Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Sri Lanka Travel - Day 1

I have been to Sri Lanka on a four day (three nights) holiday last week. As such, Sri Lanka has nothing special to boast, but the lush green landscapes are exhilarating and rejuvenating! I felt I should share my experience with all my readers on this blog site. I am going to present it as a sort of travelogue in four parts, day wise. I bought the travel package for two families from Jet Wings Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore. Here I go with the first instalment:

Day 1: Airport to Kandy. The only airport (both International and domestic) is situated at a place called Negombo, some 35 Kms. from Colombo and called the Colombo International Airport. Our flight was of one hour ten minutes from Chennai and we reached destination at 11:40 AM. Janak, our designated driver with a Toyota six seater, was ready with the placard to receive us. Each of us got a little cash converted to Sri Lankan rupees. We had already been informed by our Agent at Bangalore that shopping in Sri Lanka is very costly except some branded outfits.
We proceeded to Kandy straightaway.Driver Janak was accompanied with a qualified and Govt. certified guide called Batu. Soon Batu advised us to pack lunch instead of wasting time at any hotel to eat lunch. We agreed and our lunch was packed at a wayside resort. later Janak stopped at a roadside Cashew Nut shop which had facilities to eat our lunch. After a sumptuous lunch complete with dessert and cut fruits, we proceeded towards Kandy, some 90 minutes drive. Visited an Ayurvedic garden on the way.

Kandy is situated at a height of 600 metres above sea level. Cool and pleasant, Kandy is a city developed by the British. Aroma of British culture is felt throughout our places of visit in southern part of Sri Lanka. And contrary to general belief, according to the guide Batu, it is also safe to travel northern part now after the Tamil terrorism is effectively decimated. But, as far as I know, no travel industry dares to take a northern Sri lankan Travel.

The name Kandy, originally known as Kandaudarata in Sinhalese which means upcountry, was first twisted as Kandau by the earlier occupiers, the Dutch, was again shortened as Kandy by the British who took over the city from the Dutch. It is predominantly a Buddhist city having one of the oldest Buddhist shrines in the world known as The Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic, of the 4th century AD. It is believed that Lord Buddha's real tooth was brought to Kandy by the then King of Kandaudarata and built the Temple to preserve the sacred relic. Kandy is also the last of the capital of Sinhala kingdom before it ceded to the British in 1815 AD. Our guide says Kandy is an example of predominant Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka and this temple is not only revered as the most prized relic of The Buddha, but also revered as most sacred temple throughout the Buddhist world. 70% of the population is Buddhist. This city of Kandy, so to say, represents the entire cultural life of Sri Lanka.

Our driver took us to the highest point in Kandy from where we could see the whole city. At a far distance, at the top of a high mountain a Buddha statue was visible. After enjoying the natural scenes from the top, Janak took us to a cultural programme. Nothing much to boast about the programme, which is similar to our own Yakshagana!(Cultural dance form depicting Hindu mythology of the coast and Shimoga)

From there we visited the ancient world famous temple. Nothing much to explain; you will see some photographs in the album in the link below. The tooth relic is placed covered inside a golden cape and kept inside the shrine. It is not open to public view except for a particular week in a year when the cape is removed and visitors/devotees can have a'Darshan' from a distance. Also the tradition is each day of the year only a particular family members are having the opportunity to enter the shrine and make the offerings. This tradition was set by the King himself who built the temple. The descendants of these chosen 365 families follow the tradition and do the rituals till date.

Finally at around 8 PM the a long and hectic day ended and we were lodged at Swiss Residence, a posh star hotel. We set out from Bangalore the previous night train reaching Chennai at 4:30 AM. The Chennai Central Railway station was not only overcrowded at that our in the morning but also was stinking filth!

Kandy was a clean and beautiful city. I found, everywhere we drove, the roads (no four lane highways please!) were not only clean and well maintained without a single litter or slums, but also the users strictly observed road rules. A well disciplined populace I must say.
I now stop here and move to second day in my blog; and you may not enjoy this blog without looking at the pictures in the album, a link for which is as follows:


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