Sri Lanka Diary

Day#1: 1st October 2019

we landed at Colombo airport (aka Bandaranaike International airport) around 7.11pm through Indigo flight 6E 1205. Airport was all empty, a good sign for us that it will not be too crowded in entire tour too since this was beginning of Southern Indian holidays and a lot of people travel to nearby countries.

immigration counters are numerous and on two sides, the visible aide had 1-2 people in each queue while the other side was all empty.

our driver Pradeep met us in the lobby and took us to Goldi Sands beach resort in Negombo. it was raining heavily en route and we were worried that it would ruin our next day as we wanted to go to the beach in the morning. 

Goldi Sands had everything ready, we just had to show passport and nothing else, not even the hotel voucher. we were welcomed by Rajith, Anthony and a welcome drink that was a very delicious orange juice.

We went to our room and found it had twin beds and not the master bed, we informed the staff and they shifted us to a double bed room. this room had a swimming pool and beach view.

we had a buffet dinner in the restaurant on the ground floor and enjoyed local alcohol Old arrack and local Beer. the buffet had limited choices for vegetarians but a wide spread for non vegetarians.

we went to the beach via shacks and stared at the dark and roaring sea and came enjoyed dim lights around shack.

Day#2: 2nd October 2019

In the morning we went to the beach at around 6.30am and saw the fishermen pulling the net from the sea. I helped them too and realised that they pull the met in a rhythm, no sound no music but every footstep is taken in sync and it reduces pressure on each individual. I was sad to see that after 2 hours of hard work of around 29 people they barely got 50 kg fish. only three big fish of around 5 kg each and rest all small ones. they also caught a water snake in the net that they released back to water.

I held a big fish by its gills up in the air and clicked few pics. Fishermen were very supportive and didn’t demand any money for all this unlike many commercial beaches. we realised that if we would have reached the beach around 5.45am, those fishermen could have taken us in the boat to the ocean where we could see fish getting stuck in the net. we did not enquire about the price for the boat ride that takes around 1 hour but believe that anywhere between 500 to 700 SriLankan rupees per head would do.

we came back to the hotel which is right on the beach, very clean, calm with friendly staff and had breakfast.

post breakfast we checked out around 10am for Kandy.

Our travel agent had allocated a Tempo Traveller (13 seater) for 3 of us so we had plenty of space. we picked a crate of 10 bottles of 1 ltr each and two orange juices for 700/-

Sri Lanka is full of Indian brand vehicles: Trucks are from Ashok Leyland, Autos are from Bajaj, cars are from Maruti.

Colombo and Negombo are clean, organised and beautiful places with lots of options for Foodies. there are many Indian restaurants near Negombo.

We started by 10am for Kandy and went directly to Peradeniya botanical garden. On the way we saw this mountain which is called as Bible Mountain since the shape looks like a closed Bible.

We paid 1000/- each for entry ticket and realised that they had electric carts to carry people around at a price. smaller vehicles that can take upto 5 people is available at 1000 LKR while the big one that can carry 7-9 people  is available for 2000 LKR, since small vehicle wasn’t available for next one hour, we hired big one for 3 of us and started. garden is huge but we liked flower pathway, orchid hall, palm avenue, double coconut, monkey bridge, sri lanka shaped pond and weird bark of palm trees.

Parv sitting on the roots of a big banyan tree

The photo above is from the famous Palm avenue which looks royal.

The tree above is called a Cannon Ball Tree, it is said that Gautam Buddha got enlightenment under a Cannon Ball Tree. 
This is Double Coconut which may contain two coconut shells inside it and usually has 5 Ltr of coconut water in it. You can see normal size coconut on the bottom right side of the picture. This is a rare tree and was brought to Sri lanka from European islands. There is another double coconut tree in Kolkata, India which is dying unfortunately.

 it took us one hour despite rushing to places that did not interest us. on the way to exit there is Lakarcade which is a souvenir shop that is very pricey. we picked only two small diaries and a fridge magnet. we walked across the road for a late lunch and proceeded for Candy however just 100-200 mtrs away from Botanical garden was a Budhha Stupa that looked nice so we stopped there. surprisingly we found Lord Ram’s photo in this Buddha stupa near Buddha statue. there is a lion shaped room, white stupa and a temple with brass plated roof. the backside of the temple has view of Mahaweli river which is nice. lots of pigeons are here too.

