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Hollywood’s Love Affair with Sri Lanka Exotic Landscapes

Sri Lanka, known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history, has been a popular destination for Hollywood filmmakers seeking exotic and diverse shooting locations(Cinematic Paradise). The island’s lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and historical sites provide a perfect backdrop for various genres of films. Here’s a look at some of the famous Hollywood movies shot in Sri Lanka:

1. “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957)

Director: David Lean

This classic war film, set during World War II, is one of the most iconic movies shot in Sri Lanka. The film tells the story of British prisoners of war forced to build a bridge for their Japanese captors(Cinematic Paradise. Although the plot is set in Burma, much of the film was shot in the scenic locations of Kitulgala, a small town in the west of Sri Lanka. The beautiful landscape added authenticity and drama to the movie, which went on to win seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

2. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cinematic Paradise

Part of the famous Indiana Jones franchise, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” featured several scenes filmed in Sri Lanka(Cinematic Paradise). The movie’s jungle scenes were shot in the lush forests of Kandy and Sigiriya, while the iconic rope bridge sequence was filmed near the Victoria Dam. The exotic locations helped create the adventurous and mystical atmosphere that the Indiana Jones series is known for.

3. “The Jungle Book” (2016)

Director: Jon Favreau

This live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale brought the fictional Indian jungle to life with the help of Sri Lanka’s natural beauty. Though much of the film was created using CGI, the production team shot extensive footage in the Sri Lankan jungles to capture the authentic look and feel of a dense tropical forest. The picturesque surroundings played a crucial role in creating the immersive environment of the film.

4. “Water” (2005) – Cinematic Paradise

Director: Deepa Mehta

Although not a traditional Hollywood film, “Water” gained international recognition and was nominated for an Academy Award. This Canadian-Indian co-production, directed by Deepa Mehta, explores the lives of widows in a temple in Varanasi, India. The film was shot extensively in Sri Lanka after protests and threats forced the production to relocate from India(Cinematic Paradise). The locations in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka provided a convincing backdrop for the story set in 1930s India.

5. “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008)

Director: Steven Spielberg

The fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series also features scenes shot in Sri Lanka. The film, which follows Indiana Jones as he searches for a mysterious crystal skull, used Sri Lanka’s diverse landscapes to depict various parts of the fictional world. The rich and varied terrain of the island was instrumental in creating the film’s adventurous settings.

6. “Tarzan, the Ape Man” (1981)

Director: John Derek

This adaptation of the Tarzan legend features stunning shots of the Sri Lankan wilderness. The film, starring Bo Derek and Miles O’Keeffe, utilized the country’s dense jungles and scenic locations to represent the African jungles where Tarzan roams. The picturesque surroundings contributed significantly to the film’s visual appeal.

Sri Lanka’s diverse and breathtaking landscapes have made it a favorite destination for Hollywood filmmakers(Cinematic Paradise). The island’s ability to double for various locations around the world, coupled with its rich culture and history, continues to attract international film productions. From classic war films to adventurous epics, Sri Lanka has played a crucial role in bringing many famous Hollywood movies to life.

Monsoon

Explore the Monsoon Mystique: Sri Lanka’s Wet-season Wonders

Exploring Sri Lanka’s Monsoon Magic

Sri Lanka is a captivating destination that offers a myriad of experiences for travelers throughout the year. While many may shy away from traveling during the monsoon season, Sri Lanka’s unique charm shines even brighter amidst the rain. Here’s how you can embark on a memorable journey through this tropical paradise during the monsoon.

1. Embrace the Rain-soaked Landscapes

Monsoon

As the monsoon clouds gather over the island, Sri Lanka undergoes a stunning transformation. Lush greenery comes alive, waterfalls cascade with renewed vigor, and the air is filled with the sweet scent of damp earth. Embrace the beauty of the rain-soaked landscapes as you journey through mist-covered mountains, verdant tea plantations, and vibrant paddy fields. Don’t forget to pack your rain gear and immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance of Sri Lanka’s monsoon season.

2. Discover Cultural Treasures

Despite the rain, Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage continues to thrive during the monsoon months. Explore ancient cities such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya, where millennia-old ruins stand testament to the island’s storied past. Marvel at the intricate carvings of Buddhist temples, seek blessings at sacred shrines, and witness traditional rituals that have endured for generations. Whether you’re wandering through the cobbled streets of Galle Fort or admiring the graceful architecture of Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka’s cultural treasures beckon travellers year-round.

