Indiana Jones is expected to return to the big screen in a couple of years. While we do not know where it will take place yet, we’d nominate Sri Lanka, a perfect fit for the role. It has all the elements for a grand adventure, from stunning relics and ancient kingdoms, to romantic tea plantations and hidden archeological treasures.
You can feel a little like Indiana Jones in your own right as you explore this island nation, especially areas in the north that are only now reopening to the outside world after some three decades of isolation. The Cultural Triangle, heart of the early Sinhalese civilization, has the ruins of Anuradhapura, capital city from the third century BCE to 993 CE. And, the amazing hidden archeological site of Kaludiya Pokuna isn’t in any guide book. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Lion Rock, is a massive column nearly 660 feet high that takes 1,200 steps to scale. It is topped with a fifth-century fortress that, according to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE). The king wanted to build an impregnable fortress and within it, a heavenly abode. After the king’s death it became a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
Here you can discover the ancient city of Jaffna by bicycle, the main mode of transportation in the city; dine on fresh seafood with a local family as your hosts; hike through lush tea plantations and meet the people working there. In the old port city of Galle, there is time to sample tea with a gentleman who pours a magical cup; enjoy a chat with a passionate, local amateur historian; and buy delicious samosas from a smiling lad on a bicycle cart.
Sri Lanka is not for everyone, it’s not supposed to be. But it is ideal for the adventurer that lurks in every serious traveler. Explore Sri Lanka with us on our new President’s Pick: Sri Lanka – Of Teas & Temples.