A Sri Lanka Photo Essay (It Will Make You Want to Visit The Teardrop Island!)

Travel in the Teardrop island through this Sri Lanka photo essay.


Many of the package tourists relaxing in the palm-fringed resorts of Sri Lanka will be unaware of what lies beyond its beaches.

For example, Polonnaruwa, the country’s capital between the 11th and 13th centuries, with its serene reclining Buddha. Or the train descending through the heart of the tea-growing country from Pattipola, the highest station in Sri Lanka, to the colonial hill town of Bandarawela.

The extravagant architecture of the ancient city of Kandy, encircled by lush tea plantations. And venturing south of Kandy, Horton Plains National Park with its vertigo-inducing views at World’s End.

This Sri Lanka photo essay reflects the teardrop island’s diversity and rich cultural heritage through a series of images of its landscapes and, especially, its people.

2 novice monks next to a resting buddha part of a sri lanka photo essay

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A Sri Lanka Photo Essay

mountains and valleys of World's End Horton Plains, Sri Lanka
World’s End Horton Plains, Sri Lanka

At the edge of Horton Plains National Park is the aptly named World’s End, a precipice with a 1050 meter drop. A few tourists have plunged to their death in an effort to capture that perfect shot.

mother and child peering out of train window in sri lanka
Waiting to leave, Pattipola station

Close to Horton Plains is Pattipola, the highest station in Sri Lanka. The train winds its way downwards through lush tea plantations to the town of Bandarawela.

portrait of a novice monk
The Look. A novice monk at Polonnaruwa

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in the 10th Century. This compact site is stuffed with architectural treasures, with hundreds of tombs, temples, statues and stupas.

driver posing next to a line of auto rickshaws against colonial buildings in sri lanka
Waiting for a fare, Kandy

Kandy, the capital of Sri Lanka’s highlands, was the last bastion of Buddhist political power against the colonial forces. Nowadays, visitors flock there for its pleasant climate and the World Heritage Site of The Temple of the Tooth.

elderly man pushing a cart of fruit for sale
Street vendor, Galle

The town of Galle on Sri Lanka’s south-western coast, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1988, is known for its colonial architecture, its fort and its laid-back vibe.

portrait of a Stilt fisherman, Unawatuna
Stilt fisherman, Unawatuna

Stilt fishing, or ritipanna, is a traditional fishing method practised in the Galle district. Before the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, this tradition was practised by around 500 families. However, the tsunami changed all that, and nowadays most of the stilt fishing that visitors see is enacted to create that perfect Instagram moment.


Travelling to Sri Lanka

It is possible to travel around Sr Lanka independently.

However, if you are short on time, you may wish to consider joining a small group tour. I travelled with Exodus Travels on their Discover Sri Lanka (Premium) tour, which I can recommend.

However, Explore Worldwide, with whom I have travelled on multiple occasions, offer a similar selection of tours. Check out their tours and cancellation policy here.