Where is Sri Lanka On the Map?

Sunday, July 21, 2019

These days, many people still ask the question of where is Sri Lanka. Although very popular among travelers, Sri Lanka remains hidden and neglected for many.  But this “drop of tear” (as the country is shaped) is catching up. People know it for spices, coconut, and the most important, tea. Yes, Tea!

You may be a fan of Ceylon Tea or heard about it for sure. Ceylon is the old name of Sri Lanka. But there is more in those mysterious Sri Lanka regions. There are forests, there are mountains, and there are beaches. And it’s all accessible in a short time in this small island country.

So, would you now like to know where is Sri Lanka located and what to do there?

Where is Sri Lanka?

Where is Sri Lanka on the map? It's so near to India, you could actually row a boat there.
Where is Sri Lanka on the map? It's so near to India, you could actually row a boat there.

Sri Lanka is an island nation just off the southeast coast of India. If it hasn’t been for the international borders, you could row a boat there and also, row back to Indian land. The country itself is small, and you may not need to dedicate your entire holiday to traverse through the Sri Lanka length and breadth.

In the morning, you might be marveling at the Sigiriya frescoes and ruins in the north, and by the evening, you could be exploring the wet zone in Sri Lanka, south. And in those green hilly terrains, you will find some exotic flora and fauna of Sri Lanka. Then, there are many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka apart from Sigiriya mentioned above.

But if you aren’t fond of those, there is one thing which sure would make Sri Lanka a candidate for your next tourist destination. And it’s the gorgeous beaches of this unexplored land. Wherever you’re in Sri Lanka, you can find the sands nearby.

So, should we explore Sri Lanka now? You may find something new there.

Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

What are the best places to visit in Sri Lanka?
What are the best places to visit in Sri Lanka?

Now that you know where is Sri Lanka, I think it would be just perfect to learn about a few places that you should visit during your stay!

Also, make sure to check out this list of 5 places you shouldn't miss in Sri Lanka!

1) Kandy

The sacred Temple of the Tooth is located in Kandy.

Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka. Surrounded by hills, it is both scenic beauty and among the important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka. Sri Dalada Maligwa (or the Temple of the Tooth) is a religious site in Kandy, where a tooth of Buddha is placed in a casket. Locals come here to pray, and the place also sees a lot of tourists.

Nearby is the Kandy Lake, in the heart of the city. The Royal Botanical Garden would be the next in the list to get a glimpse of the impressive Sri Lanka flora. And if you’re more of a nature walker, you can observe the vegetation of Sri Lanka there.

Kandy boasts of numerous spice farms around and also rubber and tea plantations.

2) Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is a city of great historical importance to Sri Lanka.

A place of historical importance in Sri Lanka is the sacred city of Anuradhapura. It has been a massive ancient city, most of which is now in ruins. It has the signs of the advanced civilization back then and also, is the home to many Buddhist archaeological relics. And the whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sri Maha Bodhiya, the sacred Bodhi tree would be the first place to visit. It is under this fig tree that Siddhartha Gautama sought enlightenment and found Buddhism after. Scattered nearby are the other notable sites of Buddhist pilgrimage. The prominent ones are Thuparamaya, Ruwanwelisaya, Lankaramaya, Lovamahapaya, and Jetavanaramaya.

The list doesn’t end here, and around those Buddhist monuments, you will also find many statues, ponds, and gardens in and around Anuradhapura.

3) Polonnaruwa

The Royal Palace ruins in Polonnaruwa.

After Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa is another place of historical and religious importance in Sri Lanka. Although this UNESCO World Heritage Site is in ruins, the area serves as a remembrance of the beauty and grandeur back then.

The first would be the well-spread ruins of the Royal Palace. And the next one is the site popular as the sacred Quadrangle. Then, there is Gal Vihara. It’s one of the tourist attractions which has many statues of Buddha in various mudras (positions) carved on a large rock. The reclining Buddha statue is the largest among them.

There also is the Parakrama Samudraya, a large water reservoir which dates back to 1200 AD.

4) Dambulla

Inside the Dambulla cave temple.

Although there isn’t a lot of places to see or things to do in Dambulla, there is this famous cave temple. The Dambulla cave temple history dates back to first century AD and is in the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites. This cave temple is a symbol of beauty, religion, and architecture.

Along the walls of the cave are various statues of Buddha, and on its ceiling, you will find aesthetic murals. Another place of historical significance nearby is Sigiriya. In Sigiriya, Sri Lanka has got a one of its kind rock fortress.

