Explore Koneswaram Kovil – The Temple from a Legend!

The temple is known as Thirukonamalai Konesar and is what gave the city its name “Trincomalee.” It’s one of the most sacred medieval temples for the Hindu devotees. It sits atop Swami Rock, also known as Konamalai and has been referred to in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. During its golden age, it was known as the Rome of the Gentiles.

File:Spiritual 16.jpg

Shamli071, Spiritual 16, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Ravana Connection

The Ramayana tells of the temple being patronised by Ravana the legendary king of Lanka and his mother who was a pious devotee of Shiva. Legend has it that Ravana was attempting to lift the temple and take it to his mother after she fell ill and could no longer visit the temple, but the god in anger made Ravana trip and he dropped his sword where it created the cut on the cliff face which is known to this day Ravana’s Cleft.

The Temple of a Thousand Pillars

The temple was said to consist of a thousand golden pillars and richly decorated thanks to the generosity of the Chola dynasties and after them the Pandayan kings. The temple contains carvings that date back as far as the 5th century.

The Colonial Desolation

The temple can be visited today with a short drive through Fort Frederick from any of the resorts in Trincomalee. However, the present temple was reconstructed recently after the old temple was shoved off the cliff into the sea by Portuguese invaders. Arranging a tour with a resort like Trinco Blu by Cinnamon will give visitors some background to what they will be seeing.

The Ancient City of Sigiriya – The Engineering Wonder of the Old World

One of the most popular historic sites in Sri Lanka, Sigiriya was named a UNESCO Heritage Site and is a brief capital of a tragic king who ruled during the 5th century.

Image result for sigiriya

Sevenryder, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0

A Brief History

The fortress and city surrounding the rock was built around the 5th century by Kashyapa who became king after murdering his father as he had no legitimate claim for the throne being the son of a concubine even though he was the eldest.

He left the capital Anuradhapura behind for fear that his half-brother would seek revenge. He made sure the fortress was impenetrable with fortified walls, moats and a network of waterways that would flood the city and make it impassable.

When his half-brother did come, Kashyapa met him outside of the fortress in battle and died by falling on his sword. How it got to that is shrouded in mystery.

Sigiriya was lost to history after that and was only discovered in the early 1800s. Kashyapa’s rule though it lasted no more than 11 years made the city the spectacle it is today, even in ruins.

Tips to Remember

Sigiriya can be accessed from two small cities nearby; Dambulla and Habarana; each with a drive less than 30 minutes. The site belongs to the Cultural Triangle and is a celebrated area by both tourists and locals in Sri Lanka. Resort hotels have come up in the area to cater to the many tourists. One of the closer resorts is Habarana Village by Cinnamon.

See the Best of Colombo in a Day – Enriching Adventures in Sri Lanka

For starters, Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, Colombo, has so much to see, you should ideally spend more than a day here! But, if you only have one day, here’s what to add to your itinerary.

File:Colombo sunset skyline Jul 2016.jpg

dronepicr, Colombo sunset skyline Jul 2016, CC BY 2.0

Colombo Fort

A bustling area which offers some bargaining shopping too, Colombo Fort is easy to reach be you staying at a budget or luxury hotel Colombo has to offer. Within its maze of streets, you will find all manner of shops and pavement vendors selling everything from clothes and mobile phones to fresh fruits and sweets.

Gangaramaya Temple

To soak up some culture, head to the Gangaramaya Temple located near Beira Lake and around a five minute drive from Cinnamon Grand Colombo. This sacred Buddhist site features a mix of architectural styles and also has a fascinating museum with an eclectic array of statues and items given as gifts.

Independence Square

One of Colombo’s most popular spots for recreation and relaxation, Independence Square is also home to the Independence Memorial Hall which is worth a visit. You can spend time exploring the area, enjoying bike rides or indulging in some retail therapy at the adjoining Arcade Independence Square mall.

Galle Face Green

The ideal place to end the day, Galle Face Green is a public space beside the ocean where one can just unwind, fly kites or even have a family picnic. There’s a small stretch of shore if you want to get your feet wet in the waves, while you can also try some of Colombo’s famous street food here including “kottu roti”.

 

 

The Maldives Travel Guide – What To See, Do, Costs, & Ways To Save

A Maldives vacation does not always have to be an expensive holiday that empties your wallet. To know how you can plan a great holiday, read on.

Image result for Maldives

Priyaflorenceshah, Gangway at Medhufushi Island Resort in the Maldives, CC BY-SA 4.0

Places to Explore

Once you land in the Maldives, you will probably go right to your resort island unless you choose to stay in Male. Many a beach resort in Maldives the likes of Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives have their own island spaces and private beaches for your joy. At the end of your holiday, you could look around Male before you board your flight back home.

Things to do

Known for its wide range of water sports offered, Maldives is not short of activities for you to partake in while on a holiday there. From scuba diving to jet skiing, kayaking and dolphin watching, there are things to do for all kinds of vacationers.

Costs

The Maldives is quite an expensive place to holiday at, and you must keep in mind that food and drinks on the islands are imported and are, therefore, costlier too. To get the full benefit of a cheaper Maldivian vacation, try to visit during the offseason, as you will find more deals then.

