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Colombo City - AsiaTravel.comColombo
Sri Lanka's capital upto recent times, Colombo, is a fascinating city, not only for a comfortable blend of east and west, but also for a cosy mixture of the past and present. It is still the commercial centre of the country. Situated 34 km. from the International Airport, Colombo has been a flourishing seaport for centuries. Today the bustle of the harbour mingles with the activity of its busy commercial, banking and shopping areas. The original trading settlers - the Portuguese, Dutch and the British have all left in their wake churches and monuments, names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages which have been absorbed into the speech of the Sri Lankans. Colombo, with its population of over half a million is divided into fifteen zones.

Colombo, the island's largest city, is noisy, frenetic - and just a little crazy. Thankfully, the breakdowns, snarled traffic and power cuts are received with a shrug and a smile. `No problem' might be the national motto; it's certainly the one phrase everyone knows and can say. While the city holds less obvious interest than many other parts of the island, it's still a colourful enough place and worth a visit to see what makes Sri Lanka tick.
Colombo is a relatively easy city to find your way around. To the north is the Fort district, the country's business center, which has department stores, book shops, airline offices and is the site of the Central Bank which the Tamil Tigers blew up in January 1996. There are also ample sights such as the clock tower, a former lighthouse, the president's residence (known by incorrigible traditionalists as Queen's House), and a cluster of colonial buildings which lend the district an aura of bygone Empire.
Immediately south of here is Galle Face Green, a seafront expanse of occasional green graced by cricket games, kite flyers and trysting lovers. Cinnamon Gardens, further south, is Colombo's most fashionable neighborhood, with elegant mansions, tree-lined streets and the city's largest park. East of the fort is the pungent Pettah bazaar district. Walk through and marvel at the riot of goods - fruit, vegetables, meat, gems, gold, silver, brass and tin junk.
Culture buffs shouldn't miss the National Museum, which has a good collection of historical works, the Art Gallery, which focuses on portraiture and temporary exhibits by local artists, and the city's many mosques, Buddhist and Hindu temples. After familiarizing yourself with Sri Lankan culture, check out the island's fauna at the Dehiwala Zoo. The highlight here is an afternoon elephant show. The closest real beach is at Mt Lavinia, a faded resort 10km south of the city.
Budget accommodation, cheap food and the best shopping can be found in the Fort and Pettah districts. Nightlife is moribund, though a visit to the cinema in the Fort district is an experience.

Kandy City - AsiaTravel.comKandy

The laid-back `capital' of the hill country and the historical bastion of Buddhist power is built around a peaceful lake and set in a picturesque bowl of hills. It has a distinctive architectural character thanks to its gently sloping tiled roofs and the town center is a delightful compendium of old shops, noise, buses, markets and hotels. Its standout attraction is the octagonal Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), a temple which houses Sri Lanka's most important religious relic - the sacred tooth of Buddha. There are daily ceremonies of homage to the Tooth Relic, each attracting white-clad pilgrims carrying lotus blossoms and frangipani.

The laid-back `capital' of the hill country and the historical bastion of Buddhist power is built around a peaceful lake and set in a picturesque bowl of hills. It has a distinctive architectural character thanks to its gently sloping tiled roofs and the town center is a delightful compendium of old shops, noise, buses, markets and hotels. Its standout attraction is the octagonal Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), a temple which houses Sri Lanka's most important religious relic - the sacred tooth of Buddha.

There are daily ceremonies of homage to the Tooth Relic, each attracting white-clad pilgrims carrying lotus blossoms and frangipani.
During the frenetic Kandy Esala Perahera celebrations, a replica of the shrine is carried through the city on an elephant. Other sights include the small but excellent National Museum, the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, and the Udawattakelle Sanctuary, a peaceful haven for bird life. There are plenty of lovely scenic walks around Kandy, one of which leads to the Mahaweli, where you may see elephants being bathed. The Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Center beside the lake has good displays of local crafts and an auditorium for popular dance performances.
Kandy is just on 100km (62mi) north east of Colombo and although the town lacks an airport there are any number of buses and trains running between the two destinations.

