About Us

Sri Lanka Holiday Homes is a promoter of quality accommodation facilities for holiday stay in Sri Lanka.

Get The Latest News

Sign up to receive latest news

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Serendib regains its place as a global tourist hotspot

Sri Lanka had a name in Arabic and Persian - Serendib - and it is this name that befits the extraordinary sights and sounds of the country.

The land of “smiling people” is always ready to welcome travelers from all over the world, and after years of turmoil, the island has regained its place in the world as a veritable tourism hotspot. Recent industry reports indicate a remarkable boom in the tourist trade with an over 32 percent increase in Saudi tourists’ arrivals alone.

The tear-shaped tropical island located in the Indian Ocean is already equipped with the necessary infrastructure to accommodate a million visitors annually. Tourist resorts dot the coastline providing sun and fun on golden sandy beaches and the cool, mountainous interior boasts of an abundance of scenic beauty with waterfalls, streams, flowers, forests and eco-friendly tourist hotels.

After a period of three decades, long isolated beaches in the east are now open. Though Trincomalee - one of the biggest natural harbours in the world, surrounded with places of historical interests - would be an ideal place in the East to visit, Passikudah is the most isolated private beach in the region, popular with German and Scandinavian tourists.
Negombo, in the west, has been the most popular beach resort, as well as the stop from which all tours kick off as it is located on a 20-minute drive from the Katunayake International Airport. From the west to the south, Kalutara, Bentota, Galle and Tangalla offer a string of beach resorts from five star hotels to economical guest houses and bungalows.

Adding to the picturesque beauty, the country can boast a proud, 2,500-year-old chronicled history, the evidence of which still exists due to ruins of old temples, palaces, irrigation systems, art and monuments at various locations where kings historically ruled the country. Aruradhapura - the old capital of Sri Lanka - was the domain of a long line of kings.
Sigiriya rock fortress is a UN World Heritage Site with the famous colorful frescos and nearby Dambulla rock temple displaying the marvels of old sculpture work with magnificent paintings dating back several centuries.

In the midst of this picturesque landscape lies the city of Kandy, the cultural capital of the nation and gateway to the central hills. One of Asia’s most remarkable spectacles, the Kandy Perahera - a parade of over a hundred elephants covered with richly embroidered clothes and illuminated with colourful lights bulbs alongside groups of folk dancers from all over the country - provide evidence of the rich culture and traditions of Sri Lanka that have prevailed for centuries.

Many a tourist comes to Sri Lanka to watch wild life, particularly elephants. The elephant sanctuary at Pinnawala, could well be the largest or the only one of its kind in the world to see abandoned elephants from various ages brought out of jungles and cared for in one place.

The sanctuary offers visitors the chance to view close to a hundred elephants parading one after another into the river to bathe and play. A number of safaris are also available which offer the chance to watch wild elephants, leopards and deer as well as excellent bird-watching opportunities. The ideal locations to watch birds are at Kumana, Bundala and Yala, where scores of migrant birds make nests for temporary periods of time.

Bio diversity is one of the key factors that brings the majority of tourists to the country. It is only few hours’ drive from warm beaches to the chill of the mountains. This kind of climatic diversity highlights the most visible element of diversity that is the gradual change of species of flora in the natural habitats.

Sri Lanka is home to hundreds of different types of plants and many are indigenous in that they cannot be seen elsewhere.

Nature has bestowed the greatest gifts of beauty to this tiny island. From cosmopolitan cities to isolated and tranquil villages and from sandy coast lines to the dense forests of the interior, any view would provide a photographic image to the visitor. While wild orchids could be an ordinary observation, the world’s rarest roses are grown at the Haggala Botanical garden.

If you are a lover of flowers or wish to see the world famous Ceylon Tea Gardens, the ideal place is to visit Nuwara Eliya, one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka. Situated in the midst of the mountains with mornings enveloped in mist, one can attain everlasting memories of the beautiful scenery.

The area was discovered by a British planter during the colonial period, and it became the weekend sporting and rest place for the planters. They called it Little England, as the houses and bungalows were built in the Victorian style.

For those seeking the thrill of adrenaline-laced activities, the place to visit is the Kelani River at Kithugala for some rafting fun. Passing several rapids, zigzagging through boulders and whirlpools, the experience is guaranteed to provide anyone with the thrill of adventure.

The last two kilometers of the 5-kilometer journey down the river are in comparative tranquility, providing the opportunity to observe the lush vegetation on the banks, as well as the location where the famous World War Two film “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was shot. Although the bridge is no longer there, the remains are still visible to the naked eye.

Public transportation is available through most of the country, with bus and train services to and from most hot spots. Rent-a-car services are also rife and available with the option of a native driver. Recently, the Sri Lankan Air Force has introduced scheduled helicopter services to various locations at very affordable rates.

For avid shoppers, local markets provide the option of inexpensive wooden handicrafts, brass work, batik wall hangings (and dresses) as well as precious and semi-precious and precious stones. A trip to the country is also incomplete without the purchase of the world-famous Ceylon tea and spices.

Serendib provides a plethora of holiday fun to cater to all types and ages of people. While the beach resorts provide various water sport facilities, most hotels provide folk dance, music, cultural programs, ayurvedic and herbal treatments. Add that to excursions of mountain climbing, boat rides in rivers and visits to places of biological and historical interest, and there is something for each member of the family.

By K.M.A. Perera - Saudi Gazette
»»  read more

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peace Dividends

Just months after the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war, tourist arrivals to the South Asian island nation are increasing, and Kandyan hoteliers and merchants are hoping to share in the wealth. A Unesco World Heritage site and long a popular tourist destination, Kandy is a showcase of culture, history and religion set in the lush hill country, about 500 meters above sea level.
"Maybe in 2009, 2010, Sri Lanka will be busy because of the tourism," said Tuan Rizan Jamel, front-office executive of Kandy's posh Theva Residency hotel. "Everything is over. We are very happy."
Down the hill from the Theva, at the Temple of the Tooth (or Sri Dalada Maligawa), Prabo Wijetunge agreed.
"People are so relaxed," said Mr. Wijetunge, a Sri Lankan expatriate who was visiting home for the first time in three years. Mr. Wijetunge and his family were among the throngs paying homage inside the 18th-century temple on the north side of Kandy Lake.

