenly maidens at the palace at the rock of Sigiriya, visitors can experience these World Heritage Sites within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle.

In the hill country lies the former royal capital of Kandy, home to the Dalada Maligawa or Sacred Temple of the Tooth, which houses the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. With its distinctive architecture, art and music, Kandy is a bastion of traditional culture.

In contrast, experience the colonial heritage of the country by heading south to the mid-17th c. Dutch fort at Galle, the best preserved in Asia. With 14 massive bastions, a grid system of streets, and some original Dutch bungalows, the fort bustles with life just as it did when Galle was the country’s main port. It’s simply one of the most unique attractions in Sri Lanka.

Festivals Year Around

Sri Lanka’s ancient civilization endows the island with a legacy of colourful festivals relating to the
Buddhist Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions.Furthermore, these festivals are commemorated with the
flair of a people with a genius for pageantry and ritual.


Every full moon day is a public holiday known as poya. The most important is in May – Vesak Poya - which marks the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and Pariniwana (passing away). Worth seeing are the illuminated pandals (bamboo frameworks), hung with pictures depicting events in the life of the Buddha.

Sri Lanka’s most tourist-oriented festival is the Kandy Esala Perahera, held in Kandy over 10 days in late July to early August and climaxing on Esala Poya.Perahera means “procession” and that’s exactly what occurs nightly - a magical passing-by of drummers, dancers, whip-crackers, acrobats and robed elephants. A caparisoned tusker carries the reason for the festival, the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha for the people to venerate.

Hindu festivals include Vel, held in Colombo in July, in which God Skanda’s silver-plated chariot and vel (spear) are paraded across the city, and the Kataragama Festival in the deep south, also connected with Skanda, in which fire-walkers participate.

Ayurveda & Spas

Sri Lanka has always been a place that refreshes not just the mind and body, but also the soul and
spirit. And for thousands of years, the most popular method used to restore and rejuvenate tired
bodies and weary souls has been Ayurveda – the oldest and most holistic medical system available
in the world


Sri Lanka has been a centre of spiritual and physical healing for 2,000 years. Ayurvedic programmes consist of a range of herbal treatments and various types of baths and massages, together with cleansing and revitalization techniques such as yoga, meditation and special diets.

Sri Lanka now has a number of spas, mainly on the west coast, which not only provide Ayurveda but also other Eastern and Western therapies, such as Thai massage, hydrotherapy, herbal baths, reflexology and beauty treatments. For those seeking spiritual nourishment, meditation courses are also available.

Wildlife

The need to conserve the environment was deeply ingrained in traditional Sri Lankan society: in the 3rd c. BC, the country’s first Buddhist monarch established the world’s first wildlife sanctuary. Today, this tradition continues with 13% of Sri Lanka conserved as national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and jungle corridors.


Sri Lanka possesses a high degree of biodiversity. Indeed the island (together with the Western Ghats of India) has been identified by Conservation International as one of 34 world biodiversity hot spots. In addition, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s remarkable is the high proportion of endemic species.

A safari in one of the 14 national parks offers the chance to see some of Sri Lanka’s 91 mammals (16 endemic) - elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, spotted deer, hog, mouse- and barking-deer, wild boar, porcupine, ant-eater, civet cat, loris, giant squirrel, and monkeys such as the macaque, purple-faced leaf monkey and grey langur.

The island is an ornithologist’s paradise, with over 233 resident species, (33 endemic) - but migratory species stretch the number to an astounding 482. There are 171 reptiles (101 endemic including two crocodile species). Thankfully, only five of the 83 snake species are lethal. In recent years there has been a surge in the discovery of amphibians, so that by the time you read this, the figure of 106 (90 endemic), will no doubt have risen.

