Regions of Sri Lanka
|A long way to Jaffna used to be a great adventure even in times when any visit at those places was still possible. To the north of Anuradhapura, along the road A9, which exactly splits the northern province into halves, convoys of trucks crowded round the roadblocks. Even a long time before 1983, the police stations and other public facilities were protected by bags of sand and looked like strongholds. Sometimes one could see the truck drivers using the waiting times to bring the victims to some of small temples and sacred statues along the road. They also bought coconuts to smash them on some of the sacred rocks. They tried to read from the brown shell cracks whether their way to the north would be safe. Such scenes were different|
|from the ones that a traveller could see in Buddhist monasteries and religious places on southern areas. Even the faces of villagers looked somewhat more straight the faces of Sinhalees living on the rich and nice south part of the island. The landscape: flat, fissured, ploughed by many streams, channels and artificial water reservoirs – vital sources for vegetable, cotton and tobacco fields treated by always diligent Tamilan. The elephant coomb, where trucks slowly pass a dam at these days, used to be only a ford before. Elephants were driven through that narrow place of Jaffna lagoon to the very north for pompous temple ceremonies.|
|Formerly, when the travelling used to be still possible, another world began behind the coomb, which is understood as a border between two enemy countries now. One could think that India is much closer than Colombo or joyful Southeast (and not only from the geographical point of view). The northernmost part is arid; there is no rain for ten and even more months. Even in spite of that, a sophisticated irrigation system, which was constructed many years ago, allows the farmers to grow vegetables and the best island’s mangoes in the sandy soil. Formerly, million people inhabited the peninsula. The country full of vast sand dunes, which is located close to Point Pedro is called a „small Sahara“. It is a desert where you can find palmyre palms and Christian crosses. The north looks more wilfully on islands that are located to the north of Jaffna. Kayts, Punkudutvu, Delft are the islands between two worlds – Sri Lanka and India: land, which is flat like a griddle cake, salt plains, palmyre palms. There are long queues of women with jugs and vessels waiting at wells or trucks with fresh water. There is lack of water on islands. There are wild horses on Delft. They are descendants of horses that were brought to that place by Portuguese colonists. It is said that ships of the king Solomon full of jewellery, spice, exotic animals and legends visited Kayts port. Tales of old times do not fit in these days. The terrorists of Tamil Ilam, who tempt for forced independence of north and east provinces, organised supplies of weapons from the subcontinent for a very long time. But when the terrorists had assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, India stopped and official support of Tamilan radicals in Sri Lanka. International experts did not regard the second independent state on Ceylon (lets remember a sad example of Cyprus) as viable. Besides the restive territorial reforms, visitors were mostly attracted by Buddhist temples and holidays. Even if there was not a right time for pompous processions in the time of summer full moons (with participation of thousands of worshippers), it was possible to watch religious life of Hindu. It was very different of a common life of Buddhists. Ascetics with white beards, sitting in dusts with their skin covered by ash, priests and pilgrims crowded in shadows of temples, mysterious sounds of drums, labyrinth of lights and dancing shadows accompany a ubiquitous dance of gods. For long months, the carvers have created ornaments and other decoration for temple chariots that were hauled through the streets of Jaffna and surrounding villages in the time of July and August full moons.|
Siddhartha Gautama wanted to find the truth. For six long years he sat in meditations on the bank of a river in the north of India. He tried to set his spirit free with the help of asceticism. After some time he discovered that it was not the right way to cognition. Therefore, Siddhartha kept on wandering. Finally, he sat down under the pippala tree. He stayed in „lotus“ position for 49 days under the rich branches of fig tree until he found what he was looking for: he recognised suffering and the way how to overcome every grief. Since that time he began to call himself Buddha the Enlightened. His followers regard the pippala tree as a tree of recognition. The original tree, where Siddhartha Gautama came to enlightenment in 529 BC,
|was take under a special protection by a peaceful Buddhist emperor Ashoka (265 - 232 BC). A scion of the sacred tree from Bodh Gaya in north India grows and flourishes in Anuradhapura for more than 2000 years. Anuradhapura is the oldest and most important royal city of Sri Lanka. The emperor Ashoka sent the scion to the Lanka King Devanampiya Tissa as a gift for the first Buddhist king of the island. International experts examined the tree for many times and confirmed all legends of its age. The people of Sri Lanka say: “Buddhism will prosper on the island until the tree in Anuradhapura has green leaves“. Naturally, there is no other tree grown with the same attention on Sri Lanka. Monks and pilgrims visit the tree every evening|
|before the sunset. It is fenced by golden rail and supported with iron efforts. Visitors are invited by drums of the tree guardians who live in neighbouring monastery. Anuradhapura flourished and shone as a capital of Sinhal empire for nearly 1400 years – from 380 BC to 1017 AD. Greek travellers, Chinese scholars and merchants as well as ones from Arabia reported about beauty and luxury of that fabulous city. The city is a top of cultural triangle now: all monuments of the island’s past can be seen among Polonaruwa, Anuradhapura and Dambulla.|
|(From Galle to Yala- Nationalpark) Southern shore is full of unique magic. Some forms of vegetation a type of landscape such as dunes and palmyre palms that grow alone from the sand can be found only in the northernmost part of the island – by Point Pedro on Jaffna peninsula. Everyone, who comes from the mountains a decides to use the road from Badulla or Elly via Wellawayu to the south, can experience an exciting and varied show: switchbacks with waterfalls, wet jungle right by the road, always interrupted views of valleys and see, and later on an arid and completely flat landscape with shining salt lakes: lagoons full of|
birds and tingling hot air.
