On a sojourn to Sri Lanka

Travel tales

On a sojourn to Sri Lanka

We are going on a holiday’, my husband declared one morning in early January. As a retired couple, I often joked that we were on an extended holiday anyway. Nevertheless, he hit upon Sri Lanka as a holiday destination and started planning meticulously.

We arrived in Colombo and were received by our driver cum tour guide. At first glance, the Negombo Paradise Beach Hotel was not too impressive. But to my delight, the next morning was glorious! The resort was right up on the beach. After a leisurely breakfast, we were on the beach for sometime. Soon after, we were on our way to Kandy.

Our first halt was at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Along the Maha Oya river at Pinnawala, we were treated to the sight of more than 30 elephants bathing in the river. After their bath, the elephants were aligned in a queue and brought to the orphanage where they were fed and allowed to play in the mud. Another attraction here was the paper and products made of elephant dung sold in many shops! Our next stop was a tea factory. A young lady took us around the factory and explained the various processes. All the processes are manual and the leaves are picked by hand without the help of any cutting blades as seen in parts of India.

The next halt was at a spice garden which had several herbs and spices. Around 4 pm, we arrived at our hotel in Kandy and were left to spend the evening walking along the quiet, small lake nearby. The next day started with a visit to the Temple of the Tooth. It’s a beautiful well-laid out complex with neat smaller temples and the main one. It was quiet and serene with a number of locals dressed in white reading their prayer books sitting in the shade and steps of the many temples.

Our next stop was the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya. It’s a large 147 acre garden with over 4,000 species of plant life and a huge tourist destination attracting more than a million visitors annually! We had a pleasant walk through the gardens. A notable section is the orchid house. After a quick lunch, we visited the gem factory. Most gems, except a few like diamonds and emeralds, are mined here. The beach town of Bentota was on our itinerary for the third day. Enroute, at Balapitiya, we had an exciting boat safari on the Madu Ganga river.

The hotel arrangement was on an island and we had to travel by boat to get there. Day four dawned bright and sunny though there was a brief shower. The visit for the day was planned to the port city of Galle. It was a beautiful drive along the coast. The Galle Fort was breathtaking with the sea in the background. Many remnants of the Dutch such as the church and old military buildings are well-maintained. After lunch, we were on our way back to Bentota. We saw the areas affected by the tsunami in 2004. To remember the dead and those that helped in rehabilitation is a memorial, Tsunami Photo Museum, at Telwatta.

The next day we were in Colombo. There was a plethora of shops, hotels and government buildings as in any major city. However, as we had a flight to catch, we just managed to buy some clothes made locally and have lunch. What I liked about Sri Lanka is that the commercial side is preceded by a wonderful documentary, narrative or explanation that is charming and persuades the visitor to try the unique charms of the country. It is a neat and clean place with very disciplined people. Our trip was truly worth it.

How to get there
We availed a tour package by Sri Lankan Holidays. The round trip flight cost for one person by SriLankan Airlines (plus AC car with driver cum guide) was Rs 15,000.

Places to stay
Negombo Paradise Beach Hotel
Ozo Hotel in Kandy.
Club Bentota
The total tariff for the hotels was around Rs 62,000 for the two of us.

(The author can be contacted at khurana.hema77@gmail.com)

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