Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sri Lanka '16


Let me start by saying that pre-planning your holiday is a very good idea otherwise you will be stuck at the airport at a tourist agency planning your 4-day holiday for 3 hours and trust me, its annoying as hell. Especially when you have no idea about the country you're in.
And that's exactly what happened to us. First, ours was a last minute plan because until the night before the flight, we had been contemplating whether to go or  not. You see, earlier that week, Sri Lanka had been hit by some really bad floods which caused a lot of damage in a few villages near Colombo and some other nearby cities. So obviously, it was a huge risk because the weather was so unpredictable. We took the risk anyway and I think that was one of the best decisions!
Since our trip was short, we couldn't visit all the places but what we saw made it worth our while.

The place had such a good vibe as we landed at the Sri Lanka airport. The airport was lit up with lanterns everywhere. It was beautiful.



So after all the hassle at the airport about planning our whereabouts, we headed into the city of Colombo. We took a 3-day package which included all hotel reservations, a vehicle for us to move around in (with the driver of course) and a list of places we should be visiting. 

This was our ride. Super comfy! and these are all over the city.
 Day 1:

We started off with Negombo beach. The weather was quite gloomy and rainy so we couldn't enjoy the beach much but well, it was a start. Negombo is a clean and nice tourist area and has quite a few shops and cafes.




On the way to our hotel, the driver told us the country was celebrating its festival of Vesak Poya that weekend. Vesak or Buddha Purnima marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. It is mainly celebrated by Buddhists on a full moon day in Sri Lanka. The entire city is so lit up during these three days of the festival, it's beyond beautiful.  Vesak Kudus (lanterns) at every shop, house, temple, restaurant and even streets! Imagine the sight, just stunning! :D They signify the light of the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. I was so excited to be a part of this festival.

There were festive vibes at every corner of the city. We visited the Goldfish beach first. There was so much hustle and bustle at the beach with kids flying kites everywhere to getting free ice cream on the streets; it was amazing to see how lively the city was! We also went to the Pettah River, a famous floating market in Colombo. 

Goldfish Beach
Goldfish beach

The streets during the festival

Floating market

The festival started at around 7:30 in the evening. The sight was beautiful! Groups of people from  the community organisation sang and danced to the Bhakti Gee (Buddhist devotional songs). All devotees, dressed in white, lined up outside the temple for the darshan and maha aarti. Celebrations also include alms-giving and setting up of thoranas of different kinds on either side of the street. The festival is a feast to your eyes, if you happen to get a chance then do attend it because what's better than visiting a country when it is at it's cultural best?! 



City lights

Thoranas


                                                  


                                                 

Day 2:

The next day we left early for a 3 hour long drive to Sigiriya. En-route we saw so many Hindu temples and Dambulla. Dambulla is the largest preserved cave temple situated in the north of the Kandy district. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to go visit the cave but we could see a huge statue of the Buddha on the mountain top. Magnificent! 
We stopped at Parera and sons for snacks. They have quite a few outlets there. I spotted many of them throughout the journey. The only thing that clicked about this place was the unique presentation of their burger. See for yourself!


Sigiriya is known as the 8th wonder of the world by the local people of Sri Lanka. It was built by Kasyapa in 5th century AD and is of huge historical importance that is dominated by a giant column of rock of almost 200 mts. The king selected this site for his new capital and decorated its sides with beautiful frescos. On a plateau half way up the rock, he built a gate way in the form of a lion's paw (Sihagiri- the lion rock).  As we entered the monument, there was a huge board which showed a map of the entire monument and directions. A guide took us around the entire rock till we reached the top. The place was divided into the inner and outer mode. On the way to the Mirror wall, we saw the king's pleasure garden, his summer house, swimming pool, etc. The significance of the mirror wall was that it has a certain shine which reflected the frescos made on the rock. Back then, it had been polished with honey, egg whites and calcium carbonate to bring such shine into it. It retains some of its shine till date! Once you reach the top of the rock, the view is breathtaking. On the way down, there's a slide rock which was used to attack the enemy. This is one of the most visited spots by tourists in Sri Lanka.


