Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy is a large city in central Sri Lanka. It’s set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rainforest. Kandy is one of the most sacred places of worship for the Buddhists due to The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa) which is situated here in the heart of the city and on the banks of the Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake).

The festival of the Tooth

Kandy celebrates one of its kind of festival in the month of July/August each year during the full moon dates known as the Kandy Esala Perahera or The Festival of the Tooth, is a grand festival celebrated with elegant costumes followed by a historical procession to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.

The procession consists of many traditional local dances such as fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandyan dances and various other cultural dances. The elephants in the procession are adorned with luxurious garments and the festival ends with the traditional diya-kepeema ritual, a water cutting ceremony which is held at the Mahaweli River in Kandy.

The month of Esala (July/August), during which period this annual pageant is usually held, had been considered a month of celebrations and festivity, both among Indians and Sri Lankans. Even from the lifetime of Lord Buddha in the 6th century BC, the Esala festival was held to commemorate Lord Buddha’s Conception, his Renunciation and the First Sermon. Esala is also considered to be the beginning of the raining season (Vassana) when the monks commence their Retreat. Also, this month is considered to be the period when ritual performances to the protective divinities are held, (e.g. Paththini puja) as recorded in the text ‘Paththini-Halla’.  Being considered a ‘chaste’ month, the period is held sacred for the availability of water.
Major attractions
-The Temple of the Tooth Relic which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
– Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.

Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka (Ashok Vatika)

Nuwara Eliya was previously known as Seetha Eliya and Hakgala Gardens is the place where Ashoka Vatika used to be located ( Ashoka Vatika is the place where Ravana had kept Sita Devi in Lanka according to the Ramayana epic).

Hakgala Botanical Gardens

Nuwara Eliya is a city in the tea country hills of central Sri Lanka. The naturally landscaped Hakgala Botanical Gardens displays roses and tree ferns. It shelters monkeys and blue magpies. Nearby, is the Seetha Amman Temple, a colorful Hindu shrine, decorated with religious figures.

Little England

Nuwara Eliya is a hill station unlike Kandy and the temperature here is cool and cold in the night. It is also called 'Little England'.

One of the distinctive features of Nuwara Eliya's countryside is the widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with Europe. This "Little England" is covered with terraces growing potatoes, carrots, leeks, and roses interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes.

The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world's finest orange pekoe tea. Several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours along with an opportunity of tea tasting as well as to purchase their products.

The main attractions here are:

  • The Golf course
  • Victoria Park
  • boating/fishing on Lake Gregory.

Something different, every time

There are those places one goes multiple times. Typical situation is when you live near a popular tourist destination. The first time you go to see the most popular spots as part of a school trip. Then, you visit with one of your relatives who came visiting. A year or two later you happen to go to the same place again. Another relative, one more visit as you tag along. How do you ensure that you don’t suffer boredom. The first timers enjoy, while you feel tired and your legs won’t budge.

Well, there is a trick that could make every visit equally enjoyable. Its quite simple. Look for something different or do something different. The difference often presents itself and one should take it up as an opportunity.

I have visited Mysuru (Mysore) several times. But each visit has been thoroughly enjoyable. The Mysore Maharaja’s Palace is always on the agenda. Yet, on almost every visit, there has been something different to view. This time, I went there just to look at the illuminated Palace. Its a sight for the eyes. Since the Palace is huge, the vision is filled with a glorious sight. From the grounds in the Palace, its worth viewing the illuminated structure from various angles.

As I visited the Palace during the day as well, I took a tonga (horse cart ride) around the Palace; something I had never done earlier.

This time around, the visit to the Chamundi hills and the Sri Chamundeshwari temple was also a new experience. Probably die to the heavy rush of people thronging the place, vehicles were not allowed all the way to the top. Hence, we were forced to alight and park the vehicles. Then, I had to take the steps to the temple. That was a different route which I had not used earlier.

Well,  a slight change in agenda or timing is all that’s needed to make each visit different. Once, I had taken a different route to Mysuru. I took a detour to visit Shravan belagola to view the giant statue of Bahubali.

I am sure, there would be many more opportunities to visit Mysuru and each visit will be unique.

 

 

Colombo, Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

Colombo is the commercial capital and the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the Island. It was successively ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of colonial era buildings, modern high rise structures, shopping malls, galleries, museums, churches, mosques, temples etc.

