Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Hill City of Kandy

A further half hour drive from the Royal Botanical Gardens brings us to Kandy, also known as the hill capital of Sri Lanka. This is a major tourist destination and has many attractions to offer to tourists. Kandy is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List
 Kandy is a town bustling with activity . It's a great place to connect with God - there are numerous places of worship and depending on your schedule, you could visit one or all of them - but do visit 'The Budhist Temple of the Tooth' and offer a prayer in the main shrine.
 The Temple of the Tooth
Some of the other well popular and  famous temples are Gadaladeniya, Lankathilaka Viharaya, Embekke Devalaya, Dodanwala Devalaya, Degaldoruwa, Hindagala Viharaya, Madawala Viharaya and Galmaduwa Viharaya. Besides the Budhists temples, there are quite a few Hindu shrines that exist side by side. The most famous Hindu Temples are  dedicated to Gods Vishnu and Natha and Goddess Patthini. Over time, Hindus and Budhists in Sri Lanka have learnt to coexist peacefully and Hindus actively participate in Budhist festivals.
 Budha Statue
This omnipresent Budha Statue at the Bahirawakanda temple can be seen from almost anywhere in Kandy. Located just a short distance of 1 Km from the city, a tuk tuk ride is the best way to reach here.
Kandy city is a fine mix of modern and traditional. You could enjoy a traditional Sri Lankan meal or if you are an American  missing your Mcdonald's and KFC, Kandy has them.
Kandy is also a great place for handicrafts from Sri Lanka. There are a number of shops catering to tourists - remember to bargain hard or you will end up paying upto 3 times the actual price. Also remember to pick up one of the famous Sri Lankan masks.
 The city of Kandy

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Amazing Botanical Garden of Peradeniya

One of the important halts of the Colombo - Kandy one day trip is the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens . This amazing garden/park is about an hours drive from Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage and about 6 Kms before the main town of Kandy.
The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens
The garden is an example of the phenomenal wealth, diversity and beauty of the tropics and the botanical wonders that exist in the Tropics. The garden has an interesting history dating back to 1371 when it was conceived as The Queens Pleasure Garden. It was however only in 1821 that the foundations were laid to make it into a botanical garden.
A riot of colors in the Garden
Even if you are not into nature, you will love the riot of colors of the various types of plants in the garden. There is an abundance of glossy foliage, lovely fernery and orchid houses with rare blossoms and spice trees in groves. The botanical garden is large and covers an area of 147 acres. Keep aside at least 2 hours to walk around and enjoy the beauty of this place - nature lovers could easily spend a whole day here.
You need to buy a ticket to enter the gardens. Like other places in Sri Lanka, if you are from the SAARC countries, you only pay Rs 200 ( $2), from other countries, it is 4 times more. As you enter the garden, is a signboard with a numbered map to make it easy for one to navigate through the garden. These numbers are strategically placed around the garden. There are 4000 labelled species of plants with over 10,000 trees.
An exotic Orchid
To the right, as you enter the garden is the Orchid  house which houses a host of exotic orchids. I have never seen so many orchids under one roof. You could easily spend  an hour here just admiring these beautiful flowers. 
Another exotic Orchid
One of the majestic trees in the garden