Trip planner

The best -- that is, the driest -- time to visit Kandy is December to March.
The U.S. State Department continues to caution about uncleared land mines and the possibility of Tamil Tiger remnants in Sri Lanka, especially in the north and east. (Kandy is near the center of the island.) You can find details at travel.state.gov; click on "travel warnings."
The Sri Lankan government, more upbeat, has dubbed 2011 "Visit Sri Lanka year" (see www.srilanka.travel and, for Kandy information, www.kandycity.org).
Getting there
Several Kandy-bound trains leave Colombo's Fort Station daily, with the first at 5:55 a.m. A first-class seat in the observation car -- of the 3:35 p.m. express -- (arrives 6:15 p.m.) costs
360 rupees (a bit over $3).
Staying there
Higher-end options include the Theva Residency (www.theva.lk), where the penthouse is $400 a night and a suite is $275, and the eight-room Kandy House, which occupies a 200-year-old manor home (www.thekandyhouse.com). The Web site www.kandyhotels.com lists a variety of places to stay.
What to do
Catch Kandyan dance and drumming at the Kandyan Art Association and Cultural Center; tickets are about $4.50. A shop next door offers an excellent selection of local art and crafts.
Admission to the Temple of the Tooth (www.sridaladamaligawa.lk) is about $4.50, with a surcharge of about $1.30 for taking in a camera.
Kandy's Tea Museum (www.pureceylontea.com/ teamuseum.htm) explores the history of a key Sri Lankan product.
Travel agent and hotelier Abdul Malik (www.palmgardenkandy.com) rents cars and motorbikes and has four drivers who also act as guides.
Robert Schroeder/The Wall Street Journal
The Temple of the Tooth holds a relic of the Buddha
The temple, the city's star architectural attraction, takes its name from the relic it houses: a tooth of the Buddha, kept in a stupa-shaped gold casket. Crowds of Sri Lankan devotees jostle past, carrying offerings of jasmine, lilies or lotus flowers. The tooth is also the focus of Kandy's famedperahera, or procession, held for 10 days in the month of Esala (which runs from July into August). The perahera features Kandyan dancing and drumming, and this year drew about 500,000 people on its final day -- more than in previous years.
The dates of next year's Esala Perahera haven't been set. But there is ample opportunity to hear Kandyan drumming and watch local dance -- Kandyan dancers and drummers are some of Sri Lanka's emblematic symbols -- at any time. At the Kandyan Art Association and Cultural Center, a quick walk from the tooth temple on the lake's northeast shore, the sound of a conch shell welcomes visitors to a show. Bare-chested men emerge in blue- and red-fringed white sarongs, with diamond-shaped headgear, beating geta bera with their hands. Women dancers pay graceful tribute to guardian deities and to their gurus. Before the evening is over, the dancers will enact the taming of a cobra and move like peacocks.
While the population is only about 112,000, Kandy is called Maha Nuwara, or Great City, by the Sinhalese. It has the feel of a town. Many of its temples, performances and shops are within walking distance of one another. But it's worth hiring a car or tuk-tuk (a motorized three-wheeler) to see, for example, the three temples on the outskirts, Embekke, Lankatilaka and Gadaladeniya. Buddhism came to Sri Lanka from India in the third century B.C., and these 14th-century structures display distinctive Buddhist statuary and paintings -- but also honor Hindu gods. The temples are still very much in use, with thrice-daily puja and drumming at the Embekke temple, for instance, and devout Buddhist worship at all three.
The Buddha practiced asceticism before achieving enlightenment, and famously preached that the root cause of suffering is desire. But tourists in Kandy can easily avail themselves of a steam bath or reflexology at one of the city's ayurvedic spas. And while many accommodations in town tend to be pretty basic, there are high-end alternatives. The rooms at the concrete, wood and glass Theva Residency, two kilometers from downtown, are adorned with modern Kandyan art; some are equipped with Jacuzzis. Little more than a year old, it's a world away from much of the other lodging in the area, and that seems to be the idea. Other high-end hotels include the Kandy House and the Kandy Panorama Resort.
Kandy isn't without its hassles for tourists, including persistent touts and unscrupulous tuk-tuk drivers. But escape is as near as the 59-hectare Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, where a visitor can find serenity broken only by the song of one of Sri Lanka's 430-plus species of bird. "Maybe the entire climate -- the flora and the fauna -- makes people more peaceful" in Kandy, says Bridget Halpé, a longtime resident and music teacher. "There's a soothing influence about them."
Robert Schroeder/The Wall Street Journal
Art to bathe by at the Theva Residency Hotel
Still, Kandy did not emerge from the long Sri Lankan conflict unscathed. In 1998, Tamil Tiger suicide bombers struck at the Temple of the Tooth, damaging the holy building and killing more than a dozen civilians.
But that, a Kandyan might say, was then, and the future is now. Sri Lanka is aiming to attract 2.5 million visitors by 2016. That would be more than five times the number that the country's tourism authority says came last year.
And war, in fact, is the last thing that comes to mind in Kandy, where the best thing to do may actually be nothing at all. Just close your eyes. Count your breaths. And listen to the heartbeat.
»»  read more

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why this lush, lovely island will suit you to a tea..

If you're looking for a long-haul trip with a difference then Sri Lanka - a teardrop-shaped island off the coast of India - is the place to find it.

My 10-day trip started in the centre of the island, which at the time of travel was the furthest north tourists were advised to travel.

But now the island's civil war is over there's a lot more to see.