The name ‘Colombo’ was first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505 A.D. The name is believed to be derived from the Sinhalese name of ‘Kolon thotha’ which means port on the River Kelani or ‘Kola-amba-thota’ which means harbor with leafy mango trees.

Gangaramaya Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist Temples in Colombo which demonstrates a mixture of various architectural styles.

The other places to visit in Colombo are the National Museum, Old Parliament, Colombo Fort, Old Dutch Hospital, Pettah Market, Independence Memorial Hall and Galle Face Greens.

The city of Colombo attracts a lot of tourists in the month of February to attend the Annual Pageant called the Navam Maha Perahera which is celebrated during the Full Moon days. The first Perahera was held in 1979 with few traditional artists and today it one of the most important cultural pageants in Colombo, with many visitors attending from across the globe.

It is a fascinating show with whip crackers, fire dancers, flag bearers, hundreds of beautifully decorated elephants, traditional Uda Rata, Pahatha Rata and Sabaragamuwa dancers, drummers, flutists and the procession of Buddhist Monks.

Tigers in Bandhavgarh National Park

FeaturedTiger in Bandhagarh National Park

With the highest know density of Tigers in India, Bandhavgarh National Park is a must visit place for all wildlife lovers.

It is located in Madhya Pradesh, India.


Apart from Tigers, Bandhavgarh is also known for ancient caves, a reclining statue of Lord Vishnu and other wildlife including Deer, Gaur (Indian Bison),Nilgai and several species of birds.

Lion Rock Fortress: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya or Sinhagiri, in Sri Lanka, is famous for the ancient Lion Rock Fortress which has historical and archeological significance.

King Kashyapa selected this site as his capital and constructed his Royal Palace on the top of this rock which is approx. 200 metres above the ground and decorated its sides with colourful frescos. After his death, the Royal Palace was abandoned and was used as a Buddhist Monastery.

The Fortress is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

The Karni Mata Rat Temple

Karni Mata Mandir is a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Karni Devi and it is popularly known as the Rat Temple.

It is located at Deshnok,Rajasthan, India. Deshnok is approximately 30 kms away from Bikaner and enroute to Jodhpur.

There are thousands of black rats in the temple along with a few white ones; which are considered to be holy and sighting them is a special blessing.

 

Jawai Hills, Rajasthan : Leopard, Leopard, Leopard everywhere

Jawai Hills is a picturesque location in the Pali district of Rajasthan . It is home to the most adaptable Indian Leopard of the subcontinent as well as the Rabari Tribe.


Jawai is one of the few places in India where one can easily sight leopards and also other wild animals and migratory birds.

The name Jawai is derived from the dam built across the Jawai river which is a tributary of Luni river and is also called the Jawai Bandh or Jawai Dam. The dam was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur in the year 1957.

Places to stay in the area are:

Jawai Hills has Leopard, Leopard and Leopard every where. Since they are solitary animals, Jawai leopards coexist humans peacefully.

Possible excursions in the area –

Tehla, Rajasthan

Tehla is a small village near Alwar, Rajasthan . It is tucked between the foothills of the Aravalli mountain ranges.

 

Aravalli mountain range
Aravalli mountain range

The authentic village has a lot of experiences to offer and is within easy access from Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore), Jaipur, Agra and Delhi.

Start your experience with a stay at Vanaashrya Resort which offers Cottages as well as Deluxe Tents.

Experiences while staying at Vanaashrya – Hiking, Cycling, Camel Cart Ride, Plantation, Cultural Evening, Kitchen Garden, Yoga and Meditation and Bathing in Open Air.

Experiences while exploring Tehla –

  • Village Walk,
  • Dam Visit,
  • Bhangarh Fort,
  • Visit to a Local School,
  • Mansarovar Lake,
  • Neelkant Temple,
  • Pandupol Temple and
  • Jeep Safari through the Sariska National Park.

Enroute to Jaipur visit to Abhaneri Stepwell – Chand Baori.

Abhaneri Step well
Abhaneri Step well

Above all experience staying in a rustic rural settings.

Most interesting is to visit the Pandupol Hanuman Temple (Monkey God) situated inside the Sariska National Park in Rajasthan.

According to legend, this ancient temple is related to the period of the epic. Continue reading “Tehla, Rajasthan”