Sri lanka - The wonder of Asia
Srilanka, a tear-drop shaped country, blended with cultural and natural treasures was always in my bucket list of Must-visit places. It was always popping up whenever I heard Ramayana trials, especially Hanuman’s lanka dahana and famous Sigiriya fortress. The other influential factor was the famous Ramayan, the mythological series telecasted in Doordarshan. This made me on fine day to catch a flight to Colombo with my daughter for 6 days tour with my list of places to explore.
Day 1 – Sigiriya fortress, Dambulla Cave temple and Elephant Safari
In a pleasant weather in the month of December, when we landed at Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo in the early morning, we have been heartfully greeted by Jagath De Silva. We were fortunate to have Jagath as my tour guide. Jagath started revealing his personality. He was the national level Footballer and represented Srilanka in many international matches in his career. What a grate personality to accompany us throughout the trip to know about Srilanka’ s heritage and history. We drove straightaway towards Sigiriya from Colombo. After a break in a resto for freshen-up and break-fast, we made onward journey towards Sigiriya, around 140 KMs from Colombo, and we were at Sigiriya base around 11 AM.
Sigiriya or Sinhagiri is an ancient rock fortress nearly 200 metres (660 ft) high. History preveals that this site was selected by King Kashyapa as his new capital and build palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful fresoes. Post buying entry ticket we started climbing the rock fortress. Jagath has few short cuts who took us to avoid long queues. On the way we have witnessed the paintings covered most of the western face of the rock, an area 140 metres long and 40 metres high. These pictures have a similarity to paintings seen in the Ajanta caves in India. Also witnessed the mirror wall, originally this wall was highly polished so that the king could see himself whilst walking alongside. After an hour of climbing we reached the Lion’s Paw base of the rock. Moderate rain made a waterfall from top of the Rock falling to Lions Paw formed a spectacular view. Another an hour of steep climbing led us to the top of the Sigiriya rock. Mesmerizing views makes one to feel cherished and blessed. Remaining’s of palace structure, including Kings chair, Queens pond, gathering halls etc., reminds us how beautifully the palace was planned and constructed on top of the rock.
We are exhausted after descending the Sigiriya and drive towards Dambulla. As it was raining heavily, we decided to give up elephant safari and Dambulla , Elephant orphanage Pinnawala and headed to visit Dambulla cave temple in night.
Day 2 – Pidurangala, Spice Gardens and Cultural show
Pidurangala Rock was used as a Buddhist Monastery when King Kasyapa arrived in Sigiriya. An hour hike to Pidurangala rock will be challenging but is worth it. My 13 years daughter was struggling as it was slippery due to rain and at one juncture it was too crowded wherein one person allowed at a time to sneak between the rocks. Top of the Pidurangala makes one feel refreshed with amazing surrounding views along with the overview of Sigiriya rock. I was glad that Sigiriya and Pidurangala are my top hiking places and was blessed to visit both. We have started driving towards Kandy and on the way visiting Spice Garden. Evening cultural show is another beautiful moment which showcased Srilankan’s rich heritage and history.
Day 3 – Hanuman temple, Tea Plantation & Tea Factory, Ramboda Falls and Nuwaraeliya
A drive from Kandy to Nuwaraeliya is amazing, reminding a drive to Ooty in Tamilnadu. Beautiful tea plantations and waterfalls along side makes journey to remember for long. Post a short break visiting, Hanuman temple, Tea plantations and tea factory, we driven further to reach Ramboda falls. One can see the falls from the viewpoint, but to go near to the bottom of the falls, we need some influence as the path goes via the private hotel. Jagath is very popular and influential guide who managed to take us through the hotel and few minutes’ walk took us to the right front of the falls. Most of the tour operators skips this trial and take only to the viewpoint. The falls was in full flow and made our day to remember.
Day 4 – Ashok Vatika & Sita Devi Temple, 9 Arches Bridge, Ravana Falls and Yala National Park
Early morning straightaway driven to Ashoka vatika / Sita devi temple. Ashok Vatika is the place where Sita devi was kept as captive by Ravana and Hanuman traced Sita devi and identified himself with the finger ring of Rama. Footprints of Hanuman can also be seen.
The next stop was to famous 9 arches bridge also named as Bridge of the sky. Around 20 minutes of walk leads to this place. Tuk-tuk can be availed to reach this bridge to avoid walk. Nine Arches, almost 100 years old, forms a crossing railway stations between the Demodara and Ella. One should not miss to capture the snap of train passing on the bridge forming a spectacular moment to cherish for long time.
Appreciating the beauty of this place we drove further to reach the famous giant Ravana falls. This 3-tier cascading waterfall was in a full flow.
With another 2 hours of onward journey we were at the base of Yala National Park. This National Park is popular and second largest natinal park in Srilanka. Plenty of jeeps are available at the entry of the park to hire for safari. We spotted few animals during the safari – Foxes, peacock, elephants, deers, Mongoose, rabbits and wild water buffalos. Since it was almost 5PM, we have seen plenty of deers. Also witnessed the sun set in the backdrop of Yala reserve forest. If people are lucky then can spot leopard too.
Day 5 - Turtle hatchery, Madu River Boat Safari and Bentota
From Yala we have driven towards Bentota. On the way visited Sea Turtle hatchery and rescue center and then reached the base of the Maduganga river. Boat safari in Madhu river is another unique experience. The water of the river is dotted with small islands and the banks are all covered with lush mangrove forests. It has consisted of 64 small islands with to 215 families living in them. Cinnamon island is a major attraction where a single-family life there and provide a demo of how cinnamon oil made. Also, can visit old Buddhist temple and view small islands. We enjoyed 2 hours boat trip visiting mangrove forest, cinnamon island and witnessing many avian fauna species. Our night stay was at the, Laluna Ayurveda Resort Located close to Bentota River. Ample water sports enrich the excitement. Bentota is a must visit for the water sports lovers.
Day 6 – Colombo
With approximately 2 hours drive from Bentota we reached Colombo. City Tour of Colombo covering Galle Face, Light House, BMICH, Town Hall, Beira Lake and World Trade Center (Tallest Building in SL) are few places to visit in Colombo.
In a nutshell, enjoying and admiring beautiful serene alongside tasting Srilankan’s traditional food, Organic King Tender Coconut - known as Thembili in Sinhala , buffalo curd and hand made local juices through out the trial makes Srilanka an exciting country to visit for nature admirers and travel explorers.