Lipton’s Seat – A stunning viewpoint in Sri Lanka

Lipton’s Seat is the favored viewpoint of Sir Thomas Lipton who created extensive tea plantations in the hills of Sri Lanka. Located slightly off Haputale town, this attraction is popular amongst road trippers in search of a Mountain View holiday. Marking the launch of tea exports from Sri Lanka, this historic landmark provides breathtaking views before 9.00 am on most clear mornings.

The creation of the landmark

During the British era in Sri Lanka, Sir Thomas Lipton, a Scottish businessman, liked to relax with a cup of tea and happily observe the landscapes he had taken over. There was one particular spot that gave him a complete picture of the hills and that spot is how the story of Lipton’s Seat came into being. Lipton’s endeavors in Sri Lanka began in the late 1800s – purchasing tea plantations and arranging for Tamil Indian workers to grow and manufacture tea on them. His brand of tea was known as Lipton Ceylonta – which soon became internationally renowned. Even today, the tea from Lipton’s Dambatenna Estate reaches countries across the world.

Lipton View

Haputale is one of the best places to be for a picturesque and peaceful holiday. Fresh air, rolling hills, green plains, beautiful mountain ranges – all this is quite mind-blowing. And if you are a photographer, you definitely won’t stop clicking and clicking and clicking until your camera is out of film/memory!

When you get to the actual point of Lipton’s Seat you will see a statue of Thomas Lipton seated on a bench with a cup of tea in his hand! Selfie addicts are going to enjoy this one for sure! If you reach here early morning, you have a splendid view of the southern, central and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka on a clear day. By 10 am the clouds will start rolling in and all you can see will be just a big white space.

Lipton Folk

Dambatenne Tea Estate is where Lipton’s Seat is located and this tea plantation is home to a large community of Tamils mostly who migrated from South India as workers for Lipton’s plantation. This community had a tough time gaining a status. For decades India and Sri Lanka denied their citizenship but in the late 1990s, Sri Lanka finally welcomed them as citizens.

Around the morning hours at Lipton’s Seat, you will see children of these Tamil families heading to school in uniform while the women gear up in their tea-plucking attire and head off to the hedges for work. A Kovil is placed on the quiet area of the estate – for serving the Hindu Tamils of the community.

Getting There

To get to Lipton’s Seat, you first need to travel to Haputale, which is about six hours from Colombo. From Haputale, it’s a journey up a narrow road – a service usually offered by tuk-tuks in the area. You could either drive up to the top or wander on foot through the lush green tea estates whilst enjoying cool mountain breeze and the increasingly beautiful view of the plantations, climaxing with the best panorama at the summit. It is advisable to reach this viewpoint by 8am so that you are able to enjoy the views before the fog creates obstruction.

When in Haputale

Apart from absorbing the scenic beauty in Haputale, you could schedule a visit to the Dambatenna Tea Factory. The lawn is decorated with some pretty hill country flowers and as you enter the actual working arena, you might feel like you are watching a film from the 1980s. For a small fee, the staff, dressed in ancient costumes, will show you around all the machinery and explain everything there is to know about the tea manufacturing process. While you are here, be prepared to inhale strong aromas of tea!

Another interesting activity on your holiday itinerary is to schedule an early morning hike with a nature guide from your hotel – wander through the hills, look out for unique flora and fauna, and take in more of that stunning beauty.

Tip

Get to Lipton’s Seat at sunrise and enjoy a magical sunrise experience.

A Turtle loving Sri Lankan Holiday!

Sri Lanka is an ideal country to include a Turtle Watching activity on your holiday itinerary. Out of the seven kinds of sea turtles, five species come to the shores of southern Sri Lanka for nesting purposes. Let’s talk about these species, the nesting process, and some details about where you can witness this exciting activity in Sri Lanka.

Five sea turtle species in Sri Lanka

  1. Olive Ridley Turtle

Although the smallest of its family, Olive Ridley Turtles are one of the most common types that you will see on the shores of Sri Lanka. September to November is their peak nesting period during which they appear in large numbers.

  1. Leatherback Turtle

Leatherbacks are the largest of sea turtles feeding almost exclusively on jellyfish. Sometimes they fall prey to plastic bags floating in the water, mistaking those for jellyfish. This plastic lines up around the turtles stomach, causing it to starve to death.

  1. Green Turtle

All nesting sites in Sri Lanka report to have seen Green Turtles – most popularly reported in Kosgoda and Rekawa. Green turtles usually nest all year round in Sri Lanka but from January to March seems to be their peak season.

