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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

SL Travelogue Part 1 Chennai-Colombo-Kandy

This is part 1 of SL trip series, narrates happenings of Day 0 (Chennai) and first half of Day 1, till Kandy.
Friday evening 9PM: The team of 6 assembled at Chennai airport. Three of us from Chennai and Praveen from Salem teamed up on the way to airport. Sandeep (http://www.naanushande.com/) flew in from Bangalore and the 6th person (I’ll refer him as No.6 from now on, as he prefers to remain anonymous for some personal reasons) joined us little later.the-team-at-airport
We had some food at Sangeetha and entered the airport. For 3 of us it was first international flights while remaining 3 had some exposure to international travel. We took boarding card, filled up immigration forms, cleared immigrations and headed to security check, after passing through duty free shops. All of us got a call at the same time, it was spicejet pre-recorded voice alerting us on an 1 hour delay.

After killing some time we got in, the flight took about 1 hour and we landed by 3AM (No time zone difference between India and SL). Another 30 minutes were spent in airport (immigration, baggage, currency conversion etc). Tourist information booklets are available for free. We met Santhosh whom I'd met earlier in Chennai Trekkers' Club treks, who was here on a week long break. He joined us for half a day. We’d taken two matrix simcards in Chennai and Praveen took an SL sim card in Colombo. Pros and cons of these two options will be reviewed in detail in a separate post.

After meeting our driver we left Colombo airport by about 4AM, in a Toyota Hiace 9 seater, rented from Malkey. The vehicle was old. Our idea was to make the most of 48 hours, hence we headed to our destination 1 hill station Kandy, without bothering about hotel checkin and refreshments. As the driver drove towards Kandy, our first destination, most of us closed our eyes to catch some sleep, as it was dark outside. We stopped by a teastop, our first stop in Srilanka. Tea shop was clean, tea was priced at LKR 50 (about 21Rs INR) and so did a bottle of water.
tea-time-in-srilanka-early-morningtoyota-hiace-minivan-srilanka
We were in Kandy by sunrise (about 6.30AM) and we could get our first proper view of a foreign country. Our first stop was at city view point (aka Arthur seat). This place offered nice view of the lake and city, but due to low light and thin fog, the pics haven ’t come great. Our next stop was the most famous tooth temple. Picked up two newspapers on the way for about 20 LKR. More about SL newspapers in this post.
view-of-kandy-from-viewpoint
Couple of things went wrong here: I made a stupid suggestion that only one of us (Sandeep) can carry his DSLR while others can keep it back in the van, as I suspected there might be huge fees for camera. Driver dropped us and went off to find a parking place. Upon nearing ticket counter, we realized that there’s no fee for still camera, while video camera attracts LKR 2000. Entry fee for SAARC citizen was LKR 500 per person. We deposited shoes, paid for the tickets and went inside.

It was 7.15AM when we entered the temple premises. We hired a guide to explain us more (his charge was LKR 300). He told we’re late by few minutes. Apparently a certain puja ceremony happens 3 times a day- 5.30AM to 7AM, 9.30AM to 11AM and 6.30Pm to 8PM wherein the inner temple is opened and we get to see replica of Budda’s tooth and some other ceremonies.  The Lonely Planet Guide we had didn’t have this info, nor did any travel websites I’d referred to, even our driver didn’t alert us on this. So we missed this ceremonies-whatever they were and had to return after seeing temple premises.
streets-of-kandy
Tooth temple was once destroyed by LTTE bombing and was later restored. Every year in August the annual celebrations happen when devotees from all over the world pour into small town of Kandy (getting accommodation will be tough in August). The temple building also houses a small museum that has ancient artifacts, a bell donated by Japanese president and an elephant memorial, raised to honor the temple elephant which served for more than 50 years.

As we were returning, an official of Archaeological survey department invited us to check out the royal palace nearby. This place has items belonging to King and his palace. Only Sandeep has photos of this place. We’re waiting for him to share the same.

We came out of temple premises and summoned our cab. Few of us had started fresh from Chennai previous evening but few others who were on the move since since Friday morning badly needed to freshup. It was breakfast time and asked driver to take us to a nice restaurant/hotel. We found one after some time, but finding proper breakfast was challenge. We managed with bakery items like puffs, sandwiches and juice,

Standby for part 2

Also read: Srilanka travel FAQs * Smart folding seats in SL bus * Maruti Suzuki SX4 sports Hatch * Brett Lee in Colombo *

7 comments :

Team G Square said...

wow This is interesting .

Arti said...

A very good post... will wait for further posts especially on the Tooth temple!

Rajesh said...

Interesting trip and beautiful images.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks TGS, Arti and Rajesh

Kirigalpoththa said...

Glad you had a good tour! :)

Anonymous said...

why is one guy's face blackened?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Anon:
Because that guy preferred to remain anonymous and didn't want his face in public domain

Heminda:
Thanks for your inputs and help