Did you know many Sri Lankans believe they descend from Vijaya an immoral north Indian prince who had a lion for a grandfather and a father with lion paws who married his own sister? No? Well, Neither did I until yesterday. I studied the Lonely Planet for Sri Lanka with great excitement.We’re going there on our honeymoon you know.
Sri Lanka’s early history is vague to say the least, but it’s a great read. There are princesses who change into 16 year maidens, and then kill their own people, Sea serpents get involved and more such intrigue. It all feels a bit like like a Bollywood soap opera.
Later the history gets a little more regular, with European conquest, independence and civil war.
Another thing I found interesting was the etymology of the name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. Apparently the Romans knew about Sri Lanka and called it Taprobane. Muslim traders called it Serendib which means island of jewels in Arabic and became the root of the word serendipity.
The Portuguese were told the Island was called Sinhala-dvipa (Island of the Sinhalese) and turned that into Celleão We Dutch and English just took that for truth and made it into Ceylon. All that time native Lankans had known their country as Lanka. Then in 1972 Lanka was restored globally adding Sri as a respectful title.