We then went to the hotel as our guide informed that Tooth relic temple has strict dress code i e. your knees must be covered, torn jeans or shorts kr 3/4ths, sleeveless dresses are not allowed. 

we changed the dress and went to Tooth Relic temple, your vehicle needs to be parked far from the temple since there is no parking nearby. be ready to walk a bit uphill though not difficult. 

The picture above of a building that was built by French people, it is very close to tooth relic temple.

At the entrance of the temple, security staff will check your dress and advise if you need a wraparound etc, there are shops right next to the entry gate where you may buy wraparound for male and female both . In the temple campus there is a statue if 7 year old Madduma Bandar who is revered as Child Hero. his father conspired with Britishers against the king so king ordered to behead his entire family, father gets beheaded seeing that the elder brother of Madumma runs away crying while Madumma walked to the executioner and said, kill me i wont run away. this act of bravery earned him the title Child Hero. 

The building above is of the royal bathing hall which is now closed to the public. This building is on your right side if you are facing the Tooth Relic Temple.

We paid 1000/- each at Tooth relic temple, ticket counter is towards the right side if the temple when you are facing the temple. We entered Tooth Relic temple after a quick security scan and x ray scan of our bags. as you climb the stairs, your ticket is checked and you take a right turn from a very tall gate. this gate is tall aa during procession, an elephant is brought in to carry to tooth relic on its back. you imb up to a wooden ceiling room where right in front of you is a closed golden door, you may see musicians playing classical musical instruments here. climb up yo first floor and you will see another locked golden door. Behind this door the tooth relic is kept under 7 gold plated crowns. the door was opened just after we reached there (around 6.45pm) and were able yo see and click a few pics of the gold crowns despite crowd. there was a huge queue of people with offerings in their hands to go closest to the inner sanctum while many of the people just saw it from around 20 feet away. we then went to the ground floor and saw Crystal buddha statue (around 9″) kept in a decorated open box on the right side of a big buddha statue. we then went to the shrine room where there is a big golden statue of buddha and many pictures depicting the life of buddha and primarily the history of tooth relic.

we came out from the temple and walked to the palace but that was closed at 7pm. we went to Kings court hall which is made of wood and has nice intricate designs on wooden pillars. 

This is the picture of Tooth Relic (which is actually kept inside the Golden vessel that is visible in this photo). We were told that every 8 years the Tooth Relic is taken out of these Golden shells and carried in a procession outside the temple.

We collected our shoes and drive to the viewpoint which is only 10 mins drive from the temple uphill. the view from there was really amazing. you could see Kandy lake, tooth relic temple, big buddha (towards your far left) and Kandy city roads. if you can take some night mode pics here, it will be a good memory.

We then went to our hotel and had dinner. VSOA which means Very Special Old Arrack may be a good relaxing local alcoholic drink to soothe you. We found a guy playing instrumental music on guitar supported by karaoke music. His name was Chapa and he has the day job at Sri Lanka Telecom and plays guitar in the evening. He played and sang a few hindi songs on our request that made our evening. we realized that he was singing in few other languages for other guests too. A talented guy in deed. Buffet dinner had wide variety and we were happy to find Poori, Aloo paratha in the spread. But our food was made special because of cheese brulee which was awesome.

We went to bed around 11pm. our son woke up around 3 am saying I have completed my sleep and went to brush his teeth. this was the second time in a row. he finally settled on our bed and slept after disturbing our sleep. 🙂

Day#3: 3rd October 2019

We started for Dambulla cave at 9am from hotel in Kandy. it is a 2.5 hour drive to Dambulla cave temple and it seems that this temple also has same restrictions so we wore full length jeans. sleeved T shirts are ok.

There are good washroom near the parking area of Dambulla cave and charge is very nominal.

DON’T forget to buy a ticket at the beginning of the stairs else you would not be allowed to enter when you reach 345 stairs. we paid 1500/- per person for tickets and started climbing after every 10 to 15 steps there is a place where you can stand and rest. there are two small shops to where you may buy colorful pyjamas or t shirts though we found them unnecessarily priced.

upon reaching the top, that took us around 30 mins, take a right and go to shoe counter to deposit your footwears. socks are allowed and highly required since the floor would be hot. I would recommend thick socks. Now you can turn left and enter the gate where your tickets will be checked then you cross the door and on your right there is a stone that has ancient inscription stating 3rd century BC, King Valaghamba reformed the caves for Buddhist monks. as you proceed further you will find natural caves that have many statues of Buddha and paintings on the ceiling that are painted with natural colors. Here you may see many forms of buddha however biggest statues are of reclining buddha. photography is allowed however nobody should have their back towards statues posing for the photo.

