Tea Lanka

When Marco Polo discovered Sri Lanka, he called it ‘the finest island of its size in... the world’. Only hours away from India, the island has everything from beaches to wildlife. On a recent work trip, Neha Mishra discovered the wonders of Sri Lanka. Here’s what she got to enjoy.

During this trip, I became acquainted with the wonderful capital city of Colombo, the resort-like Kandy, and Nuwara Eliya at the northern tip. I went on this beautiful, six-day holiday through work, accompanied by a colleague.
 Apart from the more common reasons to visit Sri Lanka, I went for the tea plantations. Dilmah tea is one of the most popular ethnic varieties originating from here, so my trip was focused on exploring it. After all, I was representing Radisson Blu at the 2013 Dilmah School of Tea Conference.

It was a six-day conference that began with a visit to the manufacturing unit at the Dilmah head office in Colombo. Up next was a day at the Hilton Colombo – tea-making, tea mixology, and a variety  of gastronomical experiences. Top bartenders from across the globe had been invited to showcase their talents with tea-based concoctions. I’d never known that tea can be used so diversely in mixology, gastronomy and more.
The trip was meant to give me a complete understanding of how Dilmah operates as a company, in order to help me with the launch of India’s first tea bar. I learnt a lot about tea mixology; the beverage is a great thing to bond over.

While in Sri Lanka, I also visited the Dilmah Charitable Foundation, which helps underprivileged people in ways that surpass charity alone. I interacted with the children, participating in games and bonding with them all. It was a beautiful day – if nothing else, we celebrated our differences.

Another memorable moment was at Nuwara Eliya, located in the northern part of Sri Lanka and known for its tea plantations. While I have unfortunately not visited Darjeeling, I got to experience it in a sense at Nuwara Eliya. The lush, green gardens and pleasant weather, along with the sight of diligent workers earning their livelihood, gave me a very peaceful feeling. It made me realise that I must visit Darjeeling soon to see our own country’s beautiful tea gardens.
I must mention my stay at The Grand, which has a history of over 100 years. One of the most beautiful hotels I’ve seen, it has a wonderful colonial feel – and the food is extraordinary! If you get a chance, stay here. Don’t miss out on a relaxing day in the award-winning gardens filled with beds of flowers. You can experience the natural spa, too, while you sip on rejuvenating French vanilla tea.

Seafood lovers must check out the Ministry Of Crab at the Dutch Hospital compound in Colombo. Quite historical, it’s a great place to unwind till late in the evening, listening to some good live bands and meeting interesting people from faraway lands.

If you’re going in a large group, the cruise party at the Cinnamon Grand is something you must do. These soirees are truly excellent, and shopaholics will enjoy the famous and quirky Odel store in Colombo – it’s easy on the pocket, too!
When planning a trip to Sri Lanka, try travelling to as many places as you can. It’s not too difficult, since the distance from the northern to the southern tip is not very far. You can experience the best beaches as well as the beauty of the mountains. Nuwara Eliya is a definite must-see!
Sri Lanka reminded me of the south of India; it really feels like part of our own country. The people are very warm and helpful, culturally driven with a more focused approach to government. Unfortunately, I couldn’t explore the south of Sri Lanka, but I’m saving that for next time.     – Neha