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Sri Lanka

7 Dishes That Will Make You Crave Sri Lankan Food

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By now you have heard a lot about Sri Lanka from me. New Year Destinations to the steps to get a visa, it is almost like the Sri Lankan government pays me to promote their country(they DON’T).  The reason why I promote the emerald isle so much is because I am totally in love with it. So much so that sometimes I think I probably lived there in my last birth. I must have eaten a lot of Sri Lankan food back then.

But my delusion aside. there are some real reasons why Sri Lanka is such an addictive place. One of the BIG reasons is Sri Lankan food. Their Curries, Sambols and Hoppers can make you yearn for them long after you have left the island. Here, I introduce you to seven dishes that are bound to leave a lingering taste in your mouth. They are in no particular order, nor do they necessarily represent most dishes from their cuisine. The cuisine is surprisingly vast for a small country, and the best way to know about the country’s food is to actually go there and try it.

String Hoppers, the king of breakfasts:

String Hoppers, the king of breakfasts:

String hoppers are famous as Idiyappams in India, most Sri Lankans call them by their anglicised name. The name not withstanding, this is a lovely way to start your day. These circlets are made from hot water dough of rice or wheat. What gives them character are the curries and sambols which are served as condiments to the light and neutral tasting hoppers.

These can be found throughout the country, and you will find it difficult to miss them on Sri Lankan food tables through your travels. But if your food tastes are similar to mine, you will only find them a welcome sight.

Rice and Curry, fiery and satisfying lunch:

You may hear a couple of travelers crib sometimes, ‘Man, all you get for lunch in Sri Lanka is Rice and Curry!’. Now, before you think that Sri Lankan food must be boring, wait! The name ‘Rice and Curry’ does not do justice to the range of dishes that you get to taste on a daily basis. There is Rice and Dhal curry(yellow lentils stew) are common, but then you get served veggies, meat or fish, depending on what you want. The dishes differ from one restaurant to another and from one day to the other. If you enjoy the nuances of food, then lunch is a meal you will look forward to in Sri Lanka. Every day.

A recommended place is Praneetha, a hole in the wall Rice and Curry place in Kolpitty, Colombo. They serve the meal with dishes ranging from vegetables, to chicken , eggs, prawns, pork and beef. And don’t say I never warned you that you’d be breathing fire after lunch at Praneetha.

Pittu and Jaffna Crab Curry, you’ve got to be brave for this one!

Pittu and Jaffna Crab Curry, you've got to be brave for this one!

Jaffna, the capital of the northern province of Sri Lanka has a distinct food culture. Authentic Jaffna dishes aren’t available anywhere else. What stands out in Jaffna cuisine is the spice, and I mean super hot spiciness. But once you are able to make it past the heat shock in the food, you can actually feel the difference in flavours. One such dish is Jaffna Crab Curry, made with small crabs from the Palk Strait.

I had this coupled with Pittu, which is a steamed cylinder of rice batter and coconut. The combination was heavenly. Now, it isn’t easy to find authentic Jaffna Crab Curry, and Hotel Lux Etoiles is your best bet. It is run by a chef who is passionate about Jaffna’s cuisine.

Devilled Crabs, another Sri Lankan food marvel:

Meat cooked in devilled sauce(caramelised sweet and spicy sauce) is famous all across the island, and why not?  It is tasty. But the best Crabs we had were claimed to be cooked in this preparation in an unknown restaurant in Batticoloa. On the eastern coast, this town is flanked with lagoons. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then head over to Hotel Hajiyar for a mean plate of Crabs.

Short eats, evening time!

Short eats, evening time!

Snacks or Short Eats are available almost all the time. But the perfect time to have them is in the evening, with hot cups of sweet Ceylon tea. If you enter a restaurant during tea time, the waiter will leave a tray full of goodies in front of you. You now have to pick and eat whatever you like, worry about the bill later.

