Sri Lanka, Part 1(3)

The year 2019 was dedicated to visit Myanmar. Although I reached the Indian Myanmar border at Moreh to cross the land border, walking into the country, I couldn’t do it. I reached the border only to know that the border was closed due to the Republic Day security alert. I had no prior knowledge about this border being closed so, it happened unexpectedly. Instead of Myanmar, I travelled around Manipur and returned to Kerala. Only to have a deep wound in my heart about not visiting a foreign country in the year 2019.

In 2015, I made a decision to visit at least one foreign country every year, and from then on, I visited Nepal twice, once in 2016, and then in 2017, Bhutan in 2018, and 2019 was dedicated for Myanmar, only to be disappointed this time. I came back home and in a short time, continued my never ending journey through the Indian soil, but my mind always slipped to the fantasy of visiting another country.

Soon I made up my mind to visit Srilanka and I fixed the time to be November 2019, so that I still be able to visit a foreign country in the year 2019. Fate was against me, and I feel like 2019 was almost a disaster for me in terms of many hardships faced on road. November arrived and it passed and I was still at home, unable to travel. I had only INR 12,000 with me, not enough to visit Srilanka.

I was not ready to accept my defeat and with whatever was left with me, I decided to book a round trip to Srilanka, just the flight tickets. From what I found online, for an Indian to visit Srilanka you need to get VISA, and for the visa, you need confirmed flight tickets. So I decided to take the first step by booking the flights. With the little money I had with me, I was unable to book a flight in 2019, since i was too late to find cheap flights. To find cheap flights to Srilanka under 12000 rupees, you need to book at least 1 month ago, December being the month of tourist boom and vacations, the flight tickets was higher than what I had in my pocket.

The only slot available under 12000 rupees for a round trip was in January. Rates were even cheaper for flights from Chennai to Colombo, compared to flights from Kochi or Bangalore. So to keep the expenses low, I booked my flight from Chennai to Colombo and back in the month of January, 2020. This was a sudden and unplanned decision driven by my desire to travel rather than logic and expenditure. At that point I only had a ticket to Colombo and back, and sitting in the airport for 10 days for my return flight to India was my only option. But sometimes universe play the role of an alchemist to make things happen for you. ( The next 30 days before my flight to Colombo was filled with anxiety and i spend most of the time planning, will be sharing everything you need to know in my next post.)

A fearful Lion holding a sword in its right paw is the symbol of this pear shaped island in the Indian Ocean. This island can be the mythical land of Lanka where the character Ravana, in Ramayana Epic lived. But the island is often referred as SinhalaDeepa, or the island of Lions. Majority of the population in this small island are called Sinhala, speak a language in the same name and follow Buddhism. The one sided sword in the flag is called as Kastane and is worn by people of Sri Lanka as a symbol of status, pride and accomplishment.

Most of the population follows Buddhism and the ethnic group traces back to the kingdom of Magadha, from the eastern coast of India, present day Odisha. The migration to this island happened many centuries ago and they brought Buddhism with them. Hence there are a lot of historic Buddhist establishments and relics throughout the country.

The fertile soil of Sri Lanka produces one of the best quality tea in the World, the Ceylon Tea. The high altitude tea plantations in and around Kandy and Ella dates back to the British occupation of this island. Apart from Tea the spices and gem stones of Srilanka are also valued in the international market. Travellers getting their hands on precious gem stones are a common sight in the markets of Colombo and Kandy.

This Island country is known to almost all Indians due to its proximity to the Indian subcontinent and the references in many literatures and media. Because of its beautiful landscape and tropical climate, it is a favourite destination for European travelers as well . The kind hearted Europeans who find Indian roads and streets dirty loves to travel through the much cleaner and beautiful roads and streets of Srilanka. The people are very friendly and welcoming, most of them speak and understand English, hence it wont be difficult to travel around, even if you are a solo traveler.

A maximum of 10 days will be all necessary to circumnavigate this island, covering most of the major attractions. If you are not interested in travelling to many places in a rush, and rather enjoys to relax and visit few destinations , you can do Srilanka in 5 or more days depending on your preferences. Stay tuned for my next blogs on Srilanka to know more about travelling in Srilanka.