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Maldives and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka an island country in South Asia is located South east of India and north east of Maldives. The island is home to many cultures, languages and ethnicities. The majority population comprises of Sinhalese, while a minority of Tamil population played an influential role in the island’s history. Sri Lanka’s documented history spans 3000 years with evidence of pre-historic settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. The era spans the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and the early iron ages. One of the first written references to the island is found in the Indian epic Ramayana, which provides details of kingdom named Lanka created by the divine sculpton Vishwakarma for Kubera, the Lord of Wealth. It is said that Kubera was overthrown by his demon brother Ravana, the powerful emperor who had abducted Sita, the consort of Hindu God Rama, and held her captive in Ashok Vatika, Lanka. Sri Lanka has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pali canon date back to the fourth Buddhist council in 29BC. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to the modern Maritime Silk Road. Early inhabitants of Sri Lanka were ancestors of Vedda people, an indigeneous people numbering 2500, living in modern day Srilanka. During its two and half millennia of existence Sri Lanka was invaded at least eight times by neighbouring South Asia dynasties such as the Chola, Pandyas, Cheras and the Palalvas and Kalingas (modern day Odisha). The early modern period of Sri Lanka begins with the arrival of Portuguese soldier and explorer Lorenco de Almeida in 1505 and later on Dutch explorers arrived into the island which led to battle between the Portuguese and Dutch and Sri Lanka finally fell into the hands of the Dutch in 1656. Thereafter, the British colonial rule took over the control of Sri Lanka and finally Independence was proclaimed in the island on 4th February 1948. The 19th century Irish historian James Emerson Tennent theorized that Galle, a city in Southern Sri Lanka was the ancient seaport of the Tarshish from which King Solomon is said to have drawn ivory, peacocks and other valuables. Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon from the beginning of the British colonial rule until 1972. The current constitution stipulates a political system as a republic and a unitary state governed by a semi presidential system.

Tourism:

InSri Lanka is growing rapidly as a popular tourist destination. In the twelfth century, Italian explorer Marco Polo claimed Sri Lanka to be the “best island of its size in the word. Currently the Sri Lanka Tourism Development authority has classified Sri Lanka into several resort regions for suitable for tourism development. Sri Lanka has an immense wealth of natural beauty including nature spots, flora and fauna, beaches and wildlife parks, and archaeological and cultural attractions, historical and religious sites, performing arts and folklore, handicrafts and artifacts. The Yala National Park has the world’s highest concentration of leopards per sq. km and the world’s largest gathering of wild Asian elephants can be found at Minneriya Park. Sri Lanka possesses nearly 1600 km coastlines with tropical beaches and most of the coastlines of the country are studded with coastal features such as bays, lagoons, sandbanks and rocky headlands. Beach activities like sea bathing, swimming, surfing, boating, snorkeling scuba diving can be seen at most of the beaches, the famous ones being Tangalle, Beruwala, Mirissa, Bentota, Unawatuna, Arugam Bay and some others. The natural scenic beauty in the mountainous terrain attracts many tourists for their landscapes, waterfalls, reservoirs and rivers. There are many Botanical gardens and several Zoological Gardens including the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. As Buddhism influenced the cultural heritage of the country, there are many Buddhist temples scattered across the island and Sri Lanka being a religious country there are several religious sites. Anuradhapura, Temple of the Tooth, Sripada (where people of four major religions worship together), Shrine of our Lady of Madhu are a few popular religious sites that attracts a number of Travellers.

Sri Lankan Cuisine:

Sri Lankan cuisine has been shaped by many historical, cultural and other factors. Cultural influences from neighbouring countries such as India, Indonesia and Dutch as well as the local traditions of the country’s ethnic groups have all helped Sri Lanka to shape its cuisine. Some of the staples of Sri Lankan cuisine are rice, coconut and spices (used due to the country’s past history as a spice producer and trader). The central feature of Sri Lankan cuisine is boiled or steamed rice served with a curry of fish, chicken or mutton alongwith other curries made with vegetables, lentils or fruits. All dishes are accompanied by pickles, chutneys, sambols, and the most common Coconut sambol – a paste of ground coconut mixed with chilli peppers, dried Maldives Fish and lime juice – is a favourite amongst the locals.

