High Five – February
Sri Lanka welcomes you with national pride in her heart and fluttering lion flags, as the country celebrates the 70th Independence Day. Colombo, the capital city will be the place to be as the spectacular and opulent Navam Maha Perahera parades with a grand cultural display. Romance is in the air across the country, promising memorable adventures in the tropics. Try our tongue tingling street food. Please your artistic soul as you witness the talent and creativity of the islanders. The shores of the South of the island are filled with excitement. From the East to the West coast, there are many unique experiences waiting to be discovered.
The only procession of this magnitude to take place in the centre of Colombo city, the Navam Maha Perahera traces its origins back to 1979. It is the concept of Venerable Galboda Gnanissara Thero, Chief Incumbent, Gangaramaya Temple. This procession has become an eagerly-awaited event that attracts a great number of devotees as well as viewers. Visitors to the country as well as residents from the city and far afield come to Colombo to witness the event. The grand pageant encompasses cultural performances that reflect on Sri Lanka’s rich artistry and heritage. The highlight of the Navam Maha Perahera is the Sacred Relic Casket carried in procession by a richly caparisoned tusker. The perahera is of great religious significance and is an enthralling display with caparisoned elephants, and dancers and drummers from the island’s three dance forms: Udarata, Pahatharata and Sabaragamuwa. Onlookers are stunned by fire dancers, stilt walkers, and the whip crackers. The procession of Buddhist monks gives a sense of spirituality and calm amidst the excitement. The Navam Perahera contributes immensely to the preservation of cultural traditions and provides a livelihood to the many artistes. It also fosters harmony as many different communities are drawn together at a single event. Experiencing a perahera in person will be a memorable event. The drum beats reverberate your very soul, the cracks of the whips crackle your skin, the heat of the torches and wheels of fire can be felt
Memories of a resilient past
It is with a great sense of pride that Sri Lankans commemorate February 4 every year. This year marks 70 years of independence from colonial rule. The journey to freedom was one with many struggles and the island’s resilient spirit remains immortalised in many events, places and monuments across Sri Lanka.
Explore art and culture
Established in the 19th century, the Gangaramaya Temple has become a landmark and a place of vibrancy in its relatively short history. The temple was administered by illustrious monks like the Venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala, founder of the Vidyodaya University for monks and Venerable Devundera Sri Jinarathana. What was once a simple structure on swampy land has evolved to lay claim to a fusion of architecture and decor from Buddhist countries in the region. It has a library, a museum and an extraordinary collection of ornamented and gilded gifts presented by devotees to the temple on display. The Temple’s main event takes place in February during the full-moon day of Navam Poya. The annual procession is a show of culture and tradition displayed in colour and pageantry with bejewelled elephants and dancers parading the streets of Colombo.
Tewatta Basilica of our Lady of Lanka
The only Basilica in Sri Lanka, Tewatta Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka is a site revered by Catholics all around the island especially during the annual feast which falls in February. The origin of the church dates back to 1911. It is set within a large land and pilgrims usually picnic on the grounds after devotion.
Where to stay?
The Taj Samudra Hotel’s fresh look and facilities are designed to appeal to the modern traveller. A five star business hotel in the heart of Colombo, the Taj Samudra faces the Galle Face Green and the Indian Ocean and is just a stroll away from fashionable shopping areas. Brightly lit interiors and cosy furniture provide a mix of luxury as well as a laid back feeling. There’s a resto-bar with Japanese fusion food and restaurants specialising in Indian, Chinese and European cuisine, that afford eclectic choice and experience.
Offering an outdoor pool and a restaurant, Heritance Negombo is located 2.1 km from St Anthony's Church. Free WiFi access is available and rooms come equipped with a minibar. Featuring a view of the sea, every room includes a flat-screen cable TV. A hairdryer and bathrobes are provided in the en suite bathroom. Extras include a sofa, a desk and ironing facilities. At Heritance Negombo you will find a fitness centre. Other facilities offered at the property include a tour desk and shops (on site). The property offers free parking. The hotel is 2.8 km from Negombo Beach Park and 2.9 km from Maris Stella College. Bandaranaike International Airport is 12 km away.
A gateway into a time of luxury, to rejuvenate and relax, Taylors Hill, Kandy is nestled in the midst of lush plantations and is perfect for an intimate vacation. Named after James Taylor who introduced commercial tea production to Sri Lanka, one would feel embraced by evergreen plateaus when holidaying here. Central to many attractions within the region, Taylors Hill, along with comfortable accommodation, great food and modern amenities calls the adventurous traveller to sit back and relax after an eventful day. Bordering the Loolecondera Tea Factory, the first teafactoryestablishedbyJamesTaylor himself, it provides a window into an industry that put Ceylon on the map. Further, guests are able to discover a world of heritage at the once capital city of Kandy which homes the Temple of the Tooth Relic, museums, exquisite architecture and more. Nature lovers will find the Peradeniya Botanical Garden to be a haven, while cycling through the tea plantations and curvy roads is sure to give an unforgettable adrenaline rush! Back at the hotel, there is a snooker room for those who enjoy leisure time in private. A kids play area, living space, tennis and badminton court, an infinity pool and birdwatching are some of its exciting features. Indulge in mouth-watering Asian fusion, traditional British gastronomy or Sri Lankan cuisine mostly cooked with Tamil flare, as in the up-country. For evening tea overlooking the serene views, scrumptious snacks and freshly baked cakes and cooki
Offering a terrace and views of the pool, The Thinnai is situated in Jaffna. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free WiFi is available throughout the property and free private parking is available on site. All rooms come with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and Blu-ray player. Certain rooms feature a seating area to relax in after a busy day. Rooms have a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes and free toiletries. You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property. Bike hire is available at this hotel and the area is popular for cycling.
