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Sri Lanka
Ruins, fish markets, elephants, tea, trains and monkeys
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At one time Sri Lanka was known to Persian and Arab traders as “Serendip”. Thanks to the Persian children’s story “The Three Princes of Serendip”, the English language now enjoys the use of the word “serendipity”. The word was invented by the English writer Horace Walpole in 1754
No doubt that the Island of Sri Lanka surrounded by the Indian Ocean is blessed with some of the world’s finest beaches. The photo shows a traditional boat called oruwa or more corectly bala-oruwas. There are no iron bolts or nails used in the construction of the traditional oruwa.
Sri Lankan fishermen traditionally use oruwas fishing boats, high-sided wooden canoes with outriggers and a square sail. The only place where oruwa fishing boats are still used in the fishing village of Negombo where the bala-oru trawl the lagoon for prawns. The sail is mostly used to pull a shrimp net over the fishing grounds.
The beaches around Jaffna are among the quietest on the island. No monkeys or Chinese tourists!
Sri Lanka has a beach for everyone. Even for lovers of dead fish.
The diversity of beaches in Sri Lanka is amazing. Here you can find beaches with plastic trash, with drunk tourists, with screaming tourists, with cheeky monkeys, beaches with broken glass or beaches full of remnants of fishing lines and nets.
Beach in Trincomalee. Most of the beaches in Sri Lanka are wide and the water is crystal clear. Wait.....
As a tiny island, Sri Lanka is blessed with a large fishing ground filled with the most delicious bounties of the Indian Ocean - plastic bags, used plastic toothbrushes, plastic cups, used condoms or plastic slippers.
Around 4,500 multi-day fishing boats flying the Sri Lankan flag are currently operating in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and high seas targeting mainly tuna and bill fish.
The process for selling these impressive looking fish is fairly straight forward. The tuna is carried off the boat, taken to a large set of scales, weighed, and then the auction process begins. Once the tuna is sold, a small cut is made in the skin, and the fish removed in time for the next one.
The country today supplies yellow fin and big eye tuna species to a range of countries including USA and Japan.
Sri Lankan tuna is the most sought-after variety by Japanese consumers for sashimi and sushi.
Sri Lanka's tuna exports to Japan largely include fresh tuna blocks, tuna loins, tuna streaks and tuna toppings.
Ranging from of offers of tuna, mackerel, squid, sardines and shark, the market is said to be closed on Sundays when the city’s predominantly Catholic population heads to church. However, some Muslim fishermen still operate on Sunday (their religious day of the week being Friday), so it is still possible to witness the fishing community in action.
About 1,600 boats of this multi-day fishing fleet operates in the high seas and these boats are in the range of 10 - 18 meters in length. The fish caught by these fishing boats are brought to Sri Lankan ports and used for local consumption and export.
An interesting fact for some visitors is that fish are not born and do not grow on shelves in supermarkets.
A large amount of sharks is usualy offloaded from the boats and they are unceremoniously dumped well away from any auction action.
The meat and other parts of the sharks can often be sold locally for food for making Karawala, a Sri Lankan dried fish product used in curries. Also the fins can be valuable to markets in China, Hong Kong or Singapore.
One of the most impressive sight is a fishmonger cutting up fillets of tuna on a brightly lit red coloured table.
If you have a problem with your mother-in-law or your neighbours children, for example, you can find silent knife masters at the fish market in Negombo.
With a long history of harvesting the benefits of the surrounding ocean, Sri Lanka is home to a large fishing community who brave mighty waves to bring home the best seafood from the Indian Ocean.
Most of small day-boats come back the same day, with many of them offloading their catch along Negombo’s large beach front.
The Negombo fish market is interesting because it takes place right on the beach, fresh from fishing boats. Crowds of fishermen are seen untangling their fishing nets, playing with their kids (work hard, little scavengers!), and stretching out miles of fish to dry in the sun on Negombo's shore.
Visitors that walk the shores of Negombo beach can witness the day’s catch being laid out on enormous mats made of coconut fibre.
Using an age-old method of open-air drying, the fishermen use the heat of the sun to remove all moisture from the fish and extend their shelf life. It will then get salted before being shipped to all over the island and sold in stores; dried fish is a very common inclusion of Sri Lankan cuisine.