In the picture above you may see a man standing on the extreme left side, that is King Vattagamani Abhaya who honored the monastery in 1st century BC.

The last cave has some work going on hence closed. it is surprising that people were able to travel to such remote places 2500 years back and find shelter in such natural places.

On the way back we collected our shoes and paid 25 LKR per pair them we started opposite the caves and went down by stairs which are much easier than the climbing ones and reached a massively big buddha statue (perhaps 60+ feet) in gold color and just below that is buddha museum. it is a picturesque place so don’t forget to click some.

we started from there and after around 30 mins or so stipped at Hotel Rukmal for lunch. the buffet lunch is LKR 1100/- per person and staff is rude but the taste of the food was good. 

we started at 3pm for Polonnaruwa. we reached in 30 mins and found it was raining cats and dogs so we could not go to see Polonnaruwa ruins. You may see Paraakrama Samudra (Water Tank) which is the biggest in Sri Lanka.

We them went to Medirigiriya vatadage which is 38 kms from Polonnaruwa and we were happy to see that it was not raining there. also to a happy surprise that there is no entry fee at Medirigiriya vatadage. it is a serene place spread in 100 acres however you may cover the key places under 30 minutes. please note that you have to remove shoes here and the pebbles are very sharp so it is highly recommended that you wear thick socks or be ready to get free acupuncture (through sharp pebbles). 

We went to the shrine area first which is at the very beginning on the right side. here there are 3 tall+standing and 2 small+sitting statues of Buddha. they are carved on granite which is very difficult, granite being very hard and breakable stone. the expressions on the faces of these statues represent the peace from meditation. 4 key lessons of Buddha: Love/Kindness for everyone, Joy from others happiness,  compassion, equality

we saw medicinal tub in which medicinal oil and herbs would be filled and then the patient is made to lie-down in it for recovery. 

We went to the right side of the shrine area and clicked the photos of the circular sanctum from distance and it captured beautiful, clean sky with ancient sanctum with all its greenery. we then proceeded to circular sanctum which only has pillars as the roof fell decades ago. all 4 sides have openings and a buddha statue is placed at all openings. all the pillars are made of granite and have faded designs, the centre of the sanctum had a stupa which is destroyed long ago and only the base stands today. we came out of the circular sanctum and went a bit further to a Stup structure on our left where you may reach by climbing the stone stairs.

Hotel is big and located at the banks of Parakrama Samudra which is the biggest water tank in Sri Lanka. We stayed in room 150 which is huge and has a big balcony opening towards garden and the water body.

We rested in our room for a while and enjoyed Remy Martin and went down for dinner. While trying to order few local alcohol drinks, we were told that due to World Non Alcohol day on 3rd October, alcohol may not be served as Sri Lankan Govt prohibits it.

Day#4: 4th October 2019

Next day we started for Sigiriya rock at 8am and reached at 9.30am

Go to the museum where the tickets are sold for foreigners. for SAARC countries there is a special 50% discount. it costed us 2730/- per person after discount. 

Also note that there is a clean washroom here and the second last one near the rock. 

The story of Sigiriya rock begins is interesting. King Dathusena had one son from his queen named Mugalan and another son from another wife named Kashyal (Srilankans call him as Kassap). The daughter of King Dhatusen was married the chief of army named Migara. One day Migara’s mother slapped King’s daughter very hard post which she ran to her father the king with bleeding face. the king ordered to kill the mother in law. Migara, the chief of army swore yo take revenge and instigated Kashyap to seize the throne. Kashyap seized the throne and became king but found the treasury empty. Migara again provoked Kashyap to ask Dhatusena for treasure upon which Dhayusen told Migara by taking water in his hand that this water is all my money as the old king had spent all the money building water tanks for the kingdom. This angered King Kashyap who ordered to bury his father in the water tank wall alive. Migara happily did it and fulfilled his revenge. The younger son Mugalan escaped to India seeking shelter. 

