Day trip to Dambulla
The most interesting in Dambulla are the Cave Temples. Go to the bus terminal in Kandy and take a bus to Dambulla the main entrance to the Cave Temples is about 3 km before the Dambulla bus terminal, the ticket office is in the enormous Golden Temple, 1500 Rupies fee, then a long staircase up the hill. Bus about 2.5 hours and 100 Rupies, aircon bus about 2 hours and 330 Rupies.
For returning, buses to Kandy stop in front of the Dambulla bus terminal but are most likely already full, better go in the terminal and take a bus to Matale (5 km before Aluvihara is a nice rock monastery), get off at the beginning of the town, you see first a big and very colourful Hindu Temple on the left soon after a bus stand on the right with buses from there to Kandy.
Buses are usually very full if you want a seat it is best to go to the terminal where the bus is starting.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
The area belongs to the Elkaduwa Plantation ltd and is a very tranquil area surrounded by tea plantation and forest. The website is being updated but I believe they do boat rides on the river. Entrance was LKR1000 for foreigners when I last visited. The lake provides hydro power for the surrounding tea plantation.
There is no swimming in the lake it is believed to be 30ft to 40ft deep and Sri Lankan's are not reknowned for swimming. There is a pool that has been built using the spring waters from the Lake.
We visited here on Poya day and I would advise against it as there are just so many people its hard to feel the natural calm and serenity. Lots of people were having barbeques I am not sure if there are any official spots or if they were just makeshift.
I have done a separate page also for Elkaduwa Matale District but repeating this tip on the off the beaten path of Kandy as it is a day trip together with hunnas falls from kandy about 26km+ away.
- Hiking and Walking
Toga my good friend and reliable tuk tuk driver took Froggie (carolondon) and me to this amazing spot when I asked him to take us somewhere completely off the beaten track. It was truely amazing to be one with nature and we were the only people there standing under this thundering waterfall. Roshan who is a 6ft3 giant nicknamed the enormous man joined us for the day and helped us girlies over the slippery stones. We picked up rice and curry boxes in the town and had a picnic by the pool down below. We decided to all have a dip as well even though the water was a bit icy cold an experience not to be missed.
To get here from Kandy its at least an hour in a tuk tuk possibly add 30min to that as the hill is really steep. Coming from the Knuckles range the Hunnasgiriya is located 1765m above sea level and 5 streams meet to form the falls which is 48m heigh and 12m wide.
It is said that during the Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka, he visited Hunnasgiriya before Samanalakande, to leave a print of his foot but he was disturbed by a giant lizard living on the mountain gave out a cackling sound. Lord Buddha was offended by the noise and tied the lizard’s throat and it is said the lizards that live near the fall have been mute ever since. Local villagers also believe that during times of drought, the Gambara deity who brings protection to the people is seen carrying a torch through the mountains at midnight.
A small nominal cost for entrance into the falls free for locals
I have included this tip here as well as the proper Elkaduwa page as it is an off the beaten path attraction for Kandy visitors a day trip.
- Hiking and Walking
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
I was debating if I should catergorise this as a tourist trap as for me it is horrendously expensive and I did not feel the elephants got the care and respect they deserved however for some travellers it is a must. Personally I preferred my visit to Millenium Elephant Orphanage which is closeby perhaps because the european volunteer is from the UK and a friend but in essence I think the place just does not feel like a glorified zoo.
There are 78 elephants at the orphanage which was established in 1975 to care for orphaned elephants found in the forest. Sometimes baby elephants fall into pits and are abandoned by their mothers others at the orphanage are injured. The orphanage now also has a breeding in captivity programme I am not sure I agree with this as once they are touched by human hands they can never go back to the wild even though these babies are not bottle fed.
They released 12 elephants to private owners since 2011 this probably means they become temple elephants a harsh life indeed you will see them chained up bopping their heads up and down from boredom and fustration.
The Mahouts look after the elephants and constantly ask for tips for any contact you may have with their assigned elephant. Tips for photo's, tips for bathing, tips for feeding hmm its outrageous but I would say just LKR100-200 you have already parted with enough to get in.
Open 8.30am to 6pm here are the relevant times for feeding and bathing
10am - 12pm bathing to get into the water and wash one is LKR500 extra (free to watch with your ticket)
fruit feeding 9am, 12.15pm and 4.15pm LKR250 presumably you get the basket of fruit
bottle feeding 9.15am, 1.15pm, 5pm extra LKR350
2pm-4pm afternoon bathing at the river
The rip off price being LKR2500 for foreign adults LKR1250 children - please note there are lovely dry washrooms for foreigner use only locals have to use the wet toilets presumably not as nice as they pay less on the ticket.
