Centre Of The Earth
The Greeks called it Taprobane. Ancient Sri Lankan chronicles speak of a kingdom called Tambapanni, ruled by the earliest recorded king of the island nation, King Vijaya. It was the 2nd century AD Greek mathematician, astronomer, cartographer and astrologer Ptolemy who is credited with creating the earliest map of Sri Lanka. He named it Thaprobana, and made it the centre of the earth! For a while, Ptolemy’s map became the polestar for sailors setting out from the west, eastwards to discover new lands or new routes. From the Arabs to the Portuguese, from the Dutch and Spanish to the British, they all came, across the centuries to Ceilao, or Sri Lanka. They discovered a fascinating land.
It is no wonder then that Marco Polo declared the atoll “the finest island of its size in the world; it was `Taprobane’ to the ancient Romans, `Serendib’ to Arab traders, `Ceilao’ as christened by the Portuguese, `Ceylan’ by the Dutch followed by `Ceylon’ by the British and finally Sri Lanka to the Sinhalese.
The teardrop shaped southernmost point of mainland Asia became an indispensable port of call for the earliest travelers awaiting favorable trade winds for onward journeys. This Great Emporium became a principal center of exchange and commerce between the Mediterranean trade of the Roman Empire and the wealth of imperial China. The Portuguese came with the sword and cross, the Dutch with ledger and law book and the British with roads and railways.
When Buddhism declined in the country of its birth, India, it took root in Ceylon; and here, so its adherents claim, it is still to be found in its purest form.
Discover Sri Lanka
This is Sri Lanka, the land of Serendipity – of pleasant surprises!
Let us take you on an exploratory journey to the pristine interiors and to the picturesque fringes of some of the most fascinating spaces that Sri Lanka has to offer. For those who may not be aware, the island nation boasts of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, incredibly numbering eight, all ensconced within its smallness!
Contemporary Sri Lanka is a land of sunny smiles that come from the heart and the beginning of the most extraordinary hospitality rooted in its people. When this meets with sun-warmed tropical climes and gastronomic delights, you know you are on the trip of a lifetime.
Sri Lanka has the most idyllic beaches and bays that promise surf and sand, crystalline lakes and cascades which tempt one for a dip. The green valleys and majestic highlands proudly hold up ancient fortresses to the sky. You can go on treks that end in the most divine sunrise you may have ever woken up to. Endemic and exotic species abound in the great wild outdoors and numerous reserves; large herds of elephants are known to amble across one’s path, or you could easily encounter a jungle cat basking in the sunshine!
Discover Sri Lanka
Every Sri Lankan city and town has a distinct character and homegrown culture: the quaintness of ocean-swept Galle with its Dutch and Portuguese influences, Colombo, the capital city where tradition meets a bustling cosmopolitan spirit, the culturally rich Kandy with its laidback charms and mist-laden balmy weather, and Jaffna of the red earth, devout shrines, colourful saris and a people proud of their ancestry.
Sri Lankan cuisine is simple yet nuanced, a burst of spices and colours. Herbs and spices get tossed about, fried, simmered, sizzled and roasted, and the outcomes are a tongue-tingling feast for the palate. Brace yourself for a wild culinary ride, whether it is street food or traditional cuisine; every dish is made with love and attention to detail – from the national staple, egg hoppers (fried egg ladled onto a crepe/pancake in a bowl shape) to the wholesome herbal porridge or “kola kenda” or the complexities of the delectable “lamprais” (a dish made up of two or three meat curries with rice boiled in stock and a host of ingredients all of which is wrapped in banana leaf and baked) of Dutch ancestry, or the water buffalo curd covered with palm syrup.
Sri Lanka ticks all the boxes for any traveller looking for that complete experience: there is history, culture, wildlife, nature reserves, pristine beaches, people interactions and cuisine. Add to that an infrastructure that is making strides, highways and roads assuring efficient connectivity especially from the international airport in Colombo to different parts of the pearl-shaped island, and the increasing presence of local and global hospitality brands.
If in Sri Lanka you get a pitch-perfect destination, then, in Authenticities you get the ultimate travel partner. We are determined to design for you an impeccable holiday, handcrafted to meet the requirements of the persona that you are, ensuring incredible memories of a lifetime. The premium we lay on evoking emotion and organising immersive and authentic experiences all around, while showcasing the splendours of the country, is something you will value and carry back with you. Allow Authenticities to be your guide and take you on that once in-a-lifetime journey.
More than just a nondescript travel plan, our emotions transcend traditional activities, integrating classic travel concepts with community interactions, facilitating close encounters with local cultures and traditional lifestyles, thus giving you a holistic experience.
Come and explore, discover and get to know intimately a culture upheld by its warm people, the glories of the past, heritage and habitats, a country that has beckoned inquisitive and intrepid travellers to its shores since times immemorial.
