For many wildlife enthusiasts who visit Sri Lanka, one of the most sought after animals is the leopard. However, there are other feline species in the country that you will find interesting. The rusty spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is the smallest of the four feline species in Sri Lanka. You may not have heard of it before, because it is extremely elusive.
“If you want to see dolphins and whales up close,” said my friend, with an authoritative smile, “head up north to Kalpitiya.” He and his family had just returned from spending a long weekend on the beaches of this sandy peninsula, a short drive north of Colombo.
Several centuries ago, only footpaths connected Sri Lanka's villages, so there was a need for wayside shelters where wayfarers could rest on long journeys. The solution was a classic example of indigenous architecture: the ambalama.
Sri Lanka celebrates the 68th anniversary of independence from Britain on February 4, 2016. The event usually includes a military parade witnessed by politicians, diplomats, distinguished guests and the Sri Lankan public, with the President taking the salute and making a motivational speech that is televised throughout the country.
The vibrant dance tradition we know today as vannam, in which the epic stories of the gods and their consorts are brought to life in song and movement, began as a delightful distraction for the Kandy monarch Vira Parakrama Narendra Sinha. The passage of the centuries has made its mark, but this tradition is no less delightful than when it first began.
At the end of a five-hour drive from Colombo that included the magnificent ‘18-bend' road between Mahiyangana and Kandy, we were rewarded by the sight of a stupa high up on a hill in the distance. A pair of grey mongoose rolling together in battle on the gravel track up ahead slowed our progress for a few minutes, but it wasn't long before we continued our way to arrive at Girandurukotte.
The pristine beaches of the south coast of Sri Lanka draw people from all over the world. But this patch of paradise is attractive to a different kind of traveller too - whales and dolphins on their way through Sri Lankan waters from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. And November to April is the best time to see them.
It can bring tears to the eyes, but no Sri Lankan meal is complete without it. From dusk to dawn, the fiery chilli takes pride of place at tables across the land. Fresh from the tree, dried in the sun or ground into powder, chilli is an addiction for Sri Lanka's fire-eating, finger-licking, tear-wiping natives, who pray thrice daily to the gods of the kitchen for a miracle capable of turning even the blandest of meals into a red-hot gastronomic delight.
While traversing lowland Sri Lanka, the sudden appearance of a white, dome-shaped stupa above the glistening coconut fronds is an enduring sight. They can be found in the highlands too, breathtakingly perched on cliff-tops. Some are incomplete, some are full of idiosyncrasies, all have a rich and fascinating history.