How can you not fall in love with a heroine with the romantic name, Sepalika, a name that she shares with the night jasmine, a flower that is fragrant, magical and fascinating? Daniel Byrne cannot keep his eyes away from the exotic beauty, who also happens to be his tour guide, a job she loves because it “involved being in touch with people from all walks of life.” Initially he is “a silent brooding riddle of an Irishman” who stays at the sidelines, but once he realizes the amount of local knowledge Sepalika possesses, he finds himself looking forward to being with her all the time.
The Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala - Photo courtesy: Devika Fernando
The Golden Buddha of Dambulla - Photo courtesy: Devika Fernando
There are two spots of special interest to Indian readers – the Hagkala Botanical garden where it is believed that Ravana hid Sita away from prying eyes, and the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree which was nurtured from the original tree at Bodh Gaya, a branch of which was brought to Sri Lanka by Sangamitta, Emperor Ashoka’s daughter in the 3rd century BC.