In 1839 the first tea seeds were brought to Ceylon from Assam and planted at the Royal Botanical Gardens. In 1867, James Taylor marked the birth of the tea industry in Ceylon by starting a Tea Plantation in Loolecondera estate in Kandy, and over the years that followed Sri Lanka has become home to the best Tea in the world, making it one of the largest exporters of Tea.
The beautiful tea plantations blanketing the steeply rising hills are dotted with tea pluckers with baskets bulging fruitfully on their backs. A train journey from Colombo - Kandy - Hatton - Nanu Oya (leads to Nuwara Eliya), Haputale, Bandarwela and Badulla is one the most spectacular journeys of the world. The train passes through numerous unlit tunnels, through dramatic sceneries of green mountains, cascading waterfalls, rivers, deep ravines and brilliant green tea plantations.
Sri Lanka was affectionately known as Ratna-Dweepa which means Gem Island. The name is a reflection of its natural wealth. Marco Polo wrote that the island had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems in the world. Records from sailors that visited the island state that they brought back “jewels of Serendib”. Serendib was the ancient name given to the island by middle – eastern and Persian traders that crossed the Indian Ocean to trade gems from Sri Lanka to the East during the 4th and 5th century.
Throughout history, Sri Lanka has been known as a land of gems. King Solomon was said to have procured a great ruby for the Queen of Sheba from Ceylon. In more recent times, the Sri Lankan Blue Sapphire glows in the universe due to the Royal Marriage of the Century. This glamorous Blue Sapphire and Diamond Cluster was the engagement ring of the striking and admirable couple Prince William and Kate Middleton. The 12 Carat oval shape Blue Sapphire at the centre of the engagement ring given to Kate Middleton originally came from Sri Lanka.
At Bernard Tours we arrange Gem Tours inclusive of a visit to the Gem Museum providing a brief history of Sri Lankan gems, visit gem mines and see the how the locals search for gems and if you are adventurous, you too could try your hand at a bit of gem mining and see if you succeed in finding a precious gemstone.
We will take you to some of the best, trusted Gem stores offering a wide variety of reputed gemstone. Here the staff would explain the many types of gems in Sri Lanka and the birthstones along with their meanings. Contact us at Bernard Tours for a variety of precious gemstones and jewellery.