Further down the West coast to Galle, and a place where you will have heard so much with regard to the destruction of the Tsunami, you will find loads of great places to eat and great entertainment. Lots of hotels and great beaches. I think if I were to return to Sri Lanka, this is where I would look for a hotel instead of the one further up the coast that we stayed in.
You have to visit the turtle farms and sanctuary, because they need you to donate to help them look after these creatures. The owners make a living too of course, but so what, as long as these creatures get a chance, it's cool by me. I do like turtles.
You just have to check this place out. The elephants aren't all tied up, one or two are because they are nasty or in Musk when the elephants testosterone levels in an elephant in musk can be as much as 60 times greater than normal.
Anyway, it is really nice the way the staff look after them, and then take them all for a swim and a wash and you can follow them down to the river. Great.
Sigiriya is massive tower of rock nearly 200 meters high. And 'Lion rock' fortress is witness to the civilization of Ceylon during the years of the reign of Kassapa I.
We got as far as the entrance gates, and were confronted by a huge cueue that we just didnt want to stand in as it was far too warm that day, and Im sure there isnt always a cueue like this, just fell unlucky I guess, but lucky that we could still see the whole thing, close up, and fee of charge from outside the entrance. We didnt feel like climbing the thing anyway :)
After a bit of a climb up loads of steps and a hill full of monkey's chewing gum, yep, they were chewing gum that rotten tourists were giving them for a laugh, we got to the cave temple and it was really really interesting.
Not usually my thing, but I found it amazing and well worth a look.
This was such a sad area to visit on the West Coast of Sri Lanka. Sad, and yet amazing to see at the same time. To wonder how so many people lost their lives, and how so many lucky ones survived this horror.
As we drove along the West coast, there were graves, and little bits of houses that where washed away. And we visited a turtle farm that had been washed away, and rebuilt soon after.
The owner said all the turtles that he had saved over the years, were washed into the see, as were people living nearby. He was so lucky.
And something like 40,000 people here were not. Bless them and their families.
If you are a animal lover than this is a must do. You hire a driver and they take you all through the national park where you will see all sorts of fauna and flora! It was truely amazing and one of the best days of my life.
Our first couple days in Sri Lanka we walked the beach, swam and ate. The ocean is the warmest I have ever felt. Feels like a warm bath! There was one day we headed down and everyone was out of the water. We finally asked and a little girl told us there was a huge "salty" in the water. Kinda freaky but way to cool! You can watch the fishman...I still cant get over the beautiful parrot fish they collect..not for salt water tanks either.
There are so many places to eat along the beach. We all actually enjoyed the food while we were there, and the very fresh squeezed assortments of fruit juices.
Adams Peak is unique in the sense that people from all religions have a reason to climb the peak. We saw many Biddhist and Hindu deities being worshipped while climbing this peak. Also a couple of ideally situated massage centers.
This whole pinnawala experience for me at least has always been about this activity, every day the mahouts steer a herd of elephants across the road and through some touristy shops into the Maha Oya river running across Pinnawala. The sheer joy the elephants display at entering the water is amazing! Young and old alike they literally submerge themselves int he water, fall all over each other and when the time comes to leave (not that they are hurried), they just refuse to budge! :) A lot of this behavior we have watched even in elephants in the wild, nice to see that the orphanage is able to keep their instincts intact in such a manner.
There is a restaurant right on the river, the buffet spread was SLR 1000 pp, we plonked ourselves in one of the tables by the river side and observed the elephants in a leisurely manner.
SOme irritants during this experience was when tourists started feeding the elephants even during their bath, one lady even gave them a plastic bag!!! :O Thankfully the elephant had better sense and threw it away.
This is the one constant in all 3 trips of mine to Sri Lanka- ofcourse like most other places to visit this is very touristy!! But as a keen wildlife enthusiast I never cease to be impressed at the sheer joy these elephants experience while taken for a bath at the river across the road. It is an absolute pleasure to watch their actions and reactions to the water! Ok before I get carried away let me place some facts about this orphanage in front of you. I will write a seperate tip on the bathing activity for these elephants.
Pinnawala is a village that is some 40 kms from Kandy and 90 kms from Colombo. It began with 4 orphan elephants, today it hosts more than 100 elephants. The need for this orphange was felt with the end of the British colonial rule, prior to which some 30,000 elephants roamed the island. Following the hunting and jolly slaughter by the British this number dwindled and elephants almost disappeared from the island. You will notice many of these elephants are either blind or physically challenged or orphaned little ones. However it always heart warming to notice the love and care that the staff provide the animals here. The nearby river Maha Oya supplemented by the 15 acre property enables the staff to extend the elephants a near natural lifestyle.
There are various activities one can see at this orphanage like feeding fruits or milk to the elephants and bathing of the elephants. Also interesting to see their 'new arrivals' section :) There are sufficient maps and people to guide you while you are in.
