Ceylon

Just 3.5 hrs from New Delhi, India where I live and with barely any pollution and dirt on the streets, I visited the island which you familiarly know for its mythical references in Ramayana and has produced the finest quality of cricketers and tea; Sri Lanka or Ceylon is much more than this.

It was my moms golden birthday, I dare mention the number! We didn’t know where to travel since there were friends weddings to be attended in the following days. So a quick getaway and relaxation on our mind, we explored the idea of Lanka. A dear friend’s friend who is a travel and lifestyle writer sent us a great itinerary and our bags were packed.

I’ll be sharing my experience and much more I could witness through others eyes, since most of you are planning to travel or are intrigued.

COLOMBO

Hotels to stay-

  • Kingsbury hotel (we chose this) or apartments if you’re more than 4/5 people and like to feel at home.
  • Taj Samudra
  • Galle face hotel
  • Hilton Colombo

Places to shop-

  • Dutch hospital shopping center
  • Noritake for cutlery/dinnerware
  • Odel next to Victoria Park
  • Pr Srilanka as a boutique fashion house
  • Barefoot for indigenous home ware/stationary/books/clothing
  • SPA Ceylon for amazing home spa products

Tourism-

  • Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple
  • Victoria Park
  • Geoffrey Bawa’s gallery/museum
  • Walk around the old parliamentimg_20161203_102136

Where to Eat/Drink-

  • Upali’s Sri lankan restaurant on Victoria Park
  • Sugar 41 for Drinks in Colombo 07
  • Ministry of Crab at the dutch hospital (slightly overrated)
  • Sea grill at the Kingsbury hotel
  • Gallery cafe at paradise road
  • Gelato at Odel
  • Heladiv tea boutique at the dutch hospital
  • Barefoot cafe

Possible Day trips from Colombo or Overnight stay-

  • Galle– it is about 2.5 hrs away from Colombo and is the Goa of Lanka. With a beautiful fort and streets filled with colorful buildings, flocks of tourists and funky autos. GALLE is ALL you need. With cafes like the Poonie’s organic cafe, Pedlar’s Inn cafe on peddler street are famous hang outs with great food and ambiance. Also with beautiful fashion boutiques and vintage stores, it’s food for the eye and the soul. Great hotels like the Amangalla, Galle fort hotel, The fortress and Thaproban beach house are beautiful properties with exquisite hospitality. Also a dear friend and mentor, Diya Sethi owns a property called The Elysium Collection- http://www.elysiumsrilanka.com/ which are great villas. Galle also has the Dutch Hospital counterpart with eclectic restaurants and boutiques with a Sea-view.
  • Mirissa Beach– Forty minutes from Galle and I must tell you, the drive is amazing! So if you can afford to drive down instead, its well worth it. The beach is rated #7 in all of Asia and is great for surfing, diving and just  bumming around too. We chose to dive and didn’t have much time, luckily we had done it  before and reminisced the basics. With a half hour tutorial from Mister Nuan at the Mirissa Diving Centre, we were strapped and jet packed to go into the ocean. There have been very few times where I have felt  time stop and this was that beautiful occasion where I spent 35 minutes underwater walking on a Seabed, exploring a world only a few can witness. The Paradise Hotel is a great pit-stop and place to stay.
  • Pinnawala– Roughly 3 hrs away with the city traffic,this town is known for the famous elephant orphanage. There’s a separate ticket for SAARC country residents and an ID would be advisable. The herb garden is included in the ticket to the orphanage and is quite like an Ayurveda center with herbs and plants growing for all sorts of ailments/aches and pain. The vanilla tea and the head massage which we received was great. They also have their own pharmacy of the house-made products.

If you can, please visit the Recommended Tea Estates in Kandy which is the birth place of Ceylon Tea. Nuwara Eliya is in the central province of the island. Ruhana and Dimbula are others to check out. Brief Garden by Bewis Bawa is worth checking out for the botanical beauty.

With only 5 nights and 6 days, this is all we could muster. I would suggest to spend at least one night in Galle if you’re going for a short trip and if you can, I’d spend most my time there! A visit to the Tea estates will be worth it too; picking the leaves, process and production. The famous Sri Lankan brand Dilmah is widely available and popular all over the world.

People to know-

  • Govind Dhar as the kindest and greatest cultural/travel/lifestyle writers. You can read up on his work before making a trip-

TukTuk’s are great to travel around but make sure the meter is on!

Stutiyi (Thank you for Sinhalese) Sri Lanka for having me and my family; for being lovely neighbors and great hosts. See you soon!

Zina Singh for Terrible Twos

 

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