This is my list of 10 best travel places in Sri Lanka for a Pakistani. Our’s was a family trip of four near adults in the summer months.
We started off from Colombo and ended up there on the sixth day, back. It was a loop across the Sri Lankan Island and it was memorable. The Google maps route of our visit to beautiful places in Sri lanka you can find in this link. I personally loved the trip because Pakistan Sri Lanka relations are very good and the people there like Pakistanis.
Climb to the top of Sigiriya Rock.
Sigiriya Rock fort is a UNESCO world heritage site. The frescoes on the walls of this once formidable fortress are still fresh inside the caves. This fortress was built by Kashyapa-1(reign 477-495 AD). This king build Sigiriya fort in the 5th century as a rear-guard to protect himself from the wrath of the previous king he over threw. This 200 m high solid rock is actually a molten plug of a long eroded volcano. Old ascetics in the BC times meditated here then it was taken over by the Kashyapa Kingdom, with the king living in the safest, almost impenetrable top most part of the fortress.
This is what archaeologists have to say about it:
I personally loved the images of the various concubines depicting their races Asian, African and Indian on the walls. You are not allowed to take the pictures of them.
Dambulla Buddhist Temple and Rock caves
This 5-caves Buddhist retreat from the 2nd century BC sits atop another molten rock. Buddhists everywhere have a propensity to build retreats high in the clouds. This one is a moderate 400 steps climb, with lovely views and statues inside.
I didn’t got there as it would have required me to stay overnight at Dambulla — which is extra $.
Kandy Esala Perahera Buddha Tooth festival in Kandy
Kandy Esala Perahera Buddhist festival is a 10 day annual event involving dancers, elephants, acrobats, and fire and whiplash performers. This festival was even mentioned by the ancient Chinese traveler Fa Hien in the 5th century. Even after British takeover of Kandy, they let the festival be in the hands of the Buddhist clergy.
I mean who would mind a group elaborately costumed guys singing and dancing with drums.
It is a roving festival of religious song and dance that winds through the town Center. Prices are steep so book early.
First are the whiplash performers, whose actual role back in time was to make room for the procession coming through. It’s kind of intimidating though.
Following them are fire baton performers.
Next to arrive are batches of dancers and drummers, each with a specific story to tell in their performance and paying tribute to the Buddhist religious characters.
We left around 12 pm to sleep.
The tea estates and factories before Nuwara Eliya
Driving towards Nuwara Eliya we reach the tea plantation estates that the British establish. They are now in private hands. We even visited a 100 years old factory that still makes various levels of tea and had wide range.
I didn’t know tea has a very expensive ultra-premium quality too and it is more helpful when drunk light and without any additive.
Lot of Muslims own tea establishments and they love Pakistanis — as we do too. Some met us like long lost brothers.
Sri Hanuman temple before Nuwara Eliya
This place is a piece of heaven on earth. This temple was established by Sri Hanuman Ji himself as per Hindu mythology. Standing at its courtyard, I had a huge waterfall behind me and three freshwater lakes in front me. The lakes were interspersed by green vegetation-covered hills with clouds rolling over them.
I attended a weekly Hindu ritual at the temple and saw several local and visiting Hindus deeply engrossed in chanting towards their God.
We had food at the local diner which was the best and the cheapest that we came across in Sri Lanka. We mostly looked for Indian food, as it resembled Pakistani food, only that it was vegetarian.
Train ride from Nanu Oya to Ella
Try to book seats beforehand in the front observation compartment or else you’d be stuck in the 3rd class compartment with the locals and no way to see the excellent views outside.
Hike & Zip line at Ella
Ella is a hiking place with little Adam’s and colonial bridge at a short distance. Don’t forget to bring your water with you, sufficient for the heat enroute.
I loved the zip line though.
Elephant and leopard Safari at Yala
Yala safari is expensive at $ 55 per person, but the tsunami memorial inside is interesting. The difficult part is that you cannot pee on the way and have to wait for hours before the next washroom. We did see a loner elephant, crocodile, birds and the odd leopard resting on a tree.
Dutch fort at Galle
This fort is still stuck in a time warp. It was lovely to see the buildings still intact and people still living in the houses. I was told living there was the most expensive in all of Sri Lanka. I met a Muslim family and they invited me in like I was royalty. Lovely people. I did notice that there was no ritual sacrifice going on during Eid day. Maybe the islamophobia against the church bombing was not over yet.
Snorkeling / Surfing at Hikkaduwa and whale watching at Marissa
The South Eastern edge of Sri Lanka is all for snorkeling, water sports, surfing, whale watching and beaches, but not in the rough seas months of July – September.
Sea Delta mangroves Boat ride at Bentota
The boat ride into the mangroves forest of Bentota is something different. The authorities have closed off large salt water delta channels from the sea so that inland movement on boats and tourism can flourish. There were several island resorts there and isolated temples too. One such island sunk during the tsunami and only the Hindu temple on top survives.
I hurt my leg appreciating the ‘fasting Buddha’ statue as it was an exact replica of the real one found in Pakistan.
Don’t forget to get your feet cleaned up in the fish massage ponds along the way.
Check out the picture of mangove cave below and tell me this isn’t the most beautiful place in Sri Lanka for a Pakistani.
Souvenirs & Partying and Red Mosque at Colombo
Colombo is like any other developing western city. Its Muslim heritage peers out sometimes, like the red mosque with its unique architecture that does not look Arab.
Souvenirs shops and Gem shops are plenty there, with beautiful sales ladies. That reminded me of the not-so-pretty sales people in our own souvenir shops.
Wood work and carving are my favorite, especially the masks and dancing characters.
This ended our trip of beautiful places in Sri Lanka for a Pakistani. From here we boarded our plane back to Pakistan
Some Trip trivia
For geography sticklers, Sri Lanka is an island on the southern tip of India. These best travel places in Sri Lanka for Pakistanis are specifically for a 5 days visit, provided you are not interested in water sports or partying in Colombo. For a One day trip to Sri Lanka, Colombo would be the ideal place to spend the day. These pictures and images of the Sri Lanka tour are all mine. Feel free to use them as you like.