  1. Hawksbill Turtle

With a hawk-like pointed beak and a colorful, overlapping scute, the Hawksbill Turtle is smaller in size compared to other marine turtles. Inside their flesh, these turtles are able to store toxins from jellyfish, sponges and crustaceans. This is why consuming their flesh is fatal.

  1. Loggerhead Turtle

These are the least common of all marine turtles that nest in Sri Lankan shores. As its name suggests, Loggerhead turtles have large heads and a pair of muscular jaws. Their carapace has a distinguishing color – varying shades of brown. The peak nesting season for these turtles is from November to January.

Turtle Watching locations in southern Sri Lanka

  1. Rekawa – is where the Rekawa Turtle Watch conservation project is located. 220kms from the Airport, it takes about 6 hours to reach Rekawa.
  2. Hikkaduwa – while this is a famous beach for surfing and diving, turtle watching is possible here too.
  3. Kosgoda – is where the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project is located and is the closest location from the airport. Kosgoda is a small village, popular for top notch Ayurvedic spas and a calm holiday environment.
  4. Induruwa – more popular for surfing, but turtles have been seen on this beach too.
  5. Beruwala – just 80kms from the airport, a good location for a holiday on one of the best beach resorts in Sri Lanka; and while you are at it, enjoy turtle watching as well!

Sea Turtle Conservation Projects

The Rekawa Turtle Watch and the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project are two popular turtle hatcheries in Sri Lanka. The main objective of these being to monitor local sea turtle activity and conserve those sites where turtles often nest.

At the hatchery, turtle eggs are rescued, collected and stored to hatch safely away from its predators and then carefully released into the sea during the night time. This program aims to maximize the number of hatchlings reaching the sea and surviving at such critical stages of their early life. From all batches of hatchlings, only a few make it to adulthood. This is why every nesting ground, egg, hatchling and turtle is crucial in maintaining the survival of the sea turtle species.

Visitors can schedule a ‘turtle watching’ activity almost any evening of the year. Volunteers from these turtle conservation projects lead groups of visitors between 8.30pm – 11.30pm to a nesting site where they can watch turtles laying eggs and returning to sea.

Nesting Process

The best time to approach sea turtles are when they start laying eggs. At this time, they are engaged in a trance like mechanical behavior and therefore, spectators will not frighten them. Some waiting is required in this activity because it is a natural process and the time and place is decided by the turtle – not us! The entire nesting process could take about 3 hours – which can include ‘false alarms’. April to July is the overall peak season for nesting in Sri Lanka where you may see about 5-15 turtles every night. The other months there are sightings of only one or two turtles a night.

Also, there is no guarantee that there will be a turtle nesting on the beach every night. But then again, a peaceful night on a deserted Sri Lankan beach under a star-lit sky is a mesmerizing experience in itself!

10 Sri Lankan Food you MUST TRY!

1. Achcharu

In Sinhalese, ‘achcharu’ means a ‘mixture of ingredients’ – which is often used to add flavor to a main meal; most often at lunch time. You will taste various types of achcharu in different parts of the country and the taste will vary too. Some of the most common ingredients include mango, ambarella, lime and onions with a topping of chili and olives. For take home purposes, bottled versions of achcharu can also be found at supermarkets.

2. Ambulthiyal

This is an authentic Sri Lankan sour-fish curry which is one of the most favorite spicy dishes amongst locals as well as spice loving tourists. If you can handle the initial rush of hot chili, you will be hooked onto this dish. Local cooks prepare this dish by cooking tuna or any other type of blood-fish with grounded goraka (Gambooge), salt, pepper, cloves and cardamom.

3. Kavum

An iconic symbol of the local New Year is Kavum – a scrumptious oil cake which is served with kiribath (milk rice) and other sweet eats during the festive season. Kavum is made with fine rice-flour and coconut oil and is ranked amongst the most auspicious fare at the dawn of the New Year.

4. Crab

The crabs from the lagoons of Sri Lanka are world renowned and also exported to Singapore and other countries across the world. There are many ways in which crab is prepared and is a much sought after seafood dish at the beach destinations in Sri Lanka as it provides a signature ‘melt in the mouth’ experience.