With a history expanding over 3000 years, Sri Lanka holds some of world’s ancient cities including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa or Digamadulla.
Approximately 93.3 million baked bricks were used in construction fo Jetavanaramaya dagoba. In 1860 Emerson Tennent, in his book Ceylon, calculated that it had enough bricks to build a 3 m high brick wall 25 cm thick from London to Edinburgh. Mr.Tennent obviously had nothing important to do.
The city of Anuradhapura, an ancient capital of Sri Lanka, has ruins that are dated back over 2,000 years.
The Jetavanaramaya is a stupa, Buddhist reliquary monument, located in the ruins of Jetavana monastery in the world heritage city of Anuradhapura.
Dagobas (Abayagiriya in the picture), also called dagebas or cetiyas, are considered an outstanding type of architectural creation of ancient Sri Lanka. It is impossible to enter the dagoba, there are no stairs or ladders leading to the top, of course no windows and what is really unique - you will not even find an Irish pub around the dagoba! Unbelievable!
Of all the ancient cities of Lanka, the most famed and most exquisite is the Kingdom of Anuradhapura. Sri Lanka’s third and the longest serving capital and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world is also one of the most sacred cities of World Buddhists.
This huge stone trough held the rice for up to 5000 monks. Ruins near monastery in Anuradhapura.
Sandakada pahana, also known as moon-stone, is a unique feature of the Sinhalese architecture of ancient Sri Lanka.
A moon-stone from Anuradhapura period in the picture. The genleman (right) is significantly younger, probably born in the 20th century.
Tthe oldest human-planted tree in the world is in Anuradhapura, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. It is a sacred fig tree planted around 288 BCE. Its mother tree is said to be the famous Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha achieved enlightenment when he was meditating. I found only a dead cat under a tree, no enlightenment at all.
Buddha Statue at Mihintale, Sri Lanka. Mahinda, son of the Indian King Asoka and a fully enlightened Buddhist monk, met King Devanampiyatissa on this hill. The Sri Lankan King was subsequently converted to Buddhism and the country remains predominantly Buddhist to this day. Certainly better than if Mahinda met clown Trump and the island became an American colony.
There are a much less tourists than in Mohintale, so it’s quite peaceful. And tourists are mostly local.
Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any predominantly Buddhist nation with the Sangha having existed in a largely unbroken lineage since its introduction in the 2nd century BC.
The staircase leading up to main Mihintale´s attractions consists of 1,840 ancient granite stairs.
There are many kovils (hindu temples) in Trincomalee. Kali Kovil has the most impressive, eye-catching gateway towers.
Pathirakali Amman Kovil (or simply Kali Kovil) is dedicated to the goddess Bhadrakali, a form of the goddess Kali.
Made in classical Dravidian architecture... probably the architecture of cheerful junkies, looking at the colours. Very impressive and unique look, like modern day art. All 3D sculptures and plenty of stories visualized in the statues.
The history of the temple dates back to the Chola kings from the 11th century, and it has been attracting pilgrims ever since. Obviously junkie pilgrims.
The temple also holds an annual festival which is called the ‘Mahotsavam’ which lasts for about ten days and ends along with the Chariot festival of the Koneswaram temple. So, visit the great awe-inspiring Pathirakali Amman Temple to have a complete religious and spiritual experience. And the junkie experience.
The kovil is very impressive with its colorful appearance and plenty of stories visualized in the sculptures.
Manuals for maintaining personal contacts are much more interesting than, for example, manuals for assembling furniture from IKEA.
The most unique feature of the temple is its brightly painted inside and the outside, which is also very ornate. The unbelievable colorfulness of the temple is truly awe-inspiring.
This is a place truly worth your visit. The man on the right is real, it is not a colorful statue. Even the hairs on the chest are real.
Kali Amman is belived to be a very powerful goddess so devotess and people shouldn’t consume any meat or non vegetarian food before visiting this kovil. As soon as the drummer finds out that you have eaten a dog, cat or other meat, he will beat you with a mallet.
Sri Lankan betel industry has a long-standing history dating back to 340 AD. In Sri Lanka more than 12 species are found and are endemic. A ‘chew’ of betel typically consists of the leaf, some shavings of puwak or arecanut, a pinch of chunam or lime and a piece of tobacco. Ingredients such as cardamom or mace are sometimes included for additional flavour and aroma.