King Kashyap seized the Sigiriya rock from Buddhist monks and built a palace and fortress on top of this rock. Mugalan returned to Sri Lanka after 18 years with an army and challenged King Kashap. Their armies fought and during the war King Kashyap turned his elephant back to avoid a muddy ground ahead, this was interpreted by his army as the King is running away therefore the army ran away. Seeing his armu’s escale King Kashyap committed suicide in the battleground. 

Mugalan became the king and returned Sigiriya rock to Buddhist monks.

It is also said that before all of the Kashyap/Buddhist monks, this rock had the palace of Ravana which was destroyed in time and was taken over by Buddhist monk however no evidence of the same may be found. Perhaps it is because Ravan is 10,000 year old story while Buddha is just 3,000 years old and time eroded all that existed in Ramayan time.

Take the ticket and start towards the rock. Near the external moat you will need to get your ticket checked, here they will also check your bag and even remove plastic label from your water bottles, you can save some time if you have already removed it. cross the moat using iron bridge that is said to be retractable so that during attack enemies can’t cross it easily. Moat iya said to be infested with crocodiles even today though we did not see any. Immediately after moat there are few steps and then you step in the garden area where large water tanks were built. Few fountain tanks and natural tanks may be seen here. We crossed this garden area and went straight to another set of steps to that are covered by two large boulders. Till this point all the stairs are made of moon stone that shines in the night therefore making it easy to use stairs in ancient times. We crossed it and reached the first narrow staircase that will now continue till the top.

View point at the bottom of the rock where you may see the gardens, water tanks, ponds built to keep the gardens green. 

View of the famous rock from the viewpoint.

Beginning of the climbing part. Take photos in the beginning as after climbing you may be too tired to click. 

after climbing 1/4th of the total distance you reach an iron bridge that takes you to Mural paintings and mirror wall. to reach the mural paintings, you need to show your ticket once again at which you can climb spiral iron stairs to the small area where mural paintings are. Mural paintings are painted with natural color and have some colors still intact. Most of the images are of girls with their upper body bare.It is also said that these girls are not naked, they are wearing very refined silk from Beijing, China. Some people believe that these are angles with flowers in hand to shower on the winner, some say that these are Queen and wives of King Kashyap and some say these are goddesses of cloud and thunder. these paintings are 1800 years old. after seeing the mural paintings, we climbed down the spiral stairs which is very scary since it overlooks the ground far below from the edge of the rock. We then moved towards mirror wall which might have some very old writings too but are messed up by visitors who wrote their names etc on the wall. From this point onwards there are steep stairs to climb upto Lion’s rock.

We could see a tall buddha statue towards the entrance of the Sigiriya area and were informed that it is a Buddha temple far away from the entrance point in the village.  we were also able to see water bodies and jungle around Sigiriya rock that has been maintained by the government as Sigiriya as a reserve forest. There are very few families that live around Sigiriya who have been living here for generations. One such family is whose ancestors painted the mural paintings at Sigiriya rock. We saw a monkey slipping on one  foot wide wall effortlessly to go down around 30 feet. We then reached the ground where there is a staircase in the middle and both sides have huge paws of lion. This is called Sinhagiri. this is very famous and Internet is full of pics from this place.

Now you take the stairs between the two paws and climbup, soon you will reach iron platform which is  attached to the outer side of the rock and the view from here is breathtaking and scary. We were able to see Pidurangala rock from here and it seems dwarf as compared to Sigiriya rock. Sunset from Pidurangala rock is famous however unlike Sigiriya rock, Pidurangala does not have defined pathways, stairs, bridges or railings. It is a rough trek that needs 30-45 minutes by finding your own way. You may also encounter snakes and insects enroute too as Pidurangala is not touched much by humans. We had a plan to climb up Pidurangala rock to enjoy sunset but Sigiriya squeezed juices out of us and we dropped the plan, it later proved as a  boon that I will talk about later.

After crossing the platform, we reached iron staircase that shakes slightly and becomes scarier. by now you have climbed around 90% of the distance. Now we were in front of the final set of  stone stairs to reach the top. We started climbing around 9.50am and reached the top around 11.20am while we are not the fittest kind and took breaks avery 15-20 steps. I was full of sweat and tired but happy to be able to reach the top.