5. Hoppers

Classified as the most famous breakfast dish in Sri Lanka – hoppers, or ‘appa’ in Sinhalese, are wafer-thin cup shaped pancakes. The rice-flour batter is fermented overnight and includes other ingredients such as coconut milk and palm toddy. It takes special talent to master the art of making hoppers. A perfect hopper is crisp on the edges, and soft and spongy at the center. Egg, cheese, sweet coconut milk and other varieties are added at the center to enhance the variety of hoppers.

6. Pittu

Pittu is one of those Sri Lankan dishes that was influenced by the Malay regiments during the ruling of the European colonial period. Now an essential part of Sri Lankan cuisine, Pittu is made with a mixture of fresh rice meal, freshly grated and roasted coconut. A bamboo or steel mould is used to steam the mixture into the shape of a log.

7. Milk Rice

Kiribath is the Sinhalese name for milk rice, a traditional food specialty cooked on special occasions. According to some Sri Lankans, kiribath brings good luck! For making this dish, rice is cooked in thick coconut milk until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. It is then laid out on a platter for cooling and cutting into cake-like pieces. Kiribath is served with a sharp chili chutney referred to as ‘lunumiris’ or a sweet alternative of treacle and coconut mix called ‘panipol’.

8. Kottu Roti

Kottu Roti is an all-in-one Sri Lankan meal cooked with a whole lot of godamba roti (thin bread) cut into strips, curry, meat and vegetables. To prepare this meal, the ingredients are laid out on an iron tray over a burning fire and two blunt metal cleavers are used to chop and mix the ingredients.

9. String Hoppers

Indiappa, or String Hoppers is another popular breakfast dish in Sri Lanka, which originates from southern India and is also available in Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries. Rice flour dough is squeezed through a sieve onto mini woven trays to produce thin spaghetti like strings which are steamed for cooking one on top of the other.

10. Polos Curry

Polos is the Sinhalese name for jackfruit – a large fruit with a coarse, green skin and hundreds of yellow succulent segments inside. This can be eaten fresh or the young green jackfruit is often cooked into a curry which is loved among Sri Lankans – so much that it is now canned and exported to other parts of the world where Sri Lankans reside.

Top five reasons why you should wed in Sri Lanka

Whom you wed and when you wed is not as important as where you wed, who’s on the guest list and how much it costs! The choices for destination weddings in today’s world are endless – peaceful beaches of Goa, sun kissed Greek Islands, countryside mansions, cruise liners and much more.

So why choose Sri Lanka as your destination wedding? Here are the top five reasons why more and more couples are deciding on Sri Lanka as a fairytale destination wedding location.

1. Lush Locations

Whether you are looking at a small scale private ceremony including just your immediate family members within the privacy of an exclusively luxury hotel or a gala celebration with over a hundred people on your guest list at one of the beautiful coastal resorts, Sri Lanka offers wedding locations to suit every couple’s idealistic demands.

Galle Fort Hotel or the colonial atmosphere of the Mount Lavinia Hotel would be some ideal choices for a beach location while Hunas Falls and Heritance Kandalama offer some stunning hill country backdrops for your big day. Because one size doesn’t fit all, Sri Lanka presents a range of panoramic wedding locations across the island – from beaches to lush mountains to waterfalls to wildlife and much more!

2. Package Deals

When planning a wedding, attention to detail is important. Sri Lankan hotels are well aware about this and spend extra time in creating ‘package deals’ for those who want to wed in Sri Lanka.  These packages include the organizing of flowers, candles, tiered wedding cakes, photo albums, music, decoration, champagne, Henna application, singers, drummers, dancers, and even fire blowers! In fact, these things are just a few from the long list of extras that your hotel can add on to the cost of your wedding package. By offering these services in one package, the couple is saved from the stress and hassle of finding several vendors, dealing with different kinds of suppliers and having to settle bills from all over.

And the list doesn’t end just yet – some package deals offer complimentary two nights stay for the newlywed couple in a honeymoon suite!

3. Private Villas

If you are not a fan of gala celebrations at fancy five star hotels, Sri Lanka also offers more intimate settings for your big day at private beach and ocean side villas or even town or country villas that offer a cozy atmosphere and a personal touch. Saman Villas in the southern coast of Bentota offers an exclusive garden setting package with a special six course lobster dinner for your guests. Lavender House in Pussellawa (heart of the tea country) offers romantic backdrops with log fires, period furniture and an environment of a bygone era – ideal for small and intimate functions.

