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.
-The Temple of the Tooth Relic which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
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.
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.
Muktinath Temple is one of the most ancient Hindu temples of God Vishnu and is located at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass of the Himalayas in the Mustang district of Nepal.
Muktinath is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists. The Hindus call this place as Mukti Kshetra which means “the place of salvation” whereas the Buddhists call it Chumig Gyatsa which means in Tibetan “Hundred Waters”. The shrine is predominant among all 108 Hindu Sri Vaishnava Divyadesam stalas and is considered one of the eight most sacred shrines called the Svayam Vyakta Kshetras of Vaishnavas whereas the other seven being Srirangam, Srimushnam and Totadri Mutt in Tamil Nadu, Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Naimisharanyam in Uttar Pradesh, Pushkar in Rajasthan and Badrinath in Uttarakhand.
The temple’s outer courtyard has 108 bull faced dhara’s (water holes) as it is said to be very auspicious to take bath on all the dhara’s as you never know which dhara is related to your zodiac sign or birth star.
According to Hindu astrology, there are 12 zodiac signs or rashi’s and 9 planets or grahas giving a combination of 108. Also there are 27 lunar houses or birth stars which are divided into 4 quarters or padas each giving a combination of 108.
Kali Gandaki River
View of Snow peaked mountains from Jomsom
Way to Muktinath Temple from Jomsom
Stairs leading to Muktinath Temple
Muktinath Temple another view
Shiva Temple in Muktinath
Snow peaked mountains from flight
Snow peaked mountains in Jomsom
Mountains in closeup
Agni Air flight from Pokhara to Jomsom
Flights to Jomsom
Mountains from Jomsom
Sunrise view from Jomsom
Other mountains from Jomsom
Views from Jomsom
Views from Jomsom
Tara Air flight
Views from Muktinath
Kali Gandaki River from flight
Kali Gandaki River
The waterway downstream from Muktinath is the Kali Gandaki River which is the source of all Silas or Saligramams (a representation of Lord Vishnu). The entire river bed has Saligramams stones which are used to worship Lord Vishnu. If you are fortunate you might get a Saligramam embossed with the Sudharshan chakra or Conch shell.
The best time to visit Muktinath is between April and June due to unpredictable weather conditions. It is always suggested to stay for a night or two in Jomsom for acclimatization as the weather might not be favorable for many because of the risk of acute mountain sickness.
Access is very difficult because of tough and varying weather conditions. However one can fly or travel by road from Kathmandu to Pokhara and then fly from Pokhara to Jomsom Airport. From Jomsom airport one has to walk till the jeep point which might be approx. 1 km. The tourists can then take a jeep to Muktinath which is approx. 22 kms, 1-1½ hrs drive. On arrival at the jeep point, the guests have to walk for a km and then they have an option to climb the hill to reach the Muktinath temple by foot or take a bike.
The dornier flights from Pokhara to Jomsom and vice versa operate only in the morning hours each day, particularly from 7am to 10:30am. Post 11am, the flight does not operate due to strong winds.