Foreign Heads of Mission on Familiarization Tour of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Presidential Secretariat and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau organized the Ella Odyssey, a familiarization tour of Nuwara Eliya and Ella for foreign heads of mission in Colombo, and nine heads of mission based in New Delhi who presented credentials to President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Ella Odyssey is part of Sri Lanka’s commemoration of 75 years of independence and 75 years of diplomacy – testament to the country’s enduring engagement with the international community.
This journey to the mesmerizing ‘tea country’ in the mountains of Sri Lanka took place from 1 – 3 July 2023.
The foreign heads of mission undertook a journey on board the Viceroy Special – a vintage train reminiscent of the country’s colonial past. The diplomatic envoys forayed into the country’s cool highlands – past Kandy to Nuwara Eliya en route to Ella – to experience Sri Lanka’s verdant beauty, hospitality and adventure tucked away in the lush and misty mountainous landscapes in the country’s interior, passing along the way the gushing waters of St. Clair’s Falls, the biodiverse Knuckles Range and Pattipola, home to Sri Lanka’s highest railway station. The passengers also witnessed a railway signaling routine from the bygone era, still meticulously adhered to on the country’s tracks – the Tyer’s Tablet System.
Those on board were able to feast their eyes on the changing panorama of the scenic route, including the engineering marvel that is the Nine-Arch Bridge in Ella, a railway viaduct that was built in the 20th century, and the turbanesque Demodara Loop.
Legendary Sri Lankan hospitality awaited the travellers at the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya, a national heritage building, steeped in colonial history and grandeur. The Pedro Tea Estate welcomed the visitors to a tasting of one of the world’s finest beverages – Ceylon tea.
The heads of mission also had the opportunity to call on President Wickremesinghe and First Lady Maithree Wickramasinghe at the official residence of the President in Nuwara Eliya.
Costs associated with the tour were borne by participating foreign heads of mission, and through sponsorship by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.
The excursion to the hill country commemorates 75 years of constructive partnership with the international community and highlighted the country’s treasure trove of diverse and exciting possibilities for the travel enthusiast. It also highlighted the country’s return to stability, its excellent connectivity and open and friendly people.
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