Short eats include snacks like Vadais, Fish Rotti, Fish and Chicken Rolls, Samosa and more. I have had instances when I have over-eaten thanks to the tempting tray, hope you have better control. If not, work on it.

Halapa, snack mummy makes:

Halapa, snack mummy makes:

Halapa is a tasty, vegetarian snack which I had the chance to try at my friend Sidath Sameera’s house in Kurunegala. It uses leaves to steam, and is really tasty, that’s all I can say. I will let Peckish me explain what this exactly is to you. Bonus is, she also has the recipe along with beautiful pictures.

Ginger cookies, home tea time favourites:

My friend Gihan Fernando, once invited me home for tea. Little did I know that there would be a spread that would put Brit hi-tea to shame. Of all the lovely things that Gihan made me taste, the coconut and ginger flavoured biscuits(as cookies are known on the Indian sub-continent) went on to become my favourites. They aren’t too sweet, and the ginger lends some spice making it a great combination.

Like I said before, these are just samples of what you can expect in Sri Lanka. Of course, there is lots more. I hope this blog post only motivates you to visit the pearl island, even if it is only for food. Peace out buds.

Manori Lanka, toddy I tried in Mannar in Sri Lanka

Sea In A Bowl: Hunting For Sri Lankan Toddy

By | Blog, Sri Lanka, Uncategorized | No Comments

It was late evening when the bus pulled into the CTB(Ceylon Transport Board) bus station in Mannar. I could almost taste the Sri Lankan Toddy in the breeze. Darkness hid this north western Sri Lankan town which has a gulf named after itself, and an island as well. Its northernmost village, Thalaimannar, is only 30 kms from Dhanushkodi in India. Though relatively underexposed to tourists there are a few things of interest. Would you find it funny if I said Somalian donkeys in Mannar are considered a tourist attraction? I certainly thought so.

Well there are other things too like the African Biobab tree and a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is said that this is where Rama prayed before he made his way through rest of Sri Lanka to fight the epic war of Ramayana.

In more recent times, Mannar was under the rebel group LTTE’s rule, which waged a three decade long war against the Sri Lankan state which ended in 2009. They wanted a separate country for Tamils from the north and east of this island.

But there was more on my mind than war and religion.

Dutch fortress of Mannar

View from the Dutch Fortress in Mannar

No Whisky, No Rum – Get me some Sri Lankan Toddy!

I was also keen on going drink hunting, to find Sri Lankan Toddy. Though I have drank myself silly with Whisky, Rum and Beer; it is Toddy that is closer to my roots. My family too comes from a town called Udupi, on the coast of Southern India. And I wanted to have this fermented sap of palms, the best way I know, with locals.

Vijay’s name on his facebook profile is Vijuthan, and as if that wasn’t enough, he was also a fan of Tamil star actor Vijay. He was assigned the job of finding me a Sri Lankan Toddy centre by a local friend. What I had thought of as a straight forward task, turned out to be bit of a treasure hunt.

It was late afternoon, and Vijay on his Indian motorbike took me through villages of Mannar. White sand followed us everywhere we went, so did the Palmyrah tree. It was disappointing then that despite that, it was proving almost impossible to find Palmyrah toddy, which is a specialty of the north.

‘It is not the season’, a young man in dead tight jeans and a football jersey close to the beach told us.

The old gentleman at the Toddy centre in Mannar in Sri Lanka

I prepared myself for Coconut toddy, which would still have been a treat in that hot & dry weather. A few minutes later, we were at a toddy centre. Many people had lined up for their daily fix in their sarongs. It was here that I met an elderly gentleman with a beautiful smile. He had been to Kerala in India to play a football match in his youth. He spoke really good English, in a place where I least expected anyone to.