4. Natural Décor

Imagine the grooms grand entrance on an elephant while the bride’s elegant entrance is on an aisle decorated with natural palm trees on either side. This paradise island offers an abundance of natural beauty which is a blessing when you want to create a picture perfect wedding environment, not forgetting to mention that the natural beauty helps save a lot of money that you would otherwise spend on decoration.

In Sri Lanka, you can expect natural beauty such as sandy beaches, coconut groves, frangipani trees, luscious mountains, cliffs, sprawling tea estates, waterfalls and national parks.

5. Celebrations

Regardless of whether you are a Muslim, Jew, Christian or Hindu, this traditional Buddhist nation will allow any sort of wedding celebrations with absolute splendor – worthy of your big day.

Diversity in Sri Lanka is not just in terms of natural landscapes and tourist attractions but also in terms of customs and traditions. Ranging from the fun-fulled Sangeet to the Waleema wedding banquet, all occasions are celebrated with equal importance. Also, with plenty of temples, kovils, mosques and churches sprawled across the island, you could have an authentic wedding celebration similar to those in your hometown!

Melting pot of Faiths

Festive seasons in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankans are known for the love of holidays – and there is always a guarantee of one holiday every month – a full moon Poya day; significant to Buddhists and hence declared a public holiday. Because the island owns a mixture of religions and ethnicities, every holiday brings a feeling of excitement for everyone, and of course a better understanding of the different religions, culture and traditions.

Deepavali

The Hindu festival of lights is in celebration of Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya – after defeating Ravana, and Lord Krishna’s win over the Narakasura demon. The overall theme of these sagas is that the good will always triumph over evil and hence light is a symbol of diminishing the darkness.

Preparations of this festival usually begin five days prior – with the cleaning of homes. The night of the festival coincides with the night that has the darkest new moon – providing an ideal backdrop for the bright glow coming from thousands of clay lamps lit in homes and temples.

Devotees visit Temples dressed in new clothes to offer Pooja to Goddess Lakhsmi – the God of fertility and prosperity. They then indulge in the compulsory tradition of milk and ghee based sweet eats.

Sowing Season

Begins on Vap Poya day in the month of October – lasting for a month, and ends on Il poya day that comes in November (which also coincides with the end of the Southwest monsoon). The sowing season is also known as the Katina period where devotees put together new robes for the monks and gift these to the Temple during Pooja.

Beating drums, talented dancers and a few elephants gather together at about 4.00am to carry these robes in a procession to the nearby temple. This was a traditional ritual performed by ancient royalty in Sri Lanka.

Oh, and it is interesting to note that it was on the day of Il Poya that the foundation for the first ever Buddhist stupa in ancient Anuradhapura was laid. Furthermore, according to the legends, it was during this season that Lord Buddha’s chief disciple was appointed and the next heir to the throne was enlightened and entered the order with a 500-strong retinue.

Christmas

Whether you are entering a commercial environment or a Christian home, Christmas preparations begin as soon as the month of December arrives. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, notice how streets and hotels across the island create wondrous sights with Christmas carols humming in the atmosphere.

Within homes, adults, children and even pets are cleaned and groomed for the festival. Christmas trees are put up in homes and streets and decorated with baubles, streamers and lights as Christmas gets closer. The delectable fragrance of the unique Sri Lankan Christmas cake and other tasty treats is everywhere!

When Christmas Eve arrives, everything is a whirl. Streets are packed with people completing their last minute shopping list and gifts for loved ones, yet they somehow find time for church in between. It is not just the Christians but the entire nation joins in the celebrations. Christmas is a season where the nation unites to enjoy a religious holiday centered around love, laughter, joy, hope, peace and sharing!

Eid-ul-Fitr

One of the most significant celebrations for the Muslims in Sri Lanka (and across the world) is the Eid that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is celebrated on the 1st day of the 10th month of the Lunar calendar (and does not coincide with the Gregorian calendar hence the English dates vary). As Eid approaches, Muslims are out shopping for new clothes, gifts for their loved ones and groceries for preparing scrumptious meals.

Eid festivities last for about a week or so – where people dress up in new clothes, ladies apply henna on their hands, and families go visiting homes of their relations, exchange food and gifts of cash and kind. Some particularly popular food that is prepared during Eid are – different types of Biryani, Watalappam and Sheer Kurma. Dates are a popular fruit throughout the month of Ramadan and during the Eid Festival.