I stayed at Chaya Village, a collection of bungalows nestled in a leafy lakeside retreat which made the perfect base for our trip to one of the island's landmarks - Sigirya Rock.

The rock, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is similar to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia. Its huge outcrop towers over the flat landscape at over 370m (1,214ft) high.

Steep metal steps have been built into the rockface, allowing tourists to make the 40-minute climb to the fortress at the plateau.

This incredible fortress city- which even has its own swimming pool - was built in the 5th Century. Film buffs will recognise it as the backdrop for the Indiana Jones films.

Entrance to the site costs £12pp, but is well worth it, if only for the incredible 360-degree view from the top of the rock, where I could see thunderstorms slowly closing in.

After all that climbing, I was ready for a rest.

So I opted for an afternoon by the infinity pool. Being a former British colony, everyone speaks English in Sri Lanka, so there was no language barrier as I ordered a cocktail from the bar.

I travelled in July during the rainy season, when the heavens opened twice a day. Between downpours, the island was warm and sunny.

The city of Kandy is a short drive away. Its most famous sight is the Temple of the Tooth - which, as its name suggests, is the home to a relic of Buddha's original tooth.

There are loads of restaurants offering rice and curry - in Sri Lanka it's always rice and curry, never the other way round - for less than £1. But when the busy roads and tuk-tuk drivers touting for business become too much, it's time to head for the hills.

The lush land that circles Kandy offers welcome respite from the vibrancy of the centre, not to mention fantastic views of the city.

Visitors can also take a trip to the calm botanical gardens which boast a wealth of tropical plants.

My second hotel was the Chaaya Citadel, overlooking the jungle that edges the city.

Advertisement - article continues below »

From there it was less than a 45-minute drive to Sri Lanka's most popular tourist destination - the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. The sanctuary opened in 1972 and offers visitors a chance to watch elephants being fed by their keepers and then led down to the river for their twice-daily bath.

The sight - not to mention the sound - of more than 60 elephants making the half-mile trek is quite something. Witnessing them showering each other with water is a must. After a relaxing night it was time to pack my bag and move on again - this time up into the mountains.

No trip to Sri Lanka would be complete without a visit to the hub of the island's tea industry. These small shrub-like trees cover miles of the mountainous uplands and tea remains central to the economy.

The two-hour drive winding up through to the tea plantations was like crossing time zones. From the close tropical heat of Kandy, I found myself in the cool, misty greenery of the town of Nuwara Eliya. This settlement is dubbed Little England, and as the coach snaked through the plantations to my hotel it was easy to see why.

Nuwara Eliya could be mistaken for a well-to-do British outpost, with its private golf course nestled amid mock-Tudor mansions. The plush hill club even offered traditional British food in its upmarket dining room.

After a four-hour descent towards the south of the island, the prospect of relaxing on a beach came as a relief. Bentota, on the south-west coast, is an area popular with Brits and there are hotels for most budgets.

I opted for the Bentota Beach Hotel. It is circled by gardens and has a large heated outdoor swimming pool and stunning beach views.

The powerful waves of the Indian Ocean crashing on to the shore were a reminder of when this region was hit by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.

Evidence of the destruction is still visible. I took the train to Galle - an hour's ride for less than a pound - and passed a railway carriage still lying where it had been knocked off its rails by the tidal wave. The amazing railway line, which snakes the southeast coast, is a great way to see the landscape and escape the midday heat.

The coastal port of Galle marks the southernmost tip of the island and is most famous for its 400-year-old Dutch fort in the old town.

Galle is considered one of the best examples of Sri Lanka's colonial past - a combination of Dutch, Portuguese and English styles.

Rounding off our trip I moved on to Sri Lanka's capital city, Colombo.

This sprawling metropolis couldn't be further from the small-scale bustle of Kandy or the faded grandeur of the Hill Country.

It's definitely worth spending a day here, if only to scratch beneath the surface of the gritty urban landscape. The city's clutch of upmarket hotels are centred around the Cinnamon Garden district and boast swish interiors and exquisite fresh seafood. Shoppers are also well catered for with small, Western-style shopping malls everywhere, making this a great place to pick up some last-minute souvenirs.

What's the deal?

Ten days' half-board staying two nights each at the Chaaya Village in Habarana, Chaaya Citadel in Kandy, The Tea Factory in Nuwara Eliya District and four nights along the coast at Bentota Beach costs from £970pp, including flights with Sri Lankan Airlines from Heathrow and transfers. Go to www.kuoni.co.uk or call 01306 747 002.

By Lara Gould
»»  read more

Friday, October 2, 2009

War`s end lures tourists back to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka`s bitter 25-year civil war has come to an end, and tourists can safely return to this island off India to enjoy its beauty, history, diversity and friendly people


Arab traders called Sri Lanka ages ago, the `Island of Gems.` From this our word `serendipity` is derived, the gift of finding unexpected but beautiful things. This often happened to us on Sri Lanka, for it was once aptly named `The Island of the Blessed,` the earthly paradise given to Adam and Eve after they were turfed out of Eden because of that unfortunate affair with the apple.

`Paradise` seems ironic when talking about a country reft by a bitter 25-year civil war, now finally over, that consumed much of the island`s wealth and crippled its once flourishing tourism industry.

But the war, in its final days when we were there, really didn`t touch us. We simply followed local advice and avoided the danger zones of the northeast. That left us about 90 per cent of this beautiful and diverse island, known until 1972 as Ceylon, `the pearl near the southern tip of India.`

As a result, our first and lasting impression during a two-month trip to this magic island was its friendly population. We usually stayed in nice but modest (and modestly priced) guesthouses in villages and near towns. When we walked through a village in the velvety warmth of a tropical evening, nearly everyone greeted us with a friendly `hello.` The kids practiced their school English: `How are you?` they would ask. `Where you from?` `From Canada.` `Oh.` they would laugh. `Very good. VERY BIG!` They would wave and smile. `Bye-bye,` they would call. `Be happy!`

Sri Lanka, smaller than New Brunswick, is crammed with history and beauty. Where else on earth can you find a place like the 2,243-metre-high Adam`s Peak: that, say ancient tales, is where Adam arrived (together with Eve) Buddha stood on its summit and left his footprint, Sri Pada, as he ascended to heaven Mohammed stopped briefly and, before him, the peak was visited by St. Thomas, one of Christ`s disciples, by the Lord Shiva and, some say, by King Solomon. It is sacred to Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims, and during the annual pilgrimage season, from the `poja` (the full-moon day) in December to the poja of May, tens of thousands of pilgrims of many faiths help each other as they ascend (usually at night) the 5,200 steep steps and pray together at sunrise atop the magic mountain.