Market in Trincomalee.
Paan is a preparation combining betel leaf with areca nut. It is chewed for its stimulant and psychoactive effects.
From royalty to the common man, from monks to village damsels, the practice of chewing the glossy, heart-shaped betel leaves is one that has existed in Sri Lanka for centuries.
Salesman in Jaffna.
Sri Lanka's life expectancy and literacy rate are nearly on par with those of developed countries, and even top the rankings for the South Asia region. While all these indicate that Sri Lanka should be experiencing a high standard of living, until recently it has only ranked in the medium category of the Human Development Index.
Year 2018: Nearly 45 percent of Sri Lankans live on less than $5 a day. This means that living standards in certain areas of the country are very low.
Fish market in Trincomalee.
The average Sri Lankan certainly cannot buy a trained giraffe and run a circus in the garden. Despite environmental disasters and other factors, poverty in Sri Lanka is actually declining. From 2006 to 2016, the rate of extreme poverty declined from 15.3 percent to 4.1 percent, which is among the lowest rates of poverty in the region. Wholesale fruit market in Dambula.
Even so, the people of Sri Lanka are lamenting, whining, crying and complaining far less than the average person in Europe, North America or other rich areas.
An old gentleman, an old car and an old cow on an old street in the city of Jaffna. When two decades of civil war ended in 2002, the only vehicles left on the Jaffna peninsula were old British cars and Sri Lankan army vehicles and trucks. Cut off from trade with the rest of the island, Jaffna was left with a unique collection of vintage cars from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
Leaving freshly caught fish to dry in the sun and wind removes water from the fish, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and extending the storage life of fish by a couple of years. Dried fish is then salted and sold right here in the market.
Many Sri Lankans rely on dried fish as the main source of protein in their diet. They use it in the same way as fresh fish, by adding it to soups, curries and other dishes.
Packaging is not regularly practiced in Sri Lanka. But if you want, you can put the dried fish in your pocket or bra.
The Sri Lankan axis deer (Axis axis ceylonensis) or Ceylon spotted deer is a subspecies of axis deer (Axis axis) that inhabits only Sri Lanka. Unlike the mainland axis deer, which is plentiful, Sri Lankan axis deer populations are considered to be vulnerable.
It is said that a couple of spotted deer were shipped here by the British as pets for their militia stationed here. Nowadays, axes travel by bus ....
Axises also like to shop....
Bored spectators at cricket training.
In a 2008 Gallup poll, Sri Lanka was ranked the third most religious country in the world, with 99% of Sri Lankans saying religion was an important part of their daily life.
The majority of Sri Lankan Hindus follow the teaching of Shaiva Siddhanta.
In the picture offerings in Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil on island of Nainativu near Jaffna.
A bindi is a bright dot of some colour applied in the centre of the forehead close to the eyebrows. A traditional bindi is red or maroon in colour. A pinch of vermilion powder is applied skilfully with a ring-finger to make a perfect red dot.
Hinduism has a long tradition and is the oldest religion in Sri Lanka. More than 2000 years civilization have proved so far from Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. Hindus currently (2018 make around 12% of the Sri Lankan population, and are almost exclusively Tamils apart from small immigrant communities from India and Pakistan.
Picture taken in Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil in Jaffna.
A visit to Nainativu Island is rewarded. An inspiration for the front pages of men's magazines.
Nainativu Island is located in the far north of Jaffna. Although it receives few visits from tourists, the place is heavenly and with some spectacular views.
Jaffna has already recovered from the Civil War, and especially the islands around the city are a feast for the eyes that need a break from hordes of tourists. Palm trees, dikes between the islands and almost complete tranquility. Yet.
The best way to travel around Jaffna is on a scooter or motorcycle. The everyday scenes are nice, interesting and we can laugh at the hard-working natives while we enjoy the holidays. Near Jaffna.
The best place in Sri Lanka to see elephants? In the wild. Although visiting elephant-filled national parks is cheap and easy, disgusting elephant orphanages are very popular in Sri Lanka, especially with Asian tourists.
Herds of up to several hundred individuals can be seen without difficulty. Unfortunately, also convoys of off-road vehicles with tourists.
There are an estimated 7500 wild elephants in Sri Lanka, 12000 to 14000 in the early 19th century.
