A Touch of Paradise
Stunning scenery, fascinating culture & intriguing history are the hallmarks of this island
The areas that are covered are:
North - This is considered the cultural belt of Sri Lanka which is made up of heritage sites and cave temples. The main places to visit are - Sigiriya, famous for the Lion Fortress, Dambulla, for the Buddhist Cave Temple, Polonnaruwa, and Anuradhapura, which are ruins of ancient Buddhist cities known for their archaeological value.
Central - The hill town of Kandy is where the north and south connect. It is famous for the Tooth relic temple which is believed to house the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha. There is also a Murugan temple where you will be welcomed with an evening cultural dance performance showcasing Kandyan art form. There is also the hill station of Nuwara Eliya which is famous for its tea plantations, and the Horton Plains National park with breathtaking viewpoints.
South - Resplendent with pearly beaches. The main towns of Galle, famous for its Dutch Fort and the adjoining Unawatuna where you can visit the Japanese peace pagoda. Down south, you reach Mirissa, where whale watching is exciting during early morning hours. Then you arrive at the tea plantation in Koggala, around half an hour from Galle which is a rarity due to its proximity to the sea. Finally, there is the national park in Yala, which is famous for leopards and other animals.
Colombo - usually done in half-day is famous for its Fort area with its old colonial buildings and also Galle Face which is a sea-facing setup and a popular hangout for the locals.
As we arrived we were greeted in traditional style by our tour guide Mr. Pierre, with beautiful local handmade flower garlands. He quickly briefed us on the day’s itinerary, got us all set with the local mobile network and ensured we hit the road immediately.
Our first destination was the Dambulla Cave which is situated about 148 km East of Colombo. We traveled through the local villages and enjoyed the lush greenery on either side. It strikes you that this region is quite similar to our God’s own country Kerala, even in the minutest aspects. The roads were compact and quite deserted at certain stretches. What you simply cannot miss is the road discipline and cleanliness which are so clearly evident.
Upon arrival at the cave temple, we had to walk up a flight of stairs to reach the entry point of the cave. The area comprises 5 caves in total which is a haven of serenity and calmness. You get a breathtaking view from the cave and one may absorb the positive energy that the place has to offer while on top. These caves of Dambulla showcase magnificent Buddhist art with its sculptures and paintings.
After visiting the cave we headed directly to our hotel, from where our first pit stop was Kassapa Lions Rock. This resort is situated in between Dambulla cave and Sigiriya rock. During the day one could get a view of the rock from the resort. Pierre got us quickly checked in and called the jeep drivers to confirm our next day’s Jungle safari. He also intimated to us that we had to start early the next day to see the Sumitra elephants. We quickly got settled in and soon fell asleep as we had to be awake by 5 am the next day.
Day 2: Kaudulla National Park.
We reached the park in the early hours and there was a jeep all set for us to venture into the jungle to see the magnificent elephants. One mostly gets to sight only elephants in this national park. We set off in the jeep and were enjoying the bumpy off-road ride when all of a sudden, in the backdrop of the sunrise and lush green grass, stood a herd of elephants. Our jeep driver stopped at a safe distance so that we could see them without disturbing or agitating them. We saw them gracefully walk by eating the dew filled grass. After an hour-long ride in the National Park, we returned to the resort and rested awhile as our next stop was a more adventurous one.
The Sigiriya Rock: A mystical place that has so much history to know and to learn. Each and every piece of that land has been meticulously constructed. It has many types of gardens which include the stone and water gardens. For those who aren’t fans of walking and trekking, the rock and the area that surrounds it might look daunting. The rock comprises 1200 steps one way. The climb is very steep and it is only in the midway that one gets to see the lions feet. We mustered the energy and began our ascent. We were stunned by the fresco paintings and by the way the steps were built from the lion's paw and upwards. The fortress also looked scintillating and had it remained intact it would have been one of the wonders of the world. We took a few pictures and then headed back down.
From Sigiriya, we traveled by road and reached the Grand Kandyan Hotel in Kandy. It a 5-star comfortable hotel with a rooftop swimming pool. After warm water feet dip and a heavy dinner, we called it a day. The next day started a little later than the previous days As we were having breakfast we were fortunate to observe a wedding preparation taking place and also got to see the bride and groom dressed in the traditional Kandy wedding style.
Day 3: Kandy –Nuwara Eliya
We were informed that from today our trip would be more relaxing with less to walk around.
Our first stop was at the Tooth relic temple and then to the Murugan temple which was close by. We then took the hill roads and reached the Damro Tea Factory. This tea factory is a must-see attraction on the way to the hill station called Nuwara Eliya. You are surrounded by acres and acres of tea estates where you get to taste the produce of the factory, free guided factory tour and also see the tea making process.
● At a distance of 50 km from Kandy, Ramboda is a scenic village located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is well-known for its stunning waterfalls and the historical Sri Bhakta Hanuman Temple. The temple was built by the Chinmaya Mission on the hills of Ramboda where Lord Hanuman is believed to have searched for Sita. The temple has a 16-foot idol of Lord Hanuman along with those of Vinayakar, Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana. It is one of the most important places that are related to Ramayana that you need to visit during your Sri Lanka Trip. The name Ramboda is also associated with Rama’s army as this was also the place where the two armies faced each other for the first time, Lord Rama’s army on the Ramboda hillside and Ravana’s on the other side, separated by the Ramboda Lake.