We start our trip in Colombo, the busy, sprawling commercial capital of Sri Lanka, a fascinating amalgam of East and West, of modern department stores and teeming oriental bazaars where you can buy anything from the gorgeous gems that made Sri Lanka famous (the world`s largest rubies and sapphires came from this island, including the 400-carat sapphire in the British crown) to Ayurvedic, or traditional, medicines that reputedly restore health and rejuvenate the body. Language is never a problem. Apart from Sinhala and Tamil, English is the lingua franca of the country.

From Colombo, we travel in the teak-panelled `observation car` of a charming, bouncy train high into the country`s central mountain region that was once the Kingdom of Kandy with cities of stunning splendour and some of the world`s first hospitals. Deposed by British troops in 1815, the king of Kandy was Sri Lanka`s last royal ruler.

Being home to so many different religions, Sri Lanka has a plethora of holy days and holidays, more holidays, they happily claim, than any other country in the world. The greatest festival, the Esala Perahera, with probably the most sumptuous procession in all of Asia, is held annually during the time of the full moon in July/August in Kandy.

Thousands of drummers, torch-bearers and the flamboyantly dressed Kandyan dancers escort a great procession of more than 50 gorgeously caparisoned elephants through Kandy. The largest, most venerated elephant carries, beneath a jewel-studded baldachin, a golden replica of the sacred tooth snatched from Lord Buddha as his body was being cremated in 483 B.C. and smuggled to Sri Lanka 794 years later.

Most Sri Lankans love their elephants. Long ago, they worshipped them: elephant statues and effigies ornament many temples and memorials to Buddha. About 4,000 wild elephants still live in Sri Lanka, about half of them in the country`s superb national parks, the rest in the extensive jungle regions of the island.

To protect villages and fields from marauding elephants, farmers encircle the villages with deep ditches. Occasionally baby elephants slip in, get mired and are abandoned by their herd. These hapless mud-smeared waifs are brought to one of Sri Lanka`s two elephant orphanages.

One orphanage is at Pinnewala, an hour`s drive from Kandy. Every morning at 10, the elephants young and old (83 during our visit) march from their spacious sanctuary down a village street to the river for their morning bath. Restaurants and caf s line the shore. You can have lunch or enjoy a cold beer and watch as the elephants spray themselves or are being scrubbed by their mahouts. (For a little tip, you, too, can wash an elephant!)

At noon, the elephants return to their enclosure for a hearty lunch: 100 kilograms of grass and leaves for every adult, washed down with a hundred litres of water.

The Pinnewala animals have nearly everything that elephants desire: lots of food and water, daily baths, good company, and sex every three years. But they lack freedom. That`s perhaps why we preferred a second, less well-known orphanage, the Elephant Transit Home near the great Uda Walawe National Park. Only baby elephants are kept there (36 at the time of our visit). Once they`re weaned at the age of 3 or 4, they are released and join the 450 wild elephants in the national park.

There are several feedings (each elephant calf gets 40 litres of milk a day). You can watch it from a nearby platform. It is funny and charming: a baby elephant filling station. They rush up on urgent little pillar legs, shrieking shrilly in anticipation, and as milk is poured into them through a funnel their eyes roll up in ecstasy.

In Kandy, we hire a car and driver. Wise tourists in Sri Lanka travel with car and driver from guesthouse to guesthouse or hotel - it`s the nicest way to go.

Ours is a friendly young man, Prabat, driver, guide, problem-solver and, finally, friend. He shows us the extensive ruins of what were once among the most beautiful cities on earth, the ancient royal capitals of Sri Lanka: Anuradhapura (founded in 380 B.C.) and its successor, Polonnaruwa the 1,500-year-old mountain fortress of Sigiriya (the Lion Rock) built as a refuge by a parricide king atop a sheer-faced, 200-metre-high granite crag and the ancient, brilliantly painted and superbly preserved cave-temples of Dambulla, all four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In a niche half-way up Sigiriya Rock, we admire the frescoes of voluptuous wasp-waisted, big-bosomed women (goddesses, say some experts concubines say others), ancient but marvelously vivid, and see, nearby, traces of graffiti incised by ardent admirers 1,500 years ago. For example, `Women like you make my body tremble with desire.`

After days immersed in history, we travel south into another of Sri Lanka`s many disparate regions: the highlands where the island`s famous tea is grown, and its `tea capital,` Nuwara Eliya. Here are the great tea plantations founded by the British. It was at this pleasant hill station that colonial civil servants played golf, watched horse races, went for walks in the lovely Victoria Park, and dined on roast beef at their exclusive clubs. They have gone, but their spirit lingers, including the cool climate and frequent drizzle.

That`s just what tea loves, and the highland hills are covered with tea bushes, neatly trimmed and sculpted. Tamil women, many in colourful saris, dot the emerald-green hills, each one plucking 16 kilograms of newly sprouted tea leaves a day. We roam the verdant hills all day and dine at night in the lovingly preserved ambience of a colonial era dining room, served by white-gloved waiters.

We end our trip on Sri Lanka`s southern coast, the fun-in-the-sun playground of the island, with postcard-pretty palm-girt crescents of sand washed by the warmish waters of the Indian Ocean. It`s fairly close to every chilled Canadian`s dream vision of `tropical beaches.` The southeast coast has surfer-sea. `The waves are great!` a group of happy young Australians tells us.

