Monday, February 5, 2018

Sigiriya to Kandy

We left the beautiful Heritance Kandalama in Sigiriya this morning. We will miss the amazing architecture (a Geoffrey Bawa original from the early 90s) - a one kilometre long ecologically designed building, perched on a granite outcrop overlooking the water reservoirs of central Sri Lanka,

 the even more amazing views,
 the robust and timeless interior design (who else would have thought of polished concrete benches and flooring and hand crafted textiles in the early 90s?)
 and the high quality food at both hotel restaurants ...
 Although I think we could have done without the marauding monkeys who would appear on your balcony at any time of the day or night (after snacks!). I left my iPad on the balcony at one stage and found one of these monkeys lifting it up and opening the cover (ready to Google "best hotels for snack food in Sri Lanka" no doubt!). Lucky it dropped it when I yelled at it!
 So after an(other) early start we were on the road again this morning, this time heading south to Kandy - but with a stopover at the historic Dambulla Cave Temple, a bit less than an hour's drive from our hotel. It's another World Heritage Site (1991) but in a very mountainous region. Pity these sites are always so high - it was another climb for us (more than 1100 steps) to get up to the cave temple level.
 So lots of stops to admire the view along the way!

The temple complex dates back to the first century BC . It's been added to over the next one thousand years by various kings, so that by the 11th century AD it was a major religious centre.
 This beautiful reclining Buddha (feet only in my photo below) is in the first cave we enter in the Dambulla Cave complex (There are fives caves in total). This sculpture would be over 1,000 years old!

 I love the way the roof paintings follow the layered geology of the cave roofs.
 A statue of King Keerthi in the Dambulla Caves Temple...

 After Dambulla it's about a 70klms drive to Kandy - through high country agriculture and bustling townships .......

 Until we get to Kandy a bit before midday. Kandy is obviously a large city, a university town with a famous Buddhist temple and a very scenic lake in the centre of town. 
Kandy is also a major gem centre. So first up on our agenda was a visit to the famous Hemachandras (Kandy) Limited (Jewellers since 1942). Sri Lanka is renowned for the quality of its blue sapphires, rubies, cat's eyes, aquamarines, tourmalines, topaz, garnets, etc etc. Everyone was reminded of this when Kate Middleton inherited Princess Diana's Sri Lankan sapphire ring on her engagement to William a few years back.
 We all had fun for a few hours at Hemachandras... I treated myself to a small yellow sapphire ring just for fun. but I wasn't the only one in our group who bought something.

Late afternoon in Kandy today saw us at the Kandy Arts Association Theatre to catch a performance of traditional Kandy dance, drumming, singing, acrobatics, 

 fire breathing ..
 and the scariest fire walking act I have ever seen.
It was a thrilling show full of energy, rhythm and great dance moves - and that's aside from the heart stopping work with fire that concluded the show.

We have checked into Clove Villa in Kandy for two nights. It's a small 7 room boutique hotel in an exclusive residential area of the town. It is like staying in a real person's glamorous and luxurious villa. Our meal tonight was cooked in a large and well appointed home style kitchen and it tasted wonderful - like excellent home cooking Sri Lankan style!!

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