To embrace you with enthusiasm, To celebrate you with fervour, To hope for the best, To strive harder, To anticipate great results, To accept failure with a smile, To persevere even more, To meet new people, To let go of some old.
I am ready✨
To accept whatever you bring on, Continue testing my grit. To build more castles, And, see the wind blow. To enjoy the joyride, Jerkier and not any smoother. To be with you 365 days, Thankful for whatever you do.
I am ready✨
To follow your commands, Like an ally. Be faithful, Pray you never say goodbye. My gratitude to you, For being by my side. Giving me an opportunity, To see yet another sunrise.
I am ready✨
Not because something is changed, But, it’s just another year, And you have been kind, Not to keep me refrained.
What all you need to know. The places I covered and my recommendations
Sri Lanka is known for its rich Buddhist culture, beautiful temples and landscapes, rich flora-fauna, nice beaches and most importantly its religious and historical significance. Sri Lanka has an old-world charm with Buddhist temples and monasteries, places of historical importance and then it has a quirky side too which has more beaches, resorts and party places. It has humongous opportunities for travellers because it is vast. I planned this trip for a week in January, around a long weekend. There’s nothing that I do not love about Sri Lanka right from people to homestays to places I visited, food and just everything.
Sri Lanka has a rich diversity. The country has a population of 2,18,03,000 (as of 2019). Here in this blog, I will be sharing my idea behind travelling to this exquisite pearl-shaped destination in South Asia, formerly known as Ceylon and the itinerary to help you plan your trip.
How did I Go About Planning My Trip to Sri Lanka
I wanted to explore a budget-friendly destination outside India, and Sri Lanka topped the list. You must know that 1 Indian Rupee (INR) is 2.66 Sri Lankan Rupee (SLR). The second important thing to be considered is the Visa process. Sri Lanka accepts Visa on Arrival. You can obtain the Sri Lanka e-Visa valid for 30 days for a short vacation or business trip. It’s a simple process to avail it. You can directly apply at www.eta.gov.lk/ or take third-party assistance. A tourist visa with double entry for 30 days validity is approx. INR 1, 500.
Booking the Flights~Srilankan Airlines
I believe in planning my trips in advance, especially when travelling to a new destination. So, I booked the flight tickets much in advance. I booked my tickets from Srilankan Airlines in August for the January trip. The airfare from New Delhi to Colombo, Bandaranayke airport was approx. INR 7,000 inclusive of taxes and almost the same for the return flight.
Booking on Airbnb
Being a nature lover, I prefer the countryside over city life. Beautiful landscapes allure me more than the cityscapes. If you too like the same, you must read further. People of our likings mistakenly plan to start exploring Sri Lanka from Colombo. I did the opposite. Here is how I planned my stay:
2N/ 3D in Hikkaduwa
2N/3D in Kandy
2N/1D in Mihintale
1D in Colombo
I prefer eco-friendly resorts more than hotels; Airbnb is my preferred choice. All my Sri Lanka bookings were via Airbnb. My total stay expense was around INR 7,000 for six nights (sounds amazing, right?). I booked my stay two months in advance.
Transportation in Sri Lanka
Once my flight, Visa and Stay were sorted, the next major step was to plan the transportation. Sri Lanka does not have services like Ola or Uber. Now, you might find Pick Me taxi services. They have specific parking areas in the market where you can hire them. If you have to explore this country in its entirety, you need a couple of months. I wanted to make the most of the little time I had and preferred booking a cab for the entire trip of seven days. It was the only most expensive affair during the trip. It cost us INR 30,000 approx. Taxis in Sri Lanka cost approximately INR 4500 per day ( I travelled in 2018). The larger the number of co-travellers, the smaller is the amount you pay for the transportation if you split the amount. After years of travelling, I recommend travelling by shared local public transport if you are solo or booking a cab for your entire trip. I prefer travelling solo or in small groups with like-minded people because I believe in slow travelling and absorbing the beauty of the place rather than rushing to another and aforementioned are my preferred choice of travelling.
Mobile/ Network Connectivity in Sri Lanka
It’s advisable to buy a local prepaid card the moment you land at the airport. This will be cheap than using your India number on roaming and you can connect with your loved ones back in India through Whatsapp calls. Airtel is the best buy and the internet connectivity is good.