We opt for the more sedate waters of Unawatuna, protected by a distant reef, ideal for long leisurely swims in a gentle sea. At night, we dine by candlelight on a terrace near the sea, and we are charmed by this island that charmed so many.
»»  read more

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Knuckles Range – Hiking In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is bountiful in nature and for most parts much of the cities, towns and villages have remained green. Compared to its bigger Asian counterparts, Sri Lanka has its fair share of entertainment options, be it for eco-travel, hiking, surfing, shopping, nightlife, cuisine, spas and so much more. Being a small nation it is relatively easy and affordable to get to just about any part of the island that you wish to explore.

Knuckles Range is one such popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka that is ideally suited for both amateur and veteran hikers. You can pick anything between a 2 to an 8 kilometre hike, and find yourself spotting a variety of aviaries, animals, flora and fauna. Whilst views and landscape of the surroundings look like they were taken straight out of a picture post card.

Stretching over both the Kandy and Matale districts of Sri Lanka; Knuckes Range is approachable from Matale, Kandy, Wattegama, Laggala and Hasalaka. Spanning an area of 18,512 hectares, this popular tourist attraction of Sri Lanka has its own unique ecosystem. The main mountain range is spread over 12 miles. Deriving its name from the image of a clenched fist, the mountain range is a key source from which many rivers in Sri Lanka are formed. Hulu River, Heen River and Kalu River all start from Knuckles Range, hikers will surely delight in the numerous waterfalls and streams to be found.

Amongst the 141 species of flowers, 250 varieties of trees to be found in this mountain range 160 of these species are said to be endemic. Wildlife at Knuckles Range is also diverse, visitors can spot a variety of birds and larger animals like elephants, deer, giant squirrel, wild boar and leopard. There is much to be found and explored at this popular attraction in Sri Lanka.

Being one of the most popular nature trails in Sri Lanka, Knuckles Range can be easily visited from the famous city of Kandy. Visitors to Kandy will find a variety of accommodation options that cater to all walks of life. Enjoy the comfortable cool climes from Jetwing Hunas Falls one of the more favoured Kandy hotels. Discerning guests can enjoy the comforts and warm hospitality of Jetwing Hunas Falls, whilst being surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.
»»  read more

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sri Lanka, place for Sun Sea and Seafood

»»  read more

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An eco-hotel in Sri Lanka

It’s a nerve-wracking business, deciding what book to pack when travelling. The wrong novel in the wrong place can be a disaster, ruining either the holiday or the book – as I once discovered when I tried, and failed, to immerse myself in the snowy battlefields of War and Peace when baking on a beach in Greece.

The Heritance Kandalama in Sri Lanka, designed to merge with the surrounding landscape

It was by chance that I happened to be reading JG Ballard’s The Drowned World while travelling in Sri Lanka. Ballard, who died in April, is known for his novels depicting apocalyptic futures. That of The Drowned World is particularly nightmarish. Temperatures and sea levels have risen, and the few surviving humans, including the main character, Kerans, eke out a precarious existence in the penthouse suites of submerged hotels. Rendered almost catatonic by the heat, they are watched by packs of hungry reptiles – giant iguanas, monitor lizards, alligators and sea-snakes in salty lagoons – while an omnivorous jungle encroaches through windows shorn of their glass.

With this as yet unopened book in my bag, I blithely checked into the Heritance Kandalama in central Sri Lanka, the wondrous eco-hotel designed by the country’s best-loved architect, the late Geoffrey Bawa. A pioneering work of green architecture, the Kandalama is designed to merge with the landscape and rejects the usual segregation of inside and outside. Built into a dramatic outcrop of gneiss and surrounded by lush jungle and a large lake, it is a deeply sensuous place. Real boulders burst through the simple geometry of its walls, and the serpentine corridors are open to the breeze and the birds. Guests are encouraged to imitate the staff and walk barefoot on the soft, polished cement – either warm or cool depending on the time of day. Every so often on your travels you arrive at an exquisitely framed view, a Bawa trademark, with a table and chair positioned just so before it. The day begins and ends with a chorus of shrieks, beeps, croaks and hoots from the jungle, and there is little to do in between but sit by the turquoise infinity pool and let the heat and a Lion lager induce a state of lethargy.

Which is what I was doing when I opened The Drowned World. It turned my experience of the hotel on its head.

Beyond the pool, the vast and silent grey-blue lake was every bit as eerie as Ballard’s saltwater lagoons, and no doubt harboured similarly predatory reptiles. What’s more, bare, forked branches of dead trees stuck out of it, and birds of prey circled overhead. And then there was the hotel itself, so engulfed by jungle that it was impossible to tell where one ended and the other began: stringy vines dangled between each floor; grasses and succulents sprouted from the roof. Screeching monkeys ran amok.

The sun pounding the back of my head, I was projected a century into the future: mankind had been wiped out, and the hotel was a beautiful, terrible reminder of a lost civilisation, the jungle well advanced in its bid for repossession.

It was somewhat ironic, therefore, to discover that the Kandalama was doing everything it could to avert such an apocalyptic scenario. Guests are encouraged to relax in their Jacuzzis (there is one in every room) knowing that their dirty bath water will go on to irrigate the roof garden.

Since it first opened in 1994, the hotel has received a host of Green Globe awards, and embraced the “3 Rs” principle of “reduce, re-use and recycle”. Bawa did, in fact, design the hotel with the idea that the jungle would one day close over it.