We rested near a small pond that is now dry and went up to see the eastern palace ruins which is the highest point on Sigiriya rock. we roamed around and clicked few pics. We rested under the tree near south palace ruins and saw the ancient swimming pool from top only, we did not have energy to walk down to swming pool and to suicide point and climb back up. However our son went to see both points and caught some very scenic pics. while resting a group of young kids came and sat beside us. we had carried drinking water with us and while drinking we realised the kids didn’t have any and were thirsty, we offered one water bottle to them that they accepted warmly.

We also saw a couple with a 3-4 month old kid that his father carried all the way to the top while we found it difficult to carry ourselves. 

After resting for around 45 minutes, we headed back. Stairs looked scarier now’ because we were facing the valley and could actually realise the height of the rock. To make it worse stairs going down are outwards so walking down gave me thrill and fear both at the same time.

We reached the Lion paw in 8 minutes and that is when we came down slow. We created here for 5 minutes and then started down and reached a ground from where we had the choice to take the stairs on the left kr slope on the right side, we chose slope and we found it more comforting. We took around 20 minutes to come down to the garden area. We crossed the moat and went to the cafeteria on the left side and had juice to refuel our bodies. There are restrooms on the right side opposite Tourist police station and Cafeteria that are free for use and pretty neat and clean. Staff would give you tissue paper/Toilet paper on demand.

we then went straight to our car and dropped the idea of seeing the museum.

On our way back we wanted to have authentic Srilankan food and requested our driver yo suggest some place. While we found Jaga food having rated 5 stars by 900+ people on tripadvisor, our driver recommended yo go to Priyamali Gedara which means House of Priyamali family. This restaurant is run by Priyamali family who are primarily farmers therefore it is called Farmer’s lunch. We were welcomed at the gate by a middle age woman with an infant and a homely smile. We were utter apprehensive about the place since it is not on the main road and approach road was a bit rough, yet hunger was stronger than apprehension. We went inside and found 3 big huts attached to each other that are open from all sides. Each hut could seat 25-30 people on the wooden benches on three side of the hut. Centre of the hut had a tall table where they place the buffet. We washed our hands through a tap that is beautifully fitted in a stone wash basin. We sat and in no time a team of 4 young boys and girls started bringing bowls with variety of food. They also gave us hand made plates with lotus leaf on top of it. While we started taking things, we were told to wait since not the entire buffet was arranged yet. We counted there were around 15 types of food already and one by one total 25 different varieties came. They also brought a basket of raw vegetables to help us relate the cooked curry/vegetable  with its original form. No two vegetables had the same look or taste. I particularly liked jackfruit curry, winged beans dry veg, reddish leaf veg, pumpkin curry, coconut roti (too hot), red rice, jackfruit seed curry in white sauce, vada, pol sambol. My non vegetarian family loved the chicken and fish.

The family serving the food was very shy but courteous. It totally gave us home feeling. We ate more than our appetite since this was the best food we had so far in Sri Lanka. if you are in or around Polonnaruwa DON’T MISS Priyamali Gedara. After the food came desserts 3 fresh cut fruits, 3 home made sweets and curd+honey. I loved ball shaped jaggery and coconut sweet.

It cost us around 1100/- per person and honestly it is dirt cheap as compared to the food we had in best of the hotels so far considering the quality, quantity and variety. Also I forgot to tell that there was another small family sitting in knee hut where they had put the buffet already and we could be seated there itself but not, they requested us to sit in another hut and brought entire buffet exclusively for us there. We were more than impressed. We clicked few pics with the team who was so shy to come forward that our driver and my wife had to request them.multiple times to come.

They offered us to see their kitchen where to our surprise we saw them cooking in firewood and no gas/electric medium being used at all. Middle age women were cooking and teenage kids were serving the food, purely family work.

We were told that Priyamali family only serves lunch however if you book them a few hours in advance, they prepare dinner exclusively for you.

We also met Tommy who was playful in the beginning and then lazy and sleepy. He proved as a stress buster for me as I love playing with canines.

We thanked Priyamali family and started towards our hotel.

On our way we saw wild elephant on the far end bank of Parakrama Samudra. 

On our way to the hotel, we visited Pothgul vihara (which means Library) where we saw large size statue of King Parakramabahu. He is one of the best kings in the history of Sri Lanka for making thousands of canals and water bodies and in his time Sri Lanka exported rice which is not the case anymore. We also saw the Stup shaped library ruins and beautiful structures around. There was no entry fee here. We found it very calm and relaxing place with a lot of greenery.

we came to our hotel “Sudu Araliya” and it started raining heavily. This is why I said earlier that cancelling Pidurangala rock trek proved to be a good idea. Though we missed sipping our evening coffee in the huge balcony of our room but we enjoyed the rain anyways.

