The Time Out Sri Lanka blog

Your guide to island life, news, culture and everything in-between

En route to Jaffna on the Yal Devi

The Yaal Devi, the northern train to Jaffna is a must for those who seek to witness lovely landscapes and scenic views. The trains chugs on from Colombo to KKS, Jaffna and Anuradhapura being one of the major stops along the way. Passing through the heritage cities, witness the historical landmarks such as the Abhayagiriya Viharaya, see verdant paddy fields while passing Gampaha, Polgahawela, Kurunegala and Galgamuwa, and feel the sea breeze as the train crosses the Elephant Pass causeway. Be prepared and take your own food and water to avoid disappointment as the train does not stop for breakfast or lunch. Accommodation Jaffna welcomes you with homely ambience. Palmyrah trees flicker in a distance over green paddy fields. There are hotels, private villas and luxury boutique hotels, located proximate to the town centre. The hotels promise comfort and elegance, influenced by the exotic culture of Jaffna.    Things to do in Jaffna  Fervent worship The heart of the island’s Hindu culture, Jaffna has many kovils. The Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil in the town is opulent with elaborate carvings and a decorated history. From July to August, thousands from around the world, visit to attend the annual festival. The ancient Nagadeepa Viharaya in Nainativu isle is a Solosmasthana, one of the 16 consecrated sites in Sri Lanka, believed to have been visited by the Gautama Buddha. Other important places of worship include the Nagapoosani Amman Kovil and St Mary’s Cathedral.  

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By: Swetha

What’s up Arugambay!

Beautiful beaches, rustic wilderness, mysterious legends and happening parties. The south eastern coast of Sri Lanka and its famous resort town Arugambay promise fun and adventure all year round. Surf points… beach points… The area is known for its great surf points: Arugambay Point, Whisky Point, Pottuvil Point, Panama Point, Crocodile Rock/Elephant Point, Peanut Farm, Lighthouse Point and Okanda Point. Although the perfect time for surfing here is considered to be from July to November, Whisky Point, Peanut Farm and even the Arugambay Beach especially promise great fun all year round. If you are not in a mood to surf, these beaches are great for morning yoga, tanning in the sun, building sandcastles or just a splash in the water. ©BT Images     ©BT Images   Don’t forget to tour the Panama sand dunes too… Note: The beaches are safe, however avoid wandering into the nearby wildernesses and lagoons. Before you explore these areas, it is always better to be accompanied by a local. Elephants ahoy! ©BT Images   The jumbos simply love this area, so you are bound to see many of them. Either in the protected National Parks, near beaches or simply strolling along the roadside you will catch a glimpse of these gentle giants. If you travel through the Pottuvil Road that runs through the Lahugala – Kitulana National Park during dawn and dusk, you are bound to see herds or at least a few lone bull elephants on the way. It’s a fantastic sight! If you want more el

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By: Time Out editors
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Legends and Lingo!

Pottuvil in the South East coast of Sri Lanka, once a part of the Ruhunu Kingdom is privy to an ancient legend. Many of its area names are derived from this legend and other Sinhalese and Tamil language words. The legend A brave princess from Kelaniya, who sacrificed herself to the sea to save her kingdom, is believed to have landed on this south eastern shore. Historical evidence unearthed in the area indicates that Princess Viharamahadevi’s ship landed here. The place she landed is marked by the Muhudu Maha Viharaya. Her wedding to the ruler of Ruhunu, King Kavantissa is today known as the Magul Maha Viharaya. In addition to historical remnants, the legend had led to the coinage of many names in the area. A legendary debate – Though many believe the princess landed in Kirinde in the South, historical evidence points to the landing place being Pottuvil. It is said that the Princess was possibly first spotted at Kirinde, where her ship drifted past its rocky beach to land in the sandy shore of the south east.   ©BT Images       So here’s what’s in a name…       Komari – Coined from King Kavantissa’s questions, “Ko Kumari” meaning “Where is the princess?” in Sinhalese. The place the king asked the question is today named Komari. Arugambay – Derived from “Ara Gam Bokke”, meaning “at the bay of that village”. When summoned by King Kavantissa, his subjects are said to have pointed to the bay now called Arugambay and said that is where they saw the princess’ shi

