Post-war Jaffna among must-see places in island

Updated 29 April 2014
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Post-war Jaffna among must-see places in island

The Jaffna Peninsula is a 400-square-mile tract of colorful temples and barren, strange spectacular landscapes in northern Sri Lanka that have only recently opened to tourists after the 26-year civil war. You get to see the reminders of the war all around.
Ethnic Tamils living in the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna are recovering fast from the devastation caused during the country’s 26-year long civil war, which ended in 2009. Large-scare development projects are under way.
Lankan Spice Gardens: Sri Lanka has always been famed for its spices and several spices gardens around the island. Take a walk through trees, plants and native herbs, all of which are the secrets behind Sri Lankan food and spices. The spice gardens have a traditional open kitchen where the spices are grinded and a mini restaurant where traditional Sri Lankan food is cooked and served.
During early historical times, Sri Lanka was well-known globally for its quality spices. In ancient times, the Greeks, Romans and the Arabic sustained their associations with Sri Lanka through the spice trade.
Spice Gardens in the hill capital Kandy, Matale and Mawanella give remarkable insight into spice production in Sri Lanka. Spices used in Sri Lankan cuisine consist of cinnamon,cardamom, pepper, cloves, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cumin,sweet cumin, curry leaves, lemon grass and gamboge.
Galle Fort lighthouse and ramparts: The lighthouse in Galle is Sri Lanka’s oldest light station dating back to 1848. Being a UNESCO world heritage site and well known tourist attraction, the light station is within the walls of the ancient Galle fort, making it the country’s most often visited lighthouse.
The magnificent Galle fort was initially built by the Portuguese in 1588. The fort was equipped by Dutch in 17th century and was visited by the Chinese, Greeks, Arabs and Indians for business and commercial trading purposes.
The centerpiece of Galle is the Dutch Fort. It stands majestically alongside the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The Galle Fort covers an area of 36 hectares and hems in the Dutch museum, the maritime museum, the lighthouse, a clock tower, churches, mosques and several hundred private dwellings.
Whale-watching at Mirissa: If you haven’t heard of it yet, this is the best place to see blue whales. Mirissa is one of the whale watching hubs of Sri Lanka. Many tourists visiting Sri Lanka have been taking a side trip to Mirissa to do some whale and dolphin watching.
Visitors are taken on boat rides to do the whale watching, while maintaining a distance to get a better view of the ocean inhabitants.
Chances are that you will get a sight of Blue Whales, Fin Whales and even Sperm whales in these waters along with a variety of dolphins.
Pettah commercial market: The Pettah market is one of Colombo’s most popular and hectic open-air market, where you can buy various goods including local products and food and what not.
It’s perhaps the best place in Colombo to get introduced into the local Sri Lankan hurly-burly, to gulp down the hums and aromas, and to get a taste of life in Colombo.
This fresh market doesn’t only stop at selling edibles but a combination of electronics and dvd’s, knick knacks, lots of clothing for low-prices , a huge section of fresh produce and huge crowds of people.


World Cup 2018: A Muslim-friendly travel guide

Updated 23 June 2018
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World Cup 2018: A Muslim-friendly travel guide

Moscow

Both Tunisia and Iran are based in the vibrant 800-year-old Russian capital, renowned for its golden domes and stunning orthodox architecture. It is home to the famous Russian ballet and a wealth of art, culture and iconic scenery, including the breathtaking Red Square. A truly multicultural capital, Moscow is home to a sizeable Muslim community, which first began to settle here around the time of the Golden Horde. If you want to explore some of the capital’s Islamic heritage, visit the historic Muslim area, Zamoskvorechie, and head for the ‘Historical Mosque,’ built in 1823 by Muslim tatars. Reopened in 1993 after a lengthy closure under communism, the mosque has recently undergone a major refurbishment. Along with the 10k-capacity Moscow Cathedral Mosque (pictured), it is the capital’s most significant Muslim building.
Halal Food: You’ll find plenty on offer, from highly rated restaurants including Mr. Livanets (Lebanese), Dyushes (Azerbaijani), and Gandhara (Asian) to halal food carts.
Mosque: The Moscow Cathedral Mosque on Pereulok Vypolzov.
Qibla: South.

