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BY : SHAMBHAVI MODGILL
I am usually the kinds who put a lot of thought into everything they do. So, after going through a plethora of blog posts on some of the most beautiful places in the world (read Europe), I decided to ditch the same old drill, and take an impromptu trip to Sri Lanka, instead. Little did I know, I’ve booked myself in for the ‘journey of a lifetime’, because as they say “last minute plans are the best plans”.
After a 4 hour flight, we landed in Colombo to a very pleasant weather and were transferred to our beautiful hotel in Negombo, where we spent the remaining day at leisure, gearing ourselves up for the numerous things this country had to offer. So, after a heavy breakfast the next day, we set out on our journey to Sigriya Rock, took a halt at Dambulla to visit the beautiful Royal Rock Temple and then the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.
The Rock Temple is an important holy place which you should definitely add in your itinerary. It boasts of an amazing Buddha filled interior, and heavy crowd. However beautiful and magnificently awesome you find the place to be, I would still recommend going to Dambulla on a day tour, just like we did!
Later, we had a wonderful time at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Being fans of Elephants, it was nothing but pure joy to see those innocent giants play, goof around, and being fed milk from huge baby bottles!
By the time we reached The Sigriya Rock Fortress, we were exhausted, but the view made us forget all the tiredness and pumped us up with energy. After all, we had to climb almost 1200 steps. Yes, 1200! Although it seems like an impossible task, its really not at difficult. More so because no visit to Sigriya is complete without climbing the Sigriya Rock. And it was totally worth it! The climb was accompanied with beautiful water gardens, artistic frescoes, mirror wall, the lion gate and obviously, magnificent views from the top. The weather was an add-on. A must, must visit!
Day 3 and the excitement was still at its peak. We were all set to be taken back to relive the stories we’ve been listening to, since childhood: The stories of Ramayana. Right from the Ravana Falls, to the Koneswaram Temple he built, the Kanniya hot wells, Sita Kotuwa, and then the Ashok Vatika, we were awestruck and amazed to see the remains right in front of us. I think everyone will agree to the fact that Ramayana is one of the most important, yet the most interesting part of Hindu mythology. I strongly suggest this place to people with an inclination towards history and mythology. It was a wonderful experience.
We ended our day, while sipping pinot-noir in the balcony of our ocean-view hotel room, listening to some jazz and talking about how the place is a perfect amalgamation of history, tradition, and modernity.
The next day began with us getting all prepped up for our journey to Kandy, so we had a tummy-full of yummy breakfast. We stopped to visit the Spice garden in Matale, only to buy many of the different kinds, including so many fresh cinnamon sticks (we LOVE cinnamon). Although we had to go through a long process of making cinnamon powder when we got back home, it was amazing how each day added something substantial to our knowledge. Proceeding further in our car, while enjoying the beautiful rainy weather, the cool breeze, and the picturesque views, we reached Kandy, where we visited the Tooth Temple which was again a very different experience altogether.
Nuwara Eliya was something that we were looking forward to, ever since our holiday began. And man we were surprised after reaching the “Little England” of Sri Lanka, the next day! Set against the beautiful backdrops of Mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and tea plantations, it was absolutely the perfect way to enjoy being in England, while sipping tea, in the tea factory. If I talk about the weather here, its just like an “English spring day”, where the temperature drops a little, at night. You can find evidence of the British influence, houses like country cottages, or Queen Ann style mansions, all around Nuwara Eliya.
Day 6 and still in love with Nuwara Eliya : Spent the entire day at leisure in the Hakala Gardens, had scrumptious lunch at the Heritance Tea Factory, and enjoyed breathtaking views while thinking how wonderful life can be!
After bidding our farewell to the beautiful place, the next day we visited the “ELLA GAP”, while on our way to Yala. It overlooks a spectacular gap in the southern mountains where the land falls to a dizzying drop of 3000 ft. into the southern sea. So basically you can get an amazing view of the South East part of Sri Lanka. A must visit for photographers, who want to boast of some really good pictures that look like one of those sceneries we used to make as children. Later that afternoon, we went on a safari to the Yala National Park and were lucky enough to spot some rare Leopards, Wild Elephants, Bears, Crocodiles, Deer, and many species of birds. The picturesque National Park is home to different kinds of natural water supplies ranging from waterholes, streams, small lakes, to lagoons.
After going back to our beautiful beach hotel, we relaxed on the rooftop bar while watching the waves crash on the seashore. We got the chance to talk to the locals over there, and let me tell you, we were definitely not surprised by the amount of respect and warmth they treated us with. Lovely bunch of people!
Day 8 and 9 were spent relaxing in Galle. The Portugese town developed by the Dutch and the British. While on our way to Galle, we watched the local fishermen going about their daily routines, and were absolutely mesmerized by the amount of their dedication and expertise (I would definitely have clicked a picture, but we were told they charge for it. Wait. What?)
And although we were supposed to go to Colombo the next day, we extended one day in Galle and ended up cancelling our trip to Colombo because we were so much in love with the beauty of the place our lovely “Lighthouse” hotel.
Day 10 and we had to leave for the airport. I had mixed emotions about going back home, and I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said I could stay there for a week more, to say the least. Sri Lanka was a beautiful place; it had everything to offer, right from the beach, to hills, wildlife safaris, a touch of England, and Portugal. A place that has so much history (I’ll keep saying it), that everywhere you go, it teaches you something or the other (something I’ll brag about for some time to come, at least).
If I had to explain my trip in 4 words… “Definitely coming back again!” (And that says it all)
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