Wesak

Another very important Buddhist festival celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha is Wesak – the Buddhist festival of lights. Wesak is celebrated on the Poya day in the month of May every year. The exterior of every Buddhist home is decorated with skilfully crafted wesak lanterns in various colors. The streets are also lightened up with these lanterns and Pandols (telling stories of ancient Buddhism). Many families put up stalls on the road known as Wesak Dansals – where free food, drinks and ice cream is distributed to the public. These lanterns and pandols are exhibited on the streets for about a week. During peak wesak season, families gather in trucks, three wheelers, vans and by foot to explore the beautiful lanterns, visit a Dansal and enjoy a fun-filled night out.

Exotic Creations from the Potter’s Wheel

The art of working with and moulding clay into decorative ornaments and usable utensils has been in existence for millenniums in Sri Lanka. Literally millenniums! Way before any colonization took over in the island and before its Sri Lankans were grouped into one social category or the other, pottery and clayware was initiated and went through sociopolitical changes for more than a thousand years.

Today, both local and foreigners are attracted to the pottery industry – although it may be for different reasons.

Techniques

The pottery trade in Sri Lanka has remained more or less consistent in terms of techniques and methods. A potter’s wheel is used to manually mould the clay into artefacts and utensils, after which they are exposed to high temperatures in a kiln. In the ancient era, a kiln was a furnace made with brick and fired with wood.

The ordinary furnace is also particularly important in the final design of the clay item. Different techniques are used for firing, which influences the final color that appears on the clay work. Looking at just one example – when earthenware is kept upside down in the kiln, a black color appears on the inside and a red on the outside, depending on the color of clay used.

While clay is available in red, white, blue and yellow, the most abundant and widely used in Sri Lanka is red clay. While, blue and yellow clay are seen in a few areas but are more common in the ceramic and porcelain sectors as a supplement to the primary industry.

The local and tourist market

In Sri Lankan homes, it is not uncommon to see that cooking in earthenware is more popular over modern cookware, particularly when authentic local cuisine is being prepared. It is these clay pots that are the secret to producing the authentic flavors in preparation of Sri Lankan curries. Hence the pottery industry has a good fan base in the local as well as tourist markets.

In manufacturing clay pots, artisans consider functionality over decorative motifs – as a result reducing cost and prime value of the products that are used for cooking on a daily basis. From the beginning of the clay ware industry, potters have created clay items from cooking and storing food and water, along with other household items such as for storing dry rations, clothes and other essentials. Producing artwork and decorative motifs on the clayware hiked up the price and were considered royal items.

Today, artwork on clayware is seen mostly in large vases, pots and other household decorative items, decorative dinner ware, water mugs and so on. This variety of decorative clayware is popular amongst the tourists as well.

Evolutions in the pottery industry

In the ancient world, the island of Ceylon was a trading hub for people from the Far East, Middle East and Africa. These travelers also possessed knowledge of their own art forms, which influenced Sri Lankan potters and artisans to incorporate those techniques into their own work.

In modern times, to keep up with the changes in social norms and design etiquettes, Sri Lankan potters have re-defined their artwork and catered to the growing demand. Including color in clay or dying clay, intricately designing clay items, glazing and polishing clayware are some of the changes that the pottery industry has seen. So don’t forget to pick up some of this unique clayware as souvenir during your holiday in Sri Lanka.

The versatility of this earthenware, since ancient times, proves its durability and continuous development on the island over thousands of years.

