Tea Time
It’s a bit too early to put the kettle on but if you like tea then there are lots of events associated with tea being held in Sri Lanka in 2017. That’s to celebrate tea’s sesquicentennial based on it being 150 years since James Taylor, from Scotland, planted the first field of tea seedlings near Kandy. This led to the export to England of tea grown in the then Ceylon, thereby creating the great tea industry that made the colony self-sufficient and helped pay for much of its infrastructural development.

 

By coincidence, 1867 was a momentous year for Sri Lanka. As well as the first planting of tea, the first railway engine steamed into Kandy that year. (The locomotive was a 4-4-0 type two wheel, coupled engine with a tender, built by in England by R Stephenson & Co. It remained in service until 1926.) The railways and tea developed in tandem as trains provided the means to get tea to port for shipment overseas, and tea provided the freight that made the railways profitable.

 

One-of-the-first-trains-used-for-carrying-tea

Jaffna Permit

Following the news last month of the Jaffna Peninsula being connected to the rest of Sri Lanka by train as a result of the completion of the re-laying of the railway track to Jaffna station after a break of two decades, restrictions on foreigners visiting Jaffna have been re-introduced.

It is still possible for foreigners to visit Jaffna (by road, air or rail) but all foreign passport holders (regardless of whether they are of Sri Lankan origin) are required to obtain permission from the Secretary, Ministry of Defence & Urban Development. The request must be made at least five working days before the proposed journey.

A modern monument in Jaffna welcoming visitors is this charming statue of a Hindu god located at Maruthanar Madham. In Jaffna this god is known as Anjaneyar who, according to legend, searched for Sita for Rama and later found her in Sri Lanka.

Jolly green giant god

Jolly green giant god

Best of the West

From October to March, the beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka are the best. Whether you like broad strands of sand to jog along at the sea’s edge, soaring waves to surf as they splash on the shore, intimate coves for private sunbathing, or beaches lined with seafood cafés and bars, the beaches along the west coast are amazing, sunny playgrounds for visitors to Sri Lanka.

 

Being so close to the Equator, Sri Lanka’s seasons are not well defined, and there is no cool winter. The main difference in seasons is caused by the monsoons and it is from October to March (as the winds blow from east to west) that the sun shines daily, the sea is calm and along the west coast the beaches are sandy.

 

The beaches begin at the Kalpitiya peninsular, embracing the Puttalam lagoon, which is emerging as an eco-compatible resort. For fun with hectic after-beach action close to the airport, Negombo is the choice. The closest beach to Colombo is at Mount Lavinia, 12km south of the city, where locals and tourists happily mingle.