I started each year with a list- of books I wanted to read, of tasks I wanted to complete, of relationships I wanted to rebuilt, of attitude I wanted to change and obviously, of places I wanted to see. Though I am blessed to be able to tick off few things here and there, purely on travel point of view, one country that has been constantly in my travel list for the past four years, but never made it until this year is Sri Lanka.
Truly, Sri Lanka is a country like no other. It is a good value for the money destination, capable of satisfying any intrepid traveler with its glorious mix of ancient cities, colorful culture, marvelous wildlife, and golden beaches. In Sri Lanka, safety even travelling as a solo female is never an issue, it is a destination where a home stay accommodation feels like staying with a distant relative who will welcome you with a feast, and not forgetting the delicious Sri Lankan food.
I arrived in the country from an early morning flight from Singapore. I have a week to see some parts and with my limited time, decided to skip staying at the capital city of Colombo.
Arriving at Bandaranaike International Airport by noon time, I headed straight from the airport to Colombo Fort Railway station. With no advanced train booking, my plan is pretty straightforward, purchase any train tickets (purchased a Unreserved Class 2 Train ticket) that will bring me to the central area of Sri Lanka by evening, specifically to Kandy, the Cultural Capital of the country.
Surrounded by natural beauty, with a pleasant and colder climate, Kandy, being the second largest city, is a mixture of heritage temples, nature, and the ever present Tuk Tuk taxi zooming around its compact downtown area.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kandy or also known as the city of Senkadagalapura , was the last capital of Sinhala Kings, who was responsible for keeping the Dinahala traditions for more than 2,500 years until the British Occupation of 1815.
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the country most important site, is what makes Kandy the Sacred City. Housing the tooth of Buddha which you will not actually see since kept in a golden casket, placed inside a heavily guarded room which is open to enter during “puja” times (offering times) for devotees and tourist alike.
Even if you don’t see the tooth, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a good place to spend a considerable amount of time, for the purpose of truly submerging oneself to the custom and tradition of the Singhalese.
A day is enough to see the best of Kandy and a reliable Tuk Tuk driver/guide is all you need. Apart from the Tooth Relic, other temples often recommended to visit are Lankathilaka Viharaya, Gadaladadeniya Viharaya, and Embekke Devalaya. The latest addition to the city temples is the Bahirawakanda temple , with its omnipresent white Buddha statue seems to be looking over the downtown below.
To break away from temple hopping, a leisurely stroll along Kandy Lake and discovering the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens is a good option. Guaranteed that the tuk tuk driver will be bringing you to either the Tea factory or Tea Museum , but the decision is yours to either skip it or not is always your choice.