Now, there only are the ruins of the kingdom on a high rock, accessible through a flight of stairs. The remains of the ponds, gardens and the frescoed walls though, still portray the magnificence of the Palace.

5) Colombo

The Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

Oh, did I tell you where is Sri Lanka’s capital? It’s here in Colombo, and it’s one of the most beautiful places Sri Lanka has. Along with an active nightlife, Colombo also has quite a few monuments and spots to visit. Among the most picturesque is the Galle Face Green, a long strip of greenery alongside the sea.

It’s a place popular among the locals, and you can also try some Sri Lankan street food there. Other places to visit in Colombo are the Dutch Museum, the National Museum, and the splendid Viharamahadevi Park. 

A tiny fact – Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital of Sri Lanka. But being in close proximity, both places are referred to as the Sri Lankan capital interchangeably.

Check out more ideas on what to do in Colombo!

6) Galle

The Galle Fort.

The southwestern town of Galle has been a favorite among the Colonial powers. Each of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British fortified and developed it to their taste and the Galle Fort stands there as an eye-witness to their activities.

The sea facing fort is worth a visit, and another place worth mentioning is the old lighthouse. It serves as an excellent place for an Instagrammable picture. A few kilometers away from Galle, is the small beach town Mirissa. The beaches there serve as a perfect place to be in the lap of nature. The highlights of Mirissa, though, are the whale-watching and dolphin-watching boat rides.

Hikkaduwa beach party events are equally popular among the locals. It’s another place near Galle known for its surfing-friendly beaches.

7) Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya is a paradise for nature lovers.

Among the many Sri Lanka beautiful places, Nuwara Eliya is a paradise for the nature lovers. There are waterfalls, alluring Sri Lanka plants, tea plantations and fields. The Nuwara Eliya strawberry farms offer visually pleasing scenes, especially when the shrubs there bear the fruits.

Then there is a botanical garden, Lover's Leap waterfall, Gregory Lake and Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya has to offer. The city of Nuwara Eliya is like an old-school English town and is aptly nicknamed Little England.

And there also is a golf course.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

There are many interesting things to do in Sri Lanka.

There are quite a few interesting places to visit in Sri Lanka, aren't there? But, what are the best activities that Sri Lanka can offer you? Here are some tips for you!

1) Snorkeling in Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa has some amazing beaches and snorkeling opportunities.

The Sri Lankan south coast is heaven for the surfers, and the Hikkaduwa beaches are famous for the water activities in Sri Lanka. And equally scenic is snorkeling down in the blue waters.

There is a coral sanctuary down there. And, it’s a spectacular experience with the aquatic life. You can watch beautiful coral formations, colorful fishes, and a lot of turtles carrying on their daily schedule.

And the Hikkaduwa nightlife and beach parties are equally fun. So, put Hikkaduwa in your travel calendar when you visit Sri Lanka. Now that you know where is Sri Lanka, I believe that time is coming soon.

2) Hiking in Ella

Ella is an amazing destination if you enjoy hiking!

Sri Lanka has a lot of opportunities for active travelers, and hiking is one of them. You can trek through the tea plantations and many other Sri Lanka nature places like the scenic Knuckles Mountain Range in Kandy.

But the hike towards Adam’s Peak in Ella is sure to make you go gaga. There isn’t a lot of climbing, and the paths are well-laid, taking you through the tea plantations. And from the top, you can experience the magnificent green mountains and mesmerizing sunset. You can even get to watch the magical sunrise if you want to go hiking at night.

Those amazing 360-degree views are bound to make your Sri Lanka trip memorable. But stay safe!

3) Climb to the Sigiriya Fortress

Sigirya Fortress is located on this rock that is 200 meters above the land below.

I mentioned the rock fortress at Sigiriya, right? But did I tell you that the fort is more than 200 meters above the nearby land? It’s on a huge rock and reaching there isn’t for the faint-hearted. But when you are there, the view is just magnificent.

The Lion Rock Fortress, as it’s called, has been a royal palace and also, a Buddhist monastery. The walls are adorned with paintings and the gardens and ponds well-laid, high above the ground. So, if you’re an art enthusiast, climbing to Sigiriya fortress is one of the things you shouldn’t miss in Sri Lanka.

“The most effective way to do it is to do it.”
– Amelia Earhart

4) A drive along the coast

Doing a road trip in Sri Lanka will provide you with an authentic experience.

