The Early Travelers of Sri Lanka












Ceylon of the early travellers
by H.A.J. Hapugalle 1965

A traveler, Journalist of 30 years
and was Ceylon's Ambassador to
Rome and Athens
and Became First Head of
Ceylon Information Department
in 1948



Sir Emerson Tennent says
in his well known book on Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

There are no island in the world that has attracted the attention of authors in so many distant ages and so many different countries as ceylon. There are no nation in ancient or modern times possesed of a language and a literature ... It's nature, beauty, culture, religion,antiquities and productions have been described as well as Greeks, Romans, The writers of China, Burma, India and the geographers of Arabia and Persia; By the medieval voyagers of Italy, France and Germany; By the analysts of Portugal and Spain; By the merchant adventurers of Holland and Topographers of Great Britain.
Pliny (45 A.D)
One of the greatest Roman Historian writes about Sri Lanka in his encyclopaedic work writes

''It had been of long time thought by men in ancient days that Taprobane (Sri Lanka) was a second world"
FA HIEN (414 A.D)
The Chinese pilgrim spent two years in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) mostly at Anuradhapura then a famous center of learning was the furthest point from his home in his 15 year old odyssey.
He writes about Sri Lanka in his works

"This country is an oasis, prosperous and happy; it's people are well-to-do; they all have received the faith, and find their amusement in religeous music.
The se-faring nations knew Sri Lanka from very early times because of its positions on the trade routes. The greeks called it Taprobane. Cosmos the greek merchnat from Alexandria gives us the fullest account of Sri Lanka.

"The island being as it is , in a position, is much frequented by ships from all parts of India and from Persia and Ehiopia and it like wise sends out many of it's own and those from remote countries like china and other trading places..."
SINBAD The Sailor in the Arabian Nights
In the middle ages many Christians and Muslims belived that Ceylon was indeed the earthly paradisee to which Adam was consigned after he was expelled from Eden, and Adam's Peak naturally figured in their speculation.

Sinbads narrative was based on recitals of two famous topographers Abouzeyd and Massoudi (9th Century). Sinbad writes in his notes

"I made by way of a devotion a pilgrimage to the place where Adam was confined after his banishment from Paradise and had the curiosity to go to the top of the mountain"

Adam's Peak (Sri Pada)
Before Europeans came to be interested in the island, The Arabs had a virtual monopoly of the trade with Ceylon which they called Zeilan or Serandib. The Arab travellers and seafarers have left their comments on Sri Lanka.

Marco Polo Arrived in Sri Lanka as the escort of the princess Kukhachin the grand daughter of Kabulai Khan on her way to espouse the  great Khan of Persia. Marco polo writes

"This, for it's actual size, is better circumstanced than any other island in the world .. the island produces more beautiful and valuable rubies than found in any other place in the world .."

"In this island there is a very high mountain where the tomb of Adam, our first parent, is supposed to be found"

Beruwala a Fishing harbor was the sea port of Early travelers who traveled to the Adam's peak

By the 14th Century Sri Lanks fame was speread in Europe and Arab as the Island of the holy mountains, which made two Italian friars visiting the island in 1329 and 1349 says

"There is also an island called Sillan which is 2000 miles away, there be found an infinite number of serpants and many other wild animals in great numbers , specially the elephants"

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an efusion creation 2004