I had Ascot Gin that is made in Srilanka and liked it.

We prepared for morning checkout by packing things up right before going to bed and that helped. .

We then started back from this place and reached our hotel Sudu Araliya (means White Plumeria) in around 10 minutes.

Woke up at 4.45 and started getting ready then woke our son and in the end my wife. 

Day#5: 5th October 2019

Reached the dining area for breakfast at 7am and loved string hopper with potato curry and pol sambol. We enjoyed the garden view and walk and then checked out from the hotel. We started for Nuwara Eliya and got stuck in heavy traffic jams from Katugastota onwards for two reasons, one that there is some children festival today that is going on and seems every family has come out with their kids on the road and second that even locals go to Nuwara Eliya over weekend to have fun.

We stopped multiple times on the way to Nuwara Eliya since the valley, mountains, waterfalls, greenery are so beautiful that you want to enjoy the journey more than the destination itself. By the way destination is also very beautiful.  On such a view, we stopped to click a selfie and a lady decided to photo bomb it (you can see her in the photo below). Later we realised that she was a beggar and a funny one. 

Nuwara Eliya is the most scenic place we found in our journey and it was sad that our travel advisor sent us here only to sleep, she should have planned better. There are tons of natural waterfalls that are clean, scenic, without crowd and very green. 

We reached Nuwara Eliya around 2pm and went to Sri Bhakta Hanuman temple. This is the place where Hanuman ji gathered his army. There is Swami Chinmayanand school and Annaporni vegetarian restaurant in the same campus. We reached the temple at 2.50pm and it was close and was to be opened at 3.30pm so we decided to have lunch at Annapoorani restaurant. We took Indian thali and Sri Lankan thali and the only difference was found hst Indian thali had two chapati. We came back to the temple at 3.30 and entered the temple. The statue of Hanuman ji is made of blackish clay and is huge and beautiful. 

We started from the temple towards Nuwara Eliya town and just around few hundred meters ahead found a beautiful waterfall on our left side where you may go down to the bottom of the fall. A family lives here and requests for some money however not mandatory. since this is monsoon season, we were lucky to see all the waterfalls in full bloom. 

Tea estates on both sides of the roads had started by now and most of them seem to be owned by a company called Damro. We crossed Lake Gregory which is beautiful. The lake offers boat, Jetski, Motorboat and pedal boat rides. It has beautiful parks on its bank and few british style small bridges. 

We reached Seera Amman temple that is red and gold in color. It is below the road level. We took off our shoes and entered the temple that is guarded by the statue of Hanuman ji. Immediately upon entering we saw small Hanuman temple on our right, black stone statue is decorated with orange color which gives very cute look to Hanuman ji. 

On our left was the main sanctum with statue of Lord Ram, Seeta, Lakshman and Hanuman ji. 

Behind the temple there is a river which was ferocious with its water flow and rocky pathway. River is barely 10-15 feet wide here and there is a bride to go to the other bank of the river where statue of Seeta Ji and Hanuman ji can be found. This is Ashok Vatika where Hanuman ji met Seeta ji. there are two big foot/paw prints here too which depict the monkey form of Hanuman ji and the human foot print depicts his Vishwaroop that he displayed when Seeta ji doubted that army of Vanara being small won’t be able to match Ravan’s army.

This is the footprint of Bhagwan Hanuman ji in his Vishwaroop form. You can see how big he was compared to normal human beings (see the normal foot of human being today at bottom centre).

This is the footprint of Bhagwan Hanuman ji in his Vanara form.

There is a mountain on the right side of the temple (when you are facing the temple) that looks like face of Hanuman ji.

From Seeta Amman temple we went to Gayatri Padam Temple where Meghnaad worshiped Nikumbhala Devi and got his Kundalini awaken. This temple has 108 natural shivling stones taken from Narmada river, MP, India. These will be mounted on 108 base of shivling soon.