3. Indulge in Culinary Delights

A journey through Sri Lanka would be incomplete without sampling its delectable cuisine. From fiery curries to savory snacks, the island’s culinary offerings are sure to tantalize your taste buds. During the monsoon season, savor piping hot dishes such as spicy fish curry, creamy dhal curry, and crispy hoppers as you take refuge from the rain in cozy eateries and roadside stalls. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in seasonal delights like jackfruit curry and ambul thiyal, a tangy fish dish cooked with Goraka, a traditional souring agent. Wash it all down with a refreshing glass of king coconut water or a steaming cup of Ceylon tea, and experience the flavours of Sri Lanka in every bite.

4. Seek Serenity in Nature – Monsoon

While the monsoon may deter some travellers, it offers a unique opportunity to seek serenity in Sri Lanka’s natural wonders. Escape the crowds and venture into the island’s pristine rainforests, where biodiversity flourishes amid the rainfall. Embark on a safari in one of the country’s national parks, such as Yala or Wilpattu, and encounter majestic elephants, elusive leopards, and colourful birdlife against the backdrop of verdant landscapes. For a truly immersive experience, consider staying in eco-friendly lodges nestled within the heart of the wilderness, where you can fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the rainforest.

5. Relax on Tranquil Beaches

No visit to Sri Lanka would be complete without a visit to its idyllic beaches, and the monsoon season offers a unique perspective on these coastal havens. While some beaches may experience rough seas and strong winds during this time, others remain sheltered and serene, providing the perfect backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation. Unwind on the golden sands of Bentota, Mirissa, or Tangalle, where you can soak up the sun between rain showers, or take a leisurely stroll along the shore as the waves crash against the rocks. For the more adventurous, monsoon season brings ideal conditions for surfing, with the east coast offering world-class breaks for enthusiasts of all skill levels.

In conclusion, traveling in Sri Lanka during the monsoon season offers a wealth of experiences for intrepid travelers willing to embrace the rain. From lush landscapes and cultural treasures to culinary delights and tranquil beaches, the island’s beauty knows no bounds, regardless of the weather. So pack your umbrella, put on your rain boots, and embark on a journey to discover the monsoon magic of Sri Lanka.

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Celebrating International Tea Day: The Unique Flavor and Distinction of Ceylon Tea

Every year on May 21st, tea enthusiasts around the world celebrate International Tea Day. This special occasion not only highlights the rich history and cultural significance of tea but also brings attention to the diverse range of flavors and varieties that this beloved beverage offers. Among the many types of tea celebrated on this day, Ceylon tea, grown exclusively in Sri Lanka, stands out for its unique flavor, rich history, and distinct brand identity.

The Origins of Ceylon Tea

Ceylon tea’s journey began in the 19th century when Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, transitioned from coffee cultivation to tea. This change was primarily driven by a coffee rust disease that devastated the island’s coffee plantations. British planters, seeking an alternative crop, turned to tea, and under the guidance of pioneers like James Taylor, the tea industry in Sri Lanka was born. The first successful tea plantation was established in 1867, marking the beginning of what would become a thriving tea industry.

The Distinctive Terroir of Sri Lanka

One of the key factors contributing to the unique flavor of Ceylon tea is the diverse terroir of Sri Lanka. The island’s varied climate and topography create distinct growing regions, each imparting different characteristics to the tea produced. The major tea-growing regions in Sri Lanka include Nuwara Eliya, Uva, Kandy, Dimbula, Ruhuna, and Sabaragamuwa.

  • Nuwara Eliya: Known as the “Champagne of Tea,” teas from this region are light and delicate with a floral aroma, influenced by the cool, misty climate and high elevation.
  • Uva: Teas from Uva have a distinctive flavor with a hint of wintergreen, thanks to the region’s unique weather patterns.
  • Kandy: Located in the central hills, Kandy produces full-bodied teas with a rich, malty flavor.
  • Dimbula: The teas from Dimbula are known for their crisp, bright taste and golden color, influenced by the monsoon rains and cool climate.
  • Ruhuna: Teas from the lowland Ruhuna region are robust, strong, and dark, often with a hint of sweetness.
  • Sabaragamuwa: This region produces teas that are deep, dark, and bold, with a slightly spicy flavor.