Adventure and Special Interest Sports

With over 1,600km of coast, Sri Lanka is an ideal location for wind-surfing, water-skiing, surfing, sailing,scuba-diving (including wreck-diving), snorkelling, speed-boating and banana-boating. Prime water-sports sites are located in the Negombo region on the west coast, Wadduwa, Kalutara and Beruwela on the south-western coast, and Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna, Koggala, Tangalle and Hambantota on the southern and south-eastern coasts. Water-sports providers are run by local and foreign professionals (including PADI-qualified instructors) and rent state-of-the-art equipment


Sri Lanka possesses over 100 hundred rivers, together with lagoons and ‘tank’ (irrigation lakes), so there are plentiful opportunities for year-round kayaking and canoeing, perhaps combined with a camping trip. Two popular locations are the Kalu Ganga and the Kelani Ganga (rivers).

The Kelani Ganga near Kitulgala has fast headwaters and rapids ideal for white-water rafting (from November to April only), with names such as Virgin’s Breast, Head Chopper, Killer Fall, Rib Cage and Slot and Drop.

Varied landscape, wildlife, and archaeological sites offers excellent opportunities for trekking. Nature trails of exceptional interest include the Sinharaja rainforest, the cloud-forests of Horton Plains, the Knuckles (mountain range), and Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve.

In addition, para-gliding, rock climbing, cave treks and mountain biking are possible.

Hotels

Sri Lanka has an assortment of accommodation options. Colombo features not only a host of modern five-star hotels but also iconic colonial-era hotels with the charm and romance of a bygone era.

The island is generally blessed with impressive hotels usually situated in stunning settings. The coastal areas, especially the west and south, have innumerable resort hotels, where package tourists mostly stay. Several are designed by Geoffrey Bawa, one of the 20th-century’s foremost Asian architects. Bawa’s vision encompasses a style referred to as ‘tropical modernism’ in which forms of modernism are beautifully softened and enriched by traditional influences and surrounding landscapes. There are also an increasing number of boutique hotels on the west and south coast, mainly centred at Galle.

Hill country towns such as Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela feature colonial era hotels, and for those who venture farther afield, perhaps to indulge in adventure sports, there are beautifully converted colonial homes, tea and rubber plantation buildings, jungle cabins, tree-houses and eco-lodges as well as camping under canvas.

Food

The cultivation of many types of rice, spices, vegetables and fruit, coupled with past foreign influences, ensures that Sri Lanka enjoys a varied and select cuisine. As a staple, rice is consumed with an assortment of colourful curries (eggplant, potato, green banana, chicken, fish) that range in potency from delicately-spiced to near-dynamite.

Other Sri Lankan staples include hoppers (a pancake-like snack), string hoppers (steamed rice noodles) and pittu (a mixture of flour and coconut). Lamprais - rice and accompaniments baked in plantain leaves - is a legacy of the Dutch. Seafood lovers will rejoice at the fresh fish, prawns, crab, squid and crayfish available. Desserts include buffalo curd eaten with palm-honey, and the Malay-derived caramel-like wattalapam.

Sri Lanka has a wonderful array of snacks, known as short eats, named cutlets, patties, malu pang (fish bun), and kimbula bunis (crocodile-shaped bun!) that are excellent for trips.

Delectable fruit includes the popular mango, pineapple, banana and papaya, but also many lesser-known but distinctive examples such as sapodilla, mangosteen, rambuttan, woodapple, custard apple and beli.

Shopping

Shopping in Sri Lanka can take many forms: haggling with a handicraft-seller while sunbathing on the beach; choosing fruit from the traditional village store, the kadé,while side-stepping sacks of rice;or checking out the bargain-priced latest international fashions (Sri Lanka is a major garment exporter) while enjoying the ambience of a luxurious shopping centre in Colombo.

And there’s much in between. Visit a handicraft shop and familiarize yourself with traditional designs such as makara (a mythical animal, lion, swan, elephant and lotus which are most evident in brasswork (boxes, trays, lanterns, vases) and silverware (ornately carved and filigree jewellery, tea-sets) that make excellent souvenirs. In addition, ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and handloom textiles, lace, and wood carvings are popular.

Last but certainly not least, Sri Lanka has the widest variety of precious stones among the world’s gem producing countries - blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, cat’s eye, garnets, moonstones, aquamarines and topazes being just a dazzling handful. What’s more, Sri Lanka naturally has a tradition in jewellery-making, so you can bring your gems to life.

Information from www.srilanka.travel