There is one Shivaling here that is growing in size, it is called Praanling, one that has life. Interesting story is that a South Indian devotee came here in 2017 and offered to build a silver snake hood that would wrap around this shivling, so he took the measurements of the shivling, he came back by 2018 Shivratri and found that despite of correct measurements, the snakehood was not fitting the shivling then upon measuring they found that shivling had grown. We met Subramanyam ji who is very knowledgeable and told us about the history of the temple, his Guru ji and their predecessors and showed us the museum in the temple where few notable items are kept like: 1 Million mukhi Rudraksha which is huge and has shivling and serpent hood carved on it, Black stone with eye kind of structure on it depicting third eye of Lord Shiv, Sanjeevani booti/plant, 9 poisons which when mixed together become medicine, ancient script written on Tamrapatra and many other unique items. He also told us that the head priest of the temple, his Guruji had taken Samadhi in 2007 and that his body is kept under his statue and connected to the statue with a copper wire. He told that body of such spiritual people under samadhi generates double vibration and effect after 13 years and that the same may be felt during meditation. 

We stayed here for awhile and meditated and then went to our hotel “Galway Heights”. It is a good hotel that is managed by highly trained professionals, most of the staff  is young and trained well. We had reached here around 8pm. Check in and Check out process in all the hotels of Srilanka is amazingly quick. We were taken to our room (no 201) which is right next to the recreation room. The room had a terrace (rooftop or the portico) accessible from our window. We asked the girl who brought us to the room if it had mountain view and she said it did. We were unable to see any mountain outside since it was dark and covered by trees. The girls also warned us that if we take the laundry bag with us, it will be charged LKR 500/-, we assured her we won’t carry the laundry bag.

After resting for a while, we went down to have dinner. Buffet Dinner was good but very expensive, it cost around 2760/- per head and I can openly say not worth the money however Nuwara Eliya is the most expensive place so you shell more money here. The room given to us was small and we requested for an upgrade and were told that all rooms are of the same dimensions. Wifi here was pretty fast, easy to connect and stable. I got busy transferring photos from my son’s phone to my laptop as his phone ran out of storage. After the cleanup, went to bed.

Day#6: 6th October 2019

Woke up at 5am and got ready, I found bathroom fittings of very fine quality here and room and bathroom both built with modern style. 

It was disappointing to see that there was no mountain in the view from our room. I took a small video of our room and sent to our travel agent stating we paid for mountain view room but were not provided one.

I and my son got ready by 7 and went to have a game at the pool table. I am a beginner at the game and was able to tell few basica to my son. We enjoyed our armature game for third time and then went to have breakfast. Breakfast buffet had wide variety including poori, string hoppers, potato curry and a lkt. I particularly enjoyed Masala Omelet that was perfect. A good milk coffee was served at the table too.

After breakfast, I went to reception and enquired about gap in mountain view thingy and to my surprise was informed that actually there are no mountain facing/view rooms in the hotel. Pretty disappointing. We would have stayed at Hill Club or Tea Factory or Araliya Green as they are all five star properties however our travel agent found first two fully booked and didn’t mention Araliya to us as a choice. I would recommend staying at any of these three properties but not at Galway Heights.

We checked out at 8.30 and left for Colombo. We stopped at Gregory Lake and our son went for a Jetski ride. Beware that if you burn your money, it will burn slower as compared to the ride duration that costs LKR 3500/-. Jet scooter is a thrill ride and the driver performed many stunts with the Jet scooter that thrilled my son so I would say it was worth.

We walked around the lake for a while and clicked some very beautiful photos and then moved on.

On the way we stopped at multiple places where there was a tea estate closeby or a waterfall or a viewpoint. We saw St. Claire waterfall and Devon waterfalls. At Devon waterfall, there is a restaurant that has the best view from it and has clean washrooms for its customers. The.way to washrooms is from the restaurant and you need to take the key from the counter boy. I sincerely believe that Srilankan government should run a mission like Clean India and establish good quality toilets as India.

This is Adam’s peak in the pic above

We didn’t stop elsewhere and went to Colombo directly and had authentic srilankan lunch at Niwahana that was pretty reasonable with LKR 250 per head. This restaurant is next to the bus station which is also a railway station.

