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The AFAR Guide to Sri Lanka

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The island nation of Sri Lanka, off the southern tip of India, was colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch, and English. Colonial rule is still evident in the capital city's name, Colombo. Sinhalese and Tamil are Sri Lanka's two official languages, though English is widely used. The culture is greatly influenced by Buddhist and Hindu traditions; the country has eight Unesco World Heritage Sites.
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Sri Pada / Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka
Located in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, Sri Pada (also known as Adam's Peak) is revered as a holy site by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The mountain stands out for both its prominence and for the Sri Pada "Sacred Footprint", a...
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Talpe, Sri Lanka
Sometimes a single image pulls me out the door. I came across an old Steve McCurry photo of the Weligama stick fishermen while cleaning out boxes of magazines a few years back. McCurry depicted the fishermen as seafaring mavericks with one of the...
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2C, Templers Place, Mt. Lavinia,, Colombo, Sri Lanka
This colonial artifact overlooks the turquoise Indian Ocean and the Coast Line train that runs along it.Sights from the ocean-view rooms stretch to the city of Colombo, 20 minutes away. Trainspotters should request a room at the hotel’s north end...
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The Frangipani Tree, 812, Matara Road,, Unawatuna 80600, Sri Lanka
There I was, stuck between a rock and a hard place. I wanted to swim in the ocean, to cleanse myself of my misgivings in the salty sea, but I also wanted to lounge in the infinity pool, sip a fruity cocktail (without being judged), and swim a few...
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Kaikawala,Induruwa, Bentota 86443, Sri Lanka
Sri Villas on Induruwa Beach, Sri Lanka (accessible by the Galle Road between Colombo and Galle just south of Bentota) can be rented by the room or by the house. 12 friends and I had the entire compound to ourselves for a few days last week - what...
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B199, Rambukkana 71100, Sri Lanka
Each day, the 90 elephants living at the Pinnewala Orphanage are led from their feeding grounds to the nearby Maha Oya (Maha River) to bathe. The elephants are split in to two groups so half get to go to the river in the morning and the other half...
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3, 2 ගාලු පාර, කොළඹ 00300, Sri Lanka
Now and again, a sunset is more than just a sunset. Such is the case from the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. One of the most relaxing places on earth to watch the sun go down - so long as there's plenty of malty Lion Stout at hand. The Galle Face...
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Kandy - Jaffna Hwy, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
According to Buddhist legend, after the Buddha attained enlightenment, his feet made an imprint in the stone where he stepped. The footprints of the Buddha (Buddhapada) are highly revered in all Buddhist countries, especially in Sri Lanka and...
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Cheena Kotuwa, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka
Sithuvili is a fantastic place to shop for traditional hand crafted Sri Lankan masks, among other goodies. Being that masks are one of the only things I collect on the road, it was a great place to explore. Part of the fun of finding Sithuvili is...
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The Buddhist temple complex of Dambulla consists of five cave temples carved under a very large overhanging rock. The temples were carved out over several centuries, but the oldest dates back to the 1st century B.C.E. The temples include numerous...
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Hatton, Sri Lanka
Train travel in Sri Lanka is like stepping back in time - old locomotives, old tracks, and slow service. But it's the best way to really see the middle of the country. Some stations like this one in Hatton are really busy - and you have to be...