The Unique Flavor Profile of Ceylon Tea

International Tea Day

Ceylon tea is celebrated for its bright, brisk, and bold flavors. The tea leaves, often characterized by their long wiry appearance, produce a rich, amber-colored brew. Depending on the region of cultivation, the flavor can range from delicate and floral to strong and full-bodied, making Ceylon tea a versatile choice for various palates and preferences.

One of the hallmarks of Ceylon tea is its refreshing, citrusy aroma, often accompanied by subtle hints of spice or honey. This complexity and depth of flavor make Ceylon tea an ideal choice for both traditional black tea and more innovative blends. Whether enjoyed plain, with a splash of milk, or as part of a spiced chai, Ceylon tea offers a sensory experience that is both invigorating and satisfying.

The Global Reach and Recognition of Ceylon Tea

Ceylon tea has established itself as a globally recognized and respected brand. The iconic lion logo, which appears on packaging, is a symbol of quality and authenticity, ensuring that consumers are getting genuine Ceylon tea. This branding has been instrumental in distinguishing Ceylon tea in a crowded market, where it competes with other major tea-producing countries.

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s leading tea exporters, with Ceylon tea reaching consumers in over 140 countries. The tea industry is a vital part of the Sri Lankan economy, providing employment to millions of people and contributing significantly to the nation’s GDP. The commitment to quality, sustainability, and ethical practices has helped maintain the high standards associated with Ceylon tea.

Celebrating Ceylon Tea on International Tea Day

International Tea Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the rich heritage and exceptional quality of Ceylon tea. Tea lovers around the world can take this day to explore the diverse flavors and aromas that Ceylon tea offers. Whether through a traditional afternoon tea ceremony, a tasting session, or simply enjoying a cup of Ceylon tea at home, this day serves as a reminder of the intricate artistry and dedication that goes into every cup.

In Sri Lanka, International Tea Day is marked by various events, including tea festivals, plantation tours, and educational programs aimed at promoting the history and cultural significance of Ceylon tea. These celebrations not only honor the legacy of those who have contributed to the tea industry but also highlight the ongoing efforts to innovate and adapt to changing market demands while preserving the unique qualities that make Ceylon tea so special.

As we raise our cups on International Tea Day, let’s toast to the vibrant flavors, rich history, and unparalleled distinction of Ceylon tea. It is a beverage that transcends borders, bringing people together through its exquisite taste and timeless appeal.

Hikes in Sri Lanka

10 Tips – Guide to Budget Travel in Sri Lanka

01.Visit in the low season

There are two prominent tourism seasons in Sri Lanka. December to April is the high season and May to October is the low season. Due to the mild temperatures and less rainfall, more visitors prefer to travel in the peak season(Guide to Budget Travel). Therefore, prices for accommodations and transportation tend to be higher during this peak tourist season(Guide to Budget Travel). Hotels and lodgings are quite expensive in these months due to the high influx of travelers

02.Stay in hostels or homestays

Guide to Budget Travel

A few years ago, the only tourist accommodation available in Sri Lanka was luxury or semi-luxury hotels. Affordable, quality lodging was harder to find throughout the island. Currently, Sri Lanka offers plenty of choices for tourists, from budget-friendly hostels, guesthouses to homestays.

03.Always use metered taxi

Tuk tuks are the easiest way to travel short distances within the country. Unfortunately, they are infamous for ripping off tourists and even the locals. Sometimes, foreign travelers are overcharged double or triple the regular price(Guide to Budget Travel). Thus, always remember to use a metered taxi for your rides. You can use the PickMe or Uber app to book your ride easily and cheaply. These taxi-booking apps are quite useful for budget travelers in Sri Lanka.

04.Eat the local food

Guide to Budget Travel

You will find plenty of high-end restaurants serving international cuisine in Sri Lanka. But these Western foods like Pizza, Hamburger, or KFC is quite expensive and a meal usually costs 15-30 USD per person(Guide to Budget Travel). Enjoying these foods in Sri Lanka isn’t pocket-friendly for budget travelers. Therefore, eating at local restaurants is the best option and a delicious way to immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s culinary scene.

05.Use public transportation

Guide to Budget Travel

Bandaranaike International Airport is located around 35 km from the main Colombo city centre. Unless you are traveling as a group, airport taxi charges are quite expensive for budget travelers. Therefore, you can catch the shuttle bus between Colombo Airport and the Katunayake Airport Bus Station which is located 50 m from the terminals. Then, catch the direct expressway public bus to reach Colombo (Pettah) central bus stand within 30 minutes. From there, you will be able to travel to any part of the country(Guide to Budget Travel). This is the cheapest way to reach Colombo to save your transportation cost.

