Colombo : I stayed very close to Majestic Centre, a very happening place of Colombo. i.e Llife there is very much like in any Indian city. There are good restaurants and shopping arcades all along this long street parallel to the coast. The Fort area of Colombo has got a modern feel to it with the twin towers of the World Trade Center and a colonial style of buildings around it. The other place where I spent most of my time in Colombo was Galle Face Green, this has a large green lawn as big as 4 to 5 football fields, on one side is the ocean and on the other is Taj Samudra . Close to the Taj Samudra is the Galle Face Hotel, this is another premium and classy hotel.
On 20th Feb, the day after the event (Half Iron Man) at 6 am in the morning I left for Sigiriya. Enroute I visited the Pinnawala Elephant orphanage – this orphanage is one of the best places in Sri Lanka where one can have a very satisfying Elephant observing experience. I had my breakfast here at one of the restaurants which had a lovely view of the river.The Pinnawala elephant orphanage is a treat for the non-Asian who rarely sees Asian elephants, and a great place for kids. Kids here have a chance to feed and interact with the elephants and their mahouts.
Buy 12 Noon I reached Sigiriya, the spectacular ‘Lion rock’ fortress that stands majestically overlooking the luscious green jungle surroundings, and is one of Sri Lanka’s major attractions. This is one of the most popular attractions and a world heritage site. It would be a good idea to stay over and visit this site early in the morning and beat the heat . The best place to stay is Sigiriya Village and the next best is hotel Sigiriya and both have a good view of the Sigiriya rock from the hotel and the pool.
|Temple at Kandy|
Later I proceeded for lunch at a nice boutique resort called Thailanka Resort near Dambulla. The food was great and all the items on menu came from their own farm – grains, fruits, vegetables, spices .I visited Dambulla which has the largest Buddha statue and nice paintings in the cave on the hill just behind the statue. The paintings are similar to that of Ajanta and Ellora and history says that the paintings are by the same painter. I then headed to Kandy which is considered most sacred place for all the Buddhists around the world. The Temple of Tooth Relic is very serene and picturesque ; the vibration in and around it very calming, even the air here feels so sacred and pure. There is a beautiful man-made lake along the temple and is the focal point of Kandy.
I later on went for a cultural show at one the art theaters of Kandy and for some reason my expectations were low, but to my surprise it was a marvelous one and my had my jaws dropping! The walk on the fire was the climax and it was kind of befitting the show and headed back to Hotel Thailanka where I had beautiful view of Kandy. The dinner was awesome; lipsmacking! The day had panned out quite well despite the heat, I hit the bed into a dreamless slumber.
Had a fulfilling breakfast and headed to the railway station and took a train from Kandy to Nuwari lya(exact stops : Peradeniya to Nanu Oya) , this route is considered one the 10 best train journeys in the world, the entire journey was fantastic and the view was absolutely captivating! There were pine trees, jungles, tea gardens, tunnels, waterfalls, bridges, rivers , name it and they all were there. It is a 3 ½ hour journey , time just fleeted by! The train is very clean, well maintained with an attached pantry. This was the most enjoyable journey amongst all the trips I took within Srilanka.
At about 12.30 I reached Nuwara- ilya and stayed in a hotel called Tea Bush.Nuwara-ilya reminds me of Munnar in Kerala, India. It is at an altitude of 6000 ft above Msl and one can feel the chill even at 12 noon. There is a beautiful lake at the center of Nuwara-ilya and has a lovely golf course. The area close to the town is dotted with large vegetable farms and there are a lot of vegetable vendors selling their wares.
There is a temple called Sita-ilya and the main idols are about 5000 years old and dates back to Ramayana period and there are holes in the rocks just behind the temple . The mythical story goes that the of foot prints of lord Hanuman are found here.
22n d Feb was my last day at Sri Lanka . After breakfast I set off for Negambo , the drive to the plains was breathtaking for about 2 hours. The route was laced with a lot of strawberry farms and there were little stalls selling fresh strawberries, jam and even strawberry pancakes! By around lunch time I reached Negambo which is a beach close to airport. Also Visited some nice resorts like Jet Blue and Rani beach resort and shopped for some souvenirs. Got to the airport by 6pm, ending my enthralling tour of Srilanka. Good things always end so fast!
It was a good trip – a combo of both fitness, i.e 70.3 iron-man event and discovering a destination – Srilanka My next visit for sure would be to a more pristine beach and unexplored east coast of Srilanka. Ayubowan! This is Srilankan means goodbye!