The brightness of the morning dawn pouring inside my room through the glasses of the windows of Hotel Mandarina Colombo opens my eyes with a vision to have a daylong explorative trip to Kandy. As soon as my lazy feet steps inside the bathroom, the crystal clear warm water excites my heart for an amazing trip I am about to witness. After a mouth watery, appetite packed breakfast I am ready for the trip. As I move towards the Lobby, I find the company of a beautiful colleague who will be sharing the expense of this trip and will be my companion for the day. Its sharp 7:48 am, we are inside the cab and our vehicle begins the trip. A bit truffle with the congested streets of the Colombo city, takes us to the Town Hall which was once the Colombo White House (during British rule). The skyscraper city view diminishes as we move away from Colombo; the road view remains same for the rest of our trip with some small town landscape around. It is unfortunate to know that, there isn’t any highway on this 135 KM long road to Kandy!
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
The congested yet beautiful town view brings us to our first destination, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. It took exactly 2 hours and 37 minutes to reach this wonderful destination. It was a good option to carry the passport as the ticket at the Elephant Orphanage ticket counter was only Rs 700 for the SAARC country visitors, while for others it was Rs 2500. Once we collected our tickets, we were escorted by our driver towards the river Mahaweli (the longest river in Sri Lanka) where the elephants were enjoying their bath. The mesmerizing view of elephants having fun in the river was simply an awesome feel. I was enlightened by a time table that the elephants followed at the orphanage.
Time being a big barrier for the day, couldn’t wait here for long. As we retraced our steps back to the cab and continued on our road trip, we came across various elephant theme parks that offered elephant safari. As per the locals suggestion it was Millennium Park that provided a satisfactory elephant safari. From the Elephant Orphanage our next stop was at New Ranweli Spice Garden. Here we went into a garden with wide variety of herbs and spices. A government authorized tourist guide accompanied us into the plantation and explained the importance of various spices and herbs. The explanation was so well that it increased our knowledge on spices and herbs. Also one has an option to visit their pharmacy and buy various herbal products.
Kadugannawa Tea Factory & Tea Promotion Centre in Kadugannawa
After a not so yummy lunch (!!) our next stop was at an old tea estate built in 1903, named as the Kadugannawa Tea Factory & Tea Promotion Centre (also called the Geragama Tea Estate) in Kadugannawa. It was in here, the working staff of the factory poured out to our wisdom, the process involved in making tea from mere leaves. Inspite of being the second largest producer of tea, Sri Lanka continues to dominate the global market by being the number one exporter of tea in the world. They also have gold and silver tea production which is endemic to them. It is astonishing to know that Sri Lanka consumes only 3% of the total tea production while the entire 97% of tea is exported. The staff explained us with the process involved in developing the tea we use in our homes. The entire concept was indeed an eye opener. Once we were done with the factory visit, we went up to purchase some fresh tea products for our family. The products bought here were indeed right from their estates and high in quality.
The below pictures show various stages involved in tea production:
After a bit shopping at the tea estate we made our way to the next destination known as the Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya. The entry ticket was of Rs 1500 per person. We were provided with a map of the entire Botanical Gardens, and it was a garden spreaded over a whooping area of 147 acres. A long walk inside the magnificently built garden by humans had a mesmerizing view of colourful flowers, varieties of shrubs, trees everywhere. The feel of being in the nature was just an awesome experience; it brought our mind, heart and soul alike. The short stay inside the garden re-energised us and we were all set to go for our final destination which indeed was the prime centre of attraction in Kandy.
The cab dropped us in front of the entrance gate of the world famous sacred temple of Tooth Relic; also famously known as Sri Dalada Maligwa. A short walk towards the structure of culture and religion fills your heart with the pleasure of immense peace. We were diverted towards the ticket counter, once again being from the SAARC country favoured us as the ticket cost us only Rs 1000 each. Before entering the temple we placed our shoes in the shoe keeper’s area for a nominal charge. As we entered inside temple the enchanting prayers of the devotees was easily audible. The unique architecture inside the temple was immensely marvellous. After offering our prayers, we came out of the temple to explore the old Royal Palace of the then ruling king. Once we were done with witnessing the royal palace, we came across a unique museum of Raja, which had the national treasure named ‘Raja the Tusker.’ The taxidermised remains of ‘Raja’ the elephant was a sight to watch. The later part of the evening we moved into the International Buddhist Museum which is one of its kinds. Photography here was restricted but the sight inside had a lot to tell about the various aspects of Buddhism; and how Buddhism got spread and adopted from India to various other Asian nations. The museum had the replica of various places around the world that follow and have Buddhism as their dominant culture. Once we were done through the museum, we came across the section where one can buy various Buddhism/Sri Lankan souvenirs. As we came out it started to drizzle, so it wasn’t a good option to stroll around the artificial lake (the famous ‘Kandy Lake’) in the premises so we decided to get back towards our cab.
It was sharp 6:11 PM when we were inside our cab and we began our journey back to Colombo. Throughout the way we had the rains, refreshing the day long journey undertook by us. It was late 10:18 PM at night when we returned back to our hotel; so it took almost 4 hours and 7 minutes long drive back. Finally the day came to an end with the immense glorious Kandy trip that will be cherished by us for the rest of our lifetime.