I spent two weeks in Sri Lanka and it was no surprise to me that Lonely Planet added it to the list of best destination 2013. With an article entitled “Serenity returns to Serendib”, the guide explains how much varied the travel experience can on this island which suffered from 26 years of civil war.
Serendib is one of the many names the island got through the centuries, given to it by the Arab traders in whose language the name means ‘jewel island’. The English term ‘serendipity’ comes from this name and means ‘pleasant surprise’. The Dutch settlers, instead, named it Ceylan, which later became Ceylon with the English settlers. In 1972 the island became Sri Lanka, as the inhabitants always called it and where lanka just means ‘island’.
As for me, Sri Lanka will always be the serendipity island, a beautiful surprise. Truth is, I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much: the island hosts countless natural and historical treasures, witnesses of a millenary society rich with temples and fortresses emerging from a luxuriant green landscape.
Therefore, I highly suggest you to go to Sri Lanka to…
… spend a few days in the tea plantation area, between Nuwara Elya and Ella. The vivid green of the plants confers even more colour to an already stunning landscape.
… remain speechless in Polonnaruwa, in front of the Gal Vihare – the ‘Rock Temple’ – and its three giant Buddha statues carved in a unique block, or in Sigirya, an ancient fortress built on the top of a 200-metre high rocky promontory.
… visit some of the holiest places in buddhist culture, like Dalada Maligawa, the Kandy Temple where one of Buddha’s teeth is safeguarded, together with the Bodhi Tree, the tree which is said to have sheltered Buddha when he reached Nirvana.
… spend a day in an ayurvedic centre, roaming the charming garden where the most various kinds of spices are cultivated.
… walk around Fort Galle, Galle’s old town protected by a tall fortification which still shows the signs of Portuguese and Dutch colonization and offers a chance to breath the atmosphere of the colonial era.
… have a look at the Golden Temple of Dambulla, carved in the rock and made of five different caves containing 153 Buddha statues altogether, including the famous 14-metre long Sleeping Buddha.
And all in all, you have to go to Sri Lanka for its wild and untouched beaches, and for its sea which made this island one of world’s top surf destination.