Breath taking beaches, colonial tea estates and beautiful hearts – Sri Lanka more commonly known as Lanka by the native Sinhalese is indeed a tropical paradise.
A two and a half hour flight from Mumbai to Katunayake Airport took me across the Southern tip of India, the vast Indian Ocean, the Palk Strait and finally the golden beaches of Celyon. Trying to grasp the beauty of something so grand through my tiny airplane window…words are simply not enough to express the way I feel!
As soon as I stepped down, every where I looked – I saw graceful coconut laden trees swaying in the winds – almost welcoming me ot their home.
I was lucky to land just in time to see the sunset – ahh! A sight to behold!!
Driving down from the airport to the hotel, our driver William informed us about a bomb blast near by, due to which we had to de route a bit. Naturally, we got all tensed up. But its funny how soon things change!
William said, (in his broken English but cute sort of way) “Sri Lanka people no problem – Hindu, Christian, Muslim live happy. Together. Only problem – Tiger. But we happy life otherwise.”
The humility of those simple but powerful words are still with me…
We are driving across a road that runs parallel to the coast – for a sea lover(me) – the sight of a beautiful beach, with that salt-water-laden-mist-air, just what I needed to shed off the apprehensions of the blast.
The next day, taking a walk along the beach, visiting many Buddhist temples and spice plantations nearby – the colour that stood out everywhere – GREEN! Sri Lanka – once under the sea, is now so lush – you can literally soak in the fresh greens!
It took me almost a day to realise that I am in another country – the people, places, culture are so similar to India – comprising of Sinhalese and Tamil, though there are many practicing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslim natives there too.
Its awesome to see the spirit of the people here – they have jumped back to life and one remembers the Tsunami only when you see memorials dotted along the coast…
My most favourite – Rambutan, a fruit with red hairy exterior and an interior similar to the fleshy lichi in India.
The Buddhist presence here is very strong as I saw many stupas and statues of Buddha every where. A 14 metre long reclining Buddha – did not actually see it, but heard so much about it from Kensley, our guide cum tuk-tuk driver in Bentota Island.
One word of caution – never, never trust tuk-tuk drivers in Colombo city – they are sure to take you for a ride! Though we had a great (and safe) experience with Kensley, we travelled an hour with him to get a glimpse of the coral reefs, temples, post office(Philatelic stamps) and my favourite – turtle hatchery at a nearby beach.
What’s great in Colombo? Shopping!!!(forgive me guys!)
Even though India is much bigger and advanced a country, we need to learn one essential trait from Sri Lanka – cleanliness. Every where I travelled, the roads, the parks, everything was clean to the core. The airport was international – in the right sense of the word (unlike Mumbai’s “international” one).
For the short duration of five days that I spent in Sri Lanka with my sister, the warm place and people have etched a place in my memory for a long time to come…
All in all, my shortest trip ever, but what a BLAST!!!!
Sri Lanka – My Exotic Paradise