The southern and the south-western coast of Sri Lanka is surfers’ paradise. There is absolutely no doubt in that, but equally scenic is the drive through the coastal towns.

From Galle to Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna and the others around is a beautiful opportunity for a bike trip. The beaches are lined with palm trees and the towns, colorful and gorgeous in their ways. This trip is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka, exploring the culture of Sri Lanka alongside. Even cruising from Colombo to Galle, passing through Bentota, is something you won’t forget.

Make sure to check out Adrian's road trip through Sri Lanka!

5) Wheeling through the Yala National Park

Yala National Park is a great safari opportunity!

Near the south-eastern coast of Sri Lanka are the massive grasslands turned into a National Park. The Yala National Park is filled with Sri Lanka wildlife, and you can see them all on a four-wheel drive. The jeep safari takes you among the elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, and you can also spot the protected leopards, easily. 

This is the place with the highest density of leopards in the world, and you can watch them in their natural habitat, up close. And the park is also home to numerous birds.

6) Go back into time with a train ride

A train ride in Sri Lanka is a true trip to the past.

Riding a train is something you must experience in Sri Lanka. They aren’t the high-speed ones found around the world, but their slow speed and the views they offer, make them unique.

Among all the rides around the mountains and valleys, the journey between Kandy and Ella is made to take your breath away. Passing through the mountains at its own pace, giving you plenty of time to savor the greenery around is a one-off experience.

Then, there is the luxury Viceroy Special train. It’s a privately chartered train run by a 75-year old steam engine. So, if you want to travel through the hills of Sri Lanka luxuriously, get the Viceroy Special booked before someone else does.

Sri Lankan Food – Eating in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan food offers plenty of vegetarian dishes.
Sri Lankan food offers plenty of vegetarian dishes.

Unlike many other Asian countries, when it comes to Sri Lankan food, vegetarian dishes are in plenty. There’s everyone’s favorite spicy dhal (lentil) curry, and then, there is the wambatu moju (a pickled eggplant dish). The spicy polos (jackfruit) curry receives equal love from the people of Sri Lanka.

Here is everything you should know about Sri Lankan food!

They love their curries, both veg, and non-veg, and along with rice, it forms the staple food of Sri Lanka. And all those curries contain coconut milk, making them thicker and also, adding flavor.

Lamprais is enjoyed throughout Sri Lanka.

Among the non-vegetarian curries, there is the sour fish curry, fish ambul thiyal, and kukul mas, chicken curry Sri Lanka is known for. Another dish which many Sri Lankans love is lamprais. It’s made up of rice, meat, spices and other vegetables wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed together.

Where is Sri Lanka, you will find Kottu Roti everyewhere!

And talking about Sri Lankan street food, the kottu roti is popular just everywhere. It’s made of fried roti (flatbread) chopped into pieces and mixed with a variety of spices, sauces, vegetables, and pieces of meat. You can spot a kottu stall near, just by hearing that unique clanking of metals.

Where is Sri Lanka, you may try their awesome green salad.

Oh, I missed the green salad, gotu kola mallum sambola. It’s a mixture of shredded green veggies, grated coconut, chilies, salt, and pepper. And if you have a sweet tooth, go and try the watalapan. It’s an egg custard, steamed along with jaggery, coconut, and spices like cinnamon and cardamom.

Kiribath is rice cooked with coconut milk.

Another Sri Lankan dessert is kiribath (rice cooked with coconut milk) which is served like cake slices. People eat it with jaggery, but many also love its salty version with chili sauce.

Well, that would be all to excite your taste buds, and I hope you now, know where is Sri Lanka, very well. So, would you like to book the tickets? Check out next how to go to Sri Lanka.

How to reach Sri Lanka?

The best way to reach Sri Lanka is by air.
The best way to reach Sri Lanka is by air.

Although there have been a few ferry services from India to reach Sri Lanka by water, the only way to enter Sri Lanka now is by air. Colombo Airport has good connectivity with the countries in Europe, the Middle East, and other Asian countries.

So, if you can’t find a direct flight to Sri Lanka, you can easily find one via India or Thailand. By the way, you may be able to find some luxury cruises which would stop in Sri Lanka. So, there still are chances that you can go to Sri Lanka by sea.

Sri Lanka had its fair share of violence and tumultuous political conditions, but now, it’s getting prepared for you. It’s a land of natural beauty, friendly people, and varied cuisine.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

Get yourself in and enjoy a trip like never before.

Abhijeet Kumar a freelance content writer for aSabbatical.com
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.