To me, Sri Lanka was like a dot below India’s map and I am aware of this country’s presence ever since I know India. Quite obviously, the charm to visit this country was always there but the right moment didn’t happen.
My trip to Sri Lanka was short and sweet but gave enough reason to go back again. I visited the capital city of Colombo and their hill station Kandy. As soon I reached Bandaranaike International Airport, Vesak lanterns were seen everywhere. The city looked quite clean and noticed a lot of traffic police taking rounds. Got to know from the cab driver that it is illegal to throw garbage or even puke on road and one will get fined if caught.
Day 1- Colombo:
It was drizzling in early morning so when I left for city tour, I knew it’s going to look more beautiful. Crossing the Galle road and viewing the spectacular five star hotels we reached 1st to a Hindu temple in Colombo. Nothing much to surprise there were every God / Goddess but no Hanuman :)
I read there were many Hindu temples but I wanted to visit Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple. I saw one of the awesome and valuable collections of relics of the Buddha there, elephant tusks and rare artifacts acquired locally and from abroad and also saw an elephant with ground touching tusk.
How can I miss this grand colonial building which is named as Colombo museum. This was founded by Sir William Henry Gregory, the British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1877. There were lots of coins, weapons, brassware and sculptures telling ancient cultures of sri lanka.
Next was one of the best place – Sima Malaka Meditation Island on the Beira Lake, designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. You can spend some tranquil moment here while watching the fleet of birds around.
Day 2: Pinnawala and Kandy.
Day started early morning with a drive to Kandy via Pinnawala. (about 90 km from Colombo is the home to some 80 or more elephant orphans). Before the elephant orphanage, cab driver stopped and took us to an elephant foundation where I did elephant ride and learnt few facts about elephants (like, Elephant trunk has no bones while tail has lots of bones).
Next was Pinnawala which is famous for its impressive herd of pachyderms. The herd included one elephant that broke his leg in mines, some who were lost in forest and some who were left behind when they fell sick are part of this world’s biggest elephant orphanage.
Next was a quick visit to a herb garden and gem factory and then I visited Peradeniya Botanical Garden at Kandy. It was huge and had well manure grass, plants, and multiple varieties of tress – and I had taken the mantle of visiting this all in an hour! But it started raining, so quickly I visited the orchid house and left for the famous ‘Temple of tooth relic’.
This 17th century temple is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site. Here, one of the Buddha’s teeth is kept.
Later in evening, I went to watch the Kandyan dance performance and after that finally reached hotel and was so exhausted that had dinner at the hotel empty restaurant only.
I had to rush to Colombo airport early morning to catch the flight so could not see sunrise from Kandy but enjoyed the ride and was looking forward to the next destination- Maldives!
Tour Guide cum cab driver Prem Sagar wanted to take me for shopping before even showing me the city attraction so I told a big NO. I guess I was wrong because later I learnt Colombo is famous for cloths manufacturing and export for international brands and they sell at very reasonable prices. I even didn’t visit ODEL shop L but when waiting for flight to Male at airport, bought a t-shirt.
But I knew what I wanted so I picked up a sri-lankan mask from a handicraft store and a dancing avatar from Laksala at airport and indulged in some ceylon tea shopping.
As a part of trip and guide’s commission to bring tourist to Gem store and Ayurvedic Garden, I visited those too but didn’t buy anything. I wasn’t sure if those were authentic and what price should I negotiate. I thought it better to avoid.