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Resplendent Island Nation of South Asia - Part II
Jan 27, 2007 06:34 PM 5448 Views
(Updated Jan 29, 2007 09:46 AM)

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Day 4 – As per our itenary we were supposed to leave Dambulla and reach Kandy in the afternoon. The thought of not visiting the 8th wonder of ancient world made us change our plans. Sigiriya Fortress: Sigiriya is 12 Km from Amaya Lake and we decided to climb the fortress inspite of rains. Sigiriya stands high above the surrounding plains and is visible for miles in all directions. One has to ascend 1200 steps to reach the summit. The summit has a ruined palace complex, mid level terrace has lion gate and mirror wall, low level has water gardens, caves and moats.


The fortress has caves with artistic painting of cloud damsels and heavenly maidens. The steps get narrower from mid level to summit. It is so narrow that only one person at a time can climb. The view of water garden from summit almost looked like a painting. The rock cut pool on the summit was eye catching. It was worth a visit! Entry ticked costs about 2000 Srilankan rupees per person.The drive from Sigiriya to Kandy took about 1 hr 45 min. Amaya Hills: We later checked into a hotel called Amaya Hills which is located about 9 Km from Kandy city on the hills. The narrow road from the city that leads to the hotel was simply disgusting and it was a horrible bumpy ride.


The lobby area is totally open on the three sides with huge transparent plastic sheets covering the sides from rainwater. The room was descent enough with a balcony facing the valley. Compared to Amaya Lake the interiors of the room were not that appealing. Amaya Lake was great experience but was disappointed with Amaya Hills. Kandy Cultural Show: Kandy Cultural programme is conducted every evening at a auditorium next to ‘The Temple of Tooth’ for more than an hour. Local artists perform traditional kandyan and low country dances of Srilanka. The colorful costumes and the music will keep you occupied. In the end, few artists walk over burning coals and seek blessings from the goddess. The entry ticket costs 300 Srilankan rupees per person.


The Temple of Tooth: We visited ‘The Temple of Tooth’ possessing a tooth of Buddha which is heavily guarded and worshipped. Golden canopy covered with jewels has the sacred tooth within. Daily rituals are performed thrice a day during which one gets to see the golden canopy. The security around the temple has been beefed up because of the threats from LTTE. The entry ticket costs 575 Srilankan rupees per person. Day 5 – After breakfast at Amaya Hills, we headed towards Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.Peradeniya Botanical Garden: The 59 hectares of royal botanical garden offers spectacular plant life of Srilanka. The botanical garden is about 20 minute drive from Kandy city.


The garden has Orchid house, fernery, great lawn with a huge java fig tree, spice garden, bamboo trees, palm avenues, flower and medicinal garden. The giant bamboos from Burma grow to a height of 180 ft. The average growth rate of new shoots is about 30 cm a day. The entire garden is well maintained and is a popular location for young lovers. The abandoned forts, beaches, gardens are mostly occupied by ‘Umbrella Couples’ in Srilanka and this is the most common sight. The entry ticket costed about 625 Srilankan rupees per person.Had our lunch at Ramboda Fall Hotel which offers a splendid view of Ramboda falls. The location of the restaurant was great but the food was bad. Mackwoods Labookellie Tea Centre: We stopped at Mackwoods to visit the tea factory. Picked few tea packets and miniature tea filter as a souvenir from their shop.The Grand: The Grand famous for its Tudor style has a colonial charm.


The room was spacious and cozy with a view of golf club adjacent to the hotel. We had our dinner at an Indian restaurant managed by ‘The Grand’. Lake Gregory is at a walkable distance from Grand hotel. We went for a evening walk to explore the Nuwara Eliya town. Cargill’s Food City is present in all major tourist destinations in Srilanka. Day 6 – We set out for our final destination(Colombo) after breakfast at The Grand. On the way one can get glimpses of nice tea gardens and few waterfalls. On the way, we stopped at ‘The Plantations’ for lunch. It is located near the banks of Kelani River in Kitulgala. ‘The bridge on the river kwai’ a Hollywood academy award winning movie was filmed her so it attracts crowd. The spot now has concrete foundation for the bridge so we did not see. It took almost 2.5hrs to reach Colombo from Kitulgala. We checked into Galadari on lotus road. We got a beach facing room on 8th floor of the hotel.


The room was really clean and spacious, however the bathrooms required some renovation. Guests were discouraged from clicking the photos of Old Parliament house building from the rooms because of security reasons. The Fort area in Colombo has star hotels and government buildings so there was tight security in and around this area. Day 7 – Breakfast at Galadari had surprises for me. They served Idly, Vada, Dosa, and Upma along with English breakfast. As per the itenary, after breakfast at Galadari we set out for a half day city tour of Colombo. We stopped for a photo shoot at Independence Square, Town Hall, War Memorial and Viharamahadevi Park. We got down at Majestic Mall to do some shopping. The food court in the mall serves Malaysian, Chinese, Italian and Srilankan cuisines. We walked across to Pettah which is close to the Colombo Fort area and is famous for bargain shopping.


Day 8 – A ride on tuk tuk from Galadari to National Museum costed us 250 bucks. Most of the tuk tuk’s are in good shape and well maintained. Colombo National Museum: This museum was the first public museum that was established in Srilanka in 1877. The royal weapons section has amazing collections of swords and guns used by Srilankan Kings. The main attraction is the gem studded throne of Srilankan King’s which was taken and then sent back to Srilanka by British. The entry ticket to the museum is 500 Srilankan Rupees.Odel and House of Fashions: Our next destination was Odel in Colombo 7.


We had read quite a lot about this shop on travel magazines. It is one stop shop offering wide variety of branded clothes, perfumes, jewellery, shoes, and bags. We left Odel buying nothing! We reached ‘House of Fashions’ on Duplication road. The entire shopping mall was filled with locals and tourists. Men clothing for a change seemed less expensive than that of ladies. It was really a nice shopping experience. Part III is available at http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Sri_Lanka_-_General-118294-1.html


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