20 essential things to see and do in Colombo

  1. Galle Face Green
    A long stretch of land alongside the Indian Ocean, the Galle Face Green is a public walkway and playground. Located close to the old Parliament of Sri Lanka, some of the best hotels in Colombo are also stretched out on the opposite side of this promenade.
  1. Beira Lake
    The beautiful Beira Lake occupies 65 hectares, is located in the heart of Colombo and is surrounded by the city’s business district. During the colonial era, the lake played an important role of transporting goods within the city.
  1. Gangarama Temple
    Located at the center of Beira Lake, this is one of the most esteemed temples in the country. The beautiful brass work, stone carvings and other Buddhist art that decorates the Temple is an attraction for locals and tourists alike. The complex houses a place of learning, a museum, a library and a residential hall.
  1. Dehiwala Zoo
    More towards the outskirts of Colombo, the Dehiwala Zoo is home to some intriguing and magnificent animals. It hosts a comprehensive array of bird and animal species along with an aquarium, covering exotic and vibrant marine life.
  1. Dutch Museum
    It is an honor indeed to have a Dutch period Museum still in existence today and Sri Lanka is the only former colony in the world to have preserved one. Originally the residence of Ceylon’s Dutch Governor, this unique museum has been used as a Catholic seminary, a police station, a military office and a post office. Exhibits at this museum include Dutch colonial furniture and other artefacts.
  1. BMICH
    This was the first ever purpose built convention center in Asia – Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. Surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, the BMICH is inclusive of modern conventional halls and high tech equipment.
  1. Independence Square
    Independence Square is the well maintained park around the Independence Commemoration Hall and is one of the most visited locations in Colombo. Residents of Colombo are often found here for recreation and walking. One of the unique features of the Independence Commemoration Hall are the skilfully crafted lions guarding the monument.
  1. Lotus Pond Theatre
    Also known as the ‘Nelum Pokuna’ Performing Arts Theatre, this state-of-the-art performance center is ideal for large scale theatrical productions. The Lotus Pond Theatre has a massive auditorium as well as an open-air amphitheater. Located in the heart of the city, its easy access makes it the ultimate choice for local and foreign productions.
  1. Mount Lavinia Hotel
    One of the British Governors of Ceylon – Sir Thomas Maitland had a desire to build a love nest; thereby resulting in what is known today as the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Its rich history, Victorian-era ambience, gourmet cuisine (especially seafood varieties) and exceptional service is on par in making this luxury beach resort an exceptional venue.
  1. Planetarium
    Constructed by German engineers and established in 1965, the Planetarium is seen in the shape of a lotus in full blossom and can seat about 500 visitors. The Planetarium features and artificial sky to get a glimpse of the nighttime sky through a colossal universal projector.
  1. National Museum
    Being Sri Lanka’s largest, the National Museum in Colombo boasts an exclusive collection of relics from the several kingdoms that ruled the island. Also housed are artefacts and memorabilia from the prehistoric ages. The establishment of the museum took place during the reign of British Colonial Governor, Sir William Henry and was recently refurbished to bring it to a premium standard.
  1. City Tour by Bus
    Ebert Silva Holidays and Sri Lanka Tourism holds monopoly of the city tour of Colombo which is a part of the night sightseeing program. Passengers aboard this double decker open-air bus are taken on a guided tour of Colombo – the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
  1. Colombo Fort and Pettah
    Pettah is an extension of Colombo Fort (the business hub), spreading its arms into the city’s north. The bazaar caters to wholesale and retail businesses with everything ranging from textiles to groceries to stationery and toys.
  1. Ayurveda
    For centuries, Ayurveda has been practiced in Sri Lanka and India. The treatment makes use of natural herbs and remedies to strengthen the power of resistance in one’s body, thereby combating chronic illnesses. All this is done in a manner that pampers and relaxes the guest at a luxury spa.
  1. Gem Museum
    An intriguing place to visit in Colombo is the Gem Museum with its unusual entrance that looks more like an opening of a gem mine. At the museum, one can learn about some precious stones that are often set into earrings, pendants and bracelets. Beautifully crafted ready-made jewelry is also a great attraction here.
  1. Colombo Gold Center
    A few years ago, the St. John’s Fish Market was transformed into the Colombo Gold Center, and when this happened, some of its original characteristics were retained! While gems, gold and silver are cleverly displayed at sophisticated air-conditioned shops on the ground floor, vendors on the upper floor sell fishing equipment and other chemical supplies.
  1. Mount Lavinia Beach
    While you are exploring the former lover’s nest at Mount Lavinia Hotel, don’t miss the city’s most popular beach destination – Mount Lavinia. This stretch lies along a windswept headland – into the Indian Ocean, thereby producing a lovely beach line for city residents to enjoy.
  1. Shopping
    Shopping in Colombo means a visit to modern shopping malls and specialty retail outlets that offer quality goods at amazingly affordable prices, with special offers always on the go. For more bargains without the high standard surroundings, visit the street vendors and outdoor markets. In terms of goods, check out the clothing, gems, handicrafts, jewelry and of course, the world famous tea industry.
  1. Night Bazaar – Green Path
    A nighttime fair that is open from time to time alongside Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha in Colombo is an interesting attraction for tourists and travelers as a hotspot for shopping and experiencing the best of Sri Lankan street food.
  1. Royal Colombo Golf Club
    Located in the heart of the city, the Royal Colombo Golf Club is surrounded by high end residential areas. As opposed to what its surroundings may sound like, the Golf Club is much of an exquisite and peaceful environment for relaxation, unwinding and a bit of tee-off. The picturesque landscape and a glimpse of some rare flora and fauna species on the golf course provide for a lovely country-side environment.