We were just discussing how proud we were we didn't spend much around shopping on this trip, when suddenly Manoj and Prana started squeaking Noritake Noritake upon seeing a showroom in Colombo. Unfortunately that showroom was closed since it was New Years. However atleast we got them to calm down and explain what Noritake was- turns out it is a very popular dinnerware brand and in Sri Lanka you get merchandise at half the cost of what they'd be in the rest of the world. So as we headed on the COlombo-Negombo road we saw another store- this one was open this time! We headed in thinking "we will just see, not buy" but that was not the case. Needlessly to say the stuff was so amazing we just HAD to buY! I shopped for a set of plates and mugs apart from some tea holders as souveniers for my family. Prana picked up mugs and other sets as gifts too. They packed it impeccably so we could put our purchased in as a check-in baggage and it's reached home safe and sound :)
Our hostess gave us a very good tip while at Kandy, just as we were preparing to make an evening visit to the tooth relic temple while at Kandy she suggested we make our visit early in the morning at 5:30 AM to ensure we avoid the crowds and have a good darshan.
According to Sri Lankan legends when Lord Buddha died, his tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre and handed to King Brahmadatte for worship. Popular belief is whoever had the tooth had the authority to rule the country. Over the years the tooth relic changed hands until finally it was smuggled into Sri Lanka. It is said the tooth relic continues to be in Sri Lanka since Buddha is said to have proclaimed Buddhism is safe in the island for the next 5000 years.
The temple itself is stunningly beautiful and very well maintained. The exterior is simple and house like almost except for the golden roof that is visible. The interiors are a striking contrast and brilliantly carved/decorated. The tooth relic is kept in the upper floor in the chamber called "Vadahitina Maligawa" The door ot this chamber is covered with gold silver and ivory. The tooth relic is encased in seven gold caskets studded with precious stones. The outer casket is studded by precious stones offered to the tooth relic by various rulers. We were luckily present for the darshan and since they asked us to not take photos we respected their sentiments.
On to the left of the temple is the new building which houses the taxidermised remains of the Maligawa Tusker - Raja. This magnificent tusker was captured in the jungles of Eravur in the Batticaloa District 1925. For over 50 years Raja carried the golden casket which carried the tooth relic and in 1984 he was declared as a national treasure by the government of Sri Lanka. Raja died In 1988 after a long illness and then it was decided that he to be taxidermised. This is first time a tusker has been taxidermised.
The pooja in the shrine happens thrice a day 5:15, 10:15 and 19:15 everyday. We agree with our hostess, 5:15 itself was crowded by normal standards, so do go early if you can. There is a lot of security measures and there is a ticket for foreigners. The SAARC countries get a discount.
On the way to Adams Peak itself you can catch a sight of this wondrous waterfall from a distance, we weren't aware of this before we went so hadn't plannedenough time to drive to it and stop. On hindsight we really do regret it. The glimpse from a distance itself seemed more spectacular than most other waterfalls which we did stop at. On my return I have been digging up facts on this waterfall that we missed- it is 129 m tall and derives it's name from the iron ore that is believed to be in the rocks surrounding the falls. It is the 7th highest falls in Sri Lanka. The force of the falls itself is very very impressive and while I see many references to bathing here etc, I'd definitely think it would be way too dangerous!
If you plan a trip to Adams Peak, plan an additional day to see some of these wondrous sights that we seem to have missed!
We were headed from Nuwara Eliya to Tissa and as we passed some spectacular falls and rolling green hills our driver Rizvi told us there was an interesting archaeological area in a little detour before Tissa. So we asked him to take us there. This was Buduruwagala, a magical buddhist piligrimage site. Though there is no entry fee as such the officials here are ironically very corrupt, to sit outside the holy site and swindle people just seems like suchan irony. So he forced us to pay a 'contribution/donation' of Rs 200 each to enter the site. We could have fought and made it ugly, but didn't want to stoop to their levels I guess.
A beautiful winding road leads south of the town of Wellawaya past a dammed lake to this magical archeological site of Buduruwagala, in a patch of a tranquil dry-zone forest, dotted with rocky outcrops with birds & butterflies flying all over. On a massive rock, somewhat similar in shape of an elephant lying down, is a courtly group of seven figures carved in high relief: two bodhisattvas, each attended by two figures, stand on either side of a 16m high central Buddha figure. This stnding Buddha is th etallest standing Statue of Buddha in Sri Lanka.
The main figures hold up their right hands with two fingers bent down to the palm. The large central standing Buddha is in the Abhaya mudra ("have no fear"). The quality of the carvings is very impressive. Mahayana Buddhist influence is evident in the statues. In the tenth century, Mahayana Buddhism enjoyed a brief vogue in Lanka during the period. There is also a carving in the shape of a flame here, if you walk inside it smells of an oil and apparently there is no reason for this smell to emanate.
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