Step into a world of subtropical highlands, lush tea plantations, colourful tuk-tuks, friendly elephants, sacred temples and ancient ruins with this wonderful collection of photographs taken by Jacqui Stark. Travelling through the verdant landscape of Sri Lanka Jacqui documented her journey with the help of her camera, offering us a brief glimpse of life on this laid back isle.
If you want to experience Sri Lanka for yourself, we’ve got just the ticket!
1. Mountain scenery near Nuwara Eliya
East of the capital, Colombo, lies Sri Lanka’s high country. Lush and green, these subtropical highlands are characterised by verdant fields of tea, planted by the British in the 19th century. The spectacular landscapes up here are also punctuated with waterfalls, market gardens and abundant bird life.
2. A tea picker at work
Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world where tea is still picked by hand. The mostly female pickers carefully select the youngest, most tender leaves and buds.
3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya
Our guided tour of these stunning gardens was a real highlight, as we learned about its incredible collection of orchids, spices, palms and medicinal plants.
4. Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic, Kandy
Elephants play an important part in rituals at the Temple of the Tooth Relic in the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Kandy. We saw this ‘tusker’ led INSIDE the temple to be dressed in an elaborate costume before he took pride of place in a ceremonial procession!
5. Traditional Kandyan Ves Dancers
Their remarkable costumes are comprised of 64 ornaments, and are considered to be sacred. We were lucky enough to be in Kandy for the full moon, an important day for Buddhists which is marked by a colourful procession at the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic (home to one of the Buddha’s teeth – a holy object venerated by Buddhists worldwide)
6. Tuk-tuks ‘resting’!
The colourful tuk-tuks were our favourite way to get around, deftly navigating the mix of old & new roads and the chaotic Sri Lankan traffic!
7. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
A special moment was getting up-close & personal with the residents of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, which is home to the largest herd of captive elephants (many of whom have been abandoned or displaced) in the world!
8. Sigiriya - “The Lion Rock”
Another of Sri Lanka’s SEVEN UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the awe-inspiring ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya! Thought to have been created as a fortified palace after a royal coup in the 5th century, it later became a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century, and then lay forgotten until its “discovery” by the British in the 19th century.
9. Sigiriya frescoes
It was a humbling experience to stand in front of these frescoes (which once covered almost the whole face of the rock), painted in the 5th century! But are they “heavenly maidens” or mistresses of the king?
10. Rankoth Vehera, Polonnaruwa
This immense stupa dates from the 12th century golden-age of the ancient capital, Polonnaruwa. Tradition dictates that you remove your shoes and circumambulate the structure, meditating & contemplating the holy relics inside.
11. “If these wall could talk…” - Dambulla Rock Caves
The weathered timber of this entrance to one of the rock caves at Dambulla guarded the secrets of the Buddhist monks who lived here for centuries…
Innumerable carvings of the Buddha can be found inside the 5 rock caves at Dambulla. The sense of peace they convey is palpable, and the spirituality of the place is undeniable.
13. Real wildlife experiences
Sri Lanka is a wildlife paradise, with lots of species of monkeys, lizards, wild elephants and even leopard calling the ‘Teardrop Isle’ home!