Kandy: Hill country trip

The kids have started school holidays , so we celebrated with out first extended trip. This time we took a week off and drove around the amazing hill country. Sri Lanka’s Hill country has elevations from 500m -2500m and is best known for its iconic tea plantations – set up originally by the British, known as the ‘Plantation Raj’. Its also home to beautiful national parks, mountains, hill towns, stunning views, and, as we were to find out, not a single straight section of road!

First stop was Kandy. Kandy is a large city known as the cultural capital, with a long history of being the Royal seat of Sri Lanka.  We set off later than expected after our hire car met with an accident (pre delivery, thankfully) so my work colleagues once again excelled themselves by arranging a replacement via a friend. Car hire here is very different. Cars cost a fortune to buy and maintain, so many people rent them out for weekends to help pay the bills. You call a bloke, he comes with his car, you shake hands and pay him, and off you go!

The drive up to Kandy was nothing short of insane – busy Friday traffic on narrow windy roads in the dark with everyone in a mad rush –  I eventually got the hang of the ‘uphill blind corner petrol tanker overtake manoeuvre’ –  for go kart fans – I think our time at the track has helped my SL driving no end !!!

We eventually arrived in Kandy , all our paintwork and skin intact, and settled into our tiny guesthouse, which was perched at the edge of a rainforest near the centre of town, at the end of a twisty gravel road ( a win for Googlemaps).

In the morning we wandered down to visit Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic –  a Buddhist temple where various versions of a similar story compete to describe the events that led to Buddhas incisor being encased there in 7 babushka doll like layers of golden casket. There is a lot of historical debate about whether it is really Buddhas tooth – the Portuguese say they destroyed it – but the temple is nonetheless large and beautiful. The grounds also house the palace from the last Kandyian king – the Kandy empire by the 18th century were still independent from the Brits (the last in SL), but disliked by the locals as they were actually Indians from Tamil Nadu who had suppressed the Sinhalese after  taking over the kingdom in the 16th century when the last Sinhalese king died without  offspring.  The threat of an uprising convinced the King to peacefully handover to the British in 1815.

Click to enlarge photos

Temple main building
Temple main building
Temple walls
Temple walls
Ancient temple complex
Ancient temple complex
Entering the main temple
Entering the main temple
Playing the trumpet thing inside the temple
Playing the trumpet thing inside the temple
Pilgrims inside the temple
Pilgrims inside the temple
Lamp shade detail
Lamp shade detail
Lighting the oil burners outside
Lighting the oil burners outside
Roof of the building where the handover to the British was signed
Roof of the building where the handover to the British was signed

 

That afternoon we walked around the lake in the centre of Kandy, and returned to the cultural centre in the evening for a surprisingly exciting hour of traditional Kandyan dancing

Kandy lake
Kandy lake
Acrobatic dancers doing flips until I got dizzy
Acrobatic dancers doing flips until I got dizzy

The kids loved the fire eaters and walkers

dancing fire eating2

dancing fire guy2

dancing fire walker feet

dancing fire walker arm2

dancing group

The following day we jumped back into our Nissan Sunny and headed off to Kitulgala stopping on the way at the magnificent Royal botanic gardens at Peredeniya, which we loved for their wide open spaces and huge trees

Palm avenue, Peredeniya
Palm avenue, Peredeniya

 

 

 

 

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