Vijay and I decided to try one more centre before giving up on the idea of Palmyrah toddy. The next centre was even closer to the beach; in fact the waves were just a stone’s throw away. It was absolutely in the middle of nowhere and, as expected, the only people at this unstriking building were men. This place sold even whisky and other spirits. But if you were looking for Sri Lankan Toddy, the poor man’s drink, you had to go to a different section and queue up. A man then would pour toddy from 750ml bottles into large plastic bowls. The idea of sipping a drink out of a fluroscent coloured bowl for some odd reason made it even more appealing.

The man at the Toddy centre pouring the frothy liquid in Mannar, Sri Lanka

It was then my turn.

For less than a dollar, I was given a bottle. The frothy liquid tasted crunchy, sweet and sour. If there is ever a drink that signifies the sea, then it has to be Toddy for me. And to enjoy this bowl of Sri Lankan Toddy next to the beach, with a young man who I did not know of only an hour earlier, was a joy.

The evening was made even more interesting by chatting with locals while I sat on the concrete bench. With my cargos, t-shirt and cameras I didn’t look like your regular toddy drinker. The interesting bit was that none of them spoke English, and I could hardly speak a few words of Tamil.

Snack Liquor Restaurant, the toddy & liquor centre on Keeri beach, Mannar, Sri Lanka

Snack Liquor Restaurant where I finally tried the frothy liquid

That is when I realised Vijay did not like toddy, he preferred beer.

The sun was disappearing fast. But we decided to go get ourselves some beer. A short ride later we were outside a wine shop which was managing a huge crowd. It is true that alcoholism is a problem in the island nation(but that is for someday later). Vijay and I walked out with cans of ‘Lion Strong’ beer, my favourite in the country.

The evening came to a slow end as Vijay and I sipped from our cans in the middle of a flat open piece of land. Vijay told me that he did not remember much of the war since he was a kid back then. But he was happy that there was no fighting, and never wanted it to start again.

He offered me a snack that I tried for the first time, fried whole garlic with spices. The cold, strong beer of Sri Lanka and the saltiness of the snack was a perfect end to my journey to Mannar.

It just reminded me that just like in life, while hunting for local drinks you can chase what you want, but what you actually get might be equally or even more satisfying. You just have to be open enough to embrace these experiences.

Sigiriya Frescos Cover image

Five Simple Steps To Get A Sri Lanka Visa

By | Blog, Sri Lanka | 2 Comments

In our earlier post, we tried to convince you to consider Sri Lanka to bring in the New Year. Some of you asked, ‘that’s fine, but what about Sri Lanka visa and all, bros?’

Well, the good news is that Sri Lanka Visa is super easy to get. In fact, in all my travels to about 20 countries, the only other country which provided easier entry was Ecuador(all nationalities except 7 of them get 90 day free entry, no questions asked!).

Having said that there are a couple of things you might want to keep in mind to make your entry smooth to the pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Number One: No, you cannot enter via sea.

Yes, Sri Lanka is an island. Yes, many islands can be reached by boat. Yes, Sri Lanka at its closest is only 30 kms away from India.

Despite all these statements, the legal way to enter Sri Lanka for tourists is by air (except maybe if you are on a cruise liner). Boat services between India and Sri Lanka which were suspended since the civil war have not resumed yet. And it looks like it will be a while before they do.

So yes, unless you can swim 30 kms, are okay with being captured by the Sri Lankan navy and put into a prison cell; do not try to take the sea route to Sri Lanka.

Just go to Skyscanner and look for good flights.

Number two: Book a return flight ticket.

I have been to Sri Lanka twice, and both times the immigration did not ask for the return flight. However, the rules in the Sri Lanka visa application state that every traveler needs to have proof of onward journey.

So yes, book a return flight to ensure you do not face any problems at the immigration. Once this is done, you can apply for the visa.

Number three: Sri Lanka visa on arrival? Or Electronic visa?

Residents of all countries excluding a few (like Afghanistan, Pakistan, some African countries; etc) are eligible for a visa on arrival at a fee.

