• Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala Rock
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    The attempt on Pidurangala Rock

    I travelled to Sri Lanka for the second time over the New Year holidays. This time instead of the coast, I opted to explore the wonders of the interior – Kandy, Ella, Dambulla and on to Sigiriya. The initial stairs leading up to the top of the rock (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Like everyone else, I initially Googled best things to see in Kandy, Sri Lanka and ‘Sigiriya Rock’ came up on every list. Hardly surprising, as Sigiriya Rock or ‘Lion Rock’ is one of the island’s most revered and popular destinations. It may seem to be a large rock formation at first, but it is much more. The rock…

  • Passing through the tea estates on the way to Ella
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    In praise of train travel

    What’s it about long-distance train journeys that brings out the little child in me. A sense of happiness each time I take my seat, listening to the train as it whistles past towns and the countryside. Hurtling through tunnels or racing with the setting sun. There is something that is magical and wonderful about train travel, letting me be the little kid that I always will be. Whizzing through a tunnel between Mostar and Sarajevo Hours spent watching from a window or door of a moving train, as scene after scene unfold. Striking up conversations with complete strangers as they get in at different stations, heading to places near and…

  • Sri Kailasanathar Swamy Devasthanam
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    A splash of colour with your prayers

    It’s Colombo’s oldest Hindu temple, having stood on these very grounds for more than two centuries. It’s also one of the most beautiful and colourful temples you will see. This is Sri Kailasanathar Swamy Devasthanam. Entrance to the temple (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) The first time I remember seeing colourful temples was when I was travelling through the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a kid. The, many years later, on visits to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, I did see the local temples there, making for a beautiful mental picture with their bright colours against the blue sky. Until I landed in Colombo. A statue of Ganesh adorns part…

  • Inside the vihara at Gangaramaya temple
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Treasures of Gangaramaya Temple

    While you can see the main sights of Colombo in a few hours if you are rushed, and about half a day if you want to do it at a leisurely pace, there is one place that will surely take up a couple of hours of your time to see and explore – Gangaramayana Temple. Gold plated engravings inside the temple It is one of the oldest temples and among the most important Buddhist temples in Colombo, Sri Lanka. With a blend of architectural styles from across Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, China and even Indonesia, it brings in plenty of local worshippers while attracting eager tourists every day. The Buddha…

  • View of Beira Lake from Seema Malaka
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Contemplate at Seema Malaka

    You can ignore the quality of the water. What you can’t ignore is the serenity that surrounds you, however brief your stay may be. On the calm waters of Beira Lake is an oasis that offers you some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. A quiet place to retreat, rest and reflect – Seema Malaka. Statue of the Buddha with two of his disciples at Seema Malaka Immediately after you have finished touring Gangaramaya Temple, make your way a short distance away to this oasis. While it is part of the temple complex, it’s worth every moment of your time. You can also read more on things…

  • View of a Sri Lankan airline
    Blog,  Resources,  Sri Lanka,  Visas

    Sri Lanka’s tourist ETA is a breeze

    On the one hand, there are quite a few countries that require lots of documentation to apply for a tourist visa. Bank statements, self-declaration, proof of funds, travel insurance… Then the endless wait, trying to differentiate between calendar days and working days. And then there is the Sri Lankan ETA. Bandaranaike International Airport It is, by far, the easiest and fastest visa application process I’ve gone through. It doesn’t require you to upload a scan of your passport or photograph, or any other documents. All it requires is five minutes of your time, plus or minus a few minutes here and there, in case the kettle has come to a…

  • Views of the Indian Ocean from the ramparts at Galle Fort
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Postcards from Galle Fort

    If there is one place where you can see the rise and fall of western empires, it must be Galle in Sri Lanka. And nothing encapsulates that better than Galle Fort. View of the Galle Clock Tower from the Moon Bastion It was originally built by the Portuguese in 1588. Then along came the Dutch who fortified it further from 1649. The British, not wishing to be left behind, went about with their own modification from 1796. It was finally the Sri Lankans who, immediately after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, went about restoring it to its present glory. Views of the town within the walls of Galle Fort Today,…