Sri Lanka for Tourists/ Solo travellers
Sri Lanka is a warm and welcoming place for tourists. It is neat and clean. It is also safe for female travellers. However, I am telling from my personal experiences. I still would add a cautionary line for female travellers to ensure their safety by travelling during the daytime and following some safety measures irrespective of where you are (Leave in your comments if you would like to know the safety measures I usually take while travelling solo). The locals are friendly, love to interact without poking a nose in your privacy. Language can be one barrier because their native language pre-dominantly is Sinhala. Approx. 68% of Sri Lankans speak Sinhala. Despite that, they try hard to communicate in sign language or English. Some of them would also speak Hindi and some South Indian regional languages.
Places I Visited
Hikkaduwa – Hikkaduwa is a beach city in the Southwest part of the country. This place is truly a marvel. The beach was hardly a walking distance from the place I stayed. I explored beaches with deep blue water and white sand. I also enjoyed food on the sand, enjoyed the sunrise, sunsets and explored a few other places. Hikkaduwa and Bentota are the areas known for their beaches and turtle farming. It was a wonderful experience to have visited one such farm. It’s also home to other activities like Scuba Diving, Moonstone Mining and is also known to be ground zero for the most hazardous Tsunami in 2004. I also visited the Tsunami Museum here; the images and messages would leave you disheartened. Aside from this, you can also explore the local market and go shopping at throwaway prices. You can also witness coral reefs outside the Coral Sands Hotel and visit the Ambalangoda Mask Workshop and Museum, portraying the native tribes of Sri Lanka and its rich culture.
Kandy – Kandy is the second-largest city in Sri Lanka and is worth visiting. Its natural beauty, surreal sunsets, exotic mountain ranges and tea plantations would rejuvenate your soul. Sri Lanka has different sides to it. Other than the beaches, it is known for temples and train rides overseeing tea plantations and much more. At least two days are required to explore this captivating city. During your stay in Kandy, you can visit the Royal Botanical Garden holding more than 4000 species of flora. The entry fee to this garden is approx. 2000 LKR. You must not miss the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. It is divine, and you must witness the beautiful architecture and interiors. Girls must keep their arms and legs covered while visiting this temple. The best time to visit is early morning to avoid the rush and witness the legendry tooth relic of Buddha enclosed in a gorgeous bejewelled golden box. It’s one of the most important shrines with a beautiful interior. Then you also have an Elephant Orphanage in Kandy. You would get to see a herd of elephants and can feed them. It’s a popular thing in Kandy. There are other things to explore like Kandy Lake, Buddha Statue, train rides from Kandy to Ella-considered one of the most epic routes in the world.
Mihintale – It’s a beautiful mountain pilgrim site of ruins and religious monuments. The place is of great historical importance because the Buddhist Monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa, believed to have met here and brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka. It’s a peaceful place and you have to take approx.1800 steps to reach here.
Dambulla – Dambulla Rock temple, The golden temple of Dambulla and The Caves and Paintings of Dambulla are a must-visit. The beautiful construct of the cave outside and the idols of Buddha in different postures inside—meditative, relaxing, lying, preaching sermons to his disciples, are very well depicted. There’s enchanting peace. The temple is situated on a mountain top with beautiful scenery all around. The Golden temple is another pretty temple with picturesque golden gates and domes. The caves and painting enthuse a lot of positivity and energy in you.
Galle – My personal favourite, other than the beaches, is Galle. Again, the streets, the white colonial-style buildings, the brick gateways with bright bougainvillaea falling on them, wooden balconies and high ceilings make this place a visual delight. This place will remind you of French Colony in Pondicherry or Fort Kochi in Kochi but has its unique essence and charm. Situated on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, this old city was founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century. It’s truly spectacular to find stone sea walls, encircling car-free streets with architecture reflecting Portuguese, Dutch and British eras. Notable spots include a beautiful white lighthouse overseeing the Indian Ocean. It’s a breathtaking sight and this place, true to its name, is called the jewel of Sri Lanka. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The true beauty of this place can be explored on foot.
Colombo – I definitely wanted to visit Independence Square and the Arcade. Strolling around this place is one of the best things to do. The structure depicts the Independence Memorial Hall built to commemorate the independence of Sri Lanka from British rule. Then there is Independence Memorial Museum and a shopping mall in the same complex. These three comprise beautifully renovated buildings, keeping intact the original architecture, in white against the sprawling green lawns. Visit Dilmah T-lounge at the Independence Square Arcade for some Tea/ coffee mocktails. T-kitch is a must-try if you love strong tea with condensed milk and spices. Apart from this what can be explored in Colombo is The Colombo Fort and Railway Station, built-in 1917 that boasts beautiful architecture and the Red Mosque, the oldest mosque in Colombo resembling the mosques in Russia. There are also temples, churches and malls. Before reaching the airport I spent the last few hours at The Lulu Mall shopping and eating whatever I missed during my seven-day stay.