Galle City - AsiaTravel.comGalle
The port of Galle, thought by some to be the Biblical city of Tarshish, splendidly illustrates the solidity of the Dutch presence in Sri Lanka. The 36-hectare (89 acre) Dutch Fort, built in 1663, has withstood the ravages of time. Its massive ramparts surround the promontory that forms the older part of Galle, and shelters within its walls sturdy Dutch houses, museums and churches. This area has a quiet, relaxed atmosphere that seems almost detached from the flow of history. The New Oriental Hotel, built for Dutch governors in 1684, is a colonial gem with a wonderfully atmospheric bar. Nearby is a tiny sliver of a beach suitable for a dip, though most travellers prefer to head along the coast to the fine beaches at Unuwatuna, Weligama and Tangalla. Plenty of public and private buses run up and down the 107km (66mi) stretch between Colombo and Galle, as well as any number of daily express trains.

The port of Galle, thought by some to be the Biblical city of Tarshish, splendidly illustrates the solidity of the Dutch presence in Sri Lanka. The 36-hectare (89 acre) Dutch Fort, built in 1663, has withstood the ravages of time. Its massive ramparts surround the promontory that forms the older part of Galle, and shelters within its walls sturdy Dutch houses, museums and churches. This area has a quiet, relaxed atmosphere that seems almost detached from the flow of history. The New Oriental Hotel, built for Dutch governors in 1684, is a colonial gem with a wonderfully atmospheric bar.

Nearby is a tiny sliver of a beach suitable for a dip, though most travellers prefer to head along the coast to the fine beaches at Unuwatuna, Weligama and Tangalla. Plenty of public and private buses run up and down the 107km (66mi) stretch between Colombo and Galle, as well as any number of daily express trains.


Sigiriya Town - AsiaTravel.com
Sigiriya
The spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya is an impregnable fortress, a monastic retreat, and a rock art gallery. Built in the 5th century AD to fend of a feared invasion, it is situated atop a 200m (656ft) high rock, and at the height of its glory must have been akin to a European chateau plonked on top of Ayers Rock. There are water gardens, 5th century rock paintings of well endowed damsels, a 1000-year-old graffiti wall recording visitors impressions of the pin-ups, a couple of enormous stone lion paws and tremendous views.
To get to Sigiriya from Colombo, hop on a bus that stops at Dambulla, and from there catch any of the hourly buses going to the rock fortress, a total of 191km (118mi).



Trincomalee Town - AsiaTravel.com
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a natural deep-water harbor, on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka. On the east side of the town of Trincomalee, on a cliff known as Swami Rock stands one of the oldest Kovils (Hindu temple) in Sri Lanka. The present day Tirukonesvaram Kovil was rebuilt on the site of the Dakshana Kailayam (temple of 100 pillars) - that was destroyed by the Portugese in the 17th century. The restoration work was completed in the 1960's, and it is a "must see" site, for the visitors to Trincomalee. Friday evening Puja (offerings) services are specially colorful.




Hikkaduwa Beach - AsiaTravel.com
Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is the island's most developed beach resort. It has a range of accommodation, good restaurants and pleasant cafe-lined beaches. There's good snorkelling at an attractive and easily accessible coral sanctuary, scuba diving at a number of wrecks in the bay, tours by glass-bottomed boats and pretty good surfing. It's a relaxed place, similar to many Asian beach resorts popular with Western travellers. There are also plenty of handicraft shops catering to tourist whims, a Buddhist temple, a nearby lake with abundant birdlife.








Nuwara Eliya Event - AsiaTravel.com
Nuwara Eliya
Once the favourite hill station of the British, Nuwara Eliya still retains the vestiges of Empire: a blend of Tudor and Georgian architecture, gabled roofs, immaculate lawns with rose bushes and moss-covered gravestones. Soak up the quaint atmosphere by visiting the Hill Club - by jove, there's a golf course, tennis courts, even copies of Country Life here - or visit the botanic gardens and tea plantations in the surrounding hills.
Buses going to Nuwara Eliya leave Colombo almost hourly, and from Kandy with regular frequency. You can catch a train although you'll need to get off at Nanu Oya and catch a connecting bus, or taxi, to Nuwara Eliya itself as it does not have a train station of its own.


Jaffna
Jaffna city and seaport, northern Sri Lanka, capital of Northern Province, on a peninsula. The city is the trading center for the surrounding region in which coconuts, rice, and tobacco are grown.

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