Culture & History
Over the millennia, successive invaders poured into Ceylon, bearing their language, technology, cuisine, art and above all, their religion. The Portuguese marched the lands with their sword and cross; the Dutch with ledger and lawbook; the British with roads and railways. The influence of each of these invasions though waning remains powerful yet still. Perhaps, travelling through the island you might notice much of these influences through the architecture of colonial buildings, the names of streets, the cuisine and even in an islander’s features. Although the impact didn’t wholly affect the indigenous lifestyles in the bygone era, the island’s fascination continues to arise from the extraordinary amalgamation of cultures afflicted in the past. You may discover yet that deep within an islander’s way of life, the customs and traditions remain intact as it was centuries ago.
While we love introducing visitors to the legacies and stories of the past, we are also conscious of the adverse effects of over-tourism. We walk the talk and ensure we are gentle with our resources. A consistent endeavour is to unearth lesser-known historical elements and present them with the utmost care. And for this, we are indebted to our regional experts who play a significant role in supporting our ideology.
Impressions & Expressions
Our journey at Authenticities began with a collective passion for inspiring a world without mass tourism, but with bespoke travel experiences. Our mission is that you experience first impressions and expressions of this amazing island by connecting with cultures infused by our core values; authenticity, passion and connection.
Today, travel is increasingly about meeting people and getting to know them in their natural habitats. It is about going beyond the superficial and sharing perspectives, enriching oneself and others in the process. What leaves lasting impressions of a place or a journey are the people you have met along the way, the conversations you have had, and the stories you have exchanged. It is these deep-seated interfaces that enhance any travel experience.
With this in mind, we have successfully created a network of unique proprietors working closely with local communities, who are more involved and interactive in preserving the authentic Sri Lankan experience. We hope this will create a doorway for you to engage in immersive travel concepts with the guidance of exclusive local hosts who will let you in on discovering hidden gems and the back of beyond.
Art & Architecture
The island is a haven for art, aesthetics and a gamut of architectural wonders. From ancient kings with elegant taste whose works have left lasting impressions, to modern-day artists whose creations dazzle and inspire, Sri Lanka is a destination unveiling the curtain to a variety of artistic styles stemming from as far as two-and-a-half millennia. Today, many a visitor remains to flow into the heart of such historic cities as Colombo, Kandy and Galle and perhaps even to more remote parts of the island – Jaffna, to witness the vintage impressiveness that was once instilled on the island many a century ago. Above all, Sri Lanka is a testament to witnessing artistic impressions and creativity that have influenced the fabric of society from the times of antiquity, until the present day. Inherited in Sri Lanka through Celebrated personalities, such as the great Geoffrey Bawa – the ’43 group of artists, there are works of many prominent personalities that have paved the way for an architectural revolution to be explored in Sri Lanka. Artists such as Ena de Silva, who revived the country’s batik industry, Barbara Sansoni with her fabulous designs on cloth and paintings, Laki Senanayake master craftsman and one who dons many hats, have all introduced unbridled vibrancy and colours in their many creations across mediums.
Architecture is a prominent element on the island as the creations have to deal with the changing of monsoons humidity, and natural cooling systems bringing in the flow of air and light.
Spaces & Landscapes
Sri Lanka is a postcard-perfect destination year-round. The island undoubtedly a traveller’s paradise, offers everything from lush-green ancient forests, stately ancient ruins, thriving wildlife reserves and wide panoramas of crystal blue seas. Perhaps one of the most rewarding and thought-provoking experiences for travellers is to stray away from the everyday attractions and explore the depths of lifestyles where a flow of perspectives takes place at an unhurried pace. At Authenticities, we strive to look beyond the known realms and unearth the hidden lifestyles of the islanders in exchange for imparting a deeper appreciation for the native cultures that a visitor doesn’t often encounter. It is also in our interest to breathe life into already worn-out attractions, so that you, the visitor, are able to broaden perspectives of otherwise worn-out impressions.
The path less taken, the spaces lesser known, we love inspiring travellers to explore the unexplored. Perhaps, one of the many alluring aspects of this island is that one can embrace the wonders of nature without fleeing far from the centres of civilizations. As we make a conscious effort to feature resorts located in pristine environments, our trips are curated to make a positive impact, keeping in mind the climate awareness and social impact scale.
Exotic & Enigmatic
Tribes and exotic communes, earthy rituals and beliefs, rusticity and the esoteric; the islanders arise from a land of sunshine and rain. Elements of faith, 2,500 years of history and traditions trickled through generations have entwined themselves in the lives of every king, cultivator, monk, ordinary man, woman and child. Within the heart of an islander, compassion runs deep, but so do all other qualities of what make Sri Lankans the epitome of exotic and enigmatic beauty.
With diversity evident in the cultural landscape, Sri Lanka offers much variety for those willing to scratch beneath the surface. From the Kaffirs community in the north-west to the vibrant Hindu communities of the north and the Wanniyala-Aetto, or “forest people” in the Uva province, Sri Lanka is a highly sought-out destination to experience a rich mélange of cultures tied to unique customs and beliefs continuing from histories, centuries-old, grown into a way of life of its people.