Cultural Dance and Activities in Sri Lanka
If I visit a new destination, I try to get familiar with its traditional art and culture. Other than the above destinations, I also enjoyed the popular Kandyan dance and activities by Mallawaarachchi Show in Kandy, Sri Lanka. There is a variety of Sri Lankan dances, each having its cultural relevance. The Kandyan dance is the most popular one and is performed with its regal headgears and traditional costumes. It is derived from the ancient purification ritual. The fire show was another performed art I witnessed right before the show. It is believed to be auspicious and is witnessed by hundreds of people. The entry ticket was for INR 1000 were Rs 750 was the entry fee and Rs 250 was the entertainment tax.
Food in Sri Lanka
Food the most basic needs a special mention. The food in Sri Lanka is not a challenge because you get almost everything you have in India. The taste however may differ. They mostly use coconut oil for the preparation and the food is somewhat bland. You, however, would not have a problem in finding vegetarian or non-vegetarian food and trying different cuisines like Chinese, Indian and of course Sri Lankan. Do try the authentic Sri Lankan food at a local’s place which includes Pol Roti made of coconut and some seafood. The vegetarian food is also made of some special spices and herbs which tastes much more delicious than the usual food you get in a restaurant. If in Sri Lanka, you must try Ceylon tea or coffee. Especially in Colombo, you can try tea-based cocktails or mocktails and even desserts. Sri Lanka is one of the biggest exporters of coffee around the world.
Sri Lanka for me has been one of the most memorable trips. It was a perfect balance between fun and relaxation, nature and monuments, spiritualism and pleasure. I would like to revisit Sri Lanka perhaps with ample time on hand at least for a minimum of 2 weeks. If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka, plan for a minimum of ten days. Hope this blog about my experience of visiting Sri Lanka is of help to you. If you have any specific questions, please drop them in the comments and I would love to answer them. Keep exploring!
Ever heard of Bhootnath Market? If not then please read on. 😌
This bright and bustling Bhootnath Market is in the heart of the city of Nawabs. It’s one of the most famous and oldest markets in Indira Nagar, Lucknow yet maintains a low profile among tourists. People flock from all corners of the city for their various needs. It has some most vibrant shops for apparel, crockery, groceries and other utility items. Additionally, it’s known for some interesting food joints offering speciality cuisines and bakeries; popular hangout spots among youngsters. It is the most convenient and happening market in Lucknow after Hazratganj. It also has a famous Bhootnath Temple, centrally located, mainly dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is one of the ancient temples in Lucknow and thus the market derives its name. You’ll find beautiful flower shops in a row opposite the temple which have not only flowers for temple offering but the most exquisite bouquets.
To sum up, I walked around the lanes of this market today after many years. These lanes brought back some finest childhood memories. The rains added a hint of nostalgia and I couldn’t stop soaking myself in it and reminiscing the bygone days.
The place is easily accessible by metro, local transport or by personal vehicle if you are in Lucknow. It’s quite convenient to explore this market as it’s neither vast nor crowded like Chowk and Aminabad. If you want to indulge in some mindful shopping and eating, Bhootnath is the place to be.
If you are planning to visit Dehradun and looking for a simple yet classy, comfortable and luxurious hotel for your stay, LP Residency should be the first choice. I stayed in this hotel while I was on a solo business trip to Dehradun in April. It was supposed to be a day’s work, however, I extended my stay by one day to avoid the rush and also have some relaxing time for myself as the previous few weeks were extremely hectic. Little did I know, this hotel would serve to be a complete package of rejuvenation, good food and a great time. My two days went by so fast in the blink of an eye, quite contrary to my initial thoughts, when it looked more like a business stay to me. I was so wrong! That’s when I decided to let you folks know about this beauteous property through my blog.
LP Residency is centrally situated in the heart of Dehradun. It is easily accessible from the airport, railway or bus station. Since this was my first professional visit to Dehradun, I had kept my hopes extremely grounded. Of course, I was repenting my decision to extend my stay due to the constant news of sudden upsurge in COVID cases as I had also dropped my plans to move around the city. I preferred to stay in the hotel rather, which is so unlike me. I was thrilled to be proven wrong and my stay at LP Residency turned out to be an exceptionally brilliant experience.
Lobby & Check-in Process
Cleanliness, hygiene and sanitization are the first things I am concerned about. I’m extremely careful when it comes to booking accommodation. For me, hygiene standards should be high and there should not be any compromise there. The moment I got off the taxi and walked a few steps towards the entrance door, I was made to sanitize my hands and luggage before being escorted to the reception for formalities and later to my room. The hotel and its interiors were so spick and span that the air of doubt had vanished like a bubble just right there. By now I was pretty much excited to see my room only to dump my luggage and hit onto the bed as I was super exhausted due to all the travelling.
