Last Updated on August 25, 2020 by Pankaj Mangal
Ayubowan! said the Sri Lankan lady, clasping both her hands together and bowing slightly towards me.
‘Ayubowan’ is a common Sri Lankan greeting, wishing for the long life of the person whom you greet. Later I found myself saying Ayubowan! to all the Sri Lankan people I met during my Sri Lanka bike tour.
Although, I have not covered the entire span of Sri Lanka by bike, the memories from this enchanting country are vivid and priceless. Let me show you a bit of it so you know exactly what cycling through Sri Lanka entails.
Buddha, Drummers & 500 Concubines
Buddha statues scattered around India, South Asia and Southeast Asia are a sight to behold.
The mesmerizing eyes of Buddha bring such tranquility that I feel at peace when looking into those eyes.
There are innumerable Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka and the influence of Buddhism is apparent in this part of the Subcontinent and the Buddha is revered to this day.
Leading the way through the giant lion paws carved out of granite at the ‘Rock Fortress’ of Sigiriya, I wondered about the mammoth task of building a palace on a large piece of Rock. The marvelous frescoes painted on the rock, depicting the concubines of King Kashyapa are remarkable.
“King Kasyapa and his 500 concubines” sounds like an extravagantly embellished myth but its true confirmed our knowledgeable local guide.
Sri Lankan dance forms, that were traditionally only performed for the kings, are now played at a few different locations in Kandy which is known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka.
Out of all the performers, the drummers captured my full attention; they were energetic beyond words and unstoppable!
The high decibel drumming was hard on my ears initially, but slowly you get acquainted to the rhythm and fall into a rapturous trance.
Warm Welcomes & Homecooked Meals
Lots of greetings were exchanged as we biked through this little island nation. Everywhere we went, friendly Sri Lankans came out to chat and look at our bikes and know more about where we going.
One of the highlights from my Sri Lanka bike tour was when our support vehicle driver, Lasanth, invited all of us to his home for lunch.
I was simply humbled by the hospitality of Lasanth’s family and the curry his wife made for all of us was absolutely delicious.
Beaches Oh So Pristine!
As the warm waves continued to break on an endless stretch of golden sand beaches, staying on the bike and cycling became quite impossible.
The oceans beckoned again and again in Sri Lanka and who could resist a swim in a heavenly place like this?
A Wild, Wild Paradise!
With monitor lizards slowly crossing roads, peacocks flying around and roving elephants grazing on the greens, wildlife is plentiful in Sri Lanka.
And, there are numerous interesting signboards along the roads asking road users to watch out for wildlife that might be making their way across the road. Haha! Jokes apart, Sri Lanka is home to some of the best National parks in the world and they are definitely worth a visit, even if you are not a wildlife safari enthusiast in particular.
The Art of Good Food
Imagine a banana leaf platter with an assortment of aromatic, spicy food eaten with steaming hot rice & crispy papadum!
If you have not tried a meal like this yet, let me tell you it is not easy to resist. I pondered if this could be one of the many places on earth where I may end up deciding “ Ah it’s time for me to live just to eat! ”
You just have to try the variety of piping hot curries available in these parts, not to mention the delicious vegetarian and meat accompaniments. And, we dare you to try and eat it all with your hands – without using cutlery.
We grant that eating food without cutlery is not for everyone but those who do try their hands at this particular art ;) – Find that its worth the effort. Finger-licking good, you see what we mean? Yes, I know, I know, it does seem like I’m addicted.
“Ayubowan Sri Lanka! May you live long so that many more cyclists can explore, indulge and appreciate just how serene and beautiful you are.”