INSIDE SRI LANKA A monthly insider’s report by Royston Ellis, January 2016

Butterflies Galore

Sri Lanka’s wildlife is a bonus for visitors who visit the island on holiday. It’s not just the mainstream attractions like the Yala National Park, renowned for its elephants and leopards, or the bird sanctuaries to give twitchers palpitations, there are also less publicised creatures to amaze the causal watcher. Particularly the country’s extraordinary variety of butterflies.


A collection of butterflies is called a “kaleidoscope” and it’s an appropriate name for the changing colours of Sri Lanka’s beautiful butterflies , of which there are 245 different types.


Sri Lanka’s butterflies are the insects of legend. It is said that on certain days all the butterflies in the island form a kaleidoscope and flutter off towards Adam’s Peak, never to be seen again.…

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Red Dot INSIDE SRI LANKA A monthly insider’s report by Royston Ellis, December 2015.

Christmas presents
Even though it’s hot and sunny in Sri Lanka at Christmas, unlike in Europe, the season is properly commemorated. Midnight mass is celebrated in the country’s churches (some seven per cent of the population is Christian) and, Christmas day being a public holiday, people of all faiths enjoy camaraderie, on the beach or in their homes.


In the run up to Christmas, Colombo follows Christian capitals with carols being played ceaseless in the city’s stores, and shop windows decorated with cotton wool snow and faux fir trees hung with pretend presents. It’s the time when visitors find it hard to resist shopping for souvenirs to take home.…

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Red Dot INSIDE SRI LANKA A monthly insider’s report by Royston Ellis, November 2015.

Mining For Gems

The mining of precious stones in Sri Lanka seems to be as old as the country itself. The tales of ancient mariners about their visits to the island frequently mention the “jewels of Serendib” telling of “the sapphires, topazes, amethysts, garnets and other costly stones of Ceylon.”


One of the many names for Sri Lanka was Ratnadipa, island of gems. A great ruby given to the Queen of Sheba by King Solomon is said to have come from the island. A gem adorning the Ruwanwelisaya Dagoba at Anuradhpura was described in 1293 by Marco Polo as ‘a flawless ruby a span long and quite as thick as a man’s arm.’ The crown of the British monarch contains a 400-carat blue sapphire known as ‘Blue Belle’ that was mined in the then Ceylon.…

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INSIDE SRI LANKA A monthly insider’s report by Royston Ellis, October 2015.

Collecting Ceylon
Ceylon ceased to exist in 1972 when the island’s name became Sri Lanka, 24 years after obtaining Independence from Britain in 1948. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the country officially becoming part of the British Empire in 1815, but there are no commemorations of that. However, there are many collectable items that reflect the character of Ceylon – a name that still exists even today. There is the Bank of Ceylon, and I pay my electricity bill each month to the Ceylon Electricity Board.


The very name of Ceylon conjures up the tropical mystique, salubrious climate, tea-clad hills, jungle wilderness, rivers and waterfalls, majestic elephants, broad sandy beaches lapped by the surf of the Indian Ocean, glorious colourful pageants, and the serenity of a tranquil lifestyle.…

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