06.Select the attractions (Guide to Budget Travel)

Selecting attractions is one of the most important tips for budget travel in Sri Lanka. If you are traveling on a tight budget, you can avoid costly attractions and select cheap ones. For example, one of the major tourist attractions in the country is Sigiriya Rock Fortress(Guide to Budget Travel). But the entrance fee is quite expensive and it costs 30 USD. Thus, many budget travelers visit nearby Pidurangala Rock instead of Sigiriya, by paying only 3 USD. Although these two places aren’t similar, it gives a more economical experience to budget travelers.

07.Find the cheap air tickets

The official airline in the country is Sri Lankan Airlines. You can browse all the exclusive Sri Lankan Airlines special offers on this official webpage. They offer the best airfare deals with brand-new offers updated regularly. Choose from the best discount flights and remember to check back for the latest deals. Since travel agents often add a service fee, booking directly with the airline helps you to save a lot of money.

08.Share the safari vehicle

Guide to Budget Travel

This is one of the most important budget travel tips in Sri Lanka. When you are planning a safari trip, try to visit as a group with some friends or fellow travelers. By sharing the cost of the safari vehicle, you can save money.

09.Rent a scooter or tuk tuk

Guide to Budget Travel

If you like to drive yourself, renting a scooter is the most economical way to explore Sri Lanka. In this way, you can avoid crowds in public transportation and travel comfortably throughout all corners of the island. Most importantly, this is the cheapest way to move around the country. The charge is starting from 6 USD per day and it will save a lot of money on your transportation cost.

10.Join travel communities

Joining Sri Lanka travel groups is something quite important for tourists. One of the most famous travel forums in Sri Lanka is the TripAdvisor travel forum where you can get a lot of valuable information. In this forum, you can meet like-minded travelers who like to share their experiences(Guide to Budget Travel). You can ask any travel-related question and experts will answer within seconds. Moreover, if you like to share the taxi costs, you can ask other fellow travelers to find a travel buddy.

Visa free

Sri Lanka’s tourism poised for remarkable growth as Visa free travel enhances industry potential

Tourism in Sri Lanka is on a high growth trajectory following a boost in Sri Lanka’s potential as a must-visit destination. Visa free travel for tourists from China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan has provided the right nudge for tourists to put Sri Lanka on the top of their travel bucket list.

Nationals from these countries planning to visit Sri Lanka need to apply for Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) before arriving, subject to granting of visa free of charge. The scheme is valid until March 2024 while the visa is valid for 30 days, permitting double entry from the date of initial arrival to Sri Lanka. However, industry sources believe that the boost in tourist arrivals may encourage the visa free travel scheme to be extended further.

Having welcomed  208,253 visitors in January this year alone,  the highest in 4 years, the figures confirm a YoY increase of 103.1%. Tourists from India, Russia, the UK, Germany and China  top the list with 28,493 arrivals in the first four days of February 2024, confirming a figure of 7,000 travellers a day. The tourist arrivals are led by Russia with a 15% market share while India holds second position with 4,123 travellers. UK was seen as the third best market, with 2,592 (9%) arrivals with Germany (1,977) and China (1950) following.

A record number of tourists are visiting Sri Lanka – it was over 200,000 tourists during In January 2024 and during the first 12 days of February, the figure was almost 92,000.   Likely to receive 2 million visitors in 2024, the tourism sector could generate a revenue of USD 6 billion within the year. Avanthi Colombage, Country Manager for Visa in Sri Lanka says that as visiting Sri Lanka becomes a veritable option for tourists, offering visa free travel will boost arrivals and consequently, the digital economy. Today’s travelers are well versed with digital payment options and would expect to be able to pay without cash anywhere, with the ease of use, safety and access of digital payments like they do around the world, she adds.

Colombage says that tourism is a key sector of economic activity for Sri Lanka, contributing significantly to our country’s income. It also requires the wider merchant ecosystem – from mom-&-pop stores to micro-businesses to large merchants – to broad base the acceptance of digital payments, whether online or offline. “Tourists visiting Sri Lanka can then rely on a convenient, smooth and safe payment experience during their stay here.”
The recent Global Travel Intentions Study by Visa, confirms that today’s travelers look for experiential travel and not merely visiting tourist hotspots – which makes ubiquitous, seamless and secure payment access critical. Developing Sri Lanka’s payment infrastructure and ensuring a variety of options to travelers wherever they go – from cards, contactless payments and QR code payments to online and ecommerce payments would enhance tourism.

