The island nation of Siri Lanka is located in South Asia and is approximately nineteen miles off the south coast of India. Sri Lanka has a progressive industrial economy and is the worlds leading exporter of coffee, tea and rubber. Because of its natural beauty, Sri Lanka is a world famous tourist spot offering tropical forests, breathtaking beaches and lush landscapes.
Sri Lanka has two prevalent traditional cultures; Sinhalese and Tamil. Every year on April 13th, the Sinhalese and Tamil people celebrate the New Year, while Muslims in the country celebrate Ramadan. The festival Esala Perahera, is also celebrated in Sri Lanka, complete with elegant costumes, song and dance. Around July and August in Kandy, this festival has become a national symbol. It includes elephants, fire and whip dances, and the festival ends with the richly decorated elephant being paraded through the streets with the tooth of Buddha hanging from its neck.
Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka. The city of Colombos has the most glorious festival in celebration to honor the birth, death and enlightenment of Lord Buddha. During the hours of the festival, lanterns, lights and special lighted displays decorate the streets. It falls in late May and last for an entire week. During this week, people distribute rice, drinks and other various items for free.
Christmas is another elaborate holiday celebrated in Sri Lanka. The streets and businesses light up at the beginning of December and festivals are held in many locations. Caroling and nativity plays are also frequent during the season.
The beaches of Sri Lanka also boast some of the best snorkeling reefs in the world. There are also some private boutique hotels such as Taru Villa, River House and Club Villa. April through November are the top months to enjoy swimming and agreeable temperatures.
Mihintale,a mountain, is located eight miles east of Anuradhapura and considered to be the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. At the base of the mountain, there are the remains of a hospital, medical bath, a stone inscription and urns from the ancient past. The stairway ascending the mountain has 1,840 steps which are made from granite. The large stupa at the top of the hill is called Maha Stupa, and was built by King Mahadathika Mahanaga, and has been completely restored to its fine splendor.
Dumballa is an ancient cave that is part of the Cultural Triangle and has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. There are over eighty caves and many of them have been used as meditation places by monks in the past. The major attraction of this location is the five caves that contain exquisite Buddhist carvings and paintings. While in Dumballa many tourists also venture a bit deeper into the jungle to view Iron Wood Forest and Rose Quartz Mountain Range, which has been declared a human sanctuary by King Dappula in 10 AD.
Sigiriya is a rock fortress located in the Matale district of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya was built during the reign of King Kasyapa and is one of seven World Heritage Sites located in Sri Lanka. The Gardens of Sigiriya have historical value as well, because they are some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Inside the fortress is the “Mirror Wall”, made of porcelain and shined to a highly reflective polish so that the king could view himself. People who visited used to write inscriptions on the wall, but this practice has now been halted in order to better preserve the wall.
From its splendid waterfalls, to Buddhist temples and breathtaking beaches, Sri Lanka has an abundance of interesting things to offer tourists. The festivals and celebrations continue to draw people from all corners of the globe. It is because of its diversity of culture and environment, that Sri Lanka remains one of the top tourist destinations in the world.