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The first two nights are spent in Kandy, formerly the seat of medieval kings, and this gives an opportunity to absorb the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Sri Lanka. Visit the revered Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and tour the town. The scenery becomes more dramatic on the drive to Nuwara Eliya, the hill station favoured by the British when the heat of the coast got too enervating. The bungalows, climate and ambience evoke an old fashioned England. The hotel in the tea hills is uniquely (and comfortably) converted from a tea factory.
The train ride from Nanu Oya to Ella through forests and hills is acknowledged as one of the World’s great train trips. There are views too to be seen from the hill country village of Ella with its quaint cafés and scenic waterfalls.
In the morning you have the option of heading to Horton Plains on a beautiful, scenic trek. This consists of a visit to Worlds End as well as Bakers Fall. Return in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day relaxing.
The ancient kingdom of Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha as well as Edwardian buildings, a king-made lake, a nature reserve and exciting shops.
As the second largest city of the island and the capital of the Central Province, Kandy has grown from being a medieval kingdom to a friendly, busy city set in forested hills and surrounded by tea plantations and close to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya. As well as the Temple of the Tooth, there are many Buddhist monasteries and Hindu places of worship to visit, and cultural dance performances to watch.
Kandy is a convenient base to stay for a few days while exploring the Cultural Triangle as there are comfortable hotels to suit every budget. The city is easily accessible from Colombo by rail, road and float plane.
The golden canopy of the medieval Temple of the Tooth is a landmark dominating the ancient kingdom, now modern city, of Kandy
The Sacred Relic of Buddha’s tooth was brought from India in the 4th century before being housed in a specially created temple in Kandy in the 16th century. The moat and octagonal structure were added later. The tooth relic is enclosed in seven golden caskets enriched with gemstones, in the shape of a Stupa, within the depths of the temple. The temple is open to visitors.
An annual procession (Perahera) of a replica of the tooth casket takes place in August. Elephants are colourfully caparisoned and garlanded with flowers and lights while crowds thrill to the sight of fire eaters, stilt dancers, whip crackers and jugglers parading to the rhythmic vibrations of Kandyan drums.
Known for its collections of exotic orchids and acres of sprawling lawns and trees, the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens is close to Kandy. It was created in a royal park by the British in the 19th century with plants gathered from around the island, together with tea seedlings from India. Today this is an attraction for tourists as well as for young people enjoying each other’s company in the beautiful parkland scenery.
The gardens feature a classical Avenue of Palms, extend over 147 hectares and are home to 4,000 species of plants including orchids, spices, herbal and medicinal plants and a range of palm trees. With a cool climate and elevation (500m above sea level) the gardens are surrounded on three sides by a loop formed by the River Mahaweli.
At an altitude of over 1,800m above sea level the picturesque landscape of Nuwara Eliya is known as “Little England” because of the resemblance of its homesteads to English bungalows, and it’s cool climate (there are even log fires in some hotels).
Nuwara Eliya is overlooked by Piduruthalagala, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka. In colonial days it was the retreat from the coastal heat for British residents and even today rituals like horse racing, boating on the lake, beautiful flower garden competitions and golf tournaments are held during the local holiday season months of April and August.
Most of Sri Lanka’s fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables are grown in the area and there are also dairy and strawberry farms. The Hakgala Botanical Gardens near the town is a prime attraction, as is a trek across Horton Plains.
Ella is a small hill country village now much developed with independent guesthouses, bordered by mountains, estates and waterfalls, with spectacular views and a history of dramatic legend. In the great Indian epic, Ramanaya, dating from more than 1,000 years before Christ, it is written that Sita Cave, 2km from Ella, was used by Ravana, king of Lanka, to conceal Sita, the beautiful wife of Rama. This attracts many visitors from India who are following the Ramanaya story. Equally appealing is the view through Ella Gap as well as Ravana Falls.
Ella is also a popular stop on the backpackers’ trail from west to east Sri Lanka and many small cafés and low budget guesthouses have opened up beside the main road through the village to cater for them. The quaint hamlet, at 204km from Colombo, is best reached by train.
|Per person sharing a double room||Approximately US$ 890|