Ian Botham Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka 3

Cricket legend Ian Botham takes his grandchildren to Sri Lanka

  • England’s leading wicket taker first visited Sri Lanka to play cricket in 1982
  • This time, he took his grandchildren for a sunshine holiday of beach fishing
  • He has a particular fondness for Kandy, with its famous Buddhist temple

My initial impression of Sri Lanka?   Hot.

Stand Up Paddleboard "SUP"  Sri Lanka Jungle River Adventure

I first visited in 1982 – when England played their first test match against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Then we went and played in Kandy, in the central province, and it has become one of my favourite places in the whole country. It’s home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), and is the most important spot for Sri Lanka’s Buddhist community.

The whole town is steeped in history. It’s always been one of the country’s major trading places, and there are beautiful temples and tea plantations. It must be part of your itinerary.

A family favourite: Ian Botham has spent time with his grandchildren in Sri Lanka – and has long found Kandy (right), where the Temple of the Tooth Relic is an important Buddhist landmark – to be one of its greatest cities

I only really started to fall in love with the country on coming back to commentate. As a player we were never in one place long enough.

I visited the south at the start of 2004, just after the tsunami. It was horrendous, with bodies still being pulled from the rubble. Since then, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation (I’m an ambassador for the organisation) has worked with the Sri Lanka-based Foundation of Goodness and built the Southern Project in Seenigama, an area which was devastated by the huge wave.

 

There’s a brand new school, a cricket oval and an Olympic-sized pool. The pool was paid for by rock singer Bryan Adams, who offered to help fund the sports complex after reading about the destruction wreaked by the tsunami, and locals have named it the Bryan Adams Pool in his honour.

It’s hard to believe that when I first visited, the railway line – and a train – were 400 yards away in a coconut tree.

It was this project which inspired me to undertake last year’s sponsored walk. I managed 160 miles, from the north to the south of the island, in eight days. The aim was to raise money and mirror what’s been done in the south – because the north was devastated by the civil war and has suffered terribly.

The north has so much to offer – it’s Sri Lanka’s next booming tourism centre. The main draw are the beaches – they’re sensational.

There are new hotels and railways being built and the airport at Jaffna, the capital city of the northern province, is being renovated. It should establish itself within five years. Anuradhapura – the capital of the north central province – and Mihintale, which is the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, have beautiful stupas and temples which put Angkor Wat to shame – well, almost.

They are within what’s known as Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle.

Splendid: The south coast of Sri Lanka has glorious beaches – and has recovered from the tsunami of 2004

 

This area’s most spectacular landmark is the Sigiriya rock fortress – an enormous, 200-metre-high lump of stone. In 480 AD, a Sri Lankan king built his castle atop the rock. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and Sri Lankans call it the eighth wonder of the world.

I climbed it on my first cricket tour and was amazed. So much that, while taking a photo, I accidentally knocked over the bottle of water I’d diligently carried to the top. I remember watching in horror as it rolled over the edge and tumbled out of sight.

I’ve visited Sri Lanka with my family several times. Some of the most memorable trips have been with my wife and the grandchildren.

It’s incredibly child-friendly – as child-friendly as destinations like Spain or the Caribbean. We wanted to show the grandchildren that life isn’t easy, that terrible things happen but you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on.

The Sri Lankans are the best example of this – they’re always smiling and there’s no bitterness about the unfair hand they’ve been dealt, with the civil war and tsunami.

They are the reason my wife Kath and I keep returning.

We’ve spent a lot of time in the capital, Colombo, which is a fantastic, progressive city, with great hotels and restaurants. We like Lagoon, the restaurant at the Cinnamon Grand hotel, where you choose your seafood from a huge display and the chefs cook it however you want.

The grandchildren loved it – they would compete to find the biggest fish.

Other great restaurants in the capital are the Ministry of Crab, which is owned by Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, and the Park Street Mews restaurant, which blends Sri Lankan and European cuisine.

I’ve probably spent most time in the south, in coastal towns like Galle and Weligama. In Weligama, we rented a villa and just chill out – I love watching the stilt fishermen balancing on their poles.

Inviting: Kandy, at the very heart of this tropical island, is Sri Lanka at its most intriguing

I’ve spent hours walking around Galle fort, which is a walled city. The locals have incredible stories to tell about the day the tsunami hit – how they could see the wave coming and ran inside the fort, emerging hours later to find the rest of the city in ruins.

The fort was built by the Portuguese in the 14th century and it split the wave and saved thousands of lives. Nobody inside died – you can walk around inside and see these old shops and restaurants which weren’t even affected.

The grandchildren also adored Weligama, where they fished, rode in tuk-tuks, played on the beaches and spotted turtles.

One day was spent just fishing on the beach.

One of my grandchildren, James, is extremely competitive – he simply has to beat his younger sister at everything.

malu banna watersports sri lanka island toursGalle Fort Sri Lanka Jumper srilankaislandtours (3)

James had spent all day waiting for a bite. He put down the rod while he nipped to the loo and his sister Imani-Jayne picked up the rod and caught a fish within seconds. James was livid.