We then headed to Nauritake, the famous porcelain factory store and bought a fine quality level 3 dinner set for around INR 30k. The selection, payment and packing took lot of time and we could wind up only by 5.40pm while the store gets closed by 5om on Sundays. Piyumi (Cashier), Pavitra (Sales girl), Damit (Packing man) and Tasith (Security guard)were really great and helpful. Piyumi and Pavitra explained the billing and VAT refund process and also assured that if anything gets broken, we can send them photo of the same and they will dispatch it for free. This was a big assurance.We went to Cotton Collection and found it pretty useless due to limited choices and high price. We were able to get one or two T shirts here at somewhat good price as there were few items on 50% sale. We found that brand name tags on most of the sale items were removed very badly, the staff could not answer why. We moved to House of fashions which has far better choices and prices and we were able to pick up many T shirts, shirts, shorts, skirts etc however the biggest challenge at this place is that it does not have a trial room. Somebody needs to tell the management how people would buy without testing the size specially foreign customers since the sizes vary a lot. 40 size shirt in India is equivalent to 42 size shirt here and so on however sizes may vary from brand to brand. The store closes at 8.30pm. The staff was very friendly and helped find the right sizes, help trying clothes, identify more choices etc.

After shopping we went to Colombo beach where swimming is prohibited. ITC is building a very tall building here, perhaps a hotel. Taj Samudra is right across the road and Grand oriental hotel that  was the first hotel in Sri lanka is also here. We saw port city that is being built by China and said to be like Palm Island in Dubai. 

Port city that is being built by China right in Colombo. (above) 

The Hotel Colombo 7 is in the 7th district/area of Colombo which is said to be the most expensive. The Hotel was one of the 40 properties of Jetwings Travels which I would say is huge but poorly managed. The cooling in the room was way too high and we were provided with thin blankets. Staff of the hotel could not reduce the cooling and refused to provide more blankets stating hotel is running at full capacity. I called the duty manager and explained that we have a kid and a woman and they may fall sick if more blankets are not given, had to argue with him for 10 minutes. Finally hotel was kind enough to send us one blanket stating we were lucky that there was one spare they were able to find. I won’t ever recommend anyone stay at Colombo 7 by Jetwings.

Day#7: 7th October 2019

Breakfast place was crowded and the service was poor. Cutlery was missing from the table and we had to wait for 10 minutes to get the cutlery. We checked out from Hotel and went to City Market called “Pettah” to buy souvenirs and were surprised that there was absolutely no shop selling it. We wasted around 1 hour in search of the same. We saw Red Mosque in this area which is very beautiful. Market was heavily crowded, we came back to Clock tower where our vehicle was parked and found that there was a shop right next to parking entry, in fact there were many. We bought famous Srilankan mask and few fridge magnets and started for Airport. There are many good souvenir shops at the airport so our morning rush was unnecessary but since we didn’t know we had to do it.

We claimed the VAT refund from the port authority who are very helpful, efficient and fast people despite of lengthy process.

Bought Beef burger from the Burger King for my friend who loves them. I was afraid that burgers may not survive 1 hour of wait, 1 hour of flight and a few more hours of journey to reach the fridge at home but luckily they did. The effort was paid off by the look of satisfaction on my friend’s face.

Our porcelain dinner set reached without any damage despite putting it in check in baggage which was amazing.

We reached home by 6pm and concluded our tour to Sri Lanka.

One very important thing that we would like to mention and without which this entire blog and the journey can not complete. The one WOW factor that made this tour memorable, remarkable, easy, enjoying and safe was our Tour guide Pradeep. He speaks less and lets you enjoy the silence and private conversations. He is knowledgeable, extremely polite, punctual, professional but most of all WILLING TO GO EXTRA MILE to make it memorable. We have travelled a lot and many a times an annoying, rude driver/guide ruined our entire tour but Pradeep was exceptionally good. He voluntarily stopped at many places suggesting that this was a good view point or place of interest, many a places he insisted that we visit that we did not have in our itinerary (Like Gayatri Padam Temple, the Oldest temple in Colombo, Sri Bhakt Hanuman Temple in Nuwara Eliya and many many more places) and it proved that he was right about suggesting those places, He climbed all the way to Sigiriya with us though he didn’t have to. He suggested to take us to Priyamali farmer’s lunch which we were apprehensive about but later found the best food of our entire journey at that place itself. He never rushed in driving and developed the trust that we knew we are in safe hands. He is humble, polite and a friendly person. We would highly recommend to engage him if you are planning to travel to Srilanka. You may reach Pradeep on +94 761 027 517

8 thoughts on “Sri Lanka Diary

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