Boats on the water © Anuradha Ratnaweera
The island of Sri Lanka lies off the southern tip of India in the Indian Ocean, a verdant paradise that is the cradle of the Buddhist faith. Apart from hundreds of miles of the world's most beautiful palm-fringed beaches, Sri Lanka boasts seven World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO, ranging from sacred cities, palaces and cliff-top citadels to colonial strongholds, spanning nearly 3,000 years of history. To complete the picture of perfection, Sri Lanka is situated just three degrees north of the Equator, meaning the weather is constantly hot, humid and tropical. Sunny skies are the order of the day; even in the brief monsoon season there is always a daily spell of sunshine.
Adventurous visitors who enjoy some mystery and wonderment will marvel at the ancient sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Panduwasnuwara, where the remains of a great civilisation are to be seen. The cities of Colombo and Kandy show the influence of the foreign colonial powers that fought for control over the strategic, lush island in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Dutch-inspired buildings stand cheek to jowl with Victorian British mansions and Portuguese fortifications.
There has been some trouble in paradise, with northern Sri Lanka experiencing some indigenous terrorism, but most visits to Sri Lanka are trouble free and the beautiful beaches and towns of the south and southeast coast have always been largely unaffected.
Sri Lanka offers leisure and pleasure opportunities at a gentle pace; this is no package holiday destination but rather one to be savoured by discerning travellers who enjoy the excitement of discovering what a country has to offer independently.