Sri Lanka – the Island of vibrant passions

While Sri Lanka is a magnificent and highly recommended tourist destination, the secret of the nation’s hospitality begins with its people – spice addicted, cricket fanatics and mega tea drinkers – Sri Lankan’s are warm and welcoming with big hearts and wide smiles – ALWAYS!

The culture and society in Sri Lanka is infiltrated with 3000 years of knowledge, a collection of religious ethnicities and colonial traditions that are different, yet comparable in many ways. Very few countries in the world have a rich cultural diversity, but the identity of a Sri Lankan is unique. Along with the customs and traditions that are passed on from generations, the nation’s religious blend plays an important role in creating this identity.

This fusion of ethnicities and religions reflects explicitly in Sri Lankan cuisine – which is a mix of remnants from the Portuguese, British and Dutch colonizers along with traditional sweetmeats that are everywhere during the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Given that Sri Lanka produces some of the world’s best tea and spices, locals prefer their tea light, and food spicy. The British introduced tea in Sri Lanka during the 19th century and today, Ceylon Tea, Dilmah, Mlesna and Lipton are some of the most popular brands.

There are quite a few spices gardens in Sri Lanka, often visited by locals and tourists. During the ancient historic times, when Sri Lanka was known as Taprobane, the high quality of spices was the reason why Arabs, Greeks and Romans maintained links with the island by means of the spice trade.

Here’s a list of spices that Sri Lanka is renowned for:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Pepper
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Turmeric
  • Fenugreek
  • Cumin
  • Sweet Cumin
  • Curry Leaves
  • Lemon Grass
  • Gamboge

The gem industry in Sri Lanka is another remarkable achievement with its long and vibrant history. Once known as the “Island of Gems”, till today, tourists are always craving to have a look at Sri Lankan gems. While the blue sapphire is the most famed jewel in the country, other widely showcased gemstones include:

  • Padparadscha
  • Ruby
  • Star sapphires
  • Yellow sapphire
  • Spinel
  • Alexandrite
  • Beryl
  • Tourmaline
  • Moonstone
  • Quartz

In addition to these fine jewels, Sri Lanka was also once well known for its skilfully crafted ivory ornaments – which were exported to many parts of Europe. Many of these delicate treasures are exhibited across museums in Europe, which is proof of how skills were handed down from fathers to sons during those days in Sri Lanka.

During a holiday in Sri Lanka, the young and the fit could try their hands at a type of martial arts known as Angampora. Home to the island, this sport is a combination of combat techniques, self-defense, exercise and meditation. The key component is hand-to-hand fighting, but native weapons such as staves, knives and swords are also used.

And last, but certainly not the least, cricket is the ultimate passion of almost every Sri Lankan – and Sri Lanka can be classified as the best place for a cricketing holiday. Irrespective of caste, race and creed, cricket is a gentleman’s game that brings everyone together. Cricket had begun in Sri Lanka long before the nation gained Test status in 1982, and is still similar to a religion in this beautiful jewel of an island.

Most happening shopping malls/precincts in Colombo, Sri Lanka

  • Crescat Boulevard

This upmarket shopping complex is a three storied structure where you will find all the designer wear, boutiques, cosmetics and sportswear. Apart from an alluring shopping experience, guests are often attracted to the exciting dining experience provided at the extensive Crescat food court. Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan varieties of food are available to choose from. Crescat Boulevard also has a cyber café, kids play area, a supermarket and handicraft shops to add to your mall experience.

  • Liberty Plaza

Liberty Plaza was Sri Lanka’s first shopping mall – recently renovated, the complex looks extremely attractive. Offering public plazas and cafes with outdoor seating areas, it provides for a great place to unwind after work, or spend a bright morning chilling with friends. The long corridors inside the mall seem never ending with shops. The revamped interiors and charming lighting makes browsing through this mall an experience in itself.

  • Liberty Arcade

As an extension of Liberty Plaza, Liberty Arcade is more of an international style shopping complex, a haven for shopaholics and a hip spot for hanging out. It offers a wide variety of brands and products ranging from clothing to jewelry to footwear to accessories, all under one roof. Plenty of parking space is available, along with an interesting food court, free Wi-Fi and ATM facilities from many banks.

