Heads of foreign mssions in Lanka on a a tour of heritage sites
Colombo, 16 January, (Asiantribune.com): In a bid to showcase Sri Lanka as a tourist destination with diverse attractions, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau stepped forward recently to invite the Colombo based heads of foreign missions in the country, to visit heritage sites of special interest. In the first of a series of tours and other specialized activities to continue into 2009, several ambassadors and other members of the delegations representing countries such as Russia, Indonesia, Iran, and the European Union were taken to the sacred cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and the rock fortress of Sigiriya, to familiarize the group to ancient cities of repute, in our country.
Starting with Ibbankatuwa, the early Iron Age megalithic burial site, the delegation, some of whom had very recently taken up appointment in the country, were given an overview of the sites of much cultural and historic significance. It was an excursion that led the group through many a trodden as well as not so popular, undisturbed sites.
A joint venture between the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Central Cultural Fund, the tour was carried out under the guidance of Professor Sudharshan Seneviratne, Director General, Central Cultural Fund and Professor of Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology, University of Peradeniya. He is also the Co-Director of the Anuradhapura Citadel Archaeology Project.
Commenting on the tour, Prof. Seneviratne said, "Sri Lanka has a heritage enriched by archaeological sites dating back to over three thousand years of multi cultural ethos. It is necessary that we reach out to the diplomatic community and this excursion has indeed proved how fruitful such ventures are." Given the success of the event, we hope to continue with similar ventures in future, to the south and to the central hills of the country, he further added.
The Russian Ambassador, V Mikhaylov expressed his sincere appreciation for organizing such a cultural tour and suggested that high officials of both countries should come together to discuss ways and means of practically bringing about change or promoting and fostering heritage sites and other historic places of interest.
A unique feature of the Sri Lankan cultural heritage experience is that many places of interest lies in close proximity to each other thereby giving the visitor a plethora of sites to explore within a short period of time, said Mr Bernard Goonetilleke, the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
The Ambassador of Indonesia Djafar Husein stated that Sri Lanka is an exquisite landmark, offering many interesting aspects to be explored, and that he will take every effort to promote Sri Lanka within his country.
Apart from the more commonly visited sites such as the oldest historical tree in the world, the Sri Maha Bodhi, the tallest brick built monument in the world, the Jethavana Stupa, and such other places of interest, the group was also escorted to the Anuradhapura citadel excavation site, which is hardly open to anyone except the archaeologists and excavators, and unearths the marvels of town planning and varied aspects of life in ancient times.
As beautiful as the apsaras, as alluring as the palatial remains, as rejuvenating as the Sigiriya herbal garden, was the exuberant hospitality of the CCF officers in charge of the Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Anuradhapura sites. Traditional Sri Lankan hospitality came alive in those moments, as the VIP gathering was served with fresh thambili water and a variety of locally abundant fruits and traditional sweetmeats.
Ambassador of Iran, M R Gorji stated that we need to create more awareness about the historically significant cultural sites in Sri Lanka. He also mentioned the need to move forward with the agreement on economic cooperation, entered into, by the two countries.
The visitors expressed their appreciation for organizing this event and stated that they generally felt quite safe within the country, in spite of the prevailing situation. They further expressed their support in promoting the destination within their respective countries.
- Asian Tribune -