My advice for anyone considering a visit to Sri Lanka? Do it. It is all there to be explored.

Tourism on the south coast is well-established. The east and west coasts are becoming more established, and the north will soon be the next big tourism destination.

What’s more, you don’t have to walk everywhere – like I did.

Travel Facts: Plan your own tour of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Airlines (www.srilankan.com, 020 8538 2000) flies daily (apart from Saturdays and Sundays, when there are two flights a day) to Colombo from London Heathrow. Prices from £613.

Find more about the work of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation at www.laureus.com

Local waterfalls in Sri Lanka

Galboda Ella Nawalapitiya waterfalls sri lanka

Local waterfalls in Sri Lanka you must visit!

Sri Lanka is a cherished vacation spot all around the world. Whether you are looking for an adventure trip or a romantic get-away, this country gets you one of the best experiences. Along with the most sacred historic ruins and ancient monuments, Sri Lanka hosts the best of Nature. You could find rain-forests, jungles, wildlife, springs, waterfalls, beaches and much much more at this tiny, yet amazing island Paradise!

Waterfalls are one of the most precious gifts Nature has offered to Sri Lanka. If you are a tourist visiting Sri Lanka, or a local who loves to travel, do not forget to check out the Natural Pools, and the beautiful Waterfalls that Sri Lanka has to offer!

The waterfalls come along with amazing trekking trips. So when you are on a look-out for an adventurous, thrilling experience, break out the map and mark these beautiful locations;

  • Asupini Ella – Mawanella

A heart-pounding experience awaits you at the city of Mawanella in the form of the amazing ‘Asupini Ella’. This beauty is a 30m (98ft) fall, and could be sighted from the historic town of Aranayake.

In Sri Lanka, every historic location has its own fascinating story, and the Asupini Ella is no different.

The name ‘Asupini’ was derived from a story about ‘a king who had many queens’. Lore says that these queens committed suicide by jumping down the fall. The tale also says that one can sometimes hear a fearsome roar, which continues for around 15 minutes, signifying that it will claim a human life within a period of two months.

A plunge pool strewn with rocks is formed by the Asupini Ella, although, this beautiful pool draws the visitors towards it- people are restricted from bathing in it. This is because of the high risk of drowning. All these folktales and drowning risks are the reason this ella remains a secret!

Mawanella is also home to many other big and small Waterfalls, which could be visited within a single day trip:

  • Huluganga Ella
  • Jodu Ella
  • Saree Ella
  • Thaliya Wetuna Ella/ Alakola Ella
  • Galboda Ella- Nawalapitiya

A train trip to this amazing fall would be a great idea! Nestled at the Hatton Rail Track in an abandoned, but picturesque tea estate adjacent to the Galboda station at Nawalapitiya, lies the Galboda falls. The name ‘fall adjoining the stone’ (Galboda) is derived from a large boulder situated at its foot. Studies state that the water in this area gushes down with a velocity higher than anywhere else in the country.

A beautiful temple standing on the mountain right above the fall is the best view in all of the area. The mesmerizing fall is a good 30metres high and is categorized as a wet zone due to its high rate of rainfall. This nature’s beauty is an eye-catcher!

  • Gartmore Falls (Sri-Pada Falls)

Also identified as Sri-Pada falls, the 25m Gartmore Fall is often mistaken to the Moray Falls. The fall is of similar height and nestles a few hundred meters away from the Siri Pada falls. Both these waterfalls drop directly on the Maskeliya Reservoir.

The area hosts many other waterfalls, each of which offers a splendid view!

  • Diyaluma Falls- Koslanda, Badulla

If you are looking for a location for your trekking trip, the Badulla District is the place to go!

The area is surrounded by natural pools, waterfalls, and amazing trekking locations. The district is home to Diyaluma Falls -the second highest fall of Sri Lanka. The fall is a good 220m (720ft) high and is situated just 6 km away from Koslanda.

The Diyaluma Fall gives you the opportunity to enjoy many things in a single trip. Like every other fall, the Diyaluma Fall has its own historic tales. It is a great tourist destination for the travelers who enjoy visiting ancient ruins and historical sites.

  • Handapan Ella- Ratnapura

Travel along the Ratnapura- Deniyaya road, which falls at the end of Buluthota Pass. From there, walk along the 4 km long path. The path is bumpy and filled with rocks and slippery routes to the jungle. This trek will lead you to Rakwana, where you will get the most stunning view of the Handapan Falls.

The Handapan Ella is a 23m (height) fall which springs from the Handapan Ella Valley (1230m high). This is the starting point of the Rakwana River.

Waterfalls like Lover’s leap in Nuwara Eliya, and the Bambarakanda Ella in the Badulla District -which are also the highest falls of Sri Lanka- are the most visited and well-known waterfalls in the country. The ones listed above are the hidden treasures and some of the must see-waterfalls in Sri Lanka!