Ayubowan – May you be blessed with long life!
Lying amidst the sun-soaked waters of the Indian Ocean, just south of India, the idyllic island of Sri Lanka has attracted visitors for thousands of years. In centuries past, traders and travellers from across Asia, Arabia and Europe flocked to the island thanks to its abundant natural wealth; bartering for spices, gems and elephants. Modern tourists, following in their footsteps, continue to arrive in droves to enjoy Sri Lanka’s superb beaches, with balmy, sun-kissed swathes of sand shaded by lines of toppling palm trees and gently lapped by the tranquil waters of the Indian Ocean.
There’s far more to Sri Lanka than just beaches, however. The island has a recorded history of over 2,500 years and a wealth of historical attractions including some of the greatest Buddhist monuments of ancient Asia, as well as eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Explore the extraordinary remains of the great ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, with their monumental temples and stupas; climb to the top of the breathtaking Sigiriya Rock Fortress; explore the fascinating Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and the exquisitely decorated cave temples at Dambulla, or just go for a ramble around the atmospheric old streets and bastions at the perfectly preserved old Dutch colonial fort at Galle.
And then there’s Sri Lanka’s remarkable wildlife and stunningly beautiful natural environment. Large parts of the island are protected as national parks and reserves, home to an absorbing range of wildlife, including hundreds of elephants and one of the world’s densest leopard populations, as well as many rare migratory and endemic bird species. These parks cover the full range of the island’s remarkably diverse scenery, from the coastal wetlands and savannas of Bundala and Yala to the unique rainforest of Sinharaja and the magical and misty cloudforest which blankets Horton’s Plains, part of the spectacular range of hills and mountains which rise out of the centre of the island.
And this is only the beginning, myriad further attractions await visitors to the island. There are impromptu games of cricket on the beach or in the street to join in with, the wonderfully atmospheric Victorian-era tea factories and plantations of the highlands to explore; the bustling bazaars of Colombo; some of the most spectacular festivals in Asia; relaxing and reinvigorating spa and Ayurveda treatments in some of the region’s most spectacular hotels; not to mention the island’s unique and mouth-wateringly spicy cuisine, one of Asia’s best-kept culinary secrets. Whatever you’re interested in, this brochure should help to whet your appetite and answer at least some of your questions. And don’t forget to check out the website at www.srilankatourism.org.uk.
So, let the wonderfully warm people of Sri Lanka welcome you to their island with a traditional greeting of ayubowan.