Ways to Save

When booking accommodation, go for the full board packages including food as easting out when in the Maldives can be quite a costly adventure. You will likely get the same yummy Maldivian food right at your hotel buffet every morning.

 

In the Hills of Sri Lanka’s Tea Country – A Perfect Cuppa!

The city of Kandy, compared to other cities in Sri Lanka, still maintains a firm grip on its past of kings and traditions. It was after all, resilient, withstanding the onslaughts of the Portuguese and the Dutch finally succumbing to the British colonial rule with the expulsion of the last king.

File:Rocky cliff,hill country Sri lanka.jpg

Sathis Jayasundara, Rocky cliff,hill country Sri lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0

The City in Rain

Kandy has a very tightly packed city centre despite being the second biggest city in Sri Lanka after Colombo. It is one of the cities that is navigable even when it is raining. The rain adds a sheen of mystery to the city and covers it in a comfortable and cold mist.

The Lake, the Gardens, the Palace

Staying at any of the hotels in Kandy Sri Lanka will put you in very close vicinity to the Kandy Lake which is a small man-made lake in the middle of the city with a very bloody history. You will also be able to visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic which is set in the middle of the former palace and the expansive Royal Botanical Gardens which are about a 15-minute drive from each other.

Tea All Around

Stay at a hotel like Cinnamon Citadel Kandy and tour the many tea estates around the city. The tea museum and Loolecondera; which is the first estate in the country are places that should be part of any itinerary. Have a cup of tea and meet a planter to understand all the work that goes into making the perfect cuppa.

 

Most Thrilling Wildlife Safaris in Sri Lanka – Become one with nature!

Sri Lanka is home to a variety of flora and fauna and thus the nation places considerable emphasis on protecting its fragile and pristine natural ecosystems. One of the best ways to explore its natural beauty is by joining Wildlife Safaris. Read on to know about few of them.

Safari in Srilanka | Amila Tennakoon | Flickr

Yala Wildlife Safari

Composed of light forest, brackish lagoons, and grassy regions, Yala is one of Sri Lanka’s most sought-after nature reserves. The national park is home to a plethora of mammals including the elusive Sri Lankan leopard that is endemic to the country. You could witness these magnificent creatures up close and personal by signing up for a safari here.

Wilpattu national park safari

This park is located in the northwestern regions of the island and it is home to a large population of Sri Lankan elephants. Visitors could also see a variety of antelopes, deer and rare animals such as the Sri Lankan sloth bear during their safari tour.

Ocean Safaris

Since the country is located in the middle of a whale and dolphin migration route, there are a lot of whale and dolphin watching charters around the country. Seeing these magnificent creatures up close and personal in their natural habitat is something that is worth spending money on and it is not that expensive either.

Other safari tour experiences

There are a lot more safari experiences that you can partake during your time in Sri Lanka; there are rainforest, marshland and river safaris. You can select between these experience by choosing a travel operator for your Sri Lanka Wildlife Tours the likes of Cinnamon Nature Trails who bring in these experiences as packages which also includes your accommodation as well as your meals.

The best of Melbourne – The city you simply must experience

When planning your trip to the great city of Melbourne, you need to prepare yourself to spend a lot of time out and about. Here are a few tips to help you plan your days here.

Image result for Melbourne

Bidgee, Melbourne CBD 2008, CC BY 3.0

Queen Victoria Market
Loud and packed, this open-air market was opened in 1878, but is surprisingly still with the times! It’s popular among locals and tourists alike and is definitely a must-visit when you drop by at Melbourne. The market is closed Mondays and Wednesdays, and during summer and winter, be sure to visit the Night Markets that are held every Wednesday. Just 5 minutes from Avani Central Melbourne Residences is where you’ll find this infamous market!

Great Ocean Road
If you’re looking to reconnect with the ocean, then a drive down Ocean Road is ideal for you. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Victoria – enjoy undisturbed views of nature and the sea. It’s a four-hour ride without any stops, so make sure you’re geared up for the long ride!

Explore Melbourne’s cafes!
Melbourne is famous for coffee, so energize yourself with coffee when you’re here! If you’re based at any of the Broadbeach hotels, you won’t be disappointed as there are plenty of cafes around this area!

World-class shopping
The city of Melbourne is truly a shopper’s paradise, another reason to visit! The biggest shopping centre, Chadstone Shopping Centre is located 20 minutes from the city centre. A free shuttle bus service runs hourly from the city centre to Chadstone, so you don’t have to worry about getting there!

 

Getting up close with elephants – Witness these majestic beasts

Everyone that witnesses an elephant is truly fascinated by these majestic beings and their intelligent behaviour. As one of the few remaining megaherbivores on the planet, elephants hold great national value as a major tourist attraction. There are numerous places to see elephants in the country, listed below are a few.

