We were told that Kandy is a “must Visit” place when holidaying in Sri Lanka, so today is the day.
The fascination of Kandy is its history ancient and modern as well as the Temple of the tooth, where “Buddha’s” tooth, this holy relic of the Sri
Lanka’s Buddhist faith is kept; we are told and it is believed to rest in a golden urn that only leaves the temple for a holy parade in August. This parade of Buddha’s tooth takes one week and is accompanied by 80
elephants. I remember as a child my Father recounting this spectacle as he was here and witnessed this parade in the mid 1950’s.
The potted history lesson of Sri Lanka, has been traced back circa 30,000 years, though before 1815 was a split island, with the kingdom based in the central mountains with Kandy as the capital and the coastal regions first colonised by the Portuguese 1505 – 1638 then the Dutch 1638 – 1802 and finally the British 1802 – 1948: though in 1815 the British attacked and defeated the Kingdom of Kandy and United the Country as Ceylon. The king (1780 – 1832) “Sri Vikrama Rajasinha” fled and was exiled in
India. This was the end of a kingdom stretching back to 6th Century BC!!!!!
We had arranged to meet Joseph at 0630 after collecting our Breakfast boxes from reception, he was waiting with doors open and spot on time; we were off. Even though it was early Saturday morning, the traffic was heavy as we weaved our way across Colombo, which incidentally seemed to go on forever. The distance going the quickest route (see map) is 133 km’s and should take around 2.5 hrs but we we went across country and there were townships all along the way until we reached the start of the mountainous region: Tuk Tuks and traffic all
along the way. Eventually we arrived at the Elephant place, where Christine could satisfy her desire to ride one, not the orphanage as originally planned as the write ups weren’t very good and we were warned off as it is a “rip-off-place”
It was here where we opened our breakfast boxes and immediately
disappointed with the contents. Breakfasts at the Galle Face Hotel are superb and you are spoilt for choice so we were looking forward to our boxed ones, ahhhhh! Still we ate most but kept the fruit back ’till later. It was now Christine’s big moment, her elephant was waiting and she climbed on board for her half
hour ride, down to the stream where she was relieved “Nelly” didn’t shower her, then off along a well trodden path into the jungle: Why was I not up there with here you ask, well I have done it many times before and besides I was operating the Video Camera so we have a record for posterity.
Nb. This video will appear at a later date, once we have learned how to load one onto our web site!!!!!!
After dismounting the elephant, Christine set about feeding him with
Bananas and pineapples, all of which were swallowed hole, much to Christine’s surprise, don’t know why, after all they do have big mouths!!!
Back in the car and on our way again until we arrived at “New Regent” a spice and herbal garden. As of we got out of the car we were accosted by one of the guides and taken all around, stopping at all the various herbs and plants that supposedly will cure anything and everything. All the old favourites were here but so many more, we were amazed. We sniffed “this” and massaged “that” He also demonstrated a number of things including the construction and cooking arrangements of a local’s, with limited means, kitchen. I don’t suppose these have changed down the centuries!
On our way again and we were getting agitated, we had not had a coffee or tea break so upon arrival into Kandy, we stopped at the Queens Hotel,
again another Colonial one and a sister to the Galle Face, though I need to say immediately not in the same league; it is very tired, still the coffee and tea were ok though the slice of cake we had was just dry sponge. This hotel started
life about 160 years ago as the Governor’s Residence with Army Barracks attached before being converted around the turn of the Century.
It was now time to walk across the road and
enter the Temple of the Tooth. Security was tight as was dress code. I had to don long trousers and Christine had to cover her arms. Before this was a temple, it was the royal residence, vacated by the last Monarch 1815. Next, naturally had to pay an entrance fee and leave our shoes behind, oh I so hate being in bare feet! We wandered all through this spectacular temple whilst nearly tripping over
all the worshipers. We looked long and hard where the tooth was but saw nothing! This tooth relic was brought here from India in 371 AD; though I don’t suppose anyone has seen it, I wonder if it is a top or bottom or a front or back tooth!!!!!
The other interesting feature about this Buddhist Temple is the religious
tolerance, on this site apart from the Buddha temple there is also a Hindu Temple and an Anglican Church.
Right time for a late lunch, for this
Jo drove us up to a lookout and restaurant over looking the lake alongside the temple. Here we enjoyed a sort of Curry/Chinese mixture, all I can say it was very tasty and filling with a splendid view into the green mountains beyond and the lake below and as a diversion, watched a monkey tight walk along an electricity high wire.
Back in the car and we started to return, though we returned the
alternative way which was certainly prettier, less congested and more importantly we came across a procession preparing for tomorrow,
another holy day! We must say this was a
procession like no other, not because it was long or colourful, not because it stopped the traffic but because of the pain some of the participants must have been enduring. Young men were attached by cords hanging from a pole stretched over the front of small trucks with the cord ends attached to hooks that were hooked into these men’s backs and legs. In fact one fellow was hooked in a sitting position and the remarkable thing about this was that everyone suspended with hooks through their skin were
smiling!!!!!! Naturally we stopped, watched and videoed the whole thing.
Hardly believing what we had witnessed, we drove on our way again and soon we watched a fleeting sunset then it was dark. Now up ’till Jo had driven well, sidately, considerately and at times was just plain slow, but now it was dark, hold on boys, he was as bad as the lunatic we had when
we had when we first arrived. Weaving in and out of the traffic, no consideration for Motor Bikes or Tuk Tuk’s, they must have been second class citizens, and things were not made easier with Pedestrians crossing the roads in dark clothes. Neither of us knew how we eventually arrived back to our hotel without having hit someone or something!
Anyway, back 13 hours after we had left having had a good day but exhausted and upon entering our room we found a plateful of fruit, peeled and cut, also some candy waiting for us. Perhaps they heard our moaning about the breakfast boxes!!!!!