About Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a paradise hidden in plain sight. Despite the strategic location in the heart of the Indian Ocean traveler tend to fly over the island unaware of its irresistible charms. The island is rated among the 34 highest biodiversity hotspots in the world for its tropical lowlands and rainforested central mountains.
May it be Sinhalese, Tamils, Moors or Eurasians, Sri Lankans are friendly and genuinely happy to welcome tourists to the country. Sri Lankans are proud of their culture and traditions and welcomes an opportunity to share a cup of world class Ceylon Tea or sip a freshly cut king coconut with a guest.
Sri Lanka’s 2500 year culture have left some amazing ruins. In central plains ancient Sinhalese dynasties set up their first capitals and spent extravagantly on artistic and architectural marvels. Eventually these kingdoms fell and lush jungles reclaimed them slowly. Those lost cities, sacred Buddhist sites and crumbling temples are a reason to head up to the cultural central of Sri Lanka;
Sri Lanka History
Sri Lanka, the Paradise Isle or the Pearl of the Indian Ocean is an area of just about 65,000km2. Strategic location of the island nation – position along ancient trade routes and its proximity to India brought many visitors, immigrants, missionaries, invaders, travelers, traders from around the globe.
Sri Lanka’s original inhabitants known as Veddas (aboriginal people) were hunters and subsisted on the island’s natural resources. Though their origins are unclear, anthropologists believe that they existed on the island as far back as 32,000 BC.
Around 3rd Century BC Anuradhapura Kingdom immerged and during the same period Buddhism arrived from India transforming and creating what is now known as the Sinhalese culture. Buddhist emissaries from India also brought to Sri Lanka a cutting of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Bodhi tree is planted in Anuradhapura and still survives making it to be the oldest documented tree in the world.
In AD 371 the arrival of Tooth Relic of Buddha in Sri Lanka created a purpose and an identity for the nation and inspired the development of a culture and literature.
Second capital of Sri Lanka, Pollonnaruwa produced two notable rulers. Parakramabahu I (1153-86) was not content only to expel the South Indian Tamil Chola Empire from Sri Lanka but carried the fight to South India. Free from invasions, he created many reservoirs around the island and made the country self-sufficient. This period was known as the golden era of the nation. His benevolent successor, Nissanka Malla (1187-96) cared well for his people, was followed by few weak rulers who abandoned the second capital and was reclaimed by lush jungle in just a few decades.
Conquests by Portuguese, Dutch and the British
Sri Lanka had been a trading hub in the heart of the Indian Ocean. In 7th Century Arab Traders arrived with their faith Islam and made settlements. Gems, cinnamon, ivory, and elephants were in high demand when the European powers arrived in the island shores.
In 1505 Portuguese established friendly relations with the then Kotte kingdom and gained monopoly of valuable spice trade. They brought and introduced Christianity and many converted. Any resistance was met with massacres and destruction of local temples. Buddhists fled to Kandy and resisted.
In 1602 Dutch arrived and took the monopoly of spice trade and helped the king to chase the Portuguese. Despite the friendship the Dutch made attempts to subjugate Kandyan Kingdom, but to no avail.
The arrival of the British in the latter part of 1700’s, made the island a colony in 1815 taking over Kandy and establishing the British rule throughout the country.
Dawning of the 20th century kindled nationalism, Buddhist and Hindu campaigns were established in defending traditional Sri Lankan culture against the impact of Christian missionaries. Many national heroes had immerged and with Mahatma Gandhi giving momentum to the cause with his visit to the nation, followed independence in 1948.