Got up early today. The driver arrived on time around eight in the morning. I had my trip planned by the staff at the Regent Hotel. It is an eight-day road journey around the coast and northern area of Sri Lanka covering more than a dozen cities like Kandy, Trichnapali and many others. The road trip to Jaffna started smoothly. My driver, Joseph, spoke good English and was alert all the way. We stopped over at a few ancient Hindu temples on the way. The most remarkable thing I found was how distinctly different these temples and deities were from the ones I had seen in south Indian cities like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The colours were very bright and vibrant. The sculptures of the various Gods, Devis and Divas also varied from the ones I had seen in, say, Kanyakumari and other south Indian cities. The domes of the temples carried the images of Devis and Divas in itself. Blue, pink and gold were the predominate colours used.
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I knew we did have a tight schedule and barely had time to explore. But little did i know that there are not much variety in Colombo.We had a nice sumptuous breakfast at Taj and headed our way out around 10. We first visited Galle Face Beach which is right opposite our hotel. It was a bright and a sunny day (exactly as how they start the commentary in a cricket test match) and I was so much home (nostalgic of my Chennai Beaches and weather) and not quite understanding why others were constantly complaining about the sun.
Staying the first day in Negombo (30 km from Colombo), we visited Gangamaraya Temple in the capital city which has the hair relic of Buddha. This temple is worth a visit for the number of Buddhas it has and to understand the Buddhist culture. Later, we visited Galle Face in Colombo, facing the Indian Ocean. (The viewpoint is perfect for Sunset). So, our itinerary began with a 3.5-hour train from Colombo to Galle with an Ocean-side view. The journey is a photographer's delight and landscapes that greet you along the way will compel you to plan for your retirement home in Sri Lanka. That surreal and picturesque. Reminisces of Dutch Colonial Era
It doesn’t hurt that Sri Lanka is a manufacturing hub for some of the biggest high street and premium brands in the world and factory rejects often find their way into upscale stores here. Best shopping picks are Beverly Street and Odel. For some Sri Lankan weaves do visit Barefoot.
Mount Lavinia Beach
I did not find anything of interest in Colombo, except the quiet beach at Mt Lavinia. There are a couple places that serve really good seafood, It is not exactly cheap though.Sri Lanka is rich in culture. The food has similarities with south India, but the use of coconut is abundant. They make damn good fish curries which goes really well with the flat grained rice they serve. Transport is slow, so factor this in when you make plans. Average road speed when we travelled out of Kandy would have been around 35 kmph. Trains are slow too. But it is cheap.Check out the pictures in the album. Advice: do spend at least a week and see more places. Head up north, the white sand beaches are exotic. For me, there is always a next time. Keep those feet busy, fellow travellers.
It is located at the Independence Square in the Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo. Another attraction is Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), A gift from the People’s Republic of China in memory of the Prime Minister of Ceylon from 1956 – 1959, Sir Solomon Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, the construction was carried out as a joint venture from both countries.
Pettah Floating Market
There is Pettah Floating Market and Gems Market, which I could not visit much because of the lack of time. It was around 1 clock in the afternoon and we had a official conference to attend. I had to come back to Taj and this time I made sure to correct my previous mistake. I hired a local auto guy. As soon as he heard us talking in Tamil, his eyes lit up and said he was very happy to meet us and escorted us back to the hotel. Even through the war is over and the nation is now peaceful, there is a visible grief among Sinhalese and Tamils and rightly so with the amount of human rights violations in the name of Civil War.
Old Parliament Building, Located in Colombo Fort, facing the sea, the Old Parliament Building is a Neo-Baroque style edifice that was built during the British Colonial Era. Known as the 'The Garden City of the East', its no longer just the sprawling city you have to endure on your way to the southern beaches, it has become a worthy destination in its own right.
The 2 hrs ride from Hatton to Delhouse is very scenic as the bus makes its way through lush green tea plantations, lakes and water falls. Most of the guest houses (Grand Adams Peak, Slightly chilled etc) in Delhouse are located along the main road, so if you could locate your guest house on the way you can ask the driver to drop you off there directly. Later in the evening take a stroll around the tea plantations by walk or hire a tuk tuk if you want to wander a bit far off. Most people here are migrants from Tamilnadu (in south India) and are super friendly especially towards Indians. The lakeside here has great view with with water falls in one corner and tea plantations around. Possibly your tuk tuk driver can get you through there as its located inside some private tea plantations and you are not supposed to trespass by yourself. Once you finished with sight seeing go to bed early as tomorrow is going to be a tough and challenging day.
We stumbled across a shop called 'Barefoot' which had one of its kind upholstery and cute little things for the house as well as souvenirs. the shop has a very different outdoor cafe behind its backdoor that opens up to a wide spaced gallery cafe. wooden chairs and tables in every quiet corner and soft jazz music playing in the background made it my favorite place to lounge at in Colombo. if you're ever visiting Colombo, do check this place out.
Be that as it may, Tintagel has four, not to be missed dining options: -The Courtyard -The Dining Room -The Private Dining Room -The Red Bar. Do not be mistaken, I took full advantage of the highly spoken of room service and gratified my little stomach with an assortment of decadent fruits, cheeses and tea. I only spent one night at Tintagel but it was the top drawer choice for my warm welcome into Sri Lanka and the place to rest and refresh before exploring Colombo the next day. I was in Paradise-no, literally, my day began at Paradise Road, what began as a small retail gallery stocking local gift items and house ware is now Paradise Road and Paradise Road Studio House, two grand stores with exclusive Sri Lankan handmade goods both housed in gorgeous British Colonial homes with dark wood stairwells and old world charm.My, my. Quite the predicament I was in. What to buy? What to buy? Oh, dear me. This had to be my greatest complaint yet and if that was the case, I was truly living la vie en rose. At last, I chose a beautiful brown hand woven woolen silk scarf adorned in soft hued floral embroidery, perfect for spring and winter alike-perfect for my work holiday here.
