Sri lanka Brief
Sri Lanka (English pronunciation: /sriˈlɑːŋkə/, sriˈlæŋkə, or ʃriˈlɑːŋkə; local pronunciation: [ˌɕriːˈlaŋkaː]; Sinhala: ශ්රී ලංකා, Tamil: இலங்கை), officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and known as Ceylon (/sɪˈlɒn/) before 1972, is an island country in South Asia, located about 31 kilometres (19.3 mi) off the southern coast of India.
As a result of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia. It has also been a center of the Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times and is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia, including Ladakh, Bhutan and the Chittagong Hill Tracts, as well as being a bastion of Hinduism. The Sinhalese community forms the majority of the population; Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include Moors, Burghers, Kaffirs, Malays and the indigenous Vedda people.
The country is famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, coconuts, rubber and cinnamon - which is native to the country. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka's tropical forests, beaches and landscape, as well as its rich cultural heritage, make it a world famous tourist destination. The island also boasts the first female Prime Minister in the modern world, Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
After over two thousand years of rule by local kingdoms, parts of Sri Lanka were colonized by Portugal and the Netherlands beginning in the 16th century, before control of the entire country was ceded to the British Empire in 1815. During World War II, Sri Lanka served as an important base for Allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire. A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century with the aim of obtaining political independence, which was eventually granted by the British after peaceful negotiations in 1948.
Sigiriya (Lion's rock) is an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin situated in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. A popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos), which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. The Sigiriya was built during the reign of King Kassapa I (AD 477 – 495), and it is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.
Sigiriya may have been inhabited through prehistoric times. It was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees to the Buddhist Sangha. The garden and palace were built by King Kasyapa. Following King Kasyapa's death, it was again a monastery complex up to about the 14th century, after which it was abandoned. . The Sigiri inscriptions were deciphered by the archaeologist Senarath Paranavithana in his renowned two-volume work, published by Oxford, Sigiri Graffiti. He also wrote the popular book "Story of Sigiriya".
The Mahavamsa, the ancient historical record of Sri Lanka, describes King Kasyapa as the son of King Dhatusena. Kasyapa murdered his father by walling him alive and then usurping the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana, Dhatusena's son by the true queen. Mogallana fled to India to escape being assassinated by Kasyapa but vowed revenge. In India he raised an army with the intention of returning and retaking the throne of Sri Lanka which he considered was rightfully his. Knowing the inevitable return of Mogallana, Kasyapa is said to have built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress and pleasure palace. Mogallana finally arrived and declared war. During the battle Kasyapa's armies abandoned him and he committed suicide by falling on his sword. Chronicles and lore say that the battle-elephant on which Kasyapa was mounted changed course to take a strategic advantage, but the army misinterpreted the movement as the King having opted to retreat, prompting the army to abandon the king altogether. Moggallana returned the capital to Anuradapura, converting Sigiriya into a monastery complex.
Alternative stories have the primary builder of Sigiriya as King Dhatusena, with Kasyapa finishing the work in honour of his father. Still other stories have Kasyapa as a playboy king, with Sigiriya a pleasure palace. Even Kasyapa's eventual fate is mutable. In some versions he is assassinated by poison administered by a concubine. In others he cuts his own throat when isolated in his final battle. Still further interpretations have the site as the work of a Buddhist community, with no military function at all. This site may have been important in the competition between the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist traditions in ancient Sri Lanka.
Until the 1860's THE MAIN CROP PRODUCED on the island of Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was coffee. But in 1869, the coffee-rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, killed the majority of of the coffee plants and estate owners had to diversify into other crops in order to avoid total ruin. The owners of Loolecondera Estate had been interested in tea since the late 1850's and in 1866, James Taylor, a recently arrived Scot, was selected to be in charge of the first sowing of tea seeds in 1867, on 19 acres of land.
Taylor had acquired some basic knowledge of tea cultivation in North India and made some initial experiments in manufacture, using his bungalow verandah as the factory and rolling the leaf by hand on tables. Firing of the oxidized leaf was carried out on clay stoves over charcoal fires with the leaf on wire trays. His first teas were sold locally and were declared delicious. By 1872, Taylor had a fully equipped factory, and, in 1873, his first quality teas were sold for a very good price at the London auction. Through his dedication and determination, Taylor was largely responsible for the early success of the tea crop in Ceylon. Between 1873 and 1880, production rose from just 23 pounds to 81.3 tons, and by 1890, to 22,899.8 tons.