It is critical to assure travelers of convenience and access even when they travel off the beaten path. Imagine, if backpackers and explorers can have the same seamless digital payment experience at a small grocery shop in a remote town of Sri Lanka, they would leave with not just vivid memories but a great positive experience. 

There is still some way to go for Sri Lanka to be adept and advanced in digital payments. The insights from an IFC study on digital payments in the Sri Lankan retail sector showed that although usage of smartphones was high in our country, digital literacy was still low in areas outside the Western Province.

The government has set its sights on the opportunity for Sri Lanka to attract 5 million tourists by 2029, believed to bring in USD 21.6 billion by 2030. This will depend on tourism spends to increase to USD 4,000 per visitor and high-spending tourists visiting or revisiting Sri Lanka, reiterates Colombage.

Given the safety and seamless experience of using cashless payments, visitors also get the flexibility of paying in local currency and availing great offers on hotels, travel, retail, experiences etc. when they pay using cards. The ability to have great experiences, enjoy nature and the spirit of our island nation, combined with the convenience of paying digitally will go a long way in making for well-rounded enriching holiday experiences for tourists coming to Sri Lanka.

AboutVisa Inc. 

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at Visa.com

Contact:
Uma Balakrishnan

[email protected]

Sri Lanka's picturesque hill station

Demodara Railway Station – Sri Lanka’s picturesque hill station

Sri Lanka’s picturesque hill station is dotted with quaint railway stations. The tiny but important Demodara Railway Station is located in the tranquil Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. This unassuming station is steeped in history and captures the spirit of a bygone period when the railway’s iron rails initially connected this island nation’s hill country stations.

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Exploring Sri Lanka’s Hill Country Heritage: Colonial Bungalows and Cucumber Sandwiches

Introduction

There’s nothing more soul searching than a visit to the winding down roads of Sri Lanka’s hill country. The tree lined roads that accompany green hills(legacy of the hill country), clouds that light up the sky and the strong sense of knowing you are in a place where waterfalls whisper and hills change colour all year around.

Where ancient legends meet geological wonders, and the earth whispers tales of cosmic journeys and heroic flames

This is where paradise comes down to earth, where earth touches the sky. legacy of the hill country

legacy of the hill country

Sri Lanka’s hill country is nestled deep in the hills, either on mountain tops or in valleys nestled in between. Here, you will be able to go back in time and see the plantation bungalows that once stood tall in the area, capturing the very essence of the hill country soul.

The bungalows still beckon with neatly laid out teas and dainty cucumber sandwiches, served with hot Ceylon tea. Take your pick – either the all time favourite Earl Grey or the more stable and robust flavours grown in south of the island(legacy of the hill country). Maybe the light floral taste of Nuwara Eliya grown teas, highland beverage at its best.

The bungalow experience of the Sri Lankan highlands must be savoured with good taste and impeccable manners. Back in the day, the British planters had rituals set in stone – tea on the lawn, lavish dinners and elegant dances, club hall festivities and the good old rugby matches(legacy of the hill country). The nostalgic sense prevails when one sees the bungalows still intact, now more of a restored tourist destination than the rough and tumble abodes they used to be.

Stories are told of planters clearing the land to grow tea back in the old days, of putting up camp in rough sheds with nothing but the sky for the roof ; long before the study bungalows were put up. Plantations culture was something to be savoured for over a century, a unique combination of rituals, lavish meals, plenty of celebrations and feasts.

White clad waiters anxious to serve you, home made chocolate cake for tea time, cucumber sandwiches for tea in the rose gardens and lavish dinner parties with Sri Lankan favourites – stringhoppers and molagathanni , a traditional British curry soup, hot off the stove, served with freshly picked strawberries from the fields.

Lots of laughter, games and parties that appeased the lonely life in the plantations somehow – camaraderie among planters and their families, keeping up estates that dotted the landscape far and wide(legacy of the hill country). With children studying in the city or overseas, the planter couples always found time to mingle with other planter families to overcome loneliness and isolation.

The fireplaces are stacked with freshly split firewood, brought in from the luscious jungles surrounding the estates(legacy of the hill country). This is where the salubrious climate yields roses and dahlias and the landscape reminds the British of home.