Hundreds of them are killed by the natives, landmines etc. every year as the animals often come into conflict with rural communities. Also trains are responsible for killing some wild elephants during their migration.
Unlike safaris in Africa, watching wild elephants in Sri Lanka is surprisingly simple. Especially in the national parks Kaudulla, Minneryia and Udawalawe.
The largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in the country is the famous Cave Monastery of Dambulla, which has five separate sanctuaries. It is an official World Heritage Site. The caves of Dambulla were occupied in very early times by Buddhist hermits.
The earliest cave temples at Dambulla are thought to date back to the first century BC but successive kings added to them over the years to form the present complex of five separate cave temples.
Today they contain 157 images of Buddha including a 52 m long reclining Buddha in the largest cave.
All caves except one (which has no historical value as it was done in the second decade of 20th century) contain statues and paintings representing various epochs of Sinhalese sculpture and painting.The early paintings of Dambulla are believed by some to belong to the 8th century A.C.
Almost every surface of the caves are painted with striking patterns and Buddhist murals in shades of red, yellow and white, many related to Gautama Buddha and his life. Some mention Vishu and Ganesha, too. Within the Cave of the Great Kings, over 1,500 paintings of Buddha cover the ceiling.
The toque macaque (Macaca sinica) is a reddish-brown coloured monkey endemic to Sri Lanka, where it is known as the rilewa or rilawa. As of 2008, IUCN listed toque macaque as endangered in their list due to habitat destruction and hunting, and also for taming for pets.
With few patches of forests for survival, they engage to survive close to human habitation, giving a serious trouble for both the parties. Due to devastated eating of crop plants, humans always take precautions to avoid their entrance to the cultivation fields.
The toque macaques were heavily used by both Sri Lanka Army and LTTE (Tamil militant organisation that was based in northeastern Sri Lanka) for their shooting practices in the recent past. At present, peaceful buddhist monks like to shoot monkeys. Not just monkeys, as we know.
Leopards, fishing cats, Indian rock python and buddhist monks are the main predators of toque macaque monkey.
While there are said to be almost 1,000 varieties of bananas in the world, Sri Lanka boasts of 29 varieties, the greater number of which appear to be indigenous to the country. Bananas are naturally radioactive due to their high potassium content. Information for some individuals: rumors that radioactive foods enlarge the penis are, of course, nonsense.
Sri Lanka produces more than 800,000 metric tons of fresh fruit and vegetables annually while around 90 per cent of her processed food is being exported to the European Union market.
From super hydrating coconut water to oil rich coconut milk and gluten free coconut flour, coconut is a source of varying tastes and food products, feeding a world with nutritious and tasty products that are easy to prepare and good to eat.
Thanks to the coconut richness, it is also possible to buy a T-shirt with a silly image of a white teddy bear.
Pidurangala Rock, located adjacent to Sigiriya, provides equally epic views of the surrounding area, a historic cave complex of its own and the most incredible view overlooking the famous Sigiriya rock. “Lion’s rock” Sigiriya is accessed by way of passageways cut into the rock face between a monumental pair of lion paws and hordes of tourists..
One of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka, famous Sigiriya is renowned for its 5th century pre-Christian frescoes (ladies with REALLY developed tits...). It has also been declared by UNESCO as the 8th Wonder of the World (whole Sigiriya, not just those tits). Sigiriya is terribly touristy, overpriced and although nice, I wouldn't go there again.
Sunset, haze and dust.
View from the rock Pidurangala on the Sigiriya. The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery.The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, many more are lost forever, having been wiped out when the Palace once more became a monastery, so that the paintings would not disturb meditation.
Sri Lanka, situated in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean is a relatively small island yet blessed with some of the world’s greatest natural treasures that are beyond compare.
Sri Lanka is Asia’s foremost wildlife destination and probably the best outside Africa. In fact the country has been recognized as one of the ten global bio diverse hotspots in the world.
The biological diversity in this little island has an unbelievable proportion of endemism for both flora and fauna; to be more specific 23% of flora and 16% of fauna are endemic to the country.
The island is home to 439 species of birds of which 33 are endemic with 68 endemic sub species, 236 are breeding residents, 203 are migrants and the rest vagrants along with hundreds of birding sites that makes it easy to observe.
