5 Reasons Why Tragedy Could Never Strip Sri Lanka of Its Beauty

    I am utterly devastated with the series of events that occurred in Sri Lanka two weekends ago in a malicious and completely unnecessary series of explosions upon sacred churches and well-known hotels. This piece was originally set to be “5 Reasons Why Sri Lanka Should Be Your Next Travel Destination,” but now it is much bigger than that. It is recognizing the beauty both inside and out of Sri Lanka and its people as they both unite to grieve for the 300+ innocent lives that were taken this past Easter Sunday. It is upsetting that a piece originally meant to be about the natural beauty of this country has now turned into one of sorrow and deep condolence for all of the families currently suffering. It is even more upsetting that the evil that took place in Sri Lanka is not as prevalent of news in the United States as Notre Dame burning in Paris, despite the massive destruction and lives that were lost. That being said, I am still going to discuss why Sri Lanka will always be a beautiful country no matter how many people try to take that away from it, and why everyone should feel compelled to support and cherish such a precious destination on this Earth that is Sri Lanka.

The island nation may be small, but its rich culture is unlike any other.

Photos via Natalia Senanayake

    Following a wonderful stay in Sri Lanka, some of the best stories you will bring home with you are sure to include your experiences of the island’s rich and vibrant culture. Whether it be immersing yourself in the nation’s traditions, spending a day out shopping with the locals, or trying the incredibly tasty (yet incredibly spicy) traditional Sri Lankan food, you are bound to have an eye opening, story-worthy experience. One tradition that everyone should try to see when they come to Sri Lanka is the annual Perahera festival, also known as The Festival of the Tooth, located in the city of Kandy usually throughout the month of July. This grand Buddhist festival is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before - the streets are decked with waves of colorful ensembles, intricate outerwear, fire dancers, booming music, and so much more that just cannot be put into words. While the Perahera is just one example of Sri Lanka’s rich culture coming into play, there is a plethora of cultural activities to participate in that will leave you with a life changing experience.

It’s unlike any island you’ve ever been to before.

Photos via Natalia Senanayake

    Living in the United States, the idea of an island getaway usually looks like a quick trip to Jamaica or a family vacation in Aruba. While those places are both beautiful and relaxing, considering an island vacation someplace a little more exotic, like Sri Lanka, is guaranteed to exceed your expectations of what an island vacation should look like. In Sri Lanka, you get a wide variety of climates and sceneries that go beyond just your average tropical weather. Enjoy the breathtaking sunsets atop the Indian Ocean if you’d like, or take a wild ride on the safaris of Yala National Park. Maybe take a break from the intense heat and travel to the mountainous tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya. Whatever you choose to do on this island, there is something to be enjoyed by everyone.

The wildlife is extraordinary.

Photos via Natalia Senanayake

    Another beautiful trait of Sri Lanka is its exotic wildlife. In fact, it is quite common to see a group of monkeys hanging out atop someone’s roof while you are casually strolling along in the streets. The monkeys can be obnoxious, and even sometimes scary, but for the most part they are just minding their own business as long as you are minding yours. They give the trees character and are exciting to see roaming free outside for someone who has only ever seen a monkey in a zoo. However, monkeys are not the only animal you might catch wandering about. The elephants of Sri Lanka are some of the most massive, yet cutest, elephants you will ever see. In fact, it may be worth it to take a trip to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to experience Sri Lanka’s elephants more up close and personal surrounded by beautiful fields of greens and palm trees.

It’s home to the infamous “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Photos via Natalia Senanayake

    We’ve all heard about the infamous Seven Wonders of the World, but did you know that the unofficially claimed eighth wonder is located in Sri Lanka? Many people don’t know about Sigiriya - one of the most breathtaking places you will ever visit and also the Eighth Wonder of the World! This enormous rock holds the ruins of an ancient fortress and the remains of a gigantic lion sculpture engraved into the rock. Tourists are welcome to climb up the rock to get to the incredible archeological sites at the top, where an ancient civilization once thrived. The views at the top are exceptional, but beware - climbing the entire rock will be very difficult for people who are deathly afraid of heights, trust me.

Plain and simple: It’s just a really beautiful, underrated place.

Photo via Natalia Senanayake

    What more can I say? Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited with something to offer everyone. You can make your travels as relaxing or as eventful as you want it to be, but one thing is for sure, you are going to come back with incredible stories and breathtaking photos. That being said, most people in the U.S. don’t even know where Sri Lanka is on the map, or that it even exists for that matter, which is all the more reason to educate yourself and experience a new culture that is completely and utterly underrated. For all of the beauty and richness that it holds, Sri Lanka deserves more recognition and praise from those who are willing to travel to such a scenic country.

    As you can see, Sri Lanka is more than just a brief news story of tragedy and heartbreak - it is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture that many don’t even realize they are missing out on. The bombings that occurred and the terrorism that prevailed will never take away the country’s beauty or its people’s passion that that makes up the tiny but mighty island of Sri Lanka. If you would like to show your support for the grieving country, click here to offer a donation to the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society as they aid in the reuniting of displaced family members, prevention of PTSD within bombing victims, and much more. You can also search for more donation opportunities that cater towards specific restoration and relief missions.

    No matter what horror and tragedy that occured on this island, Sri Lanka will always hold a tender place in my heart that I hope after reading this, you can now feel in your heart too.