But the ETA(electronic travel authorisation) or an electronic visa is so easy to get that both times I used this process. It saves time at the airport and the issue of paying with US dollars or Sri Lankan Rupees. For the ETA you pay 20 USD with your credit card and the whole process does not take more than 15 minutes.

For people of SAARC nationalities, online visa fee is 20 USD and 35 USD for others. And visa on arrival is 25 USD and 40 USD respectively. One more reason for going online. You can have may cups of Ceylon tea with the saved 5 dollars! This info was pointed out by a reader in the comments.

Number four: ETA or Electronic visa process.

All you need to do is keep your passport and flight ticket ready.

Also, just look up Airbnb or Booking.com and see which hostel/hotel you want to stay at. I recommend Colombo City Hostel, because for me it is one of the coolest hostels in the world.

Now log in to Sri Lanka ETA website, and apply for the form. It is a simple form which needs your passport, flight details and address in Sri Lanka(this could be the hostel/hotel you have booked). And in no time you will have to pay the 20 USD fee. Voila! That’s it, form business over.

Now what?

You will get an email acknowledgment first – which is NOT your ETA. Within 24 hours you will get another email with your ETA(unless you are a career criminal or something of that sort). Now you are ready.

Number five: At the airport:

Now you are the airport in Colombo, after getting off your flight.

If you have the ETA, proceed directly to the immigration counter. If not, you need to look for the visa on arrival counter. Before getting to the immigration you have to first fill a small form which no one may tell you about. It is on the left before the immigration counter. It will ask for your passport details, flight and address in Sri Lanka. That’s it.

The immigration officer will place a stamp on your passport which gives you thirty days with double entry. Now, walk away and explore one of the most fascinating island nations on the planet. It’s that simple!

Need some ideas on what to do? Then read this post on New Year destinations or this one which is about the places where the Hindu epic Ramayana comes to life in Sri Lanka. Happy travels!

 

Feel free to ask questions or add tips; etc in the comments, and we will be happy to talk to you.

The Batticoloa lagoon, an amazing New Year's destination in Sri Lanka

8 Destinations To Bring In The New Year In Sri Lanka

By | Blog, Sri Lanka, Uncategorized | One Comment

It is about time that we start planning to bring in the New Year. Sri Lanka is a country that has mesmerised us here at Eccentrips. You may remember other posts about the country like the one about places where the Hindu epic Ramayana comes alive. The Pearl of the Emerald Isle, as it is known, is a destination for all seasons. With its swaying palms, Buddhist serenity and azure seas; its growing popularity post the civil war comes as no surprise.

Despite its growing popularity, Sri Lanka still isn’t over-run by tourists. And you know what? It won’t nearly have half the crowd as Goa, Thailand or Ibiza, your regular New Year’s eve destinations. Well of course, if you are looking for the wildest parties on the planet, then Sri Lanka isn’t hosting them, yet. But if you are looking for smaller gigs, a little relaxation, some introspection and good conversations; then the island country just might be what you need.

Even within the island country some destinations are more popular than the others. Like Negombo, Hikkaduwa and Arugam Bay are on the list of most backpackers to the country. But staying true to our promise we are going to focus on the lesser known destinations which can make for a fab end to the year in Sri Lanka. So here we go…

Jungle Beach, Unawatuna:

Jungle beach is as interesting as its name

If I could I would be here for this New Year’s eve(and hundred other places). This beach close to Galle and Unawatuna offers some spectacular views. The beach with an interesting name is a narrow stretch and right over the hillock is the Peace Pagoda. The Pagoda offers some of the best views the country has to offer.

The hillock has a couple of hostels and cottages, and is great for long walks amidst greenery.  Though it attracts a lot of the local crowd, it is still not as busy as Negombo or some other places close to the capital,Colombo.

Kandy:

Kandy, an unlikely New Year's destination in Sri Lanka

Kandy may seem like an unlikely destination for New Year’s. But allow me to make a case for it.