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By: Time Out editors

Christmas

Christmas is the joyous celebration that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians across the world get together with family and friends as the festive season enlivens the homes and streets with dazzling lights and colourful decorations. In Sri Lanka, Christmas spirit is celebrated with joy and happiness, and as Colombo welcomes the joyous festive season, the celestial sound of carol services echoes the Christmas spirit. The chapels and school halls ringing with joy and brimming with evangelical zeal of the choristers, these carols solemnly draw upon the traditional favourites. Moreover, amidst the cold climes of Nuwara Eliya, you can experience whimsical and traditional Christmas celebrations. 

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By: Time Out editors
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Happy Hours in Colombo

Colombo hosts a great set of pubs and bars with atmospheres ranging from luxurious to rustic. If you are in town or just want to grab a drink after a busy day we have narrowed down the times and places where you can maximise your socialising budget. Enter the best happy hours Colombo has to offer–this top-rate bars offer deals and discounts for food and drinks. Its just the right amount of make up that is needed to make one look ‘good’, or ‘posh’ in the end of the day, these are Happy Hour at 7° North, Cinnamon Lakeside  From the Caipirinha to the classical Margarita, a diverse variety of cocktails, beverages combined with a selection of mouthwatering dishes.  Days: Monday–Friday Time: 7.00pm–11.00pm   Cloud Red at Cinnamon Red With both indoor and outdoor bar counters, Cloud Red has happy hour offers on their cocktail pitchers (Ten cocktail pitchers) Days: Daily Opens from 5.00pm   Happy Hour at Curve Tapas Restaurant and Bar, Park Street Mews Offers a range of wines, cocktails, tapas and desserts. Days: Daily Time: 5:00pm to 7:00pm Happy Hour at Stella Karaoke Bar, Hilton Colombo  50% off on an array of beverages. Days: Daily Time: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm Special offers at Pool Bar, Hilton Colombo Enjoy 50% off on selected beverages. Days: Daily Time: 5:00pm to 6:00pm Happy Hour at Retro Bar, The Bayleaf The Bayleaf is not only known for its exquisite Italian cuisine. This retro-style bar serves premium liquor, fine selection of wine and cocktails. Days:

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By: geeth

Street Food in Sri Lanka

Street food is a national treasure here in Sri Lanka. The fondness and love we put into making food with recipes that have been passed down generation after generation, has in no small way affected the very fabric of our every day lives. So next time you are in our neck of the woods and you’re looking for something good to eat… here are seven tasty street food treats, you don’t want to miss out on. Kothu         The King of Sri Lankan street food, Kothu in theory seems like an easy enough dish to make but people rarely make it at home. Instead Kothu can be bought at anyone of the multitude of restaurants that has to offer. The dish consists of Godambha rotti, vegetables, egg or meat and some spices. It is prepared on a hot cooking surface with two rectangular knives chopping the roti and accompaniments up into small pieces before it is served piping hot. Kothu is usually accompanied with sauce to put over it like Masala sauce.   Acharu         Acharu is a very fond memory for every Sri Lankan who has the tangy, sweet taste of it etched into their minds thanks to their childhood. What the dish is un ripe fruit pickled in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, salt and some chili powder. Often fruits used for Acharu are mango, pineapple and ambarella but it is also made using olives.   Uludu Wade Wade is a staple in any Sri Lankan street food connoisseur’s pantry. This savory doughnut type morsel is soft and doughy on the inside but crispy on the outside often times w

