Maldives is the lowest country in the world, its average ground level is only 1.5 meters above sea level. A glance around the beach, and there is a multitude of faces, races, some strolling, some lying, some in love and all smiling, content, unhurried. There is no rush for office, or any of the other things that seemed terribly important back in my country. It is as if time has taken a new meaning here. Next, fly to Colombo, visit the national museum if you want to understand the country’s history. Chill at the Galle Face Promenade with your loved one in the evening, or just roam the street bazaar at Pettah and mingle with the locals. Situated close to the equator, Maldives & Sri Lanka enjoys a moderate climate. Constant cool sea breeze negates the effects of a stubborn overhead sun, and the weather is consistently pleasant.
Places to visit
National Museum of Colombo: The largest museum in the country, this building was established on January 1, 1877 and its founder was the then Governor of Ceylon, Sir William Henry Gregory. Today the museum houses some of the best insignia of Sri Lanka’s history. Probably the most valuable of the regalia would be the throne and the crown jewels of the Kandyan monarchs, the royal sword of Raja Wickrama Rajasinghe, and his baton and foot stool. There are a number of other important exhibits arranged in ascending order of time,that help greatly illustrate the history of the island country.
The Galle Face Green is a beautiful promenade that stretches for over a kilometre along the coast. Spread over 5 hectares, it is the largest open space in Colombo. The sunset here is positively eye catching. Particularly crowded over the weekend, it is a favourite spot for children, teenagers, families, vendors and other entrepreneurs chancing their luck and skill at their little stalls!
Gangaramaya Temple: This beautiful Buddhist temple is located close to the waters of the Beira Lake. There are a substantial number of statues, most big in size and wonderfully painted. As you walk towards a building of exhibits (quaint looking clocks, wristwatches etc.), an elephant of good size and repute sits outside contentedly. There is also a museum, a library, a residential hall, a three storeyed Pirivena, and educational halls in the temple complex.
St. Lucia’s Cathedral: Named in honour of St. Lucy, this beautiful cathedral is the oldest of its kind in the country. The Cathedral is a good example of Gothic architecture and its façade is supported by massive ionic columns and is embellished with seven statues. Exquisite stained glass windows, decorated altars and a statue of Madonna are the prime highlights of this cathedral.
Wadduwa Beach: Drive down to Wadduwa beach, just 12 kms from main Colombo city. Its claims to be one of the best beaches in the region are not in vain, the golden sand and crystal clear water charming all and sundry that visit it. A large clump of palm trees provides shade from the sun, and many a group are found sitting and enjoying their picnic lunches under this natural canopy. When the waves are high, give the sport of wind surfing a chance, splash in the water, and then come out – a little tousle haired, a lot wet, and richer in experience!
National Museum, Male: One of the main tourist attraction destinations of the country, the museum was earlier the Sultan’s palace. It houses a valuable collection of objects belonging to the Sultans. Ornaments and costumes of kings and queens, arms and armor, items of the Maldives’ pre-Islamic period, old paper and cloth manuscripts, anthropological objects – objects representing Maldives’ history and culture are exhibited in the museum.
Old Friday Mosque, Male: Constructed by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar in 1656, it is the biggest mosque in Maldives. And what pretty artwork! A beautiful golden dome gives you the first hint of its splendor. With its unique minarets, wonderful coral engravings and tombs of national heroes as well as members of royalty, a visit to this imperial mosque promises to take you through a lovely journey into the past. The mosque has a total accommodate capacity of 5000 people.
National Art Gallery, Male: It is the only one-of-its-kind gallery in the country, and therefore art lovers should take a little peek into this place.
Seenu Atoll: The second largest atoll in the Maldives, this was earlier an air force base. With splendid diving locations, this is one of the best places in the world if you want to explore marine life in all its magnificence. The reefs here are teeming with exotic sea mammals such as manta ray, eagle ray, green turtles and lobsters. Gray reef sharks and white tip reef sharks are also found in specific areas. Thus even scientists and marine biologists throng this region regularly.
North Male Atoll: Veligandu Island Beach and Banana reef are two of the most popular tourist spots in the North Male atoll.
Biyadhoo Island, South Male Atoll: A privately-owned island at the South Male Atoll, Biyadhoo is about 29 kilometres from the Male International Airport, and like most of the islands in the southern side, its known for its superb diving spots and glorious marine life. A walk on the beach as the sun sets quietly into the Indian Ocean, and you will be bound to wonder if paradise could really be any different.