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Now for the Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka

Sunday 9 April 2006, by SHANKAR*T.S

Sri Lanka Tourist Board and SriLankan Airlines target Indian market with new package

CHENNAI: Mythological events and images from the Ramayana epic will now provide the backdrop for an innovative package for visiting tourists offered by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board and SriLankan Airlines.

"Ramayana creates a lot of interest in India and Sri Lanka. Hence, SriLankan Airlines thought it fit to use it as a marketing strategy to woo tourists from India," says N. Prabaharan, its regional manager for Sri Lanka and India Sub-Continent.

Starting with Colombo, the Ramayana tourist circuit will initially cover Avissawlla, Bandarawela, Ella, Welimada, Hakga, Nuwara Eliya, Sita Eliya, Pussellawa, and Kandy. The second phase will touch Kurunegala, Wariapola, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Mannar and Talaimannar. The third will lead to the Great Southern Road to Weligama and the Great and Little Basses islets.

It was to Deewrungahawela that Rama brought Sita after eliminating Ravana and conquering Lanka. A village on the Bandarawela-Nuwara Eliya road has a temple where the banyan, bo-tree for Buddhists, was planted as "the tree of the oath." At Sita Eliya is a temple associated with Rama’s consort: Wariapola in Kurunegala district has an "airport" used by Ravana for his "Pushpakavimanam."

From a fibre glass boat , tourists can see the remains of what is believed to be Rama’s Bridge, spanning 22 miles from Palk Strait to Talaimannar.

Madubhani Perera, Assistant Director, Sri Lanka Tourist Board, said Indian tourists were high spenders on the island. The Board hopes to attract over 1.5 lakh overseas visitors this year, a majority of them from India.

SriLankan Airlines operates 88 weekly flights to nine Indian destinations, the most that any foreign carrier does.

Goa will be the 10th destination from November, Chandana De Silva, head of corporate communications, told a group of visiting journalists from India.

See online : The Hindu

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