A Local’s guide to Sri Lanka

A Local’s guide to Sri Lanka

Table of Contents

From green corridors formed by lush green vegetation to hot springs, the island with buzzing cities still hosts a skyscraper-free side that even locals do not know about.

What comes into one’s mind upon hearing the word ‘Sri Lanka’? It is none other than a beautiful island with patches of forests, mountain peaks, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, ancient cities, and perhaps even shopping. From green patches to hot springs, these spots and experiences are slices of unique, and rustic Sri Lanka that is best to see now – with the city’s tendency to change rapidly, it is easy to blink and miss something.

Guide to Sri Lanka: exploring Sinharaja rainforest

The last remaining primaeval rainforest of Sri Lanka is the largest expanse of evergreen rainforest on the island. The rainforest is a UNESCO world heritage site since 2010 due to its value as a nature reserve. There are many trails through the rainforest allowing the visitors to experience the jungle from different angles. The rainforest experienced a surge in nature lovers over the last several years, hiking its quiet, greenlined tracks.

The main trails in the forest start from the northern entrance and southern entrance of the park and wind their way through the buffer zone. Sinharaja rainforest trip has become a one-day Sri Lanka tour from Colombo due to the easy access from Colombo. Sinharaja is also a part of most nature tours, bird-watching trips and adventure trips such as 5 days Sri Lanka adventure tour. Therefore, you will encounter many travellers, some equipped with binoculars, walking through the various parts of the forest while having a closer look into the flora and fauna.  

Guide to Sri Lanka: Madunagala Hot springs

Nestled in the southern province of Sri Lanka, Madunagala hot water springs are well over 250km from Colombo. However, it has become a one-day trip location from Colombo with the opening of the southern expressway. The duration of the trip between Hambantota and Colombo has been curtailed to just 2 hours with the opening of the southern expressway.

This off-the-beaten-track tourist attraction is located in a picturesque area and surrounded by rice paddies. The location of the springs is very remote and visitors need to make an extra trip on a narrow-isolated road for about 1 hour from Hambantota. Perhaps its remoteness makes it unpopular among the travellers. There are many places such as Yala national park, Udawlawe national park, and Galle Fort on the south coast that are included in Sri Lanka trip packages such as 5 days Sri Lanka southern tour, however, Madunagala hot water spring is not a part of most Sri Lanka tour packages.    

Almost every tourist that heading to Madunagala are local traveller, you can join in-the-know Sri Lankan soaking in water drawn from a tapped underground spring. There are 6 tanks with warm water of varying temperatures. The small tank in the middle is the hottest and the water is so hot, that you cannot pour the water onto your body. The visitors are provided with plastic tubs to draw water from the tanks. So, grab a tub and start to feel the healing effect of the geothermal bath.  

First discovered in 1908, the springs have had a colourful life. However, the memory geothermal spring diminished over time and it was rediscovered and developed under the Udawalawe development project. Today it has been turned into recreational baths by the provincial government authorities and the visitors need to purchase a ticket to enter the site.

The village of Dambana

As if willed into existence from an old black-and-white photograph from the 1950s, the village of Dambana, the village belonging to the ancestors of stone age man, is Sri Lanka’s last blip of resistance against the tide of modern development.  Sitting within a wall of trees, this little village contains a ramshackle collection of mud and wattle houses, many with simple thatched roofs.

It seems the residents live a seemingly idyllic exitance, however, the new generation tends to leave the tribe, and move to modern big cities in search of a more luxurious and modern lifestyle. Chickens roam the grounds, dogs flick flies away with a flap of their ears, crickets and birds hum and chirp in the background, and the dozens of families in the village seem to have carefree sensibilities not commonly found in the general populace.

Guide to Sri Lanka: Ibbankatuwa Megalithic tomb

One of Sri Lanka’s oldest burial grounds is home to many dozens of graves, dating back to the pre-Christian era. According to historians, it was founded between 700 – 400 B.C. and graves belong to the people who lived in a nearby settlement.

Ibbankatuwa burial ground is located within the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, near Dambulla golden temple. The place was first explored in 1970 and further excavation was carried out on two occasions in 1983–1984 and again between 1988 and 1990. Today, the burial ground is quiet, and hidden in the lush green vegetation and stands as a testament to the advanced culture that existed on the island many thousands of years before.

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