Nuwara Eliya_International Backpacking
Experiences, Solo Backpacking, Sri Lanka

Where epics meet modern civilization

“Cultures have long heard wisdom in non-human voices: Apollo, god of music, medicine and knowledge, came to Delphi in the form of a dolphin. But dolphins, which fill the oceans with blipping and chirping, and whales, which mew and caw in ultramarine jazz – a true rhapsody in blue – are hunted to the edge of silence.” 

~Jay Griffiths

Have you ever had the pleasure of backtracking on Moby Dick or Leviathan by the shores of Mirissa and Kalpitiya in Sri Lanka? The azure sea seems to beckon you to join its fathomless underwater world on these shores. New doors unlock and flood my mind with reverence for the gentle giants of the ocean during my whale-watching trip off the coast of Kalpitiya.

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It is a miracle that despite the hustle and bustle of the ever increasing number of tourists, Sri Lanka remains calm and composed, unspoiled and carefree. A seasoned backpacker can immerse in the sights and sounds of nature while treading on ancient haloed lands of Anuradhapura and Dambulla. The popular Ramayana trail (Hindu epic), rolling from North to South, bewilders the modern day historian and transports to an ethereal world hanging between abstractness and reality.

It is amazing how Sri Lanka has a bit of everything for everyone and quite affordable too! While Galle and Bentota pull the strings of romantic hearts, Nuwara Eliya is haven for nature lovers. I was overwhelmed by the old world charm of this quaint hill country. Long treks up winding hilly paths open vistas that are difficult to express in words. The surreal garden at Lunuganga Estate in Bentota, country home of the renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, simply takes your breath away! Here was a man who truly loved his garden and packed it with wonders that resemble a mini Eden.

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The weariness of city life makes us feel older than we are, stripping us of our vigor and vitality. Each step taken on the pristine sands of Arugam Bay, filling the tired lungs with uncontaminated O2 (read air), helps you understand how important it is to appreciate this earth. The surfers and divers can have a field day in these parts. It also dawns upon us the sad realization how much of it is already lost within the confines of the concrete jungles. No wonder most of us yearn to drop everything and run for the beaches and obscure mountain trails!

It is a well documented fact that many of Sri Lanka’s forest reserves (like Sinharaja Forest Reserve) and sites such as the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Needless to say, wildlife enthusiasts and history buffs will not be disappointed in this picturesque country.

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Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is a heady mix of colonial heritage (reminiscent of British rule) and modern city life. Large shopping malls, with their impressive array of designer merchandise, jostle for space with local markets and urban slums. If you can spare a night here, you will be pleasantly surprised by the transformation the city undergoes in the evening. Colombo has a buzzing nightlife, offering you every bit of the modern age sins. Shake a leg till the wee hours of morning and if your pocket permits, try your hand at the roulette and baccarat tables. Who knows, if lady luck happens to be on your side, you might get a tad richer on your way back home!

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Sri Lanka is a destination that doesn’t allow you to traverse in a hurry if you land here for the first time. I set out to cover most of it in two weeks and ended up leaving halfheartedly after 23 days! And no, not because of the real good cheap liquor (ha ha!). If a break is due, head for this  little island paradise and you will know what I mean.

For those of you who need a little help with the route, I have mapped the trail I took right here. As mentioned sometime back, I covered all these towns in 23 days. You can change the itinerary based on the number of days you can spare. As locals here would often utter lovingly – subha gamanak vēvā (have a good journey)!

Been to Sri Lanka and want to share your insights with our readers? Add them in the comment box below. Thanks for sharing!

 

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