Cultural Capital of Sri Lanka Mar 11, 2011
Since we came from Nuwara Eliya, we had to go through a winding and nauseating downhill ride (of about 3.5hrs) in an otherwise scenic route through vast tea plantations towards the city of Kandy. Even for a backpacker like me, the ride was really horrible – I can feel the bile taste in my mouth, a clear signal that I’m almost turning green from nausea. I’m never going to go through that ride again, next time I’ll take a train!ha-ha
This is my third time to Kandy. The first time was way back in July 2006, when I went there alone to watch the Esala Perahera (considered to be the oldest parade in the world).
The weather was balmy and the whole day it was raining off and on. Good thing, our tuktuk driver, Namaal, is such an entertaining guy and he regaled us with stories about the places we passed by and where we should go.
Since it was already late in the afternoon, we decided to just visit the nearby cave temple of Gadaladeniya, a temple complex atop a rock and the main temple embedded inside the cave. This was built in 1351AD during the reign of Bhuvanekabahu.
It was pitch-dark when we went in. The monk who opened the temple for us brought a torch with him and since it was pitch dark inside the cave (and we were so scared that we just huddled together) when he turned it on the reclining Buddha in front of us, we almost had a heart attack! Di ko talaga kinaya! I was literally trembling……inisip ko talaga me Anaconda na nakatira sa loob ng kuweba at naghihintay lang na kainin kami!!! Lol
We also went to visit the nearby monastery and chatted with the head monk. He was very welcoming. He even offered us a cup of tea.
After that we went around the city center. The whole city revolves around Kandy Lake. You can also see the city’s main attraction – Temple of the Tooth, from the lake. Although a few things have changed since I last visited this place, the old buildings remained the same.
We still have a few hours to kill before the opening of the Temple of the Tooth. So we asked Namaal if we can go instead to an Ayurvedic Spa. I can’t remember the name now of this place, it was maybe 20-30 minutes away from the city but still frequented by tourists (we even met a Pinay who was also having a massage there! What a small world!)
For only 2,400 rupees (about 20usd) each, we got a package of Herbal Sauna, Steam bath and Ayurvedic massage for 1 hour. It was a blast! I loved the Herbal Sauna. We were laughing and pointing at each other’s bilbils amidst the steam coming out from the holes in the floor --- para kaming na-BBQ ng buhay! When we had to take turns at the Steam bath, I was hesitant at first. As in, we had to lie down in this coffin-like contraption (they will put some herbal leaves over the holes where steam is coming from). While your body is taking a steam bath, a therapist will give you a 30-minute head massage kaya nakalabas ang ulo.
We felt so refreshed when we came out. The 20usd is really worth it. We went back to our guesthouse (we stayed at a local doctor’s house, they rented out the 2 rooms coz their children are now studying abroad) and relaxed in our beds. Our hostess was also very nice and hospitable; she offered us tea in her living room. I’ve always had good memories with the people in Kandy.
Temple of the Tooth
“Sri Dalada Maligawa” is a 17th-century built temple which is said to house a tooth of the Lord Buddha. Lots of pilgrims and tourists visit this temple every single day (and the entrance fees have become astronomical as well!!!). According to local legend, a fleeing Indian Princess Hemamali hid in her hair the tooth taken from the Lord Buddha’s funeral pyre and fled to Sri Lanka in 313AD.
We had uniform white skirts (we were wearing shorts so we had to cover our legs, the white cloth was given to us by the head monk in the monastery!) and managed to look like we are going to do a dance number! lol
I really love the colorful wall paintings and sculptures inside the temple. This is my third time inside the temple but I am still amazed and awed by it.
The city of Kandy is home to Christians, Buddhists, and Moslems but they all join together during festivals like the Esala to embrace their common cultural heritage.
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