I don't like snakes. Unless baking, frying, cooking or chopping in a salad. There are 294 species of snakes in the world and 96 are found in Sri Lanka. Of these, 50 species are endemic to the island.
There are 13 species of sea snakes and 10 species of blind snakes, few dozens venom snakes and even the ornate flying snake in Sri Lanka. I saw snakes on the island almost every day - in ruins, in cities, in the woods and at the market.
Some od the most common animals in Sri Lanka include monitor lizards, dogs and dogs eaten by lizards.
There are 5 species of monkeys in Sri Lanka
of which 2 are endemic: Toque Monkey and the Purple-face leaf Monkey.
Did I mention monkeys? They are everywhere. They will watch you while eating, sleeping, walking or scratching your ass. Forget about your privacy.
And no, monkeys are not cute. Monkeys bite and steal.
The story of Ceylon tea begins over two hundred years ago, when the country was still a British colony. In 1824 a tea plant was brought to Ceylon by the British from China and was planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya for non-commercial purposes.
Commercial cultivation of tea commenced in Sri Lanka by the Scotsman, James Taylor. He arrived Sri Lanka in 1852. Taylor visited India in 1866 to learn the basics of growing tea on plantations. Following his return, he started a 19 acre tea plantation in Loolecondera estate in 1867.
Although tea originated in China nearly 5000 years ago, it is Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon that made the unique flavor of tea popular across the world.
A product that began as a diversification experiment has expanded its cultivation today to six principal regions within the country -Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Kandy, Uda Pussellawa, Uva Province and Southern Province. The tea exports has surpassed all geographical borders to satisfy 19% of global demand.
Lipton’s Seat - from this vantage point, Sit Thomas Lipton could survey the fields, the factory, shoot lazy worker and dream of how much money could be made from each perfectly wrapped package of Lipton’s tea. In 1890, Thomas Lipton took an ocean voyage to Australia, but on the way, he stopped off at the port of Colombo in British Ceylon.
Thomas Lipton built a factory that processed the leaves and created a standardized process to transform the freshly-picked leaves and convert them into pre-measured packets of consistent quality. Lipton’s Yellow Label Tea was born. In the picture is parking lot at the Dambatenne tea factory. Being a director has its advantages.
Rail transport in Sri Lanka was conceived in the 1850s to develop and unify Sri Lanka.
In the 19th Century, during the British occupation of Sri Lanka, British constructed the railway lines in Sri Lanka and started the Railway service in Sri Lanka to transport Tea from the Hill country estates to Colombo Port and imported goods to the interior of the Island. Timetables often still bear clear marks of the old British style.
Sri Lanka Railways, founded in 1858 as the Ceylon Government Railway, it operates the nation's rail and links the capital, Colombo, with other population centres and tourist destinations.
The train tickets in Sri Lanka are cheap. Really cheap. Seven-hour trip from Kandy to Ella cost (2018 year) from 210 Sri Lankan Rupees, around $3. Comfortable discomfort, an average speed of just over 20km / h and the smell of burnt oil from various goodies is included.
Sri Lanka’s hill country Railway line goes through Tea Estates, thus making the train journey a scenic ride. Trains in Sri Lanka are sometimes an adventurous travelling option and also one of the best way to explore the country.
A train crossing over Nine Arches Bridge near Ella.
The Nine Arches Bridge — one of the most famous railway bridges in the world — that was constructed by the British in 1921.
Taking the train in Sri Lanka is a tourist attraction in itself. Especially the hills and tea plantations around Nuwara Eliya, Ella or Haputale stations offer a mix of atmosphere from the times of British occupation, rural life, beautiful views and the howls of careless dogs whose train amputated the leg. Dogs with an amputated head do not howl.
Some of routes are scenic, with the Main Line passing and crossing little waterfalls, green mountains, tea estates, pine forests, bridges and peak stations.
Some facts: 300 million years ago, when the mega-continent Pangea connected all of the current continents, Sri Lanka was actually joined to Antarctica. Cinnamon. It is said to have originated from the teardrop nation and first found by the Egyptians in 2000 BC. The Flag of Sri Lanka, also known as Lion Flag, is considered one of the world's oldest, dating back to 162 BC. It is also thought to be the only flag in the world to recognize different religious beliefs, with the bo leaves representing Buddhism, orange standing for Hinduism, and green for Islam. In July 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the first woman prime minister in the world.