While its Buddhist heritage, colonial history, and culinary prowess continue to make Sri Lanka a magnet for the global travelling community, many other unique aspects of its cultural engagements deserve your attention. Make time to try some of these fun-filled and memorable experiences.
Trekking in Knuckles
Explore the astonishing biodiversity of Sri Lanka's wilderness spaces as you follow one of the trekking trails in the uniquely named Knuckles Mountain. And why are this called Knuckles? Well, this mountainous range located in Kandy looks a bit like a clenched fist from afar! What makes it a UNESCO-acclaimed World Heritage Site is its globally significant biodiversity. And the fact that it is home to over 34 per cent of Sri Lanka's endemic flora and faunal species. For birders, too is a real treat for sightings of its endemic avifaunal varieties.
Treacle and Toddy Treat
In the domestic setting of Galle's Kanneliya village, learn all about Sri Lanka's natural and favourite sweetener— treacle (kitul), which gives a yummy lift to a bowl of yoghurt. The kithul tree (Caryota urens) is a precious, multipurpose resource for Sri Lanka, as it provides a range of popular products. The tree's sap is the heart of this industry as it serves as the base for the local beer (toddy), treacle and jaggery—the last two being used to prepare a variety of traditional sweets. Get a hands-on experience of the process from a local expert by accompanying him to the forest where the sap is collected from the kithul trees. The jackfruit also sourced from the forest will be used to prepare kottu rotti for your lunch. Guzzle down some toddy, but remember, it can carry quite a kick!
An intrinsic part of Sri Lankan culture, the crafting of masks can turn out to be a lot of fun. Your host, who will teach the ropes of mask making, runs a gallery in Galle Fort. You will discover that in Sri Lanka, masks wearing originated from rituals in village settings that followed ancient beliefs and were also used for curing illness. Masks are generally carved out of a light wood called "Kaduru", but at the gallery at the fort, you will learn to make masks in a more eco-friendly way. Your host uses traditional and sustainable resources such as recycled paper, kithul (treacle), kurundu (cinnamon), clay, broken tiles, beeswax and even cow dung! You can spend time either learning to carve the masks or paint them. Both are equally fun to do!
Sensory Salutations from Sri Lanka
To wind down from the hectic explorations of the spice island's fabulous range of activities and adventures, indulge all your senses with a more laidback experience. Rooted in Sri Lanka's centuries-old traditions of yoga and meditation, this experience allows the body and mind to soak in all the healing moments of total relaxation. The setting of your host's beautiful suburban house in Colombo is ideal for this experience which involves correct breathing, exercise, meditation, relaxation and immersion of the senses.
And we've barely seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sri Lanka's less trumpeted allurements. Plan another trip as quickly as you can for more discoveries!