This did nothing to dispel the disconcerting sense that I had slipped into the drowned world of Ballard’s book, however. Just as the novel’s characters are prone to heat-induced hallucinations and struggle to tell dreams from reality, I found myself strangely disorientated by the Kandalama. You arrive at what you believe to be the ground floor only to discover that it is the fifth, with several floors below you, down among dangling tap roots and dripping rocks. I spent a demented hour searching for an Olympic-sized swimming pool I had glimpsed from higher up, eventually concluding I’d imagined it (I found it the next day). And just as the inhabitants of Ballard’s drowned city are marooned in their high-rises, I soon became marooned in mine. Looking down on the canopy of the jungle from my balcony (on the ground floor, which is also the fifth), I couldn’t wait to go out walking. But my attempts to actually get to the jungle were constantly frustrated. Painted white footprints guided me gently but firmly back in a circle; when I ignored them, signs forbade me from going further without a guide. Imprisoned on my balcony, I resigned myself to listening to the ominous sound of branches being crushed underfoot, slowly and rhythmically, as some mammoth creature – an elephant, or a giant Ballardesque iguana – passed invisibly beneath.

What eventually poses the greatest threat to Kerans in The Drowned World is not the predatory reptiles, but other humans – namely the crazy Strangman and his thuggish entourage, who torture him and leave him for dead. When I heard that the hotel was expecting several government ministers for a political conference, I got nervous. The militant Tamil Tigers had been active in the preceding weeks. Surely the conference would make the Kandalama a target? I decided that the sensible thing to do was to leave the hotel for the day.

So it was that I spent peaceful hours gazing at great golden buddhas reclining in caves near Dambulla, 13km away. I forgot about Ballard, the heat, the lake – even the sun-dried corpse of a large, grinning monitor lizard I had stumbled upon in the hotel’s eco museum. By the time I got back to Kandalama, the politicians had gone.

A week to the day after my visit to the golden buddhas, I was listening to the radio in my kitchen in England when I heard the news: a bomb had exploded on a bus in Dambulla, killing 20 people and wounding dozens more. I sat down, shocked and tearful, as you are when you realise how close to danger you have come, and how others weren’t so lucky. It was only then, the powerful mood of the Ballard novel no longer exerting its hold, that I began to reconsider my stay in Sri Lanka.

Of all the places I had been, the Kandalama emerged as the refuge, exactly as Bawa had designed it to be – not a place where I was held captive, but a place where I had been allowed to experience the beauty of the virgin jungle without being allowed to damage it. It was the jungle that had needed protecting; the most threatening presence at the Kandalama had perhaps been me.

Heritance Kandalama, Dambulla, Sri Lanka; doubles from $146; www.heritancehotels.com

By Susan Elderkin
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009
»»  read more

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Caving also known as spelunking in the United States is the recreational sport of exploring caves. In contrast, speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave environment.
The fascinating activity of Caving is relatively new to Sri Lanka , but with an impressive range of caves located throughout the country it's an unusual experience not to be missed! Known to the experts as ‘speleology', caving involves the exploration, surveying, mapping and photographing of caves situated around Sri Lanka . With some of Sri Lanka's caves dating back approximately 500 million years, this is an adventure into the prehistoric! Srilankan Expedition provides local experienced guides and all the necessary gear for caving (such as raincoat, head torches, helmets, ropes etc.) making the activity accessible to amateurs and experts alike.

And also the Sri Lanka is rich with having Cave temples as well. Dambulla Cave temple is one of the most popular temple of that kind.

Dambulla cave temple (also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla) is a World Heritage Site (1991) in Sri Lanka, situated in the central part of the country. This site is situated 148 km east of Colombo and 72 km north of Kandy. It is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains.There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. Major attractions are spread over 5 caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life. There are total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses. The latter include two statues of Hindu gods, the god Vishnu and the god Ganesh. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square meters. Depictions on the walls of the caves include the temptation by the demon Mara, and Buddha's first sermon.
Prehistoric Sri Lankans would have lived in these cave complexes before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka as there are burial sites with human skeletons about 2700 years old in this area, at Ibbankatuwa near the Dambulla cave complexes.

To feel the caving in adventurous placers can be organized by contacting Sri Lankan Expeditions.
»»  read more

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bolgoda Holiday Bungalow


The Ad'Venture Holiday Home is built within a 100 perches of land located in Kahapola, Piliyandala, facing the largest natural lake in Sri Lanka, the Bolgoda Lake.

Holiday Home is only 15 Miles away from Colombo and is situated in a village named Kahapola. The Piliyandala town is only 2 miles from the Holiday Home. The access route manifest typical Sri Lanka village culture. Located in one of the spectacular edges of the lake combined with unspoilt natural beauty,

Holiday Home is surrounded by paddy fields, rubber cultivations and more importantly 300 feet of lake front. Location is ideally suited for fishing, bird watching, boating, wind surfing and water skiing for more energetic.Facilities available include, 2,000 Sq feet Lobby, Cooking Facilities, Office Room and support facilities in the main building and one chalet with 2 fully furnished bedrooms and attached

Further it has ample parking, well turfed garden, Summer hut, Domestic Toilets and many other. Equipments include Paddle Boat, Speed Boat, wind Surfing Equipments and

This Holiday home is open for bookings for weekdays or weekends .Location is ideal for Vacations & Holidays, Picnics,Camping and Family outings, Get together, Office functions and Wedding Receptions. Cooking facilities with a caretaker is provided free of charge. Please click below for Booking Options and applicable rates

For more information visit www.srilankastay.com
»»  read more

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sri Lanka Tourism Arrivals from Middle East Rises


Sri Lanka Tourism Arrivals from Middle East Rises

Aug 02, 2009

Post-war tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka from the Middle East have surged by a 85 per cent as an increasing number of travellers from the region visited the island nation according to Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s Middle East office.

“The month of June has seen exceptional growth with travellers from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates leading the resurgence to post extraordinary growth during the month of June with Saudi travelers up by 186 per cent and UAE travellers up by 181 per cent compared to the same month last year,” said SLTPB’s Middle East Director, Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori.

