Quick Guide to Sightseeing in Sri Lanka
Take a look at www.selectiveasia.com next time you’re stuck for a holiday destination, and you’ll soon discover that Sri Lanka is a stunning fragment of paradise packed with natural and cultural attractions, making it the ideal place to get away to.
Sri Lanka is blessed with some of the most superb beaches on the planet and has a rich and varied landscape and cultural history, so beyond the sun, sea and sand there are plenty of other things to do here. This is a country with a distinctive and unique charm, and visitors quickly fall under its spell and keep on coming back for more experiences.
One of the advantages of sightseeing here is that all the main attractions are within a relatively short distance of one another, with just a short drive separating one from another. The rivers and waterfalls, forests and valleys are incomparably beautiful, but some of the cities too are packed with interest. Colombo and Kandy are the two cities on Sri Lanka most often visited and especially for first-timers they make a great base for exploring the island, offering a mix of cultural, historical and contemporary delights that can keep you busy for a week.
Outside of these modern urban centres there are also many ancient cities, remnants of lost civilisations. Cities like Mihintale, Aluvihara, Sigiriya and Anuradhapura are fairly drenched
in history and still stand proud and defiant in their jungle settings, a bit like the Mayan cities of South America, lost for hundreds of years but now reclaimed as a priceless slice of cultural heritage, protected by UNESCO.
Nature at its best
In terms of natural assets, Sri Lanka can hardly be beaten. Some of the world’s finest golden sands are here in the beaches at Beruwela, Bentota, Negombo and Mount Lavinia. There are also vast wildlife sanctuaries such as the Horton Plains, Yala and Bundala National Parks where you can see examples of the stunning variety of wildlife on this island in its natural setting and protected for the benefit, appreciation and enjoyment of all. There’s even an elephant sanctuary where motherless young calves are given a home before being released back into the wild.
Religion and history
Sri Lanka has been occupied by many peoples and many religions down the centuries. There are churches, mosques and Hindu temples scattered across the island, bearing witness to its rich cultural heritage, and most of the inhabitants still seem to get on well with one another. The capital, Colombo, was itself founded originally in 1505 by Portuguese explorers. But even as long as two thousand years ago Colombo, because of its strategic location on the East-West trade routes and its large harbour, was important for business. It became the capital of Sri Lanka in 1815 when it was ceded to the British, and kept that status on independence in 1948. Although administrative functions were transferred to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotta in 1978, Colombo is still the commercial capital of the island and is full of great shops and markets as well as older temples and colonial buildings.