It is said that the king used to watch his 500 queens from that throne while they bathed in the swimming pool. :P

Sigiriya Rock
The lions paw

The view
Shopping at the end
We had lunch at a place called Travelers Inn. Here, we finally got to have some traditional Sri Lankan food. They love curry and rice. Frankly speaking, the cuisine is very similar to Indian food and the spices they use are also very similar to ours.


Our stay for day 2 was fixed in Kandy so on the way, we visited the Golden Temple at Dambulla and did some street shopping there as well. We also had the chance to taste some jack fruit jaggery and tea the people had been providing on the streets for free in the festive spirit. 

The Golden temple
Our last stop before calling it a day was the  Dalada Maligawa Temple and trust me it is one of most beautiful temples I have ever seen. It was completely lit up when we reached and they had a huge crowd queuing up to seek blessings during the festive season. The temple was stunning inside-out! It had a lake around it and the ceilings and walls inside had paintings on them throughout. There was a room with the statue of the Buddha and all around the room was his story depicted with pictorial depictions. This place is must visit if you happen to visit Sri Lanka. Loved every bit of this one :) We ended day 2 with the some awesome dinner at the River Side resort at Kandy,




River side resort, Kandy
Day 3:

Most of day 3 was travelling from city to city and hopping from one minor tourist stop to another, our destination being Galle.
We left for Galle after a delicious English breakfast at the resort. We passed through the car city on our way, Katugustota. It is called so because all sort of cars are sold in this city. We also happened to see a newly married couple in their traditional attire, they looked adorable. 
We then visited the tea factory and saw how the entire tea making process is done. They served us with some delicious tea later on as well. 
Sri Lanka is famous for its leather products. Our next stop was the leather shop where we could buy a variety of shoes, bags, bracelets, etc. 


The tea factory

the leather shop
I think the most interesting part of this day was the lunch we had at a local restaurant in a random city on our way to Galle. The food was typical Sri Lankan and the place was like how we have dhabas here. After travelling for about 2 more hours post lunch we reached Hikkaduwa where we were supposed to stay the night. Galle is just a little further, so we decided to go to the Galle fort and then came back and checked into our hotel.
The Galle fort is basically a Dutch colony surrounded by the ocean. You can also see a lighthouse at a distance. There are a lot of street shops and food joints. This place is located very close to the railway station, in case you're looking for some alternate means of travel. We got back to Hikkaduwa and went straight to the beach after checking in. Hikkaduwa is famous for water adventure sports like snorkeling and scuba diving but unfortunately we were there in an off- season and the ocean was too rough to do any water activity :( Nevertheless, we had a great time at the beautiful beach and made full use of the amenities provided by the resort. We ended the oh-so hectic day 3 with some street shopping in the night.

View from Galle fort (panorama)

Galle fort

Hikkaduwa beach


This marks the end of our journey to this beautiful country and a great kick-start to the summer of 2016. I know we missed out quite a few places but there's always a next time! 
I hope you guys had a great time reading my experience as much as i loved sharing it with you guys :) Don't forget to share your travel stories with us :)


Until next time,
                     MYD (:

10 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures and a lovely post

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  2. Awesome blog ! Super well written !

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  3. A very well written article,however there's one small mistake it is Dalada Maligawa not Galada Malika Temple.Felt really lucky to be from this beautiful country after reading this.
    Cheers!

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    1. Thank you so much! This means a lot to us :) glad we made you feel that way :) and I will correct my mistake right away!

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  4. Wow loved reading your blog, though I have visited Sri Lanka I have completely seen the other side of it...Like you said there is always another time..may be we will do this side sometime soon ! Keep the writing going ..Good luck ��

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    1. Haha yes! I really wanted to see the other side but oh well!
      Thank you so much 😁

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