My journey in Sri Lanka began with a sense of curiosity and anticipation. While I initially thought it might bear similarities to India, I quickly discovered its distinct charm. From the tantalizing cuisine to the unique architectural styles, Sri Lanka revealed itself as a nation that had preserved elements from its colonial past, be it British, Dutch, or Portuguese.

Sri Lanka’s diverse landscapes unfolded before me, offering a plethora of experiences. The nation thrived on tea and rubber plantations, but it was clear that tourism also played a pivotal role. Places like Ella seemed tailor-made for tourists, with restaurants, hotels, hostels, and souvenir shops at every turn. The South and West coasts have breathtaking beaches, perfect for water sports enthusiasts. I indulged in surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, and even whale watching, experiencing the thrill of the sea.

Venturing inland, I explored the central region, where Kithulgala provided the backdrop for white-water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and river expeditions. The lush surroundings also offered opportunities for canyoning, mountain biking through tea estates, and exploring the Bellilena Caves. My experiences with Borderlands, especially in activities like rafting and canyoning, left me exhilarated and impressed by their commitment to safety and fun.

A highlight of my journey was witnessing the awe-inspiring Kandy Esala Perehera, a historical cultural procession featuring hundreds of cultural groups, elephants, drummers, dancers, and more. This grand spectacle paid homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic and four guardian Gods, with the noble purpose of beseeching blessings for the kingdom’s crops and lands. It was a testament to the deep cultural roots of Sri Lanka.

I delved deeper into Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage, visiting places like Matara to witness the famous Devil Dance and the Colombo National Museum to explore artefacts, coins, and indigenous clothing. The Buddhist History Museum at Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy showcased Buddhism’s global influence and diverse traditions, emphasizing the unique practices of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s spiritual significance in the Ramayana epic came to life as I explored places associated with the legend. From Seetha Amman Kovil Temple near Nuwara Eliya, believed to be where Maa Sita was held captive, to the Kuda Ravana Ella Falls and Ravana Caves in Ella, I traced the footsteps of this ancient narrative. Other sites, like Divurumpola and Gayathri Temple, added to the immersive experience.

Colombo, the executive capital of Sri Lanka, offered a different flavour of the country. I explored the Pettah Street and Floating Market for shopping, savouring local street food, and experiencing the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Utilizing services like Pickme and Uber for Tuk-tuks proved cost-effective, given the propensity for overcharging tourists.

Sri Lankan cuisine left an indelible mark on my taste buds. While rice and curry remained staples, I also relished dishes like Kottu and seafood, particularly prawns from Galle Face Beach. The morning offered delectable breakfast options, from egg rotty to cakes and cream buns. String hoppers with coconut sambar provided a unique culinary experience.

Sri Lanka had its share of unique quirks. The prevalence of lottery shops, selective entry policies at some establishments, and the assumption that Indians were Tamil were all intriguing. The head-shaking gesture for agreement added to the cultural nuances. Despite volleyball being the national sport, cricket had an unparalleled

fanbase. The consumption of raw cinnamon, tap water safety, and preferences for cassava and raw chilli paste showcased the country’s distinct culinary habits. The varying plug points reflected the nation’s diversity.

Team of Borderlands - Worked with them for six weeks.

Team of Borderlands – Worked with them for six weeks.

Representing India at Global Village - Talking about our culture and heritage

Representing India at Global Village – Talking about our culture and heritage

Aswini Patro

Exchange Participant from India

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