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I'm an Aussie who likes wandering all over the world but keeps coming back home to paradise and my family. If you are reading this on one of my travel blogs, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them. If you are reading the Diabetes and weight loss blog - I hope it helps in your battle with the beast. Cheers, Alan

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ella to Kandy, Sri Lanka

One of many valleys between Ella and Kandy
Travel Date 5th-7th March 2015.
Click on any picture to see a larger version.  

I enjoyed my relaxed day between travels in Ella but after two nights I was happy to move on early in the morning after breakfast. My driver, Nirmal, turned up on time, the car was clean and comfortable and the overnight rain had cleared. A beautiful day for my trip to Kandy. 

The scenery was spectacular in spots but the road was narrow and winding, making it difficult to stop to take pictures. The land is hilly, mountainous in parts, green and lush. 

We stopped for morning tea at this roadside café where my driver knew the owner. It was basic but the tea was good.

This was the view when I turned around.

About an hour later we passed by this lake and surrounding parks, used as a holiday and recreation area which could have been anywhere in the world.

We soon entered the region of endless fields and terraces of  tea plantations.


We stopped for lunch and the obligatory tour at a tea factory. The tour was more interesting than I expected. I visited the Munnar tea museum in Kerala, only 500km away on the south-western tip of India in 2011. The comparisons were interesting.

Despite the place being an obvious tourist trap my liquid lunch of soup and tea was quite good and inexpensive.

The hotel in Kandy arranged by Mr Sampath back in Colombo (I'll post its name when I find my lost receipt) was a mixed bag. The location by the river was pleasant but far from the centre of town. The place is built on the side of a hill, with at least two flights of steps down to the restaurant or up to the road. The view to the left was a construction site; thankfully they did not work at the times I needed quiet.

I took these pics in the bathroom on the morning I left. The shower heater was infested with ants and the shower base was not water sealed, leading to water flowing onto the bathroom floor. 

On the plus side the air-conditioner worked well and quietly, the room was large and clean, the bed was comfortable and the food in the restaurant was OK. I've certainly stayed in worse hotels; on balance the pros beat the cons.

I spent most of the next day having a leisurely stroll around central Kandy. The city is overlooked by the obligatory Buddha on the hill.

Down-town was surprisingly low-key for a city with a population over 100,000. I didn't notice any skyscrapers, in fact very few buildings more than four storeys tall. There were a few remnants of the British era, such as the Queens Hotel. I contemplated having lunch there until I discovered the price was more suited to Royalty than my budget. This is a view of the hotel, a past British Governor's residence, across Kandy's central lake.

Instead I had a pleasant soup and beer on the first-floor balcony of a down-town bar where I could watch the cricket as well as the locals passing by below.


Elephants appear often in religious sites in pictures, statues and bas relief form. They were a very important part of the culture, protected by royal decree before the arrival of the British. All elephants were the property of the king. Sri Lankan elephants were prized as war animals in ancient times as far afield as Greece, with special ships constructed for the trade. 

The British changed the rules; prizing crops over elephants and encouraging culling of the beasts to protect crops. One of many acts leading to resentment in that era.

In the late afternoon I attended a performance by dancers and musicians near the Royal Palace. The dance and music were fascinating, suitably loud and active, but the enjoyment was diminished by the packed non-air-conditioned hall being poorly ventilated on a 37C (100F) steamy day. Within minutes of arrival I was melting. Unfortunately, taking pictures was difficult in the crowd. This is the best of a blurry set:

As the brief tropical twilight arrived I visited the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

The temple is believed to be the repository for the upper left canine tooth of Lord Buddha. 

There is a long and chequered history of the tooth's possession and travels in the paintings around this inner temple. Legend has it that the tooth was originally smuggled to Sri Lanka in the fourth century AD in the hair of a Princess fleeing Hindu armies attacking her father's Buddhist Indian kingdom.

Possession of the relic became a mandatory requirement for Sri Lankan rulers over time, leading to it being moved as capitals moved and great care being taken of its safety. The present temple was originally built in the late 17th century but has been rebuilt several times after damage during wars. The original wooden structure was replaced in stone after wars in the 18th century. It was damaged again in 1988 during the war with the Tamil Tigers and repaired immediately after that.

Shortly after leaving Kandy next morning we stopped at a large Hindu Temple. The complex was massive and a procession had just finished as we arrived. These blokes were unsuccessfully attempting to put away an extremely heavy vehicle used in the procession.  

Twenty minutes later, when I returned from my wander around the temple, they had succeeded after adding another couple of dozen men to the group. I was unable to go inside the temple because ceremonies were in progress.

Open kitchens at the rear were preparing a meal for those who had participated in the procession and ceremonies.

I continued on to Sigiriya, via Dambulla to be reported in the next post.

Cheers, Alan, Australia