Arriving at the hotel was already an amazing experience. The gorgeous hotel lobby with a class of sophistication and style. The courteous staff at the concierge desk and the smooth check-in process although I arrived 2 hours earlier than the expected check-in time.
They have two category of rooms—Club Room and Suite. I stayed in a Suite and it was worth every ounce of my exhaustion which demanded something as premium as this. I forgot all my tiredness and decided to do a room tour for my fellow readers because the room was highly spacious, well-lit with some great bright spaces, tastefully done interiors and a comfortable and nicely done king-sized bed. The best part all for myself!
One part of the room had this huge bed a study table with a beautiful lamp for reading purpose, an LED TV. The other part is more like a living room with couches, another LED TV, side cabinets, carpet and other furnishings. Both of these are carefully partitioned with a wooden frame aesthetically done and adds to the beauty of the suite.
The bathroom was well equipped with everything you could need: good toiletries, multiple towels and hot water as well.
One thing, however, I missed was the view from the window. But there’s enough to keep yourself busy within and outside the room that you are surely not going to miss it for long.
Service & Facilities
I was amazed to see the prompt service of the staff. Right from the room service to the restaurant, everything was as fast as a flash of lightning. Always being in profession demanding travel, I undoubtedly can say, the services and hospitality of this hotel can surpass the services of some of the 5-star hotels. The staff is prompt, proactive and highly professional other than being courteous. Every single staff member is well trained and hospitable. I was overwhelmed to meet such remarkably warm and welcoming people who were always on their toe and super delighted to serve their guests.
Well, now this is my favourite part. Not because I am a foodie, I’m not! Mostly because you can not forget the taste and presentation of the food they offer and it’s going to stay with you for long. I still relish the variety of food and beverages I tried during those two days of stay. There are two restaurants in the hotel with amazing and high-quality food menu. The menu is limited to offer the choicest items.
One restaurant is a popular Coco—Café & Osteria and the other is named Zaffran. Coco offers their speciality Blue Tokai Coffee and is what they call a hotspot in the Hotel. This place is super chic and classy. The décor and interiors are minimal but tasteful. The limited menu also features Neopolitan pizzas freshly baked in a wood-fired oven and I enjoyed watching the Pizza in the making right from the oven to plate. If you want to watch the making video please click on my Instagram IGTV link .
The menu also features a wide selection of gourmet food and delicious beverages. I tried Neopolitan pizza for dinner accompanied with their Hibiscus Ice Tea in their hugely romantic candlelight set up in the open air with good music. It was a perfect setup for a heartfelt dinner. The servings were sufficient for two and extremely delicious! I also tried their desserts and relished the taste rest of the night.
Another favourite part was the breakfast at Zaffran! I’m a huge fan of Indian cuisines and this is where Zaffran came into play. I was served a variety of South Indian delicacies right from the crispy Masala Dosa to Utappam to Idlis with their accompaniments along with fresh orange juice. A wholesome and delightful breakfast that made my day. Can you imagine a more perfect start to the day than this?
Later for dinner, I also tried a platter of kebabs. They were super yummy and delectable. Each kebab had a different aroma and taste. They melted the moment I took a bite and the flavour lasted long.
I was blown away by not just the presentation, service but also the great taste of the food. Each time it was a difficult decision to choose between the Italian or Indian restaurants because both the restaurants served unparalleled food, coupled with unmatched service. The ingredients they used were so fresh! That reminds me of the Chicken Salami and Lettuce Salad I chose to have for lunch. I can still imagine the crunchiness of lettuce with refreshing Salami slices.
I had a hard time choosing amongst all the amazing options. Trust me, this limited menu wasn’t limited at all because each time I tasted something I wanted to have it the second, the third time, so on and so forth.
You can choose to have meals in your room or the restaurant. I preferred the latter because I loved the setup of the restaurants.
My stay at LP Residency was enthralling. You couldn’t possibly ask for a better location as it is easily accessible from all the prime spots in Dehradun. I was totally in love with the red brick-like fascinating look they have given to the hotel on the outside and the lovely interiors of the hotel. The food was extraordinary and the staff was warm and courteous! If you want to see a video tour of my room and the breakfast selection head over to my Instagram highlights and check out the Hotel section!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email, I always love helping you out! Have you visited Dehradun or have any plans to visit post-pandemic? Let me know in the comments.