It is also a
land of water buffaloes. Their milk is used by farmers to produce
very good yoghurts. They offer their products right by the road in pans.
It is a speciality (often tasted by honey) is very refreshing and in this
area, it substitutes the juice from royal coconuts. Coconut palms grow
only at the seaside and not too often in comparison to Southwest areas.
travelling to the seaside you will go via Wirawila, a small village
between two old dams. There fly herons, kingfishers and you can see
there a lot of other exotic birds. Ornithologists from the whole world
value the Wirawil Sanctuary and much larger Bunduly Sanctuary,
which is located along the shore to the south of Hambantot. If you
have a good luck you can see the swords of white flamingos. There are also
pelicans sitting in their nests. Tissamaharama is located on the
way to inland on the border of protected regional area. Just about 2200
years ago, it was a centre of Ruhuna kingdom. It offers the similar
impression as other royal cities on the north and Northeast. Ruhunda is a
symbol of everlasting fight against invaders from south India. It was a
place where new forces were gathered and new armies composed in order to
reclaim northern and central territories of Sri Lanka. If somebody wants
to have a rest after trips to the past or hot lagoons full of birds, it is
possible to do it on the terrace of the road hotel in Tissa (it is
a shortened version of the name use by natives). When relaxing, you can
think speculate about the quantity of still undiscovered treasuries and
mysteries locked up in the country. Archaeologists suppose that it is a
large part of the old royal city.
is also an ideal starting point for travelling to visit two monuments that
are regarded as the most important on the island: kataragamash festival
and safari in Yala National Park.
mostly takes place at the same time as the procession in Candy – once a
year in the time of full moon in Esala (in July or August). A war god
Skanda is worshipped.
National Park is the largest protected area on Ceylon. It is accessible
only by jeep-type; it is prohibited to use common hired cars. 50 km will
guide you through 135 km2
of unbound wilderness. However, the total extent of the park covers more
than 1200 km2.
Only scientists and park guardians may access most of the park’s area. The
Yala National Park offers many very good opportunities to see small as
well as bigger animals: buffaloes, wild pigs, deer, iguanas,
sometimes bears, leopards (with good luck) and many big
birds such as eagles, cormorants, pelicans and variety of storks.
However, the experience is quite different of e.g. safari you could know
from Africa. The real pleasure should be sought rather in splendid and
unusual landscape: thorny savannahs, lakes, lagoons, brackish waters, and
rocky bushes. Elephants living on Sri Lanka represent tourist attraction
as in other countries. Elephant herds in Yala are not so big; the
probability to see them is higher in the Lahugala Park, which is located
farther to the north. Presence of cars does not scare the elephants
Elephants represent the symbol of power and wisdom on Sri Lanka.
South - West shore
|Dreams of each tourist are fulfilled on the west shore: fabulous beaches, palms, and friendly people whose problems are hidden from the sight of tourists. German tourists are on Sri Lanka already for the tenth time and recede from their beach. Bentota River is a very popular place in the eyes of travellers. They spend hours sailing on the river along the mango-tree groves, looking for an illusion of the real jungle and adventure. The road to the south mostly leads along the seashore. Distances among villages get longer and many gulfs and bays lure to stop and swim: Ambalangoda, Ahungalla, Kosgoda – these are the synonyms of tropical paradise. The palms draw semicircles of white sandy beaches with small boats. Nobody disturbs the peace of these places. From February to May you can see men who balance on ropes stretched among the palms in 20above ground. They look like artistes an are called „toddy-tappers“, who practise their work there. They are members of an well-organised work group, which structure is similar to a caste. They wonder from village to village and tap the nectar from palm flowers. After its fermentation, the drink is called toddy and it is an alcohol for poor people. Fishermen sometimes drink all the night to make the work easier and fight against|
|sleep. After its distilling, an arrak is produced, which is the most popular spirit of tropical zones. However, Buddhism stays against any excessive consumption of alcohol so there is a little chance to see a drunk Sinhalees. The life in villages of Bentota and Hikkaduwa goes on in its „rails“ without any considerable influence caused by foreign tourism. There is only one district in Ambalangoda where local artists carve demon masks especially for tourists now. The masks are used very rarely to exorcise evil demons or illnesses on these days. However, the devil’s dance and walking on hot-glowing coal are still very popular tourist attractions.||
Who ever made a round-trip in Sri Lanka for that one it
seems to be impossible passing the mountains. Because the name
“Ceylon-Tea” is too popular in the whole world.