Some know it as Ceylon, others – by its recent name Sri Lanka. Folks always associate it with its endless beaches while other people go on pilgrimage to the land of Buddhism. There’re guys who relate it to the Ceylon Tea production or those who are fascinated by the abundance of gems. And probably all these things (and many others, of course) have made the country and its capital Colombo one of the most recommended countries and among the Top 10 Lonely Planet destinations for 2013.
Ceylon (known under that name till 1972) was often colonized and all colonists have left a great imprint on its agriculture. The Dutch emphasized on cinnamon and there were large cinnamon plantations on the island in the 18th century. Later in the 19th century during the British dominion, the plantations of another crop (coffee) grew in number. It was very profitable but soon it was substituted by tea (probably because of the notorious English love and passion for tea).
As a matter of fact, tea’s a Chinese beverage related to Chinese Emperor – Shen Nung, who found it all of a sudden. He was sitting with a cup of hot water in his garden when some leaves fell down into it from a nearby tree and changed its colour and taste. Astonished, the emperor took a sip and reached a conclusion that it was very tasty and refreshing. Don’t you think the legend reminds a little bit of the popular story of Sir Isaac Newton who suddenly started to think of the Universal Law of Gravitation when an apple fell down on his head while he was sitting under an apple tree? Surely, yes. 🙂 There is no doubt that great discoveries were made, both in favour of mankind.
Now let’s get back to the Brits, their national drink and Ceylonese pride. Principally, the East Indies were extremely attractive to Europe ever since. People travelled to these distant lands in ancient times. At that time they were a true magnet for lots of nations, for the Brits in particular, in later centuries. The latter imported exotic herbs and spices, silk and other fine materials through The East India Company established by Queen Elizabeth in 1600. Later, in the middle of 18th century tea was one of the significant goods imported to England and thus it became a national drink there. The major country which they imported tea from was Sri Lanka. The Brits started planting tea bushes brought from China in the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, and later vast tea plantations were created in the country. Thus tea industry flourished in Sri Lank due to the amazing combination of land, sun and rain and the typical black Ceylon tea crossed beyond the country’s borders and invaded the world with its distinctive and specific taste, high quality and great variety.
Apart from being a “tea paradise”, the country is like Alibaba’s Cave full of precious stones. Coincidentally Prince William chose a sapphire sparkler as an engagement ring for his future wife namely from Sri Lanka. And, indeed, the island is rich in gems and a piece of proof is the existence of the 466-carat “Blue Giant of the Orient” (the world largest faceted blue sapphire), 563-carat “Star of India” sapphire, 362-carat “Star of Lanka” star sapphire and so on, and so on. The list of gems that are spread out in the country is really too long.
In the end, if you happen to leave for Sri Lanka one day, don’t spend your whole time on drinking much tea or on sapphires. Surely, there’s much more to see. Enjoy the beauty of the endless beaches and Buddhist stupas as well as feel the scent of the flowers like the blue water lily (the national flower of the country) and lotus (in which Buddha is supposed to have been born). Don’t miss the chance to visit the jungles of the tiny island where the aboriginal Vedda still live or from which elephants (the animals are known as the symbol of Buddha) can come up on the road all of a sudden. And all this abundance can be found at one place – the island of Sri Lanka, the tiny drop in the vast Indian Ocean.