Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, a small island country located in the Indian Ocean, has a vibrant history that dates back over 2,500 years. The country has been home to many ancient kingdoms, breathtaking monuments and world heritage sites, diverse wildlife and a thriving gem industry. In this gallery, I explore Sri Lanka, my husband's homeland and the paradise that stole my heart.

Ancient History and Folklore

Sri Lanka's ancient history is steeped in folklore and legend. According to one popular legend, the island was once ruled by a giant named King Ravana, who the Hindu god Rama defeated. This story is recounted in the epic poem, the Ramayana, which is still recited and performed throughout the island today.

Archaeological evidence suggests that humans first inhabited the island around 125,000 years ago. However, the earliest civilizations of the isle emerged around 500 BCE when the first Buddhist kingdoms were established. The ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were important centers of Buddhist culture and civilization during this time.

The Major Kingdoms

Over the centuries, Sri Lanka was ruled by a series of powerful kingdoms, each leaving its mark on the island's culture and history. The Anuradhapura Kingdom lasted from 377 BCE to 1017 CE and was the first major kingdom on the island. It was followed by the Polonnaruwa Kingdom, which lasted from 1017 to 1236 CE.

The island was then ruled by the Jaffna Kingdom, a Tamil kingdom in the north of the island, from the 13th to the 16th century. In the 16th century, the Portuguese arrived on the island, followed by the Dutch in the 17th century and the British in the 19th century.

Monuments and World Heritage Sites

Sri Lanka is home to many breathtaking monuments and world heritage sites, each telling a unique story of the island's rich history and culture. One of the most famous sites is the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, which houses the tooth relic of the Buddha and is one of the most sacred places in the Buddhist world.

Another important site is the ancient city of Sigiriya, also known as the "Lion Rock." King Kasyapa built this ancient fortress and palace complex in the 5th century CE and is famous for its stunning frescoes and commanding views of the surrounding landscape.

Other important sites include the ancient city of Anuradhapura, the Dambulla Cave Temple, and the Galle Fort, built by the Dutch in the 17th century.

Temple of the Tooth

The Temple of the Tooth is located in Kandy and is considered one of the most sacred sites in the Buddhist world. The temple is believed to house a tooth relic of the Buddha and is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists worldwide.

The temple complex consists of several buildings, including a shrine room, a museum, and a library. The shrine room is the most important part of the temple and contains the tooth relic, which is kept in a gold casket. The relic is only displayed during certain times of the year, during a festival known as the Esala Perahera.


Sigiriya, the "Lion Rock," is an ancient fortress and palace complex in central Sri Lanka. It is located in the district of Matale and is considered one of the country's most important historical sites. King Kasyapa built the fortress in the 5th century CE, and it is renowned for its stunning frescoes and commanding views of the surrounding landscape. The complex consists of several parts, including the Lion Rock, a massive rock outcropping that served as the centrepiece of the fortress.

Visitors can climb a series of steep staircases to reach the top, where they can see the remains of the palace complex and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

The name "Lion Rock" comes from the massive lion statue that once guarded the entrance to the fortress. The statue was carved out of the rock face and had a brick and plaster body. Unfortunately, only the lion's paws remain today, but they are still an impressive sight.

The Sigiriya frescoes are also one of the highlights of the site. These ancient paintings, which date back to the 5th century, depict a series of beautiful women believed to have been the king's consorts or celestial nymphs. The frescoes are famous for their intricate details and bright colours and are considered some of the finest examples of ancient Sri Lankan art.

In addition to the Lion Rock and the frescoes, Sigiriya also features a series of gardens and water features. The gardens were designed to be beautiful and functional, with a network of canals and water tanks to irrigate the crops grown on the site.

Sigiriya has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of Sri Lanka's most important cultural treasures. It is a popular tourist destination and attracts visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at its beauty and learn about Sri Lanka's rich history and culture.

Colonization and Its Impacts

Sri Lanka was colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British during different periods in its history. The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century and established a stronghold on the island's western coast. The Dutch took control of the island in the 17th century, and the British took over in the 19th century. British rule lasted until Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.

The impacts of colonization are still visible in Sri Lanka today. The British, for example, introduced English as the official language, which has remained so even after independence. British institutions also heavily influence the country's legal and political systems. The Dutch and Portuguese also left their mark on Sri Lanka's architecture and culture, with many colonial-era buildings and churches still standing today. 


Sri Lanka is home to diverse wildlife which is endemic to the island. The country's national parks and nature reserves are popular tourist destinations, and visitors can see animals such as elephants, leopards, deer, and monkeys in their natural habitats.

One of the most famous wildlife experiences in Sri Lanka is the gathering of elephants in Minneriya National Park. Hundreds of elephants gather around the Minneriya tank during the dry season to drink and socialize, making for a spectacular sight.

The country is also home to several endemic bird species, including the Sri Lanka blue magpie and the Sri Lanka junglefowl.

Gem Industry and Tourism

Sri Lanka has a thriving gem industry, with the country's gemstones being among the most sought-after in the world. Sri Lanka is particularly well-known for its sapphires, renowned for their rich, deep blue colour.

Tourism is also essential in Sri Lanka, with visitors drawn to the country's beautiful beaches, ancient temples, and diverse wildlife. As a result, the country has been named one of the top travel destinations in the world by Lonely Planet and other travel guides.

Religions Practiced in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a multi-religious country, with Buddhism being the dominant religion. Around 70% of Sri Lankans identify as Buddhist, while about 12% are Hindu, 10% Muslim, and 7% Christian.

Buddhism has profoundly influenced Sri Lankan culture and society, and many of the country's most important historical sites are Buddhist temples or monasteries. The country's national flag even features a Buddhist symbol, the Dharmachakra.

Recent History:

The Civil War Sri Lanka's recent history has been dominated by the country's long and bloody civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2009. The conflict was fought between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Tamil separatist group fighting for an independent Tamil state in the north and east of the country.

The war caused untold suffering for Sri Lanka's people, with an estimated 100,000 killed and many more displaced or forced to flee the country. The conflict ended in 2009 when government forces defeated the LTTE and killed its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

As of September 2021, Sri Lanka was still dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with sporadic outbreaks and restrictions on travel and public gatherings. In addition, the country's tourism industry has suffered a significant blow due to the pandemic, with many hotels and other businesses struggling to stay afloat.

Sri Lanka's economy faced other challenges, such as high debt levels, inflation, and political instability. The country had recently changed its regime, with a new government taking power in 2019. However, there were concerns about the government's commitment to human rights and democratic principles, and tensions between ethnic and religious groups continued to simmer.

Despite these challenges, Sri Lanka remained a vibrant and diverse country with a rich cultural heritage and beautiful natural landscapes. Visitors to the country could enjoy a range of activities, from exploring ancient ruins and temples to trekking through lush rainforests and watching wildlife in national parks. The country's people were friendly and welcoming, and its cuisine was a delicious fusion of South Asian, Middle Eastern, and European influences.

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