Embarking on my first journey with Sri Lankan Air, the three-hour check-in ordeal quickly faded into insignificance as the warm embrace of Sri Lanka welcomed us with open arms. A country often overshadowed by its larger neighbours, Sri Lanka emerged as a revelation, showcasing impeccable service, delightful cuisine, and a rich cultural tapestry.
Touching down in Columbo, my first impressions were of a city that epitomized cleanliness, order, and an oppressive heat that hinted at the vibrant experiences that lay ahead. Our destination, the 5-Star Jetwing Lagoon Resort, designed by the legendary Sri Lankan Architect Geoffrey Bawa, revealed itself as an architectural marvel. Adorned in serene hues of white and brown, the resort featured a pool that proudly claimed the title of the longest on Sri Lanka’s west coast.
Dining at the resort’s seaside restaurant provided a panoramic view of the lagoon, leaving us breathless. The accommodations, captured in photos due to my inability to find adequate words, were a blend of opulence and comfort that surpassed all expectations.
As we readied ourselves for the next day’s adventures, I couldn’t help but reflect on the serendipity that led us back to Sri Lanka. Originally planning to explore the north of India, a diplomatic rift redirected us to this captivating island nation. A visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, followed by a journey to the Dambulla cave temple, a UNESCO site dating back to the 3rd century BCE, immersed us in the historical, archaeological, and artistic wonders of Sri Lanka.
The Heritance Kandalama Hotel, another marvel by Geoffrey Bawa, became our sanctuary for the night. Nestled seamlessly into the mountainside, the hotel’s flat roof and timber pillars supported a screen of vegetation that attracted local wildlife. Large-scale sculptures within the hotel complemented the real-life animals, creating a harmonious blend of luxury and nature.
The following day, the Lion Rock, or Sīnhāgiri, awaited us. A UNESCO site with a palace/fortress built by King Kashyapa 5000 years ago, it showcased colourful frescoes on its sides and intricate engineering accessible only through the mouth of a carved lion.
Sri Lankan cuisine became a highlight, particularly during a lunch visit to a local farm where we savoured surprisingly delicious domestic fare. Our journey continued to Polonnaruwa, another UNESCO site, the second capital of Sri Lanka, revealing Brahmanic monuments and the fabulous garden city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.
Evenings were a symphony of delight at the Jetwing Lake hotel, offering live music as we dined and danced against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s natural beauty. Each day unfolded as a chapter in a novel, where history, culture, and natural beauty seamlessly intertwined.
In the heart of this teardrop-shaped island, every bend in the road revealed a new facet of beauty. Sri Lanka, with its clean cities, warm people, and rich heritage, transcended the ordinary. This journey was not just a vacation; it was a profound exploration, a love letter to the wonders of Sri Lanka, etched into the fabric of our memories.
For more photos of the visit, please visit https://stewartgoeswalkies.wordpress.com