Officially known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, this country is regarded by many travellers as a paradise. Situated on a giant tectonic plate, called the Indian Plate, it shares its maritime borders with India in the north and northwest, and Maldives in the southwest. The best way to describe Sri Lanka is a land full of endless beaches, hospitable people, rolling surf, timeless ruins, herds of elephants, delicious food and tea. Travellers can pack their itinerary with all these myriad appeals of Sri Lanka tours, but listed below are three of the most incredible places to visit here.
Located approximately 205 km northwest of Colombo, this city lies on the banks of the Malvathu Oya river. It has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for being one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and for well-preserved architectural ruins. The ruins are clear reminders of its status as the centre of power for more than 1300 years. A poya or religious celebration is one of the best times to visit this place during Sri Lanka tour packages. Lit with lanterns and candles, the temples, streets and courtyards in the city offer a magical journey down the lanes of history. Stupas, monasteries, temples, gardens, rock shelters, sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist deities, and Sandakada Pahana – unique features of local architecture – are some things to see here.
Yala National ParkSpread over 979 sq km, this park is located about 300 km from Colombo. Known to have one the highest numbers of leopards in the world, this protected area attracts a lot of photographers and biologists. Although travellers can book safari rides, cycling can be a better means to explore the territory. Visitors can start their journey right at dawn along the B35 road, going through the park, to see myriad sights of wildlife from water buffaloes and giant squirrels to mongooses and crocodiles. Here, travellers will be required to follow certain rules to respect the natural habitat of the animals. Carrying food and drugs, firearms, smoking, wearing a strong perfume or odour, and mobiles in vibration mode are strictly prohibited in the park.
Sri Lanka holiday packages may not be complete without a visit to the ancient ruins of the approximately 200-metres high cliff, housing Sigiriya rock fortress. Situated in the Matale district in the Central Province, this is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. Most historical records credit its construction to King Kashyapa I, who ruled here in 5th century BC. The most striking part of the fortress is a pair of giant paws of a lion, which guards the staircase leading to the summit. A good way to see ancient graffiti, views of the idyllic countryside, colourful frescoes, water reservoirs and landscaped gardens, is climbing the rocky footsteps to the top. The mirror wall, which was extensively polished in the olden days for the monarchs to see their reflection, is an intriguing site within the fortress.
These are three marvellous sites to explore during Sri Lanka holidays to learn about the history and wildlife of this island country.