This capital of the erstwhile Kandian kingdom is pretty much the highlight of Sri Lanka’s hill country. Surrounded by hills and the countryside, homestays in and around Kandy are a great way to reconnect with family, friends or your partner. While it may not be the party capital(quite far from it), many would love to start the New Year with a touch of spirituality and serene sights.

And when it comes to that, Kandy’s tooth temple and the lake hardly have any competition within Sri Lanka.

During our travels. we stayed at Priyanthi’s home stay and were bowled over by the gracious couple’s kindness and hospitality. Here is their Airbnb listing, look them up if you are planning a visit to Kandy.

Ella:

The view from Ella's Ravana waterfall

Not very far from Kandy is Ella at the southern edge of Sri Lanka’s hill country. In fact, a few hours of a scenic train ride from Kandy will get you to this backpacker haven. With treks, waterfalls and caves, it is a place for the young and the active. The town lives up to its reputation with a street that is lined with restaurants and cafes. It seems like travelers outnumber locals in this town.

If you are looking for some like-minded company, then Ella is a good place to search for it. And evenings looking at the sloping farms with the local Lion beer in hand, is a nice way to spend time. Ask us, we’ve already done that.

Mannar:

Thalaimannar, another interesting destination for the New Year's

Both Mannar mainland and its namesake island lie towards the north-west of Sri Lanka. Thalaimannar on the island of Mannar is separated by India only by 30 kms. Beyond the geographical specialty, Mannar region has great natural sights to offer, a beautiful Dutch fort and an old, dilapidated pier.

If you want to, you can also go up to the second island with one of the fishermen from Adam’s beach. It is said that these islands are a part of Adam’s bridge or Rama Sethu(Rama’s bridge). A ride to the islands has the ability to bring together geography, history and mythology. Not a bad way to start the New Year, right?

Galle:

The light house in Galle

Picture courtesy: Leisure Travels and Tours

Galle, the old fortified city in South-Western Sri Lanka is probably the most popular destination for travelers. So it should come as no surprise that it is on this list. Just that most travelers do not think of it as a New Year’s destination. But with its beautiful light house, quaint streets and relaxed atmosphere, it will make a great place to bid the year good bye.

Batticoloa:

This magic region falls on the eastern coast of the country, and is embedded with beautiful lagoons and slow swaying palms. We spent amazing couple of days cycling around Batti(as the locals call it). If slow travel, lagoons and beaches are your thing; then Batti offers all of that. And since mass tourism still hasn’t taken off, you will still feel like the first few people to have got here.

And if you are ready for the risk, park yourself on Kallady bridge on new year’s night and pray that you hear them. I am referring to the ‘Singing fish of Batticoloa’. Over the years, these sounds have diminished, but if you are lucky on a starry night you can still listen to the musical notes of fishes that have guided fishermen in the lagoon for years. Not many can boast that they brought in the New Year with fish singing to them, right? May be you could.

Trincomalee:

Trincomalee, another New Year's destination in Sri Lanka

The shallow waters of Nilaveli and Uppuveli beaches make for a great setting. It doesn’t matter if you are partying late into the last night of the year or waking up early for a swim on the New Year’s first day. These beaches are perfect for families with kids, especially toddlers.

That Trincomalee is a natural harbour with an old fort and beautiful temples, must tempt you even more to make this your new year destination.

Colombo for New Year’s eve? Yes!

Colombo City Hostel, definitely one of the coolest places in town

Yes, Colombo. Sri Lanka’s capital and the most urbanised region in the country is skipped by most travelers for other more touristic destinations. But my reason for including and concluding the list with Colombo is pretty personal. And that is Colombo City Hostel.

This place was literally our home when we spent a month traveling in Sri Lanka chasing eccentric stories. Ranil and Mohan, the guys who run this brand of hostels are the two of the most interesting people you will meet on the island. They also know how to get a party started, Ranil with his enthusiasm and Mohan with his easy going ways. And probably because of that some of the coolest travelers also end up here. So if you are in Sri Lanka for new years and cannot decide where to go, drop into Colombo City Hostel. There is bound to be one hell of a party.

