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WAY BACK NORTH

In 2019, Sri Lanka will mark a decade at peace – explore the northern regions of our number one Best in Travel country as they open up to visitors keen to take a path less trodden, among vivid temples and islands shaded by palm fronds
Photographs JONATHAN STOKES @jonstokes
Jaffna’s Hindu temple carvings
Shopping and commuting in Jaffna
Uparathana Thero is a monk at Mihintale.
Nilaveli beach, north of Trincomalee
Monks assist with the kapruka pooja ritual in Anuradhapura

‘The modern city shares its space with the ruins and jungle that seems always ready to close in’

THE ROAD FROM COLOMBO TO TRINCOMALEE takes around seven hours to drive, if you don’t get held up by elephants wandering across it. The tendrils of the west-coast capital – its billboards and roadside eateries – extend deep into a tropical countryside of coconut palms, banana plants and rice paddies. Eventually the buzz of three-wheelers and motorbikes recedes, and there are long miles through a savannahlike landscape where the stamp of heavy grey feet is never far away, before travellers reach the east-coast port of Trincomalee.

Incense and (below) enrobed dagobas at Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba in Anuradhapura.
Musicians step onto the sand in the temple complex of Mihintale.
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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - December 2018
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