We began our journey from Dambulla to the Buddhist spiritual center of the country.We drove past a few small towns and villages before we reached the main town Kandy. For the first time in the country, we saw a majority of Muslim population and we inquired our driver about the riots that took place in Kandy. Being assured that it was all just hyp-ed up by the media, we were very much looking forward to our visit to the cultural capital of Srilanka.
Nestled between tea plantations and rain forest mountains, Kandy was a shocking experience to us.Every single road was heavily packed with two and four wheelers. We reached the Temple of the tooth relic , which is located in the middle of the town. We paid 30 USD as entrance free for the 3 of us and stepped in to the sprawling temple complex. Our guide @ driver being a Kandy-an , took us inside the temple explaining the importance of the place and the history.
The afternoon sun was shining to its glory as we deposited our shoes in a counter and moved inside the temple to escape the harsh rays. I picked up a plate of lotus as offerings to the Lord and we reached the main sanctum that houses the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. It is preserved inside heavily safe guarded doors and the doors are opened only during religious ceremonies.It was soothing to see devotees sitting on the wooden floors offering their prayers and the flowers arranged beautifully on the iron rail laid.
We moved further to see the temple museum that houses artifacts belonging to the Royals. Visiting the museum is a must to witness the grandeur in the royal artifacts and to know the struggle the Lankans have gone through in preserving the relic form the hands of the British.
We left the museum after spending a good 20 minutes to see the grey clouds towering up.Weather is so unpredictable in Srilanka!
We hurried to the other parts of the temple complex and wanted to exit before the downpour. But He has his own plans.Heavy down pour accompanied by lightning & thunderstorms stopped us from leaving the place.
By then our tummies started to growl in hunger and we waited, prayed for the downpour to stop for a short while till we reached the parking area.After an hour, we were lucky enough to find a nice restaurant ‘Oak Ray’ that served both Srilankan and continental food. Being impartial, we indulged in both and went out to get a glimpse of the gemstone stores. While I was enthralled at the beauty of the rubies,sapphires and tiger’s eyes, I was reminded about the Kandy Cultural Dance show that’s to begin.
The cultural dance show was a treat to eyes and the drums and musical instruments played in high decibel perked up the mood . Girls were dressed in layered jewelry and traditional costumes in vibrant colors and performed dance moves while the men orchestrated the drums. At the end there was the ceremonial fire walking that has its roots from Ramayana where Sita is asked to walk barefoot through the fire to prove her chastity.
We managed to get a seat in the 3rd row from the stage and a Chinese gentleman sitting in front of us probably forgot about the audiences sitting behind him. He had his camera lifted up in the air and he kept clicking photos, disturbing the rest of us sitting behind him.After an hour long performance, we made way to the guesthouse to rest our feet for that evening.
Tucked in the narrow lanes of a hillside was the guesthouse” Pure Nature”. A budget stay with incredible views of the mountains and the clouds caressing the mountains. We were served Srilankan curry and rice for dinner and we tucked ourselves in a quilt looking over a part of the city in dark with lights twinkling like fireflies.
Things to know and not to miss in Kandy:
- Kandy is densely populated and frequented by tourists all leading to traffic congestion at every nook and corner of the roads. Plan your day in an around Kandy keeping in mind the delay caused by the traffic congestion.
- Every junction in Kandy welcomes you with beautiful Bhudda statues smiling back.
- The man made lake in Kandy overflows with tourists all the year round and with water during heavy rains. Plan for an evening or an early morning stroll around the Kandy lake.
- The temple of the tooth relic is crowded during the early mornings and later in the evenings. Plan your visit to the temple around mid morning .Wear fully covered clothes.Avoid using caps and sunglasses inside the temple complex.
- Around the temple of the tooth relic, there are a lots of cafes and restaurants .So once you finish your prayers in the temple, take sometime to chill out in one of those.
- The Peradeniya Royal botanical gardens is a vast one and plan your visit to the garden during the early hours. You have battery operated car services to go around the garden. Best explored by foot.We skipped vising the garden this time.
- Research on reliable sellers before you buy gems and precious stones. Isini Gems & Hemachandras are a few reliable ones in the market
We spent a night in Kandy. But as a piece of suggestion we’d say plan 2 nights stay in Kandy to taste the mixed flavors of the Colonialism and Sinhaleese. One day again, we will head back to this city.
Our next destination was a far away one from Kandy ,up and down through the scenic mountain routes to the South-Eastern coast of Srilanka. Watch out this space for the next travel tale.
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