Green rolling hills, trees as far as the eye can see, tropically beautiful and culturally welcoming. That was what I imagined and found when we touched down in Colombo and promptly got on a train to Kandy.
As I sat in the doorway of the carriage, speeding along the infamous rail network of the Sri Lankan countryside I smiled, hanging out the doorway wind rushing through my hair, taking in the air so perfectly clean against India which never seemed to be free from the dust. It felt it seems as though the cobwebs were being blown away and what I thought I wasn’t ready for, the next adventure, was here before I had any inclination to stop it.
The passing world outside my doorway perch provided all the entertainment I needed open cityscape turning to dense forrest to remote villages, as the rain came pouring down the cloud provided a blanket over the hilltops unfortunately keeping me from taking in the infamous views in their entirety but there would be time I was sure.
Kandy felt a million miles away from the Indian cities of which we’d become accustomed, clean and decorated with lush green bushes and wide walkways around Bogambara Lake, a vast expanse of water that is teeming with fish and wildlife including the dragons we saw perched on fallen trees breaking the water with thick branches, the locals precariously perched on walls and on mini beaches feeding the many fish and bottom feeders with their families.
Staying up Saranankara Road there are a number of properties overlooking this beautiful lake as well as the hillside opposite, providing some pretty beautiful views, unfortunately a big hotel chain has just placed itself smack in front of quite a few of them, turning the view from our room at Golden View, not so Golden but we won’t focus on that!
Strolling around the lake we made our way to the ‘Golden Tooth Temple’.
The temple complex of Buddhist and Hindu origin that lay in the shadow of this big tourist and pilgrimage draw alike is stunning, many intricate paintings and statues decorating your walk way and provide for a pretty templed out kind of day. The tooth temple itself a beautiful myriad of wood carvings and colour although on taking the walk around it many are found to be incomplete, still simple drawings which 100’s of years after its construction remain in their early stages.
The tooth temple is said to hold just that, a tooth, which in itself doesn’t seem that important but add the fact it is supposed to be Buddhas tooth and well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Wars have been started and treaties signed over this relic which is said to have been saved from Buddha’s cremated remains. It has more stamps in its passport than I do, more air miles than a transatlantic business man, is what it seems like in half the stories I’ve read and yet, if the stories are to be believed it no longer resembles a human tooth at all, but instead is said to be 2inches long, but as it rarely leaves it’s closely guarded cacophony very few can say for certain.
I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed at the temple itself, we were rushed past the upper room to make way for others, space directly in front of the doors reserved for monks, the bright orange of the robes luminescently apparent against the dark wood. Although the experience for me fell a little short of the spiritual trip I had hoped for we had time to sit in the gardens and take in what had so far been an intense morning.
More temples ensued after a hearty and guilty lunch and the very local *cough* Pizza Hut and by the end of it we were ready to put up our weary feet and relax however, a few weeks ago a friend from home moved to just outside of Abu Dhabi for work which unfortunately, for her, had finished abruptly, for me however this was the best news ever as it meant she had 3 weeks which she planned to stay in Sri Lanka. No rest for the wicked, the rest of my stay in Kandy it is safe to say consisted of two screaming girls who hadn’t seen each other in months excitedly catching up over beers and food (is there any other way) and making full use of the hostel pool at 2am.
I mention this because the place we went for food was recommended by all the locals, called ’The Garden Cafe’, it’s crowded with locals and tourists alike but if you find yourself able go there! It was typical, cheap Sri Lankan food done well.
A beautiful introduction to Sri Lanka only, it seemed, heightened by the fact that we now made our way further North to the Cultural Triangle and the infamous Lion Rock at Siguryia.