Words & Illustrations: Namrata Singh
Edits: Tanushree Baijal
I visited Sri Lanka this May, one of the most remarkable tropical islands I’ve visited in the recent past. This jewel shaped island surrounded by the Indian ocean threw up many surprises, main among which were its verdant landscapes, lip smacking cuisine, incredible wildlife and welcoming people. Every part of Sri Lanka has a unique cultural identity, which is heavily influenced both by its location in the Indian Ocean and by its proximity to South India.
This small island country assaults every one of your senses with its diversity in landscapes, architecture, food, and even music. Inspired by that amazing trip, I created this series of watercolor illustrations documenting my favorite moments in Sri Lanka, wherein I photograph some of the illustrations with the backdrops that inspired them.
- 1. Turtle hatchery illustration
Location: Bentota beach
The sea turtle conservation project operated by the Wildlife Protection society of Sri Lanka is doing a great job in saving the sea turtles that are in grave danger. Today I had the opportunity to see the Olive Ridley turtles, the Green turtles, the Hawksbill turtles and the Loggerhead turtles. The Leatherbacks were also a part of this but they are highly endangered. This was an illustration dedicated to the conservation efforts!!
2. Whale watching
Location: Mirissa beach
Whale watching is a fun and popular way to learn about and experience marine life up close in Sri Lanka! However, please choose a responsible tour operator who doesn’t simply seek out a particular species of whale to target for the tour. Studies have shown that this can lead to disruption in behavioral patterns, mass migrations and even reduced reproductive success in many species. It is a privilege to experience these magnificent creatures in person, not a right.
3. Tea plantations
Location: Nuwara Eliya
If you ever wondered where your cup of tea was born, well, this could be one of the possible places! Nuwara Eliya is a little tea land surrounded by several other lush tea plantations. Perched on the mountain top, dotted with waterfalls, amidst the mist-shrouded green fields that seem to extend forever this is paradise for sure! This is a little illustration of one of the many tea plants.
4. Elephant illustration
Location: Pinnawala elephant orphanage
Pinnawala elephant orphanage home was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department on a massive coconut palm property adjoining the Maha Oya River. The orphanage was founded to afford care and protection to the orphaned elephants found in the jungles of Sri Lanka. Today they have successfully managed to fulfill all their goals and really are doing a great job! This little illustration is dedicated to the conservation efforts at Pinnawala
5. Idiiyappam with coconut sambol
A trip to this little island has given me the opportunity to feast on its rich, delicious cuisine, which is influenced by its geography. Flanked between the Indian ocean on both sides it is indeed a feast land. Idiyappam with sambol is the Sri Lankan version of pancakes made using fermented rice flour and coconut milk. The sambol that goes with it is made using fresh grated coconut (literally straight from the closest tree), red chillies and onions. Its yummy!
6. Crab curry
The succulent, juicy mud crabs were cooked in coconut milk, garlic and ginger paste, curry leaves and minced coriander. It is a staple diet of Sri Lanka shaped by many historical, cultural and social factors.
7. Illustrated map of Sri Lanka
There is far more to this little island than I could fit into a blog post, but here’s a starter. It’s full of pristine beaches, ancient ruins, monasteries, temples, monkeys seen grooming themselves, Asian elephants, colonial forts, icy waterfalls, backwaters, verdant landscapes, tea plantations, turtle hatcheries, a buzzing local life and a lot more! It’s a tiny little island with a powerful punch and a must visit for all!