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By: Time Out editors
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Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green, the little gay strip in the heart of Colombo open to all, has been a part of the city since Dutch times. But it became a promenade only in 1859. Victorian ladies with parasols and umbrellas and equally dressed up men took the air here. What a contrast from now, when less composed and haughty people of a much more liberal an advanced age gather in droves, also to ‘take the air’. But something about Galle Face Green makes it redolent of the colonial times. Probably because it is surrounded by so many colonial landmarks: the Galle Face Hotel, the cannons, the beach itself. Also the neighbourhood has changed but little from what it was in the mid 19th century. It has the same air of grandeur.     Galle Face is an experience of itself. In each and every visitor coming at dusk, the place breeds a bracing feel of freedom. It is the ideal place for kiting with its sea winds, and for lovers and for any human the best place to ‘let go’ – to use a vulgar phrase. There is a great feeling of conviviality as crowds gather in the evenings and as soft hues chase each other in the sky till darkness affirms itself. Little lamps and lights glow in the promenade in the blue light, coming from carts selling street food.

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By: Time Out editors

Andare – Sri Lanka’s beloved jester

If you grow up in Sri Lanka, then the famous fables of “Andare” would undoubtedly be a part of your childhood. For those who haven’t, here’s an introduction.  Andare was a court jester whose witty acts and satirical comments entertained  both royals and commoners alike. Most of the stories, have a comical ending with Andare getting the better of villagers and even the King. They mainly highlight the mindlessness of others, and pranks. Andare was also an accomplished poet, who could instantly compose verses, to suit  any situation. His true talent however lay in his ability to get away with sheer mockery directed at even the King, who at times tried to get the better of Andare but failed. People took no offence for his light-hearted humour, for ultimately the situation became very amusing. Whether the underlying message of his prank and witticism was understood was understood remains a mystery that never bothered dear Andare! The beauty of his character, was that he just didn’t care.  So, did this daredevil really exist? There are high chances that Andare was an imaginary caricature born out of the minds of intellects who dared to sneer at the lack of intelligence and vanity of society. Another theory is that he hailed from the Southern town of Matara and was called to the Kandyan empire where he served as the jester. Despite being a mere joker, the tales suggest Andare had a superior intellect that aided him in turning situations to his favour. After his death he was buried

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By: Time Out editors
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Find it all at Kandy

Tucked away against a lush green backdrop, Kandy and the Central Hilly country is the epicentre of Buddhist culture here in Sri Lanka. Not only does the world famous ‘Esala' Perahera happen here but it also the home to many of the country’s significant cultural resources.   Esala Perahera       The Sri Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic resides in Kandy, as does The Royal Palace where the last King of Sri Lanka reigned. Kandy is also the second largest city in Sri Lanka and has no shortage of unique and luxurious places to stay.      ©BT Images     When in Kandy, a must visit spot is the Kandy City Centre, ‘the’ shopping mall for those who shopping lovers!   Kandy City Centre (KCC)   Have a look at this list of some spectacular hotels located in this area: Queen’s Hotel Hotel Suisse Amaya Hills Kandy Earl’s regency Hotel Hunas Falls by Amaya Hotel Hilltop Ozo Kandy Randholee The Swiss Residence Kandy Bungalow by Kandy The Kandy House Taylor’s Hill The Lake Hotel The Lake House The Other Corner Amaya Lake Sigiriya Royal retreat Signature by Amaya       Amaya Hills       Amaya Hills         Queen’s Hotel       Queen’s Hotel    

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By: Time Out editors

5 Things to Take Home from the Island

Our check list will ensure that you baffle guests and friends and earn a many “Where did you get this??!!”

More often than not souvenir shopping can be a confusing chore especially when you want to buy valuable items and stay clear from  meaningless overpriced kitsch.Here is a list of our best pick of goodies that are proudly Sri Lankan; Make sure that you take a reasonable stash of these which are best bought here than in any other place.

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By: Darrshini
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Comments

3 comments
Robert C

I visited Sri Lanka last year and I was moved by the service and hospitality provided to me by my Tour operators.

Just if any one planning holidays at Sri Lanka can keep this as a reference.

DJ travels - inquiry@visitsrilankaholidays.com

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