Marco Polo considered Sri Lanka the finest island of its size in all the world. Tiny island Sri Lanka is located in the southern hemisphere, south of Indian mainland. What takes your fancy? Beaches? The coastal stretch south of Colombo offers palm-lined sandy expanses as far as the eye can see. One can find enough ancient and inspiring architecture in the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa during the holiday in Srilanka. Head for the hill country to escape the heat of the plains, where the coast fades away to reveal gorgeous rolling hills often carpeted with tea plantations. The entire island is teeming with bird life and exotics like elephants and leopards are not uncommon.
More than two million tourists travel to Sri Lanka, as sightseers, on business, as a student or due to health reasons. Most of the travellers arrive here as leisure travellers and book Sri Lank tour and beach holiday packages. Another considerable number of travellers book Ayurveda course in Sri Lanka and stay for several weeks in an Ayurveda hotel. Each of them has been seeking guidance, as others will if they are wise, on the scenic attractions and the strange customs to be encountered. Nothing is more suited to the causes of international understanding and goodwill. But almost to an individual, visitors from abroad cannot help commenting on the lack of enterprise and the scant interest devoted to Sri Lanka’s attractions, apart from its sunshine and colourful scenic resources. There seems therefore little hope of holding the interest of tourists and visitors from abroad in large numbers, until health and pleasure-seekers nearer home help by popularizing these assets and putting them on the map.
‘Where to go in during the Sri Lanka road trip?’ or ‘What is there to see?’ are questions frequently asked by tourists. Naturally, much depends on one’s inclination and interests. However diversified or different these may be, it does seem possible to satisfy every one of them on this little island.
If it is cool air or rugged landscape that one is after, there are scores of resorts set in the south-central highlands, where hill piled upon a hill, and mountain range upon range, seemingly come to rest at the elevation of Nuwara Eliya. Historical and archaeological associations can be satisfied by unlimited excursions to many a less frequented spot, even if the tourist centres Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura fail to offer allurement. And while the artist can still seek and find in the ruins of this old capital inspiration in craftsmanship which may be even two thousand years old preserved in stone or paintings, those whose inclinations bend towards a study of old traditions may yet explore veritably isolated villages, where time has not yet destroyed the devotion to old memories deeply rooted in the souls of the people, and the respect for traditions, legends, and customs inherited from a distant past.
The marvellous heritage of Sri Lanka’s ancient civilization, the magnificent network of man-made lakes and irrigation channels which have combined life with culture, in the sun-scorched level plains, have a strong claim to administration, and cannot fail to satisfy. Or if it is the tang of the sea and surfing possibilities which attract, there are galaxies of coves and bays on the girdling coast-line hold out an irresistible appeal to the work-weary.
Nevertheless, more often than not it is the Sri Lanka jungles that appear to exert the greatest fascination. Nothing can be enjoyable, with work and worry left behind and an open road ahead, than the prospect of a holiday in regions which have been little explored and seldom visited, where one may take back pictures of wild denizens sporting or grazing in open unpopulated wastes, or bending over their reflection in the limpid surface of quiet jungle pools. To reach such jungle solitude is necessarily fraught with a little more than the usual organization. In reality, a short jungle trek is not quite so difficult nowadays as one might imagine. For those who afford it, the best way of seeing Sri Lanka is to travel by motor-car. The railway and the motor-bus contribute in some measures to bring many remote places of interest within the reach of the less fortunate, but much will depend on how one arranges the itinerary.