Having recently enjoyed a week long vacation in Sri Lanka , I can’t help but wax lyrical about the country, when my friend e-mailed me asking if I wanted to join her for a trip to Sri Lanka I grabbed the opportunity.
The first day was spent sightseeing around Colombo , with lunch at Beach Wadia Restaurant, the food there is yummy and you can see the pictures of all the celebrities who have visited the place. We were told that its very difficult to get reservation for dinner , so we opted to have lunch instead .
Anyone wanting to feel the flavour of rural Sri Lanka should visit Nuga Gama, a restaurant at the Cinnamon, they have created a village like atmosphere with the tables placed under a huge banyan tree, the food is totally authentic Sri Lankan which is spicy and absolutely delicious.
Next day on the way to Galle , we stopped at the estate of Jeoffrey Bawa, the famous Sri Lankan architect. The place is called Lunugunga, and is away from the main highway, we were told that Mr. Bawa bought the place and transformed it to what it is today because he was inspired by a single window. Whatever the reason, he transformed it to a stunning place.
The Galle fort area , lived up to my expectation a quaint place where I could just take a walk or ride a bike, its amazing how it withstood the Tsunami, its got such an old world charm that you are bound to love it. The beaches in Sri Lanka are awesome, since I don’t know how to swim I was not too keen on taking a dip in the Indian ocean, i.e, before I fell and got drenched , the waves are massive, I was told that there are other beaches which are considered surfer’s paradise.
After Galle we moved inland, towards Kandy, with a quick stop at Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage, it was really heartbreaking to see a giant tusker who was shot at both his eyes, and a lame elephant who had one of his limbs blown off during the civil war.
Kandy is a beautiful place, its amazing how fast the landscape changes in Sri Lanka, within 4 hours we moved from the costal area to the hill country. One thing I found fascinating about SriLanka is how serious they are about keeping their Buddhist heritage alive. The Tooth Relic Temple is amazing, visitors should make sure that they are not wearing sleeveless top or short skirt , you will not be allowed to enter the temple premises. We also watched the Kandyan Dance , it was a hour long program, well worth the money we spent for the ticket.
We hired a cab at Kandy and moved inland towards Sigiriya and Anuradhapura , early next morning. One the way we visited the cave temples at Dambulla, the cave temple is still functional and is one of the most well preserved caves in Sri Lanka , by the time we reached Sigirya the sun was not at its peak , a perfect time to start the climb , after 1600 steps we reached the top and it was well worth all the effort, the view was awesome I also got to watch the most amazing sunset. Sigiriya is renowned for its fresco painting, and the 700 wives of King Kashyapa , as most guides will gleefully point out.
We stayed the night at Sigiriya and moved towards Anuradhapura early in the morning , I would have loved to spend more time at the ancient city but we were running late, visited the Maha Bodhi Tree, a branch of the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment , it was bought to Sri Lanka by the daughter of Emperor Ashoka. Also visited some of the ruins of the ancient city.
We had to hurry back to Kandy as we had a train to catch . The driver did everything to get us to the station on time and we just managed to board the train before it took off, it was one of the most interesting train ride of my life, the bumpiest too, we could see the changing topography through the large observation windows.
The last day was spent pretty much as the first one; shopping and sightseeing. The lunch at Colombo Cricket Club Cafe was good, they also have a large collection of cricket memorabilia. The Gallery Cafe just near the Cricket Club Cafe is a great place to shop for souvenirs. They have an impressive collection of reasonably priced items, and the ambience of the cafe is great. Since Sri Lanka is famous for gems , I also bought a few of those.
The evening was spent at the Breeze Bar at Cinnamon Hotel, celebrating my friend’s birthday, and within no time I had to head towards the airport to catch a flight back home.
The entire trip was great, I found the Sri Lanka’s to be extremely friendly and helpful, we were fortunate enough to come across only nice and decent people. Like every place in this world maybe it has a dark side too but I was lucky to experience only the positive side of it. I’m looking forward to going back and exploring the rest of the country.