Saint Petersburg

Saudi Arabia’s national team will be based in this bastion of Russian imperialism, known as the Russian ‘Venice’ for its stunning network of canals, neo-Renaissance architecture and its plethora of culture, arts and all things splendid. Visitors can enjoy a wealth of museums, galleries, open promenades and the finest dining in the northern hemisphere — talking of which, sun lovers will be delighted to know that during the World Cup the sun will barely dip below the horizon. Muslim visitors should not miss the St. Petersburg Mosque’s sumptuous Central Asian architecture and mesmeric blue tiles (pictured) — a design inspired by Tamerlane’s tomb in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Halal Food: Limited, in comparison to Moscow, but both Eastern European restaurant Navruz and Oh! Mumbai (Indian) have received generally positive online reviews.
Mosque: St. Petersburg Mosque on Kronverkskiy Prospekt.
Qibla: South-east.

Grozny

Egypt’s ‘Pharaohs’ should feel right at home in the Chechen capital, which is home to a huge Muslim population (its coat of arms features a mosque), making it one of the most halal-friendly destinations on our list. The mosque in question is the city’s flagship monument and main tourist attraction, the Ottoman-style Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque. Modelled on Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Mosque and sited in a serene location on the west bank of the Sunzha River, it is part of an ‘Islamic’ complex also housing the Russian Islamic University, Kunta Hajji, and is the spiritual headquarters for the Muslims of the Chechen Republic. Much of Grozny is still being rebuilt after being virtually destroyed in two wars with Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, much of it through investment from the UAE.
Halal Food: Chechnya is majority-Muslim, so you’ll be spoiled for choice, from fast-food chain Ilis to high-end restaurants in five-star hotels.
Mosque: Akhmad Kadyrov on Prospekt Putina.
Qibla: South-west.

Voronezh

Morocco are based in quiet (at least until the tournament starts), picturesque Voronezh. The city is littered with lush green spaces and stunning churches. It’s home to a large orthodox Christian community, as well as small Jewish and still-smaller Muslim ones. The city’s beautiful 114-year-old synagogue on Ulitsa Svobody is a popular tourist attraction. Those looking for more ‘familiar’ heritage should head to the Kramskoy Museum of Fine Arts on Revolyutsii Avenue, home to an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian works of art on stone and sarcophagi.
Halal Food: Very sparse. The Asian restaurant Bahor bills itself as offering the “only halal food in Voronezh,” and there are reportedly a couple of grocery stores selling halal meat, one in the city’s central market.
Mosque: While no official mosque has yet been built in Voronezh, Muslims do gather to pray. According to Halalguide.me, there is an informal mosque on Ulitsa Gvardeyskaya.
Qibla: South.

Essentuki

Essentuki, which will host Nigeria in its Pontos Plaza Hotel (pictured), is famous for its health spas and mineral water, so the 'Super Eagles' should at least be able to relax after their games. Muslim visitors may want to drop by Kurortny Park, where the drinking gallery was inspired by Islamic Moorish design.
Halal Food: Hard to find. There is a kebab house that may be able to provide halal options. Otherwise, head to the area around the mosque in nearby Pyatigorsk.
Mosque: The nearest mosque is 25 minutes drive west in Pyatigorsk, on Skvoznoy Pereulok.
Qibla: Southwest.

Kaluga

It’s all about space exploration in the city where Senegal will be based. Space travel pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky taught in Kaluga in his early years. The town’s main attraction — unsurprisingly — is the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, reportedly the world’s first space museum. Second billing goes to the rocket scientist’s quaint old wooden family home.
Halal Food: Very hard to find. Asian restaurant Chaikhana and Russian eatery Solyanka (pictured) appear to cater to alternative dietary requirements, and may be worth a call.
Mosque: The town’s main mosque is a converted building off Ulitsa Annenki.
Qibla: South.