Well, the caveat is that I am not sure if Ranil and Mohan themselves will be in town. They might be downing shots somewhere else, but the hostel, I am certain, will still put up a good show.

So, ready to move your New Year plans to a new and, shall I say, a better destination?

If you can’t make up your mind, ask your questions in the comments and we will help you 🙂

Six Places Where The Ramayana Comes Alive In Sri Lanka

By | Blog, Sri Lanka | One Comment

‘The cave you fear to enter, holds the treasure you seek’

– Joseph Campbell (American mythologist, writer and lecturer)

Many of us have grown up on a staple diet of Greek mythology of Lord Zeus, Achilles, Hercules and others. Allow me to introduce Sri Lanka, the ground zero of Hindu mythology. That is where lines between fantasy and reality blur so very often. If you are from India, of course, you have grown up with stories from the Ramayana. It is the age old story of the triumph of good over evil. In Ramayana, the just & dutiful protagonist ‘Rama’ has to fight a battle in an unknown land, Sri Lanka, to bring back his beloved wife.

Modern day Sri Lanka in the mind of a tourist is the land of beaches and tea plantations. But the island holds many a secrets beyond its beautiful landscapes. And some of those are from the epic Ramayana. If you have wondered how places from your childhood imagination hold up against reality, Sri Lanka is your chance.

There are many places on the island country that are associated with the Ramayana. Here I list six, that I have personally visited.

Talaimannar

Adam's Beach at Thalaimannar, Ramayana states that Rama probably landed here

Mannar is an island in the north western part of Sri Lanka. If you look at the map, the island of Mannar seems like it had a reluctant separation with India.

Regardless of the geographical explanation, Talaimannar is an essential part of the Ramayana story. ‘Rama Sethu’ was the bridge built by Rama’s army of monkeys to help him cross over to Sri Lanka from India on foot to rescue his wife, Sita. Rama and his army first landed in Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. After this, they proceeded to the mainland through Mannar. Even without the legend, the village of Talaimannar and surrounding areas are breath-takingly beautiful.  Fishermen will be happy to take you on a ride to the second island, which mythologically speaking is a part of ‘Rama Sethu’.

How to get there:

Mannar is connected both by buses and railway from Colombo. Talaimannar is about 30 kms away. There is a railway which can take you up to Talaimannar, the last station which is just a few hundred metres away from the pier.

Dolukanda Sanjeewani

Dolukanda mountain also forms a part of the Ramayana legend

This is another place with strong links to the Ramayana. It is said that this mountain exists because of Lord Hanuman (monkey god & loyal follower of Rama). Dolukanda is one of the five places where splinters of Sanjeevani Mountain fell during Hanuman’s flight to save Laxman. Rama’s brother was wounded in the battle and Hanuman was asked to bring a miracle herb to save him. The herb grew all the way in the Himalayas on a mountain named ‘Sanjeevani’. Unable to identify the herb, Hanuman uprooted the mountain and flew with it to Sri Lanka.

Thus, the legend of Sanjeevani entered the island. Today, there is a grand yet dilapidated monastery at the foothills of Dolukanda. Locals believe in the legend despite being Buddhists. They also suggest that the herbs found on the mountain have miraculous properties.

How to get there:

You’d be best off hiring a taxi or trishaw from Kurunegala, which is three hours away from Colombo. If you choose to take a bus, you will have to explain yourself a little bit. Dolukanda isn’t exactly the most popular spot with tourists. Okay, to be honest, I think hardly any foreigners ever go there.

Koneswaran Temple, Trincomalee

Koneswaran temple in Trincomalee

Trincomalee is one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. But beyond the physical beauty and stunning views of the Indian Ocean, it is also home to another legend of the Ramayana.