To start with, the first place to strike off is this one. With the options of sitting either indoor or outdoor, their cuisine is a mix of European and Mediterranean. Whiskey in one hand and a flavorsome hookah in the other, you are set for the evening. Fried Prawns is something that I would personally recommend here.HELADIV TEA CLUB:Once the entree and the main course are done, the next step is to treat yourself to some dessert. Not far from Harpo’s Colombo Fort Cafe, to be honest in just 10 steps you land into this pretty little cafe full of divine cupcakes and pies and everything sweet and nice. Dive into their super soft chocolate cake or the extra delicious red velvet cup cake and well it’s a sure shot gate to heaven.
Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct
It is now a heritage building and a shopping and dining precinct. Independence Memorial Hall is a national monument in Sri Lanka built for commemoration of the independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule with the establishment of Dominion of Ceylon on February 4, 1948.
We came back for a quick shower to our hostel and went out again to discover the markets around the Pettah area. If you like bustling places and with people haggling for lottery tickets, fruits, meat, clothes, shoes all at the same place, well then yeah the Pettah market is the place to be! Since we already get that in plentiful doses in India, so we headed to the Old Dutch Hospital for some peace and quiet. This is basically the quarters of an old hospital which has now been converted into a commercial complex, housing quirky shops, fancy cafes and eateries.And thus we drank some more Sri Lankan beer and prepared to bid adieu to the (commercial) capital for a while and head towards the rest of our desinations.Day 2: Sigiriya
Taking a bus to the last destination & the capital of the country, Colombo seemed to be just like any another metropolitan. There are few shopping malls & shopping street. I had my last dinner in this country at Marine Drive.Srilanka's natural beauty is totally pristine. People here are very friendly and helpful. This country is getting acquainted with tourism.I hope this post was helpful.Much Much Love :*Go Travel, Go Explore <3This trip was originally published on 'Lets Get Lost'.
Seema Malaka Temple
The entry ticket to the temple costs 300 LKR which includes (Gangaramaya Temple and Seema Malaka temple and the Park). We were posing for pics with Buddha and heard the locals suggesting us not to show our back to Buddha. The irony however is Buddha is present on all 8 sides and I cannot avoid showing my back and yet tried hard respecting their beliefs and dancing our way outside which might have looked funny to the on-goers.We then visited the Seema Malaka temple which is situated inside the lake. The lake is polluted but the architecture and the statues were nothing short of brilliance. We could also enjoy a beautiful coast line view and a flurry of high rise buildings. It is mostly an assertion of economic race between China and India, both trying to establish their soft power over Sri Lanka.
The Gallery Café
And what better way to ice my shopping affair for the afternoon than with lunch at The Gallery Cafe (rated as ‘One of Asia’s Top 10 Restaurant’s’ by East Magazine)? This alfresco dining delight serves fresh, decadent treats in an artsy ambience. As I ate the last of my lunch and listened to the calm sound of the fish swimming the central rectangular pool of the cafe, I already felt as if time stood still.
As our 1st day was hectic, we started this day a little relaxed. Woke up late to some beautiful view of the hills & then a lazy breakfast at the restaurant. At about 11, we left for the Botanical gardens. Some lovely collection of flowers and nice hilly concept; quite similar to the one in Munnar. From there we directly left for Nuwara Eliya.Nuwara Eliya "The Little England of Sri Lanka"
I visited the Mackwood’s Tea Estate and picked out some fine teas to carry back home with me. An early start will ensure that you make the most out of your day in and around Nuwara Eliya, and post lunch drive down to Kandy which is 2 hours away from Nuwara Eliya. On the way to your hotel, you will find numerous handicrafts shops selling authentic Sri Lankan masks and other artifacts, in fact Kandy is famous for its Handicrafts and makes for the perfect place to shop some souvenirs from. Every evening Kandy center of arts and culture hosts a dances of Sri Lanka show, which has a moderately priced entry. If you are interested in knowing the cultural dances and some history of Lanka then this is a good way to do so. Tickets cost around Rs. 1000 and the show usually starts at 5.30 pm, but seats are available on a first come first serve basis.
Theertha Red Dot Gallery
Get to the Art of the CityColombo’s vibrant art scene of Sri Lanka Tourism is any traveller’s delight. Whether it is the avant-garde style of local artists at Barefoot Galley or the more quirky and innovative canvases of Red Dot Gallery, or the ultimate collection of past and present at the National Gallery, you will surely return inspired.
up towards Kandy's there is a gems museum with different kinds of gems and crystals on display. kandy's is a relaxed hill station that's always got tourists coming and moving on. Kandy's for us was a day trip but there are many elegant hotels that are lined up on the main market road. on our way back from kandy we stopped over to see world famous tea gardens and factories. Sinhalese tea is known across the world for its rich texture and taste.
I made up my mind to visit the missing puzzles in my next visit. Viharamahadevi Park, National Museum of Colombo, National Zoo, Colombo Deutsch Museum, Couple of Casinos, Ponnambaleshwar Temple, and some other churches and mosques were on my itinerary and most importantly wanted to explore the Eastern and Nothern provinces of Sri Lanka.