Shopping:

Historically Sri Lanka was long renowned for its intricate handicrafts and home grown produce. Popular goods included Batik, lacework, metal work and ivory carvings, while natural resources such as tea, spices and gems were and still are, the country’s trademark. Colombo has a diverse collection of handicrafts, clothes, book and local goods and is by far the best shopping place in Sri Lanka. Boutique stores selling handmade goods are the perfect place to pick up gifts - such as the Paradise Road – a colonial styled shop and café with beautiful arts and crafts, or Barefoot Handicraft store which sells quality souvenirs, bags, clothes and gorgeous fabric. The vibrant Pettah market is a must see for all travelers - the stalls are choc-a-bloc with all sorts of bric-a-brac, take a local with you for the best bargain. Kandy is also another shopping destination in Sri Lanka – which is a producer of intricate metalwork, which can be found in many crafts shops. Also Kandy being a spice producer, there are many spice gardens which sell spices, however you could get them in supermarkets for much less the price. Visit the Waruna Antiques for its impressive collection of temple paintings, statues and jewellery, while the art enthusiasts could browse the local laquerwork, brassware and colonial paintings for sale at the Kandyan Art.

Maldives

Maldives is an archipelago of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 natural coral atolls in the Indian Ocean, that lie south to the south west of India and west of Srilanka. None of the coral islands measure more than 1.8 metres above sea level. Only 192 islands are inhabited and the rest remain virgin islands, out of which more than 100 islands have been developed for top end of the tourist market.

History:

Maldives history dates back to the 543 to 483 BC when the exiled Magadha Prince Vijaya from the ancient city of Sinhapura landed in Sri Lanka and Maldives. Buddhism became the dominant religion in the 12th century AD when Emperor Ashoka expanded his empire, during which period architecture, sculptures and writings flourished and till today several ruins remain in several of the islands. The famous Moroccan traveler Ibin Batuta who was in Mauritius in the 14th century introduced Islam to the islands and since then Islam has become a predominant religion being following in the Maldives. The country remained mostly an independent nation till the mid 16th century when the Portuguese forces invaded Maldives and ruled until the mid 17th century and in late 19th century Maldives became a British Protectorate from 1887 – 1965. After gaining total independence Maldives became a Republic in 1968.

Tourism:

A tropical haven of immaculate beaches – time stands still as you lie on the white sand hearing the crystal clear waves crash against the seashore, swim with the manta rays and reef sharks and feast on a wide variety of fish with the locals. For those looking for a getaway from the daily humdrum of the city life, Maldives is a divine paradise, with its sun kissed beaches, palm fringed islands, crystalline lagoons and pristine waters. Maldives enthralls visitors all the year round. The resorts here are an entire island itself usually, including stay options like overwater bungalows. Renowned for its incredible diving opportunities, the azure waters of Maldives are home to diverse marine life and corals of distinct hues. The Capital city of Male houses several buildings and monuments of historical importance and is easily accessible by ferry boats from the airport. Be it island hopping, candlelight dinner by the sea, breakfast ferry to an uninhabited island, scuba diving or even dolphin watching, Maldives will never offer you an idle moment.

Maldives Cuisine:

Maldives cuisine, also known as Dhivehi Cuisine, is the cuisine of the Nation of Maldives and of Minicoy, India. Predominantly the cuisine is based on 3 main items and their derivatives – coconut, fish and starches. The favourite fish is skipjack or Tuna, either dried or fresh. Starch items like rice are normally eaten boiled or ground into flour. You can savour some important curry cuisine known as “mas riha” cooked with diced fresh tuna or “kukul riha” (chicken curry) cooked with different mixture of Maldives spices. Vegetarian curries are also available in abundance cooked with eggplant, pumpkin, and green unripe bananas and other vegetables that are cooked with special spices to give it a different flavor.

Shopping:

Though Maldives many not be truly a shopping haven, but its surely a great place to buy some souvenirs that will remind of your thrilling and exciting Maldives holiday. You can visit the Male local market, located on the north waterfront that attracts many shoppers to buy local handicrafts and gift items like – bottled local pickles, packaged sweet meat, souvenirs like miniature boats, palm slippers, home décor made of sea shells and fresh coconut milk. Savour some local cuisine in the kiosks selling snacks, which are the highlight of this market

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