Echoes of Ceylon sound in the time-blackened Brahmas and Buddhas of Sri Lanka’s heritage sites. Embedded in the landscape, not far from Pasikudah Beach, lies an enticing and enchanting array of archaeological wonders – ancient Sinhalese stories hewn in stone and written in vine-tangled forest. Take a bite of this flavourful past with guided excursions to history-laced landmarks, bold explorations into UNESCO World Heritage sites. Safari through jungles. Relish the raw-edged relics of Polonnaruwa – remnants of the royal capital. Traverse fragrant fields of tea plantations, emerald terraces strewn with gem-coloured saris – tea pickers with burgeoning baskets. Wade through the mists of Minneriya National Park for elephants, birds and nectar-drunk butterflies. At the centre of Sinhalese legend lies the ochre-coloured Lion Rock, dubbed Sigiriya. This fortified palace is scribbled with Singhalese poems and faded frescoes. Ceylonese history lingers, ready for picking, in the cinnamon fields, the strawberry patches, in the vine-ripened vermillion of mangoes.
Luxury-laden and decadence-dipped, Sun Aqua Pasikudah lies on the east Sri Lankan coastline, sapphire seas unfurling beyond. Accessible via seaplane to Batticaloa or scenic drive from the international airport or the capital of Colombo, a getaway here is devilishly indulgent, interiors draped in buttery linens, cool, contemporary spaces meeting every need. In the gardens, palms lean into the breeze and a carpet of bahia grass bends underfoot. Off shore, silver skipjack glint like lightning, flashing past reefs, wrecks and metal hulls. At Pasidukah (also known as Passikudah, Pasikuda and Passekuda), the days are drizzled in sunshine, the nights laced with laughter – a recipe for bliss.
The lush teardrop of Sri Lanka floats in cobalt waters to the south of India. The country’s east coast is tantalisingly untouched, serving up gorgeous virgin coastlines of syrup-soft sand. Sparkling water is shallow for miles, harbouring candy-coloured corals and vivid shoals of fish. In the jungles, dusty leopards straddle boughs, watching over elephants, bears and white-spotted deer. Birdlife is prolific. The silver swatches of Bundala’s wetlands burst with flamingo flocks, with hungry spoonbills picking through reeds. From the frost-whipped peaks of Nuwara Eliya to the velvet greens of Galle, Sri Lanka is a layer cake of culture, tropical wilderness at its heart.