02 January 2011

Sri Lanka- Kandy

Sri Lanka, a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, offers a great range of sightseeing and activity opportunities. The below and the posts above show my experience as a first-time visitor to this beautiful island.

Bandaranaike Airport (30 km north of Colombo)
As you arrive, you are greeted by a good, modern airport, which gives a good first impression of this wonderful country you'll be visiting shortly. Immigration whizzes by, baggage starts coming quite early. Hmmm, things look efficient! Outside, a busy street awaits you.
  http://www.airport.lk/ (Airport's website)

The airport is around 30 km from Colombo.

Airportto Kandy
This journey should take around 3 hrs. It took us much more though, because there was a big procession happening, which made the average traffic speed a few centimeters a minute---or less. You'll come across many villages on this journey. Closer to Kandy (50 km or so), on the right side, will be a huge cashew shop, selling all varieties of cashews ever imaginable!

Kandy
Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a lovely green and rich-in-culture city in the Hill Country in Sri Lanka. There's a fair bit to see here, and a few days will be great fun here.

Sights
KANDY LAKE and CITY CENTER
Kandy Lake is a lovely place to walk around in the city. There are many benches around, and the lake isn't very polluted. If the weather is fine, do step out and enjoy!

The city center, with its shops, is another great place to stroll, and to get the feel of Kandy. Just be careful while crossing the roads, and cross when the locals are also attempting to cross the road. There are no traffic lights, but occasionally a few policemen may be regulating traffic. Mostly, there are none in the centre which means- cross at your own peril! Great to get into the city's skin.

THE MOUNT
There is a hill above Kandy which offers fine views over the city, which is called the Mount, or so, as our driver told us. This place is on a hill with great views over the city. There are usually many people up here. Views are quite great, and the Lake looks amazing. The city center looks great from up here. There will be many persistent sellers here.

TEMPLE OF THE SACRED TOOTH RELIC
One of Kandy's premier attractions, naturally, this temple attracts hordes--visitors and worshippers alike.. There's heavy security here due to an earlier bomb blast here in 1998. The complex will start off with a few statues here and there, with the main building in front, where you'll queue up and give your shoes, pay and get in.

The complex is amazing with several Buddha idols and some decoration. But, the shrine where the tooth (real or bogus, no one really knows...) is kept is only open when the puja occurs--that is, as of then:
5.30 am- 7 am
9.30 am- 11 am
6.30 pm- 8 pm

The Lonely Planet Sri Lanka guide says that the charge for a still camera is Rs 150, and that for a video camera is Rs 300. The latter is correct, but there are no more charges for a still camera.

AROUND KANDY
PERADENIYA BOTANICAL GARDENS
Beautiful...The gardens are a tranquil place to just admire nature or relax around. Before you get in, look closely at the map. The place is very big and you won't be able to see all in one single visit before getting tired. Just enjoy where you are. Some highlights are the orchid house  with amazing orchids. There is a lot more, but I can't remember all. There's also a suspension bridge where you can go halfway but have to turn back. Many paths lead into the big lawn , a big circular, perfectly-kept lawn.

Accommodation
We stayed in the Stonehouse Lodge, slightly outside Kandy. link

STONEHOUSE LODGE
A tad outside Kandy, up an amazingly steep road, into tiny pathways, is the Stonehouse Lodge. It's a nice, calm place. As you enter, there are two rooms on the right side, and a water garden with plants on top on the left and is home to turtles (don't you dare put your feet in that!!). There are many other animals here, like dogs, cats, and even porcupines.
The rooms were simple. Remember, this is a home stay, not a hotel. The rooms lacked TVs and toiletries and safes, so bring your own toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, bathing soap etc. They provide hand soap and towels though.

There is also a living room, where this is a computer also, with Internet, but they have Internet Explorer 6 (old version) on it, so many things don't work. The friendly staff can also be seen there most of the time.

Food- they can serve a good Sri Lankan breakfast and dinner. Mostly, the food will be the same, but you can ask for slight variations.

Food
Look at Stonehouse Lodge above for food there.

Chaaya Citadel had OK mediocre food in a rather depressing ambiance.

The food at the Amaya Hills was however much better, with fine service. There are great views of the surrounding hills.
Both are around 15 min drive from Kandy, in hilly areas.


                                                                          Shows
At the Cultural Centre , there are traditional dance shows at 5.30 pm.
There are around 8 dances or so. Later, after the singing of the National Anthem, there would be fun with fire, which I found more interesting. The total show is for around 1.5-2 hours.

Shopping
The Splash store in Kandy is a typical mall-like place with good shopping. There is a Roots branch for great ice-cream.
The Kandyan Art Association has great but pricey work on sale. There is also a workshop below. They deal in brasswork, batik etc.



Signboard of the cashew shop near Kandy
Photo Gallery

The cashew shop




Kandy city centre
View of Kandy Lake and city center from the Mount

Temple of the sacred tooth relic

Botanical Gardens


Trains- 

One Day in Kandy
Visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens in the morning. Then go to the Mound for a good view, followed by a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. In the evening, visit the lakeside and stroll around the city centre.

Last visit- Dec 2010
No of visits- 1

1 comment:

Rahul said...

Sri Lanka is in the ocean of the Indian subcontinent. But it is an independent country with its own sovereignty. Tropical island is small, but has a diverse geography and climate. A person who can travel to Sri Lanka Driver to any area of ??hot or cold fast pace to move within only six hours by car.