Thursday, February 1, 2018

Madurai in Tamil Nadu to Colombo, Sri Lanka

We'd enjoyed our stay at the Heritage Madurai and what we'd seen of this busy, vibrant city over our short stay.
But our next exotic adventure was awaiting us so we boarded our Air Sri Lanka flight around 3.30pm yesterday and it seemed like no time at all (55 minutes max) and we'd arrived at Colombo Airport, Sri Lanka. 

The beautiful old Galle (sounds like gawl) Face Hotel in Colombo is a destination in itself. Founded by the British colonisers in 1864 they say it is one of the oldest hotels east of Suez.

There was great excitement on our arrival due to the presence of Prince Edward (Earl of Wessex) and Countess Sophie.They are here for the Independence day celebrations and are staying at the hotel. Last night I caught a glimpse of the Prince standing in the reception area of the hotel's fancy dining room (but closed for the night to other guests).

This is where we had breakfast this morning - facing the Indian Ocean (but no sign of the Prince).

Our guide and driver for Sri Lanka gave us a brief tour of the old part of the city this morning. The traffic made it difficult because preparations for Independence Day on the 4th February have meant there are big contingents of the army and navy lining the streets, practising for the big processions planned for the holiday.

Fittingly, our first stop was the Independence Memorial Hall, located at Independence Square in the Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo. The monument commemorates Sri Lanka's independence from British rule (4th February 1948). Our guide told us it fell into disrepair during the Civil War years, but since the war ended in 2009 a lot of restoration work has been done. It looks very well cared for today - indeed the whole city looks modern, clean and full of construction sites and new developments (a lot are funded by the Chinese government apparently).

 The statue is of the first prime minister of independent Sri Lanka "the father of the nation".
 After battling a few more traffic gridlocks our next stop was the 120 year old Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, which we found quite an eccentric place - part tourist attraction, a place of worship as well as being a place of learning - and a hoarder's paradise - very unusual .....
 One of the beautiful entry moonstones of this temple ......
 The sacred Bodhi Tree ....

The monks at this temple have collected a huge array of artifacts, precious objects and kitschy junk. It's fun to look at in small doses but they badly need a Buddhist friendly hoarder therapist!
 This Buddha is made of a solid piece of emerald, coated in gold (a gift from Thailand).

 Some street scenes taken from our Toyota van..........
 The streets were lined with beautifully maintained weaponry and well kitted out soldiers - in preparation for the Independence Day celebrations.

 Back at the hotel, facing towards the Galle Face Green we watched as one of the Police Force elephants was loaded onto a lorry, having played its part in the parade rehearsals ........

 It was lovely to have most of the afternoon to enjoy this beautiful hotel ...........

1 comment:

Vp Singh said...

Many thanks for posting...I am keeping track of events!
Enjoy your travels!!
VP Singh