  • Majestic City

Located on the Galle Road, Colombo 04 – you simply cannot miss this seven storey shopping complex! Here you will find clothes, accessories, footwear, electronics, DVD outlets, supermarkets, banks, toy shops, kiddies’ entertainment area and much more! But the center of attraction here is the Majestic Cineplex – one massive 3D cinema, and three smaller cinemas – spoiling you for choice with which movies to select!

  • Odel

Starting out as Sri Lanka’s first department store, Odel now has more than 10 branches across the country. Its flagship mall is located at Cinnamon Gardens, featuring high end products and brands – presenting a chic and stylish look from every angle. In addition to the remarkable range of products that you can browse and shop, The Promenade also facilitates for a scrumptious meal after your hardcore shopping experience.

  • Unity Plaza

Unity plaza is more or less associated with being the one stop shop for all your electronic needs. Ranging from high tech devices, accessories and other gadgets, anything under the digital/electronics category is available here at reasonable prices.

  • Arcade – Independence Square

The stunning architecture and trendy location makes the Arcade – Independence Square a popular shopping precinct in the heart of Colombo. Featuring outdoor sitting areas, a variety of restaurants, local and internationally branded shops and two exclusive cinemas, Arcade is a must visit precinct when in Colombo. Adding to the experience are beautifully maintained lawns, a walk over fish tank to excite the kids, and excellent crafting of lion stone carvings.

  • The Racecourse Promenade

Colombo’s newest shopping precinct – the Racecourse Promenade is the perfect location for a fun hang out session with family and friends. You can browse through shops catering to clothing, handicrafts, stationary, electronics and accessories, or satisfy your cravings with fast food or fine dining, or simply sit outside, relax and enjoy the greenery of the racecourse grounds. The beautiful interiors and historical British style architecture adds to the attractiveness of the precinct.

  • Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct

Did you ever imagine a 17th century hospital being transformed into a chic shopping precinct? Yes, the Dutch Hospital Shopping precinct it is! Retaining the original architecture, a more sophisticated appearance presents a range of outlets for fashion, jewelry, handicrafts, personal care, restaurants and cafes. Adding to the excitement are street musicians, cultural shows, theatre performances, art exhibitions and street food festivals to give you an unforgettable shopping and dining experience.

Peacocks in Sri Lanka

The magnificent peacock is a bird native to the island of Sri Lanka, with their distinctive calls being heard all over the jungles. For such colorful creatures, they are surprisingly shy by nature, hence the best place to find one is within the boundaries of the numerous national parks, hiding from the daily hustle bustle of Sri Lankan life.

Being the largest of the pheasants, the peacock is a native bird to both Sri Lanka and India. Most often, the ones that you see on photographs with the beautiful plumage are the male peacocks – after which the simile ‘proud as a peacock’ was formed! The female pea hen does not have the lovely ornamental feathers and bright colors. Pea fowl are quite readily tamed and can sometimes be seen in the lawns of hotels or within the garden of large private residences in Sri Lanka.

While on a safari at the Yala National Park, peacocks are a common sight. They could be displaying its fan of feathers or perched up and camouflaged at the top of trees. Peafowl – which is the actual term for peacocks and peahens together, have an average life span of 20 years when living in the wild. In Sri Lanka, they can be found in the jungles of Eastern, Northern and Southern provinces. If driving through the Hambantota district in Southern Sri Lanka, you can see them strolling on the streets as well.

The best time to observe peacocks is in the early morning when males gather around females, shouting loudly and stretching out their lovely feathers to create a beautiful dance. This is how they attracts the females and it is indeed one of the most gorgeous observations of Mother Nature.

So why is it that the male has such an amazing fan of feathers? Well, most obviously, to attract the ladies when in courtship display. The peacock with the biggest and best fan is normally awarded the girl! Most often, successful males are capable of controlling a group of peahens. The females can lay about3-5 eggs and are ground feeders – eat insects, seed, vegetable matter and other small creatures.

Hindus in Sri Lanka have a special place for peacocks – Skanda, the God of Kataragama, sits with his wives and peacocks on either sides. In addition to that, Lord Vishnu, one of the major Gods in Hinduism is often shown with a peacock in the background.

During your visit to the hill country of Sri Lanka, if you have a stop in Kandy and are going to see the Kandyan Dance, you will see peacocks playing a big role. An entire entity of the dance is where the looks and behaviors of peacocks are exhibited. This part of the dance is known as Mayura (translation of peacock) Vannama.