Most of the Ceylon tea gardens are situated at elevations between 3,000 and 8,000 feet in two areas of the southwestern part of the island, to the east of Colombo and in the Galle district on the southern point. In the hot, steamy plains and foothills, the tea bushes flush every seven or eight days and are picked all year round. The finest teas are gathered from late June to the end of August in eastern districts and from the beginning of February to mid-March in the western parts.
Until 1971, more than 80 percent of the island's tea estates were owned and managed by British companies. In 1971, the Sri Lankan government introduced a Land Reform Act which gave the state control of the majority of the plantations (which also grow rubber and coconuts for export) leaving about one-third in private hands. Since 1990, a restructuring program has been going on to involve the private sector companies (both Sri Lankan and foreign) as Managing Agents of the state-owned plantations. The long-term aim is for the private managing companies to take on most, if not all, of the financial responsibility and control of the estates, with the government retaining ownership.
The government-run Orphanage was set up in 1975 to rescue four orphaned baby elephants when they could no longer be looked after at Dehiwala (Colombo south) Zoo. Today with 70 elephants herein, it has become the home to the largest captive group of elephants in the world. Orphaned young elephants whose parents have been the victims of poachers or accidents are tamed, reared & trained herein to eventually become working beasts.
Elephants who are habituated to humans & domesticated elephants, cannot be easily released to the wild. The elephants here range in age from newborns, tiny (elephant tiny that is), hefty adolescents, young adults to elderly matriarchs, & include orphaned & abandoned elephants, as well as those injured in the wild & in conflicts the farmers in the villages. Among those are famous residents such as the three-legged elephant, Sama, who stood on a land mine, and a blind elephant, Raja. The orphanage population is constantly augmented by new arrival Born Free in captivity: about one elephant is born here every year. The successful captive breeding project had so far produced 22 second generation births.
The elephants, which roam freely in parkland, are 'herded' by their mahouts (keepers) just before being taken to feeding sheds. At this time all orphans are in fine form & most photogenic. They are fed in couple of large sheds. Baby elephants, very hairy & barely 1m high are nursed by adult elephants. You will be seeing the tiniest & cutest baby elephants you're ever likely to see. Most possibly the only place on this planet where an elephant can step on you feet & you might still walk away with a smile. Luckily that is a tiny baby elephant Still more, you will be caressing them & feeding them milk in elephant baby bottles. They guzzle enormous quantity of milk. Adults gulp down a diet mainly of palm leaves of 250kg a day. Two special farms run by the National Zoological Gardens help meet the needful.
Twice a day elephants here, after the meals, are driven across the road to May Oya river for a leisurely bath. And you will be watching their antics from the comfort of river bank, or in superior comfort, from the terraces of the Pinnalanda Restaurant or Hotel Elephant Park uphill of the river. The adult elephants work in the orphanage itself, earning their keep by helping with various chores, such as collecting food.
A few kilometres down the road from Pinnewala, the Millennium Elephant Foundation has a rather more didactic aim than Pinnewala - indeed the two places complement on another rather neatly. With the exception of the young Pooja, who was born at the foundation in 1986, the eight elephants here are all retired working beasts. Herein you will learn everything you need to know of about elephants & view how they are used as working elephants; you can also help clean them & interact with them. It's also possible to engage in voluntary work with the foundation's mobile veterinary unit. The foundation was instrumental in introducing pachyderm paper to the market of Sri Lanka.Reference:mysrilankaholidays.com
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Sri Lanka's gem industry has a very long and colorful history. Sri Lanka was affectionately known as Ratna – Dweepa which means Gem Island. The name is a reflection of its natural wealth. Marco Polo wrote that the island had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems in the world. Ptolemy, the second century astronomer recorded that beryl and sapphire were the mainstay of Sri Lanka's gem industry. Records from sailors that visited the island states that they brought back "jewels of Serendib". Serendib was the ancient name given to the island by middle – eastern and Persian traders that crossed the Indian Ocean to trade gems from Sri Lanka to the East during the fourth and fifth century.
Sri Lanka, geologically speaking is an extremely old country. Ninety percent of the rocks of the island are of Precambrian age, 560 million to 2,400 million years ago. The gems form in sedimentary residual gem deposits, eluvial deposits, metamorphic deposits, skarn and calcium-rich rocks. Other gems are of magmatic origin.
Residual deposits are mainly found in flood plains of rivers and streams. The metamorphic types of gems constitute 90% of the gem deposits in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has the highest density of gem deposits compared to its landmass. Ratnapura contains the most gem deposits and derived its name from the gem industry. Ratnapura means "city of gems". .
The blue sapphires from Sri Lanka are known as Ceylon Sapphire. Ceylon Sapphires are reportedly unique in colour, clarity and lustre compared to the blue sapphires from other countries. .Reference: Wikipedia