Hello everyone! Welcome back to part 2 of my Sri Lankan trip!
We had hired a cab for the rest of our time in Sri Lanka, which would be easier with all our luggage and less time-consuming to travel. The next day we visited the Temple of Tooth Relic early in the morning. There was a huge crowd there, with all the locals dressed in white clothes, who had come to say their prayers and give their offerings at the temple. There was a separate fee and a separate entry gate for foreigners. The temple was huge and built with intricate detailing, there were priests inside who were playing a musical instrument of some sort. We learnt that the temple was open for only an hour every day for offerings, and that was why it was so crowded. We just caught a glimpse of the Golden Casket inside which the tooth relic was preserved, before they closed the doors to perform some religious ceremony. Apart from the tooth relic shrine, there were small temples with different idols, and trees and shelters under which the Buddhists sat and chanted their prayers. The same grounds were also home to the World Buddhist Museum, which was huge and had elaborate displays about how Buddhism evolved and how it is today, in different countries. After visiting the temple and the museum, we had breakfast and headed to the huge Buddha statue which we had seen the previous day. It was known as the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue, and was located on top of a hill. As we climbed the stairs, the view of the Buddha Statue was amazing. We could even climb up some stairs behind the statue which took us to a greater height, from which the view of the city was breathtaking.
Pic: Temple of Tooth Relic, Kandy
Pics: Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue
Pic: View from beside the Buddha Statue
After spending some time there, we quenched our thirst with some tender coconut water (the tender coconuts there are Orange in color, unlike the green ones we get here, but tasty all the same!), and headed towards Ramboda. Ramboda is a place famous for its Hanuman temple, which is said to be the place where Hanuman first landed in Sri Lanka when he came looking for Sita. The temple is located on top of a hill, from where the view is amazing. From the front of the temple, we have a wonderful view of two rivers coursing through the plains and eventually joining the sea, and behind the temple is a forest with pine-like trees. Ramboda also has a couple of small waterfalls which we visited. We then headed towards Nuwara Eliya, another hill station in Sri Lanka.
Pic: Hanuman temple at Ramboda
Pic: View from the hill
Pic: Ramboda waterfalls
Nuwara Eliya is one of the most beautiful towns of Sri Lanka, and our journey there was lined with lush greenery, clear skies dotted with cotton-like clouds and clean, empty roads. That area is famous for its tea plantations, and we headed to Damro Labookellie Tea Center for a visit. The lush green tea plantations all around us as far as the eyes could see, with little streams of water gushing down here and there were lovely to look at. At the Tea Center, we went on a free tour of the Tea Factory, where our guide showed us all the machinery at work and patiently explained to us about how different processes yield different types of tea leaves. It was an interesting tour, at the end of which we got to taste some complimentary tea brewed in the house and some yummy chocolate cake alongside. The weather in Nuwara Eliya was very pleasantly cool, which it started to get a lot chillier as darkness descended, and reached around 7 degrees by night, which was in stark contrast compared to the stuffy and humid weather in Colombo, and the Bangalore-like weather in Kandy.
Pic: Damro Labookellie Tea Center
Pic: Tea on the house !!
Our stay for the night was Laughing Leopard hostel at Nuwara Eliya, which we still remember as one of the best hostels during our entire time there. It was Christmas eve when we went there, so they had a party for the night. We met a lot of other tourists there, from different places all over the world. We made friends with people from Australia, South Africa, Russia, Germany, France, and Belgium, and met quite a few Indians there as well. We dined with them, had pleasant conversations, warmed up around a camp fire, shared laughter, and danced, celebrated and enjoyed as Christmas came by! It was a crazy night, and was 3am when we finally retired into our cozy bunk beds, smiling to ourselves as we looked back at another eventful and enjoyable day in Sri Lanka.
The next morning, we headed to the Sita Amman temple located at Sita Eliya, a small town just around 8 kilometers from Nuwara Eliya. The Sita temple is believed to be the place where Sita was held captive by Ravana when she was kidnapped and brought to Lanka. The temple has idols of Ram, Sita and Lakshman, and also of Hanuman and Jatayu. There is a river flowing rapidly behind the temple, named river Sita after the belief that she used to bathe there. The tree in the temple is believed to be the place under which Hanuman gave Lord Ram’s ring to Sita to make her believe that Ram had sent him. There are circular depressions in the rocks next to the stream which are said to be Hanuman’s footprints. The forest on the other side of the river has burnt mud, which is believed to be the Ashok Vatika which Hanuman set on fire. The Sita temple was a wonderful place to visit, with the rich history and the beautiful landscape surrounding it.
Pic: River Sita
Pic: Spot Hanuman’s footprints !!
From there, we headed towards Horton plains, where there are farms on which cattle are bred. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed inside the farms that day, since the cattle had caught some fever and there was a risk of it spreading. Hence, we just drove through the pretty lanes of Horton planes, and stopped by an area known as New Zealand Farm, from where we could spot some cattle at a huge distance. The farm was pleasant with strong winds blowing, lush green grass all around that was soothing to the eyes, windmills lining the landscape, clear blue skies with occasional wispy clouds that floated across making the sun play hide-n-seek. It was a very soothing and quiet experience where we could appreciate good weather and scenery. After spending good time there, and enjoying the last of the cool hill side weather we were gonna get in Sri Lanka, we had lunch and set off on the long journey to Mirissa, barely able to wait to meet the ocean!
Pic: New Zealand farm
Pic: Horton Plains
Stay tuned for the grand finale….!!