Srilankan retreat

Reena Zafar on 21 February 2016
Few places in the world can offer a traveler such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a small location. Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time. It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where nature’s beauty remains abundant and unspoilt.

December was the perfect season to visit the place. Sri Lanka is one of the cheapest destinations which you can visit between your busy work schedules. It was only a 4 hour journey from Dubai to Colombo International Airport.

I decided to stay at the Hilton Colombo which is in the heart of the city. They gave me the same sea view room which I had requested while booking. The rest of my days were to be spent at Kandy, the hill station and Hikkaduwa, a small coastal town.

Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is a bustling city and a hopping-off point for beaches in the island nation's south. It has a long history as a port on ancient east-west trade routes, ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. I spent the first day roaming around the city. I ended up visiting the Independence memorial Hall and Dutch hospital which were all close to my hotel. Tuk Tuks were available at any time of the day or night, but I preferred walking on the streets. All around Colombo I could see monumental buildings and museums, Buddhist temples and statues.

The next day, a cab driver took me to Kandy, the hill station. The place was surrounded by mountains and tea estates. From my room at the Cinnamon Citadel, I could see the Maheveli River flowing by. The place was perfect for unwinding and to relax. A leisurely swim in the outdoor pool and a walk in the woods did magic to me. The famous Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha site was only 20 minutes away.

A road trip to Newara Ellliya which is also known as the little England was the most exciting part of my trip. The chilly weather was entirely different from the heat and humidity of Colombo. The old brick Post office, country house like hill club, golf course, race course etc., evoke nostalgia of Colonial British Ceylon. I could see people steering boats in Lake Gregory and kids riding horses nearby. The guided tour to the tea estate and the famous Sitaman temple were all worth viewing. On my way to the South coast, the breathtaking beauty of valleys, waterfalls and the lush green mountains had me speechless.

My last two days in Srilanka were spent in Hikkaduwa, The place is located 98 km south of Colombo. The beach and night life make it a popular tourist destination with the hippy hangouts and massage centers. It is a well-known international destination for surfboarding. I could see many diving centers and hotels which had direct access to the beach.

The most exciting thing which you can experience in Srilanka is the delicious food they serve in the restaurants. It was a surprise for me to see steamed rice and fish curry served along with the buffet breakfast..Hopper with a bulls eye on top was the best among all other dishes.

There were many moon stone mines on the coast. Precious stones are sold from here.

While sitting in the flight back to Dubai, I was still craving for the Srilankan hoppers and the traditional coconut fish curry.