● There is a pond called ‘Sita Tear Pond’ nearby, which is said to have been formed from Sita Devi’s tears. Situated at Ramboda Pass, Ramboda Falls is a mesmerizing waterfall which cascades down from a height of about 109 m. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Sri Lanka and among the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. Close to the Ramboda Falls, there is the Ramboda Tunnel which is currently the longest road tunnel in Sri Lanka, about 225 m in length.
After taking pictures and tea tasting we reached the Golden Ridge Hotel. As we were waiting for the rooms we were served hot coffee. This was our first coffee in 3 days and it felt like heaven - people who are Chennai based coffee lovers would understand this emotion. We then checked into a cozy room that had a view of the tea estates. We relaxed for a while and then dived into the temperature-controlled swimming pool. After a warm swim, we stepped out for an evening walk to the Nuwara Eliya market and Gregory Lake. This small town in the hills is actually known for its cool climate, nicely kept gardens and colonial type bungalows.
Day 4: Nuwara Eliya to Ella
We started the morning by visiting a few properties as I wanted to see what they had to offer for my future guests. My friend was patient to click pictures at each of these properties. Once I was done with seeing all the different rooms it was time to do some strawberry tasting at the local farms. We visited a strawberry farm and tasted the local produce and from there we went to Gregory Park. The pictures speak the loudest regarding the lovely place. Later, we were back on the road and on the way we stopped by at the Seetha Amma temple, another integral part of the Ramayana experience. This temple is believed to be the spot where Hanuman met Seetha Amma and there is a footprint of Lord Hanuman on the rock.
The idea was to reach Ella Gap by train which is a popular scenic ride from Nuwara Eliya. Our guide found the nearest station for us to take the train and to enjoy the ride and the scenic beauty all along.
Our next stop was the Bandarwela Railway Station. It was a long wait for the train and sets you wondering what's so special about this particular train experience. The most wonderful way of entering the Tea Country is by train.
● The trains are of a completely different style and also give passengers the scope to take lovely pictures
● The trains pass through multiple tunnels and also through lush greenery
● There is also the famous 9 arch bridge which forms a mind-boggling part of the train experience
Though we were all set to enjoy all of the above and take good pictures, we somehow did not get the right-click nor do the right frame although the entire journey was a treat to the eye. This could also be because our train ride had only 5 or 6 stops, and by the time our mind could work around the right pose we had reached our station. We were greeted at Ella station with a heavy downpour and luckily I was able to get a boomerang shot taken. Our hotel was a walkable distance from the station and we quickly checked into the Oak Ray Ella Gap Hotel. Late in the evening after dinner, we took to the streets of Ella Gap, ventured into the cafe and did some souvenir shopping. Ella Gap is known for its nightlife and also for trek freaks.
Day 5: Ella Gap
Ravana falls was our first stop for the day and from there we were all set to mount the Little Adams peak. The trek was not very hard as the path was well formed and had steps most of the way. On reaching the top, we noticed another track which was made by the locals that connect the Little Adams peak to another peak nearby. I was rather too exhausted to venture further but my friend was enthusiastic and proceeded along with the guide. After the peak, we called it a day and just lazed around at the hotel enjoying the rest of the evening watching the rain.
Day 6: Departure
The last day was completely on the road and it was a long journey from Ella to Colombo. I would strongly suggest you do not sleep during the drive back as you would miss out on the lovely mist and the beauty of the roads. Also do not venture out on the wet grass without proper protection as my friend had invited a leach on to her leg and did not realize it for a long time.
Our trip was fun-filled with a lot more to explore which we will probably cover in our next trip to Lanka,
Why one must visit Srilanka and do:
● The beauty of the land and the meticulous maintenance of each and every part of it ensure that tourists have a good safe journey.
● Discipline and safety are paramount - you are in safe hands when you travel with authorized travel guides.
● An abundance of history - for the Ramayana epic lovers this is a place you would love to visit.
● For foodies - especially seafood lovers, this is paradise
● For picture lovers, the beautiful blue-sky backdrops, the landscapes and the water bodies are camera-friendly, making even a simple shot look stunning
● If you want a silent get away and just relax, they have stunning properties that just pamper and de-stress you.
● Adventure lovers - the stunning trek at Little Adams peak and also Diyaluma waterfalls (which we did not cover due to rains) would be an experience you would never forget.
● Climb Sigiriya Rock to discover the incredible caves at the top
● Soak up some sun on the golden beaches on the South West coast
● Wander around the lanes of Galle fort
● Try to spot a leopard in the National Park
● Visit the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura
● Climb the steps to the richly decorated Buddhist caves of Dambulla
● Take the Train Ride
This is an island once known as Serendib, Taprobane, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Ceylon and many others that all gave the meaning paradise.