Negombo – Our childhood playground!

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I spent most of my childhood in Negombo and went to Marist Stella College Catholic boys school. We lived in Sea Street in Negombo where I have many wonderful child memories of visiting the beach, swimming in sea, fishing, eating delicious sea food (fish, lobsters, crabs and prawns) and playing cricket.

Negombo is a major city in Sri Lanka close to the International airport. It is situated on the west coast of the island and at the mouth of the Negombo Lagoon. It is approximately 35 km north of Colombo City. Negombo is known for its fishing industry with busy fish markets and sandy beaches. It also know as “little Rome” for the large number of churches and more than 60% of people living in here are Catholics.

Negombo has been a trading port for Portugese and Dutch and is a ideal place for those who want quick access to and from the airport. Attractions in the city are the old Dutch fort gate built in 1672 now a part of the prison, the Dutch Canal, old churches and fishing villages.

Negombo Beach

Sandy beaches of Negombo has been mostly unexplored but less crowded as most tourists use the town for the first or the last night of their stay in Sri Lanka. One of the advantages of Negombo beach is that you are likely to have the beach mostly to your self.  The beach stretches are well maintained by the hotels while some are always busy with fisherman and their equipment.

 

Kandy – Hill Capital and the home of the Temple of the Tooth

Kandy is the hill capital of Sri Lanka and the island’s second largest city. Kandy is 465 meters above sea level, Kandy is located 129 Km North-East of Colombo. Nestling midst low hills, and looped by the Mahaweli river; Kandy is the country’s religious and cultural centre and a World Heritage City.

 

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For Buddhists, Kandy is the sacred city. The focal point is the Dalada Maligawa also known as the temple of the tooth, where the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha is enshrined.

Dalada Maligawa is one of the most blessed sites of worship for Buddhists from all over the world. The temple that was built during the 16th century is the abode for the Tooth Relic of the Buddha (left canine tooth to be precise). Rituals are enacted daily in the temple to venerate the relic, accompanied by flute playing and drumming. The ‘Dalada Maligawa’ is in the UNESCO list of World Monuments.

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The highlight of the year is the Kandy Esala Perahera, when a replica of the relic casket is taken in procession accompanied by costumed drummers, dancers and about 80 – 100 caparisoned elephants during ten glittering nights in August.

The beautiful city, surrounded by hills and valleys, rivers, lakes and cascading waterfalls, boasts of the Royal Botanical gardens at Peradeniya .

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Kandy is an exciting place for shopping with souvenirs of wood, copper, silver, brass and bronze. Ceramics, lacquer work, handlooms, batiks, jewellery, rush and reed-ware too could be purchased.

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There are thee options to travel to Kandy – Bus, Train or car!

Bus: From Colombo public buses start from the CBT or private ones from the bus terminal opposite the CBT (3 h, about LKR130). From Negombo bus terminal by direct public buses over CBT for LKR153 (November 2014).

Train: (from Colombo or Badula) – Intercity express train are hassle free and scenic. Reservation are needed for these trains, it can be done just before the departure depending on the period but is best done in advance especially if you are traveling on a weekend or holiday. There is a decent observation saloon (1st class) in this particular train. Normal trains are slower and 3rd/2nd class unreserved tends to be crowded. The trip from Colombo to Kandy costs LKR220 in second class, reservation however will set you back another LKR600, but apparently the first class is just LKR750 wherever you get off (Kandy, Badula, Ella, etc.).

Yala – Sri Lanka’s most visited National Park

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This is my favourite wild life park in Sri Lanka. I have visited the park over 10 times. Whenever, my friends visit Sri Lanka and I recommend them to visit this beautiful park situated in the South East cost of the island.

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Yala National Park is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka. It consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public. The park covers 979 square kilometres and is located about 300 kilometres from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu it was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals.

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The western part of Yala (block one) is named as the area with the highest leopard concentration in the world. With only 35 leopards in the entire park the chances of actually seeing a single leopard are still relatively slim.

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Yala National Park is one of the best places for sightings of wild Elephants. The park is home to many animals including Buffaloes, Leopards, Monkeys, Circles, Crocodiles, Wild boars and Bears. Feb-Jun/Jul is the optimum time to visit when water tables are low. Leopard, elephant and many smaller animals are competing for the same drinking source. You are likely also to see sloth bears, deer, wild boar, buffaloes, crocodiles and monkeys. Birds are abundant – up to 130 species.

To get to the National Park you can take a tour and most of them leave around 5:00 am or 14:30 pm, but it depends on if you are going for half/full day or overnight. The entrance to the park is 3,700 rupees. The tours should cost about 4,000 to 6,000 on top of the admission ticket.

 

 

 

Sri Lankan Highlands – Famous for Ceylon Tea!

Sri Lanka’s highland tea plantations range over 2000 square kilometres of rolling green hills, now annually produce over 300 million kilograms of the famous Ceylon Tea.

Drive into the highlands from Kandy and discover Sri Lanka at its most dramatic: a land of stunning waterfalls, gurgling mountain streams and steep hillsides cloaked in luminous green tea, sweet-scented Cyprus and Eucalyptus trees.

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Dickoya, Bandarawela, Haputale and Ella are all quaint hill country towns and villages. The uphill journey by train is one of the most enchanting train journeys in the world. I would recommend to take the first class observation carriage in the train from Peradeniya (near Kandy) to Badulla. The FIRST CLASS observation car  costs LKR 1500 (under £9:00), you can buy your advance tickets on-line at www.exporail.lk . The travel time is 7.5 hours.

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There are many plantations open to visitors for tours and tea tasting. On an organised tour, you can visit a plantation, its picking areas and tea factory. Some of the world’s finest tea is grown and processed in Sri Lanka – known around the world as Ceylon tea.

Our recommendations during your visit to the tea plantations of Sri Lanka are to:

  • Take drive along winding misty mountain peaks and cascading waterfalls
  • Walk through lush green tea plantations, mountainous landscapes and rural villages
  • Stay in a tea planter’s bungalow surrounded by tea plantations
  • Take a train journey to the southern highlands and enjoy the stunning landscapes
  • Take a jeep ride to Horton Plains national park and hike to world’s end
  • Go on a gruelling night-time climb up the sacred Adam’s Peak and watch the sunrise
  • Play a round of golf at the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club