This one is closer to the antagonist of the epic, Ravana(who is more than a fascinating character). His mother used to pray to Lord Shiva (one of the three main gods in Hinduism) at the temple in Koneswaran. To avoid his ailing mother’s long walk for worship, he decided to bring the temple closer to her.

Ravana’s plan was to break the hill. It is said that as soon as he hit his sword on the rock, Lord Shiva appeared and stopped him. It is said that the cleft from this sword strike on the rock remains to this day and is known as Ravana Vettu.

How to get there:

Trincomalee is well connected by Colombo by buses and trains. Koneswaran is situated in the main tourist area of the city and you should not have any troubles finding this mountain on the hill.

Seetha Temple, Nuwara Eliya

Seetha Amman temple at Seetha Eliya

Nuwara Eliya, the super popular hill station of Sri Lanka, is a great destination for families. But it is also close to a village called Seetha Eliya.

Situated right next to a stream, locals believe that this is where Lord Hanuman met Seetha. Many believe that the holes in the rocks are foot impressions of Lord Hanuman. I highly doubt if that is true, because they looked like anything but footsteps to me.

How to get there:

The Seetha Amman Temple is only a few kilometers from Nuwara Eliya and can be reached by a bus, trishaw or taxi. Nuwara Eliya itself is well connected by Colombo and Kandy. In fact, the train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya up to Ella is said to be one of the best in the world.

Rumassala, Galle

The Hanuman statue at Rumassala

Most tourists make a beeline for the delightful walled town of Galle as soon as they land in Sri Lanka. Understandably so, its beaches and light house inspire special memories. But most are unaware that hardly five kilometers away is Rumassala peace pagoda.

The site in itself is breath-taking with a serene pagoda adorning a hillock next to the sea. Not just that, a small beautiful beach called ‘Jungle beach’ lies right next to this hillock.

But Ramayana lovers do not lose patience. The reason why I list this place is because it is also considered one of the places where the splinter of the Sanjeevani mountain fell during Hanuman’s flight. There is now a Hanuman statue on the site, built as a prayer to end the ethnic conflict. Looks like Gods did listen to these prayers, the Sri Lankan civil war came to an end in early 2009.

How to get there:

Galle is really popular with backpackers, so getting there won’t be a problem. Get a trishaw/ tuk tuk from Galle to Rumassala and look for the peace pagoda. After visiting Hanuman you can also take a dip in the waters of Jungle beach. Just remember that you are not bestowed with super powers like the monkey god was, and do not try to swim too far.

Ravana Cave, Ella

Ravana Cave in Ella

Ella is a bit of a backpacker haven. Tourists definitely outnumber Sri Lankans in this mountainous destination at the southern edge of Sri Lanka’s hill country.

For mythology lovers, this place may well be the one you have been dreaming of. So many things here go by the name of Ravana. There is Ravana cave and Ravana waterfalls just to name a couple. It is believed that this is the area where the king was really active. Some say that Ravana had seven underground palaces around the island and all of them are connected by a network of underground tunnels. Even the thought of underground palaces connected with tunnels sounds so exciting!

Ravana cave:

But the one spot that steals the limelight is the Ravana cave. A 45 minute walk and trek from Ella will get you to the mouth of the cave that is said to be the entrance to the King’s underground palace. Seems like the authorities have closed the entrance as we could not find one when we got there. Despite that it is a special place. Sitting in the darkness inside the cave it is easy to let your imagination run amok.

Did Ravana really exist? If he did, was he a great king like many say he was? How would he be if he had been living today? Was his crime in anyway bigger than the crime that people of power today commit? Well, if these questions come to your mind quite often, then I have already told you where to go.  May be the answers lie within that cave of Lanka’s great king.

May be one of us needs to leave our fears behind and find out.

Want to know how much would a trip to Sri Lanka cost and how to plan it? Read this post.

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