Sri Lanka shopping guide
Aviraté designs trendy and stylish attire for the contemporary woman. Fashion window displays on the sleek façade of the flagship showroom along Maitland Crescent in Colombo draws the shopper inside. At Aviraté, aisles upon aisles of clothing and accessories, ranging from daring shades to neutral tones, entice the customer. Aviraté offers an exclusive range of womenswear, from chic office clothes to stylish everyday attire and elegant party wear. Inspired by trends from runways across the globe, each collection is fashion-forward and stylish. From bold cuts to pretty prints, Aviraté collections cater to a wide array of customers. Accessories to complement are available too. Their jewellery is a favourite amongst the loyal clientele and it is the ideal place to find a statement piece for your outfit. The store also offers lingerie and swimwear. Aviraté’s latest collections include the ‘Blue Label’, ‘Parisian Chic’, ‘Escape to the Country’, ‘Back to Black’, the ‘Red Collection’ and ‘Easy Does It’. Glamourous dresses as well as blouses feature in the ‘Nightfall’ collection. ‘Retro Revamp’ is for the fashionistas who favour bold and colourful patterns. ‘Spellbound’ as the name denotes, features a romantic flare and is ideal for a showstopper look. Providing a holistic and hassle-free experience, Aviraté provides alterations for customers. The Aviraté Café, serving coffee, frappés, healthy meals and sweet treats is the place to relax and refresh after a shopping
‘Ceylon Special’ by Ahmad Tea is the London-based brand’s flagship boutique in Colombo. The ambience of the outlet is quaint, with large pastel paintings creating a truly vintage Victorian aura. However, in traditional Sri Lankan style, shoppers are served cups of tea with jaggery. There is a vast selection of tea and every blend at the outlet has its origins in Sri Lanka. Their range includes classic brews such as Earl Grey and English Breakfast, and regional teas from all tea-growing regions in the island. They have graded teas such as Ceylon Tea OPA and Ceylon Long Leaf as well as varieties of Green Tea. One of the highlights of the boutique is the enticing selection of flavoured teas. These include Lemon and Lime Twist, Strawberry Sensation, Vanilla and Peach and Passion Fruit. Ahmad Tea offers a delightful range of packaging. As a globally renowned brand established in England, their fine blends are packed in artistic metal caddies with imagery representing key land- marks in England. Tall tins adorned with pretty Victorian motifs make for ideal gifts. Inspired by Sri Lankan tradition, tea is packaged in wicker baskets such as the Hambiliya or the Tea Wallet. Selections of Ceylon Tea are also available in bamboo boxes. Staff are well-informed and assist in selecting a tea that suits you. Personalised tea-tasting can also be requested. Ceylon Special by Ahmad Tea is the place to shop for premium Ceylon Tea or a personalised gift.
Every sense, from sight to smell, is touched by the rustic creativity and heritage artistry at Kalaya. The outlet in Pelawatte, Battaramulla swirls with the scent of exotic candles, earthenware and linen. ‘Kalaya’, which means the water pot in Sinhala, was once an essential utensil at homes in Sri Lanka. Similarly, from the logo to concept, the store presents an assortment of tasteful home décor that enhance the unique aesthetics of living spaces with tradition. Kalaya has a wide range of products including furniture, floor mats, linen, outdoor décor and lighting. Each item is unique, inspired by local handcrafts from Sri Lanka and throughout Asia. In terms of the furniture collection, Kalaya has an extensive array that will suit any individual’s taste, be if for an admirer of rustic simplicity or some- one who lives life with a touch of quirkiness. Their ‘Outdoor’ range offers decorative cement-made products. ‘Déco’ features a beautiful selection of vibrant cushion covers, tableware and tea sets with a contemporary twist as well as exquisite ornaments. To add a touch of character to your home, choose from their wide selection of elegant table lamps and novel wall art. The flamboyant block-printed linen bedspreads, colourful table runners as well as rugs are amongst many artistic products displayed at Kalaya. The store also offers a selection of stylish sarongs in stunning geometric designs, each unconventional, versatile and comfortable. For a rustic, artistic sho
The Body Shop
An iconic British retail brand with a global presence, The Body Shop is renowned for its range of body-care products that are ethically produced and vegetarian-friendly, and uses ingredients from natural sources. The local store is conveniently located on the corner of Bagatalle Road and Galle Road in Colombo 3. It stocks a range of product categories: bath and body, skin care, hair, make-up, accessories, and fragrances for both women and men. Explore their wide range of products to pamper your body.