Where were we? The spice garden, right.
So after a long walk around the garden we set off for Kandy.
About 115kms further from Colombo, Kandy city is situated in the midst of hills with an altitude measuring 500m. It was also the capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom. It is now a World Heritage Site.
The distance between the garden and the hill station was covered in a little over an hour. It was a smooth drive for the next 30 minutes or so with heavenly weather riding along with us all through. There were some downpours on the way, however, which reminded me of the warnings by the weather sites and almost made me anxious about the possibility of having our holiday getting doomed even before it took off properly. But the rains lasted barely for a few minutes, lifting my spirit up again.
Oh no dont get me wrong! My eternal love for rains was very much intact and I didnt mind the showers…but I didnt want a busted-holiday either, you see!
With the start of the next half hour began our climb up the hills. It was a bumpy ride up which we were prepared for after reading about it in TripAdvisor. The website had even reviewed that the rough ascent would give way, in time, to this hotel where we were to check in, and which would boast of a scenic view from atop.
And as we drove up, our guide pointed us towards the hotel beautifully nestled in the hill tops of Kandy.
In a few minutes we were in Amaya Hills completely spell-bound by the breathtaking view of the valleys and mountains. Add to that- yes, you guessed it right- the smiling faces and warm welcoming gestures of the hotel staff :). In no time the bumpy rides that got us here were forgotten!
The header that you see now was taken from the lobby of the hotel. It was an amazing feeling to see Namnam take in the beauty of her green and lush surrounding, breath in the cool breeze and connect with nature from up close 🙂
A bit of a downside here and every hotel that we stayed in Sri Lanka, though, was the long wait that we were put through while checking-in. In Kandy, however, we were willing to over-look the waiting time of almost an hour, mainly because of the picturesque views that we had been greeted with all around the property.
So while R went to take care of the check-in formalities, Namnam and I went around taking pictures of every plant, every flower, every mountain, every corner in sight, in every possible angle and expression! Even the balcony railing was not spared by Namnam, who had a field click-clicking with my phone-camera during our entire holiday 🙂
And then, as though, to make up for the delayed check in, we got upgraded to a junior suite. We didnt mind it one bit of course! :). It was a very spacious, well made up and extremely comfortable suite with an amazing view of cloud capped valleys.
After a long flight and a winding drive up, we couldn’t have asked for a better place to unwind and relax.
The next day, after a sumptuous breakfast, we headed to the Royal Botanical Garden, a sprawling garden situated in Peradeniya, about 4 miles off Kandy. The garden covers approximately 147 acres with extensive and well-kept lawns, varied collection of medicinal plants, orchids, spices and palm trees.
Namnam was so taken in by the numerous flower beds donning the garden that she had my phone firmly focused all through the walk, continuously clicking shots of whatever she could lay her eyes on!
The garden’s history dates back to year 1843 when it was formally established with plants brought in from Kew Garden, United Kingdom, Slave Island, Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka. We saw many trees that had their origins going as far back as 1900.
And this very space was alternately used by our little princess to hop back and forth as a means of amusing herself!
Dont believe me? See for yourself..
And this went on for sometime until madam declared that she was tired and needed a break. She perched atop ‘her throne’ and we headed to a nearby cafe.
And here I’d like to mention another attribute of Sri Lanka that I was very impressed with. Hygiene.
There was no doubt that this was a beautiful country, but what particularly amazed us was how much they cared about hygiene, especially in the restrooms. And this held true for not just the star-category hotels and upmarket restaurants, but even those small shops in the nook of a city. There were a couple of occasions where Namnam had had to use the public toilets, sometimes at a garment shop, sometimes in a cafe and sometimes in a street-side restaurant, but each place we went to, had a spotless, clean and well-maintained toilet. I couldn’t help but wonder about how this country which otherwise looked and felt so similar to my own, was way different and ahead, when it came to keeping and maintaining a clean environment around. And I admit I felt a tad bit envious upon realizing this.
Next we visited the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic which houses Sri Lanka’s most revered Buddhist relic- a tooth of the Buddha. The tooth is believed to have been retrieved from the Buddha’s funeral pyre in 543 BC and smuggled into Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD hidden in the hair of a princess.
Interestingly it is during poojas or special offerings that the heavily guarded room which houses the tooth is open to devotees and tourists. It is kept in a gold casket which further contains six caskets of diminishing size with probably the smallest casket containing the tooth. Even then one doesnt get to see the actual tooth. On days when the room is open the visitors are only allowed to see the gold casket from the doorway.
However we were lucky to have stumbled upon a taxidermy of Raja and learned about this great tusker who carried the casket of the tooth relic at the Esala Perahara- the grand tooth festival- from year 1950 to 1987. He was declared a national treasure by the Sri Lankan Government in 1984. He died in 1988. His stuffed remains are kept in a museum within the safe confines of the Tooth Relic Temple.
From the temple, we, then, headed back to the hotel. We were so famished that a simple dhall and rice tasted the yummiest to our growling tummies!
Dhall, by the way, is the Sri Lankan version of Daal, a very very delicious one at that. I could have it plain with no side dishes and relish all the same!
With this, our two-day stay in Kandy was almost over :(. We packed and kept our bags ready for the journey ahead and retired for the day. Our next destination. Nuwara Eliya, the hill city known for its tea plantations.
To be continued…