Arab visitors are attracted to Sri Lanka to explore the travel trail of Ibn Battuta, the famous 14th-century explorer.
The Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta arrived by ship in the north western port of Puttalam. He had travelled from the Maldives in September 1344. Puttalam was under the rule of the king of Jaffna at that time, and Ibn Battuta was received with a display of great hospitality and honours.
Ibn Battuta spent a few days entertaining the king who was enthralled by the stories of the great travels. The king understood Persian and was interested in the voyages and stories about the rulers of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia whom he had met since starting his journeys in 1325.
Ibn Battuta went on a pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak, a 2,243-meter tall conical sacred mountain located in central Sri Lanka, which is venerated by Muslims as the site of the footprint of the first man and prophet, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The king gave him a palanquin, a covered litter for one passenger, consisting of a large box carried on two horizontal poles by four or six bearers. The expedition party consisted of guides and guards to facilitate the journey.
From Adam’s Peak, he took a southern route to Dondra on the south coast of Sri Lanka, which was a small southern coastal town, a rich temple port town complex. It was later partly destroyed by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
Dondra is home to various temples and places of worship. There is also Asia’s tallest lighthouse to guide seafarers.
From Dondra, Ibn Battuta went to Galle and Colombo, and from there, he went back to Puttalam, where Ibn Battuta continued his world adventures by sailing north to the coast of Tamil Nadu. in India
Sri Lanka, is a great tourism hub attracts visitors from Arab countries by evoking the memory of Ibn Battuta’s travels.
“It’s important to refresh the memories of this historic visit and project it among the Arabs,” P.M. Amza, ambassador of Sri Lanka to Saudi Arabia.
“Ibn Battuta is a celebrated traveller … We believe such a celebrated traveller’s connection with Sri Lanka will be of definite attraction to the tourism sector of Sri Lanka.”
Ibn Battuta was born February 24, 1304 in Tangier and died 1368/69 or 1377 in Morocco. He is known as the greatest medieval Muslim traveller and the author of one of the most famous travel books, the Riḥlah (Travels). His great work describes his extensive travels covering some 75,000 miles (120,000 km) in trips to almost all of the Muslim countries and as far as China and Sumatra.
The voyages of Ibn Baṭṭūṭah.
Ibn Battuta was from a family that produced a number of Muslim judges (qadis). He received the traditional juristic and literary education in his native town of Tangier.
In 1325, at the age of 21, he started his travels by undertaking the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca. Originally his purpose was to fulfil his religious duty and to broaden his education by studying under famous scholars in Egypt, Syria, and the Hejaz.
He then studied with scholars and Sufi (Islamic mystic) saints whom he met and attained a list of diplomas, mainly in Damascus. The studies qualified him for judicial office, whereas the claim of being a former pupil of the then-outstanding authorities in traditional Islamic sciences greatly enhanced his chances and made him thereafter a respected guest at many courts.
The Ibn Battuta Trail was recently inaugurated as part of the Sri Lankan tourism expansion. The trail follows the footsteps of the famed traveller to Adam’s Peak with highlights including cultural attractions, wildlife, nature, adventure activities, and cuisine.
Previously, Sri Lanka attracted 35,000 Saudi tourists annually. With the new Ibn Battuta Adventure Trail and cultural packages, there is a renewed interest, catering for Arab visitors to enjoy Sri Lanka’s beauty, beaches, waterfalls, rich culture, hospitality, nature and adventure.