Image result for Udawalawe

Mstyslav Chernov, Bathing elephants. Udawalawe National Park. Sri Lanka, CC BY-SA 3.0

Udawalawe
Declared a national park in 1972 and spanning 30,800 hectares, Udawalawe is home to roughly 500 elephants and other animals. A former teak plantation, they graze in scattered herds in the grasslands amongst the remaining teak trees. There’s an elephant orphanage nearby, where you’ll find injured or abandoned elephants being cared for, after which they’re released into the park.

Minneriya
Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1938 to protect the Minneriya tank and wildlife of the surrounding area, you’ll find between 150 to 200 elephants roaming the park from July to August. In the dry season, an event is known as the ‘elephant gathering’ occurs and is a great opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to observe the social behaviour of the elephants in the wild. Just a 30-minute drive from Habarana Village by Cinnamon, a rather well-known Sri Lanka Resort, Minneriya is ideal for those looking to get a glimpse of these beasts in their natural habitat.

Pinnawala
Located in the central hills, this elephant orphanage was established in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Abandoned and disabled wild elephants get care and protection at this special place that spreads across 24 acres. You can observe elephants bathing, as they play and splash around.

Rock Climbing in Tioman – Scaling Dragon Horns in Paradise

Often regarded as a beach paradise for the masses Malaysia’s Tioman Island is also an activity hub that is not just reserved for water sports lovers. Rock climbers in particular will find the rugged rock faces of the island an enticing opportunity to engage in their favorite activity while vacationing in a Tioman island resort. Rock climbers heading to Tioman Island know that the principle mountainous area in the island is Gunung Nenek Semukut which is accessible for those based in the Berjaya Tioman Resort and other hospitality hubs in the area.

Famously dubbed the Dragon Horns engaging in rock climbing activities in Gunung Nenek Semukut is an awe inspiring experience but visitors should be aware that scaling this mammoth rock face is strictly for professional or seasoned rock climbers with experience in making such a challenging climb. The first attempt at climbing the seemingly insurmountable mountain saw Scotty Nelson and Nick Tomlin brave the challenge back in the year 2000. The mountain which is also known as the “Twin Peaks” or the “Twin Towers” the Dragon Horns are reputed to be the lengthiest rock climbing surface in Southeast Asia and the Malaysian Peninsula’s only big climbing wall. Those who wish to experience more accessible rock climbing encounters while in Tioman can head to Kg. Nipah which offers bouldering and slab wall climbing opportunities aplenty. Located near a beach the area is easy to navigate for fans of sports climbing and sandstone climbing challenges. The 30m climb can be achieved with nearly a dozen bolts. The area boasts 20 routes for sports climbers while throwing in a few 2-3 pitches trails as well.
Climbing instructors are available in villages and other areas of the island and those who wish to scale limestone cliffs will be spoiled for choice when it comes to the variety of rock climbing surfaces littering Tioman Island.

Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world. Google+

7 Awesome things to do in Colombo – Brighten Up in Colombo

Colombo, the illustrious and historically important commercial capital of Sri Lanka has a myriad of attractions for every tourist and resident. The Sri Lankan hospitality is much spoken of and respected, tour the streets and you will see how many people dine out; host guests for lunch, tea, and dinner even on weekdays and how upbeat the whole city is in spite of the sultry weather and the terrible traffic jams. Colombo hotels exemplify the level of luxury and warmth the Sri Lankans are accustomed to and offer a plethora of services that capture the interest of the locals who wish to unwind and the foreigners who want to bask in comfort.
Spas and ayurvedic treatment in Colombo are great revivers after extensive sunbathing and shopping. Spa Ceylon which is adjacent to Cinnamon Grand Colombo or Siddhalepa Ayurveda Spa is two hot picks with excellent massages and wellness routines. A visit to the monumental Independence Square, a jog around the area and a short stop at the resplendent Independence Arcade Shopping Precinct is a good combination of relaxing activities in a greener and more beautiful part of the city. Awaken the spiritual part of you by visiting the Gangaramaya Temple or the ancient Valukaramaya Temple, both of which are dedicated to Buddhist devotion. The brass carvings and memorabilia in the former and the murals in the latter bear testimony to the rich Buddhist heritage of the country.
Catch some action at SSC or Keththarama where cricket matches are hosted; the thought of watching the enthusiastic Sri Lankans cheer their home team to victory should be as compelling as the wonderful stroke play and bowling themselves. Does a quiet sunny afternoon on the beach interrupted only by the rumbling of a train or a loud and vibrant night on the same beach sound intriguing? Then Mount Lavinia is the place to be; mouth-watering seafood, BBQs, Chinese food, DJ music, dancing out on the sand and stepping out to wet your toes with ocean waves are all on the cards in this part of the world.
If you are in a hurry but still want to see as much of Colombo as possible, hop aboard a City Tour bus as it cruises through the streets to show you some of the finest buildings, parks, and venues of the city. The Vihara Maha Devi Park and the long stretch of art and paintings on the road bordering it are two others to be penned down in the To Do list. The gardens come alive with kids, parents, ice cream, and candy floss vendors in the evenings but is a quiet refuge in the mornings and afternoons for a stroll or to a read a book. The art and paintings on display along the street are colourful and reasonably priced; the artists themselves can be found there often and bespoke creations can be done, rolled up and taken wherever you wish.

Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+