Sri Lanka: Paradise found

On my way back to India from Oman, I had the opportunity to pay a brief visit to Sri Lanka. My trip to Oman had already left me flabbergasted, and my expectations were high as I stepped my foot in Sri Lanka. An island nestled in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka had everything that I wanted from a travel destination. Let it be the diversity of the place or the delicate cuisine that left me looking forward to the next meal.

The people were as warm and welcoming as the sun, and a smile always lingered on their lips ready to help you with all your traveler’s queries. I found trains to be the best form of public transport to travel across the provinces. It also provided me with a chance to interact with locals and to learn about the less crowded and must-visit destinations. I expected to see palm trees and beaches lining when I boarded the flight, but the vast stretches of green valleys and hilly regions left me dumbfounded. Though I don’t enjoy going to beaches much, the Mirissa Beach definitely made its way into my heart.

Not only was the place clean, but did I spot monkeys happily jumping from one tree to another. There were even squirrels and peacocks running across the resort’s roof. Early in the evening, beach dining starts at Mirissa Beach. Sizzling, crackling, and clanking sounds fill the air with a delicious spicy smell lingering in the air. Dining here was more expensive compared to other restaurants.

On the other hand, I found Ella, a small laidback town in Sri Lanka, to be a place taken right out of a fairy-tale. It was here that I experienced the most beautiful train ride of my life. The area is surrounded by stunning tea gardens and mountains offering great hiking opportunities. I hiked up the Little Adam’s peak and it took me around 20 minutes to reach the top in addition to the 45 minute’ walk from Ella town to the foot of the mountain. I wanted to visit Diyaluma Falls, which is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, but as the trip would consume up a whole day, I had to restrain myself from visiting it.

The Sri Lankan cuisine was out of this world. The curries, mostly accompanied by rice, are made with the freshest ingredients. Vegans won’t be disappointed as there is a wide array of vegan options to choose from. On the other hand, the seafood tastes heavenly and is pulled right out from the ocean. Coconut is an important ingredient in most of the Sri Lankan cuisine, and I found the lotus root curry to be extremely delicious.

Sri Lanka is home to an abundant number of national parks that are brimming with wildlife. It was a great experience to catch a glimpse of leopards and elephants in the wild at Yala National Park. The national park even had a beach where the luckiest people could spot dolphins and killer whales. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to spot either.

Lastly, to experience the cultural and religious side of Sri Lanka, I decided to visit the Ancient city of Polonnaruwa. There was a lot to see here including the Royal Palace, Sacred Quadrangle, Pabalu Vehera, and the Buddha figures at Gal Vihara. My trip ended with a visit to the Temple of Tooth in Kandy which is home to Buddha’s teeth.