If you are lucky enough to be a SAARC visitor (India, Bangladesh, Maldive, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan,Afghanistan) your price is reduced to LKR700 / LKR350
Sri Lankan nationals (and spouse) pay LKR100 / LKR30
- Family Travel
Day trip to Nuwara Elia
For me the most interesting was the marvellous landscape on the way to Nuwara Eliya. The town itself has a strange pinkish colonial post office and the Viktoria Park is quite nice.,,
Get there by bus, the aircon bus is the better option, quite frequent and has almost no stops and drives a bit faster, about 2.5 hours and 210 Rupies. Train might be a good option as well, but I was told the road to the station is closed (? temporary?).
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Pinnewala Elephant sanctuary
This sanctuary is not in Kandy itself, but people do stay in Kandy and visit the sanctuary from here just like we did.
We were offered numerous tuktuk tours there, but we decided just to take the local bus towards Kegalle. Tell the driver that you want Pinnewala (they would probably guess that anyway!) and they will drop you at the end of the road where you then jump on another bus which stops right outside of the sanctuary.
Coming back you can walk to Rambukanna and take the irregular train back to Kandy or just go back the way you came. We actually took a bus into Kegalle itself and then jumped on a bus as this is a very busy route and the bus may be too full to stop at the end of the road and pick you up.
Although we went to Kegalle we still ended up standing for a good hour and a half of the journey back to Kandy.
- Budget Travel
Matale is a little town about 25 kilometres from Kandy, so it's really possible to make ahalf a day trip there. Matale's just like any other Sri Lankan town or city, dusty and dirty but... it has an old, magnificent, wonderful Hindu/Tamil temple. It's called Sri Muthumariamman Thevasthanam. Inside it's bright and cheerful, full of music, too, although the man playing could have been just a coincidence. Outside you can see five hugs and intricate procession carriages: very old, too. very worth the side trip.
the spice garden
All the way between Kandy and Matale is lined with hundreds and hundreds of spice gardens. They don't have names but numbers: some are big - others small - and i guess that more or less they show the same things. It's interesting to stop at one and learn aboput the plants and spices, and their medicinal uses. You'll also be offered all sorts of teas and drinks, all with a different health purpose. At the end of the visit, still, I could not care much about health, as I ened up buying a frangipane perfume of no medical value whatsoever.
This is either off the Beaten Path from Colombo or from Kandy, i don't know, it's about 1/2 way.!!
If you're lucky to be there at the right time, the wild elephants from the reserve come down to the river to bathe, drink and play.
Sometimes there are nearly 50.
You can get up close if the handler is close by.
otherwise, there's a great restaurant attached and overlooking the river.
Restaurant prices are less than US$5 each.
There's also a nice handicraft shop with a fair range of local products but start your bargain at around 75% of the price and stop at around 80%.
If you've never seen Asian elephants up close and personal, STOP HERE.
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
Approximately 8 miles from town of Kandy is an enticing wood carving temple of Embekke Devale dating from the 14th century. Elaborate carvings on wooden pillars describing the legendary origin of the devale. The epic of Embekke Varnanawa by Delgahagoda Mudiyanse has it that one of the King Wickrema Bahu II’s consorts named Henakanda Biso Bandara, in association with a drummer,named as Rangama, as told in a miraculous dream is supposed to have built this Devale dedicated to God Kataragama.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
Sigiriya the Bible Mountain
The rock fortress Sigiriya, rises some 600 feet above the scrub jungle plain in the north central part of Sri Lanka. It is this very feature that drove young prince Kasyapa, after killing his father King Dhatusena, by entombing him alive, to this lonely rock in the jungle to hide from his older brother who was gathering an army to retake the throne. Kasyapa while in self imposed exile made his new kingdom as liveable and pleasant as possible by surrounding himself with his loyal followers, and for his personal enjoyment, what could only be described as "pinups". These frescos are to this day preserved in a grotto in the sheer west face of the rock.
The top of the rock in itself is a marvel of agro-engineering. About 3 acres in area, every square foot was utilized. Bathing pools were cut out of living rock and every drop of (rain) water was used and re-used. Sigiriya (lion's throat) was so named because the visitors had to go through the throat of a lion to get to the top of the rock.
Perahera in Kandy
If you go to Sri Lanka and you don't fear the heat & the humidity, try to be there during August's full moon. Sri Lankan buddhists celebrate the yearly Esala Perahera. Especially the city of Kandy is then jammed with ten thousands of celebrating people and the festival lasts for 5 nights. People and elephants are dressed up in gold & silver and colourful outfits to join the parades of dancers, musicians, fire-spitters, etc. Not only in Kandy, but also in the rest of the country they celebrate Perahera. In fact smaller Perahera are celebrated each month on Poya nights, i.e. full moon.
If your journey heading...
If your journey heading towards to Kandy, you might suprise to see a very flat mountain along the journey.
It's called the Bible Mountain.
Claim to be the Noah's Ark.
I got the picture this time.