She noted that travellers from other Gulf countries including Qatar and Oman as well as Lebanon and Egypt contributed significantly to the overall growth in tourism arrivals. “We are confident that this growth will be sustained and we hope to better our numbers during the Eid break and year-end through sustained promotional efforts and strengthening support for the travel trade in the region as we see an increased awareness both among the travel trade and the consumers for Sri Lanka as a preferred destination,” observed Al Mansoori.

Cultural attractions, entertainment, shopping, and dining are some of the factors that draw modern day Arab travelers to their preferred destinations and Sri Lanka offers a good product that scores on all counts and is less than four hours flying time away from the Gulf.

»»  read more

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kandy Esala Perahara

»»  read more

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In Sri Lanka, a gift of life for endangered turtles

KOSGODA (Sri Lanka): It's 6.30 p.m. Dusk begins to give way to nightfall when a man walks up to the beach here with a big box containing a

special load -- three-day-old turtles. The box is tipped over, the hatchlings scamper towards the ocean and within minutes they are bobbing away into the waves.

Yet another 'regular' day for 47-year-old K. Chandrasiri Abbrew who has released 3.5 million turtle hatchlings in the past three decades.

As the baby turtles moved further away into the sea, Abbrew said: "It gives me immense happiness to save the lives of these baby turtles."

Abbrew, who runs the Sea Turtle Sanctuary and Research Centre that was started by his father, says that the baby turtles have to be released only after the predatory birds are no longer flying in the sky.

"When we release them, the baby turtles make a dash for the sea. However, some of them find it difficult and we gently help them," he says with a beatific smile.

Dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, Abbrew said that from 1979 to 1982, they used to pay Rs.5 for 100 eggs to the fishermen who brought the turtle eggs to them.

"The fishermen would find the turtle eggs and we paid them money so that the eggs were not sold in the market. We want to save the turtles," he explains while standing at the palm-fringed beach in Kosgoda, about 80 km from Colombo.

From 1986 to 1990, they paid Rs.25 for 100 eggs. The rates for the turtle eggs have constantly gone up with Abbrew today paying Rs.800 for 100 eggs. The eggs are laid by the turtles under the sand on an eight-kilometre stretch of the Kosgoda beach.

Turtle eggs are considered a delicacy in Sri Lanka with exotic dishes being prepared specially during weddings. Turtle meat is in great demand in the island nation. "Green turtles face a threat as it is used for preparing soup."

"Animals are not dangerous. People are dangerous," Abbrew says emphatically.

He stated that the survival rate of the turtles has gone up following their efforts.

The turtles taken care of at the sanctuary include green turtles, loggerhead turtles, leatherback turtles, hawk's bill turtles and Olive Ridley turtles.

Explaining the method from the laying of the eggs to the release, Abbrew said that the hatching period varies from 48 days for the green turtles to about 60 days for the leatherback turtles.

"Once the eggs hatch, the day-old turtles are put in a water cubicle. On the third day, we release them."

Abbrew said that their research has revealed global warming is having an impact on the green turtles. "We have noticed that the scales of the green turtles are changing."

The centre does more than release hatchlings; it also takes care of wounded turtles. "Turtles get injured by boats. Right now, we have a turtle whose both front flippers were cut in a boat accident. We are taking care of it. Also, we have a blind loggerhead turtle."

They apply ayurvedic medicines to heal the injuries.

He rues that there is no government help for running the centre. "We raise money through tickets to see the turtles. We have also received support from an international company."

As the next big wave hit the Kosgoda coast, it wiped off the tiny flipper prints left on the sand by the turtle hatchlings and Abbrew began preparing for another day of saving the turtles.
»»  read more

Sri Lanka is one of the most exciting places to visit with peace finally prevailing

This summer Sri Lanka offers the adventurous holiday maker an exciting array of options. The Indian Ocean island is rapidly becoming a destination of choice for those who want a stimulating vacation to recharge their batteries and energise their outlook.

Whether it’s wandering calmly over the lush central highlands, hanging in a wicker basket as you gaze over the breathtaking views passing lazily beneath you, or the more high-octane thrills of crashing down tumbling river flows in a white water raft, Sri Lanka promises experiences that will persist in the memory long after the thrill of the activity has subsided.

“With peace finally prevailing after almost three decades of strife, Sri Lanka is an ideal getaway for regional travellers being only three and a half hours flying time away from the Gulf," said Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.

“It’s not all necessarily adrenalin pumping stuff as for the more leisurely inclined explorer, there are pastimes that will allow you to experience the wonders of this tropical isle without so much as breaking into a sweat including hiking tours that take in the varied landscapes of the island and can be conducted at a gentle pace opening up the colourful and abundant array of plants, bird species and other wildlife to be found across the countryside," remarked Ms. Al Mansoori.

Cycling and mountain biking are another way to get about, with undemanding trips available for those who wish to visit the ancient ruins and temples of a country whose history and heritage stretches back thousands of years. Pedalling unhurriedly through the country lanes, you can hear the rustle of the forest come alive and enjoy the whiff and heady scent of flowers in bloom. For those who prefer a greater exercise challenge, the undulating roads of the hill country make for a more intense cycling workout.

If heights are your thing, you can spend some time around the central highlands, home to Mount Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain. Here you can paraglide, flying over the forests and lakes like a bird, or indulge in rope sports, abseiling down sheer cliff faces close to magnificent waterfalls.

Hot air ballooning is also an extremely popular activity in this part of the island and offers a unique way to explore the country as you silently float over the lakes and forests, you can spy deer and elephants who are oblivious to your presence, along with the occasional bemused farmer who has happened to glance upwards!
Water features as a significant part of Sri Lanka’s inland landscape, with turbulent rivers, spectacular falls and calm lagoons for the intrepid enthusiast to enjoy. White water rafting is one of the longest established adventure sports on the island, with rivers providing thrills, glorious scenery and the chance to view life in the villages en route.

The most popular area for rafting is along the Kelani River in Kitulgala, close to where the classic film ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ was shot. Canoeists and kayakers can also explore the various waterways, with professionals able to run some extremely challenging rivers that run through the forests.

