Major tourist hot spots in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, crowned as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is home to some of the finest spectacles of natural beauty known to mankind. An island considered to be en route to paradise, surrounded by both the Indian Ocean and the mystique of an enduring and diverse history -- fascinates both the eyes and soul.

Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences all in their own time have converged in the present day to leave a markedly distinct cultural flavor and experience; only to be found in countries with a colorful and impassioned past.

The history, of which there is much to see in the vast array of architecture, museums and galleries, has all been forged, however, against a common background -- one of sheer natural beauty. A landscape unerring, unfaltering and uncompromising in its ability to inspire awe.

The undulating terrain provides spectacular views of the iridescent ocean and the teeming land, offering unique vantage points such as Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in the hill country.

Mountains shrouded in mist, cascading waterfalls as luminous as glass and tea gardens to invigorate the senses can all be found within moments. From the plains in Nuwara Eiliya to the mountains of Knukles, the sense of excitement to be felt at the wonder of such a world is unwavering.

A tropical climate all year round ensures that a colorfully dense population of flora and fauna inhabit this jewel island. Testament to this is the fact that Sri Lanka has the highest biodiversity per 10,000 square km in the whole of Asia, with many species endemic to the land.

In no way an exhaustive list, the country for example has four species of wild cat, with the leopard the largest of them, five species of deer, over 400 species of bird, 60 species of fish, five species of sea turtle, 25 species of whales and dolphins, and elephants and monkeys to boot.

The Yala National Park is most famous for spotting leopards with the highest population of the cat in Asia. There are plenty of other national parks, such as Wasgamuwa, Kumana, Wilpattu, Uda Walawe and newly opened Chundilulm bird sanctuary, all providing rare glimpses into the lives and habits of nature's most beautiful creatures.

In addition to the breathtaking external environment, Sri Lanka also offers a sanctuary for the soul outside of what its natural world can do for you. Ayurveda is popularly practiced, a traditional form of medicine originating in India, literally meaning the complete knowledge for long life.

The capital city Colombo is a wonder in itself. The city is majestically situated on the shores of the Indian Ocean, and while it has the bustling vibe of a vibrant, emerging metropolis, the ambience is one of relative calm and composure when compared to other capital cities of the region.

Scattered with Buddhist temples, churches, Hindu temples and mosques, it sets an example for religious and cultural diversity.

Moreover religious and cultural festivities have adorned the beauty of Sri Lankan life for centuries.

Religious celebrations such as Kandy Esala Perahera, Vesak Festival and Sinhala, together with festivals of art, music and culture including Southeast Asia's biggest literary event Galle Literary Festival ensure that the spirit of festivity is alive all year round.

Sports and adventure is another exhilarating dimension to the country. Surfing, rafting, air-ballooning golf, cricket and other soft sports and adventures like mountain climbing, trekking, cycling, canopying are some of the popular activities available to those who relish a chance to tackle the great outdoors.