CEYLON TEA TRAILS  “You  can  describe  a  Sri Lankan   tea   garden   experience  in  two parts – tea  drinking  and  everything  in  between.  Some  people  might  want  to settle down and  drift  into  the  sleepy  rhythm  of  the  Tea  Trails,  the  world’s  first tea bungalow resort at an altitude of 1250 metres.

The others, like  me,  would  want  to  explore indefinitely  its  manicured tea gardens, a  choice  of   landscapes,   exotic   flora,  abundant bird life,  hiking,  trekking  and what-have-you. As I left this tranquil estate, I realized without any pangs of regret that tea bags were lost to me forever.”

GALLE “If Galle looks like you stepped into the 17th century, that’s because you have. The incredible story of the British taking over Galle without firing one shot made me realize why this picturesque port is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The ancient trading post of Galle is said to be the famous Tarsis of the Bible which King Solomon only knew from hearsay but from where he got his gems and spices. Today, this essential port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders is lined with old houses displaying Dutch heritage, with their pillared verandahs.

The word Galle comes from Gala in Singhalese which means “cliff, mountain and also a place to rest” – an apt description.”

COLOMBO “Colombo was anything I wanted it to be. This capital city of Sri Lanka dressed up and down with amazing ease. At one glance, you could see traffic-choked roads,  and  pure Asian  chaos.  At another,  beautiful  architecture,  design,  beaches and  greenery.

My adventures in Sri Lanka began with dinner at the Gallery Café, once the office of the renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa. Over dinner, I learnt that you haven’t really been to Sri Lanka if you haven’t been to something built by Geoffrey Bawa. As one of the  earliest  founders  of  'tropical modernism',  he  has planted his signature all over Sri Lanka – black pools with Frangipani trees, insides welded into outsides and above all, infinity pools that seem to merge with the Indian Ocean.

A few days later, I left, saying goodbye to Colombo’s many avataars.”

SIGIRIYA “The name Sigiriya developed in the 5th century. It means lion in Singhalese and refers to the front of the lion that has been carved from the rock and whose mouth is at the base of the stairs that lead up to its peak.

Surrounded by forests and lakes on a plain, this site is all things at once – a mighty piece of rock about 200 metres high, a derelict fort that is centuries old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The  most  famous  sight  are  the  Cloud  Maidens of Sigiriya who chose to remain mysterious  as  the  meaning   behind   their   depiction  remains   unknown.  I  enjoyed a natural wonder, a man-made wonder and a journey into the past, all at once.”

ANURADHAPURA “As one of the oldest and most interesting cities of Sri Lanka, this so-called city of 90 kings is actually the city of 119 kings across 13 centuries.

It is also the first capital and centre of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist civilization and home to the oldest tree  in  the  world.  Legend  has  it that it was grown from a twig cut from the Bodhi tree beneath which Gautama Buddha found enlightenment which was then carried here and planted in 230 B.C.

I spent some time looking at the countless pilgrims who prayed to this tree with incense sticks and blossoms and then moved to view the rest of the city with its imposing dagobas, remains of palaces, monasteries and temples. After this unique pilgrimage, I found myself more and more intrigued by the spirituality of the East.”

MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK “The Minneriya reservoir was created by King Maha Sena in 275 A.D. and continues to dazzle with its size and quality of wildlife. I saw impenetrable jungles and grasslands, wild elephants, and diverse bird life which included the whitethroated Kingfisher, the Sri-Lankan brown fish owl and many more. Leopard sightings are possible, though rare. I didn’t manage to spot one, but what I saw was enough to take my breath away.”


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