Sri Lanka’s hill country is also known as little England – walk into Nuwara Eliya, dotted with historic buildings and hotels that remind one of a little English town, and you can for one second, be mistaken about the location.

There are various hill stations beside Nuwara Eliya. There’s Haputale and Diyatalawa,  traditional tea stations where many plantations were. There’s also Bandarawela and Ella, nestled in the hills, each a unique destination that is celebrated for the climate and the unique landscapes.

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The story of Gajaman Nona – Sri Lanka’s famous poetess whose beauty and prose were legendary

Gajaman Nona stands tall as Sri Lanka’s best known poetess who left in indelible mark on the island’s literary landscape – and in the heart of Sir John D’Oyly, the well known British administrator who was associated with the Kandyan Convention

Nonagama deep in the south of the island, is said to be D’Oyly’s gift to her, when she requested him as the Government Agent for Matara – via a 14 verse poem – for assistance. She had been widowed twice at the time with three children to support. In D’Oyly, she is said to have found a sympathetic ear to her lot of life and also a streak of romance.

Gajaman Nona, originally named Donna Isabella Koraneliya, was born 1746 in Kollupitiya, Ceylon. She was baptized at St. Paul’s Church in Milagiriya, Bambalapitiya, and had been known from an early age for her stunning beauty. 

Her family, led by Don Francisco Senarathna Kumara Perumal and Francina Jasenthu Graivo, played a pivotal role in nurturing her upbringing. Their commitment to Rājākariya, a form of feudal service, eventually led the family to Kahawatta in Beliatta. It was within this close-knit familial circle that she received her initial education, imbibing a unique blend of cultural influences, including the Portuguese, whose presence had left an indelible mark on the island nation. This diverse cultural backdrop would go on to influence her life and work in profound ways.

Gajaman Nona the poetess

The story of Gajaman Nona

Gajaman Nona’s prodigious literary talents were discovered at a young age, capturing the admiration of her community. Her family’s partial Westernization, influenced by the Dutch, set her apart as a young woman of remarkable individuality, reflected in her distinctive clothing and style.

One of the earliest glimpses of her poetic prowess can be traced to a poignant Sinhala poem she composed when her water pot mysteriously disappeared. In this simple yet eloquent piece, she poured her emotions of frustration and longing, revealing her innate gift for poetic expression. This heartfelt poem remains an enduring testament to her early brilliance

The poetic journey – Gajaman Nona

As Gajaman Nona matured, her literary talents flourished in tandem. She quickly earned the honorific name “Gajaman Nona,” signifying her elevated status as a lady of immense promise. Her journey led her to compose a plethora of poems and verses that showcased her mastery of the Sinhala language.

Her poetic themes spanned the spectrum, from love and beauty to profound social commentary and satire. Fearlessly, she addressed controversial topics and challenged societal norms through her work, using her poetry as a mirror reflecting the complexities of her time.

Legacy and Commemoration

Today, Gajaman Nona’s legacy stands as an enduring testament to her profound impact on Sinhalese literature. A statue erected in her honor in Ambalantota serves as a constant reminder of her contributions to the cultural tapestry of Sri Lanka. Nonagama Junction, aptly named after this enigmatic poetess, stands as a symbolic intersection of culture and history.

Emerging as an independent woman

Gajaman Nona was best known for her fearless streak of independence that saw her challenge and overcome the pettiness the society at the time threw at her. Twice widowed, struggling to bring up her children without economic support, she had to teach young girls from well-to-do families for an income.

In the face of her beauty and her widowhood, there were many men who came forward to help her with ulterior motives but she did not give in and did not allow the pressure to get to her. She did have a close relationship with Elapatha Mudali, an admirer who enjoyed poetry with the same dedication as she did.

But her greatest legacy came with Sir John D’Oyly the much admired British administrator who learnt and spoke fluent Sinhala with the same tutor as her – Ven. Karathota Thero, an erudite Buddhist monk in the South who taught Sinhala.

Gajaman Nona and Sir John exchanged poetry and were very comfortable in each other’s company – although this set the tongues wagging at a time when gender roles were strictly observed. But Gajaman Nona was ahead of her time and did not care much for the gossip.

It is said that Sir John had the poetry she wrote to him translated into English and sent to his mother in Britain.

The legacy of Sri Lanka’s pioneer poetess who feared nothing but expressed herself and her eloquence in verse, lives on in the island.