Sweet Teeth of Sri Lanka

Posted 04/12/2019 by Bertie Adam

Sri Lanka's ancient seat of its long gone monarchy sits atop a 200m high rock, nestled deep in the country’s verdant central plains. The centrepiece of Sigiriya is its now crumbling fortress, once an architectural marvel, which awaits travellers and trekkers after a mere 1200 steps on a site that scientists think might have been inhabited for almost 2000 years. This may be true, however the striking site of this fortress and its town was born slightly more recently, and out of both fear and ambition of King Kashyapa I. In the 5th century the King upped sticks to Anuradhapua in order to escape his reputation for patricide in the north-west. To quell the last of his nerves, he decided to build his palace on the rock. This granted him a vantage point and 360 degree views of his surroundings to keep an eye out for hostile forces.

The site now echoes with the king’s past opulences, the legacy of which has managed to last for over 1500 years. Frescoes that once completely coated the western face have been reduced to a fraction of their former glory after centuries in the hot Sri Lankan sun. Just further down from here is the infamous ‘mirror wall’, a parapet that was so highly polished, King Kashyapa was able to see his own reflection. Over the many years the once white plaster has slowly yellowed, and we are able to see centuries worth of graffiti scrawled along its length, mostly praising the many consorts of the Royal Palace.

Sigiriya remains a true testament to an ingenious civilisation, so you want to see a hidden Sri Lanka that’s off-the-beaten-track, then Sigiriya is an absolute must.

The country's teardrop shape is no harbinger of doom for those with a less aggressive palate, despite whatever message you're receiving from the green chillies in the photo above. Try some aluwa or aasmi whilst en route to Sri Lanka’s sacred city of Kandy, old headquarters of the country's regal past. The city’s most important site is a magnificent temple housing a canine of the Buddha, hence its name Temple of the Tooth.

The temple and its precious relic have survived bombings and wars over the years. Vicious battles have been won and lost over this artifact, due to Sri Lankan legend that dictates whoever is in possession of it also has the right to rule the country. In fact, one such war allegedly lasted over 800 years.

Given that the tooth has exchanged hands for millenia and survived bloody wars and fatal bombings, one could almost be forgiven for dropping to their knees and professing all future allegiance to it. On top of all this, the city of Kandy is surrounded by green hills, meaning the city is often cloaked in a perpetual drizzle which only serves to heighten the sense of mysticism this holiest of cities emanates.

Despite Sri Lanka’s fascinating history, it’s easy to feel in ruins yourself after seeing so many of them. Not to worry, because this marvellous country can provide the antidote too: the island’s 200 million year isolation from the Indian subcontinent means huge biodiversity and plenty of endemic species of flora and fauna. It’s home to 22 national parks with more animals than David Attenborough can shake a stick at.

Yala is the most famous of them all. This may well have something to do with having one of the world’s highest leopard densities. Sri Lanka has four native big cats, with the largest being the Sri Lankan leopard, thus making Yala national park a perfect destination for any avid ailurophile.

Minneriya National Park gives you the chance to observe the birds and elephant herds as they lumber across the grassland. This is responsible tourism at its finest, where you can observe these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

Bundala might be quieter than some of the others, but if you look closely, somewhere between the jungle vines and lagoons, you’ll discover a veritable twitcher's paradise, and one of the finest parks in existence for bird watching. Wild flamingos and peafowl strut their stuff amongst the wetlands. It’s worth mentioning that Bundala’s sandy beaches are home to a growing population of five of the seven turtle species.

Check out our tours with these unique experiences below

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Hidden Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Remote temples & rural life in lesser-seen Sri Lanka

£2,395 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
14 days

Wildlife of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Tropical birds, leopards & elephant gatherings

£2,395 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
14 days
Call us on:020 7183 6371

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