With all this activity available inland, it’s easy to forget that Sri Lanka also has some magnificent beaches, with one at Unawatuna being acclaimed as one of the world’s top 10. Being a relatively small island, you will never be far from the azure waters and bronze sands of the coast and if lying down and absorbing the rays isn’t for you, you can try your hand at surfing in waters that average a blissfully warm 27°c. Arugam Bay, on the east coast, has long been established as a surfing hotspot, with sufficiently high waves to attract international contests. When conditions are ideal, it is possible to catch a wave that will carry an experienced board rider 800 metres.
Regardless of whether it’s excitement or relaxation that you crave, Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage and history is sure to leave you as captivated and charmed as the countless travellers who have visited throughout the ages. The island is only four hours flying time from the UAE and travelling there is easy with SriLankan Airlines. The operator flies to Colombo from Dubai ten times a week and runs a daily service from Abu Dhabi. The operator has been voted Central Asia’s Airline of the Year for two consecutive years.

© 2009 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
»»  read more

Botanic Gardens in Sri Lanka

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya:(109 km. from Colombo) The Gardens date back to the Kandyan kingdom, when they were used as royal pleasure grounds. However, it was soon after the British seized the Kandyan Kingdom that they were established in 1821. The Gardens are elegantly landscaped over 150 hectares of beautifully undulating grounds. Within this large loop of the meandering Mahaweli Ganga is a spectacular display of more than 400 species of indigenous tropical flora and exotic plants.

Hakgala Botanic Gardens:After the Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya, Hakgala, 10km (6 miles) south of Nuwara Eliya, is the second most important garden in Sri Lanka. Though on a smaller scale than those at Peradeniya, Hakgala's plantations of roses, shrubs, ferns and montage woodland are delightfully located, with scenic views. Above the gardens, a forest trail leads into virginwoodland - the home of a troop of purple-faced leaf monkeys, a species endemic to Sri Lanka, and to endemic bird species including the Sri Lanka white-eye, Sri Lanka wood pigeon, and Sri Lanka whistling thrush.Open daily from07:30 to 17:00.

Viharamahadevi Park:This is the largest of several parks in Colombo. It is the last remnant of the cinnamon plantations that covered adjacent land, giving the residential area of Cinnamon Gardens its name. The park is a wonderful sight from March to May, when its trees burst into flower. You can see ebony, mahogany, fig, lemon and the last cinnamon trees from the plantations established over a hundred years ago. Tethered in the shade and swaying to and fro in one corner of the park may be elephants, sometimes parked here for the night. During peraheras held at nearby temples, upto fifty or so elephants may be accomodated here for about a week.

»»  read more

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sri Lanka - Miracle

Sri Lanka is an island of no great size, yet it has an extraordinary number of facets. As Sir Arthur C Clarke remarked: "The Island of Sri Lanka is a small universe; it contains as many variations of culture, scenery, and climate as some countries a dozen times its size . . . I find it hard to believe that there is any country which scores so highly in all departments - which has so many advantages and so few disadvantages." Lovely beaches, beautiful landscapes, impressive ruins, a vibrant culture and charming people. – no wonder Sri Lanka is a small miracle.

»»  read more

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Holiday in Sri Lanka

Ayubowan !

Travel to Sri Lanka and make your dream Holiday come true! Holiday in Sri Lanka is ideal if you're looking forward to have fun, enjoy the sunshine and frolic in white sandy beaches. If you want to do bird watching, see wildlife paying a visit to Ceylon (as Sri Lanka known in back in time) will be a holiday you'll never forget. If you want to try out eco tourism tour, Sri Lanka is a marvelous place to spend your vacation. Sri Lanka is one place where you could be in harmony with nature like in no other place. By spending your holiday in Sri Lanka you'll get so much of entertainment out of cheaper trip. A Holiday in Sri Lanka means that you'll have loads of fun, experience a unique culture & heritage at a very affordable price. Sri Lanka Holiday Blog is expected to provide most comprehensive information on Ceylon. So if you are thinking of a Vacation in Sri Lanka you have come to the right place! you can find information about hotels in Sri Lanka, travel agents in Sri Lanka and about interesting topics like beaches in Sri Lanka, wildlife of Sri Lanka and bird watching in Sri Lanka.

Vacation in Sri Lanka would mean that you'll get to see beaches of Sri Lanka, wild life in Sri Lanka and much more like bird watching tours out of one cheaper trip. We can help you to plan your trip to Sri Lanka in a way you could experience the beauty of Sri Lanka. Since we have access to the necessary resources like travel agents in Sri Lanka, hotels in Sri Lanka, we could provide services which you met your requirement. Like if you want to try eco tourism or experience a unique south Asian culture you should visit Sri Lanka and we'll help you.

Sri Lankan Beaches are the most picturesque in the world. Soft sound of waves lapping in to the beach, endless strip of white sandy beaches contrasting with deep blue waters, coral reefs that are home to many types of tropical fish best describe what you will find when you visit Western & southern coastlines of this beautiful country. You could socialize with the warm friendly people out there and groove to the sunny vibes emitting from this beautiful tropical culture. For more info

Wild life in Sri Lanka is something you shouldn't miss out. This beautiful island is home to many types of exotic tropical fauna & flora. Bio diversity of this country is really rich, which makes this country a nature lover's paradise. For more info History of this country spans over a period of 2000 years, which is livid with many a colorful incident of regency and their doings. Times of wars, events of religious significance, coups and trysts with foreign elements color the odyssey of checkered history of "Serendib" as this island was known then. Many monuments pertaining to Buddhism & Hinduism, monuments built for aesthetic, medicinal purposes and for no other reason but to showoff the mightiness of the rulers were erected during the time of kingdoms like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Yapahuwa, and Kandy etc.

All right enough said, start packing your luggage to have the most wonderful time of your life. Have a nice trip!

»»  read more