• The famed Nine Arch Bridge
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    A bridge that was nearly far

    There are bridges, and then there are some more. There are bridges that have been immortalised in countless classic movies; The Bridge on the River Kwai instantly comes to mind. There are bridges that connect countries and people, like the Oresund Bridge that links Sweden with Denmark. And then there are bridges, that, in this age of social media, have shot into the limelight. One such bridge is the Nine Arch Bridge. A train passes along on the bridge Also called the Bridge in the Sky, the Nine Arch Bridge lies between the small-town stations of Ella and Demodara in Sri Lanka. For those who continue their train journey on…

  • The blue train from Kandy to Ella
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Stories,  Travelogue

    The blue train from Kandy to Ella

    This train journey is today, a rite of passage for any traveller who visits Sri Lanka. As it chugs along on its approximately seven-hour long journey across paddy fields and through tunnels, you get a door-side view of the high hills and lush green tea plantations. Welcome aboard the blue train from Kandy to Ella. View of Kandy station It wasn’t always so though. It was originally built when the British to transport tea from the hills of Kandy to the capital. What initially started out as a 50 odd kms rail line in 1864, has, today, expanded to over 1,500 kms that runs through hills, along the coasts and…

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress from Pidurangala Rock
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Stories,  Travelogue

    Scaling a rock to see another rock

    It provides a cost advantage that is hard to resist. It is tougher to scale. And offers you a spectacular 360° view of the surroundings down below and further afield. If you haven’t scaled Pidurangala Rock, then let this be your motivation to do so the next time you visit Sri Lanka. The views of the countryside from the top of Pidurangala Around 46km from Kandy is a town that that has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Besides being among the best examples of ancient urban planning, it also has a rock towering at close to 200m called Sigiriya Rock Fortress, or Lion’s Rock. One of…

  • A reclining Buddha inside one of the caves
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Sri Lanka’s famed Dambulla cave temples

    Sitting atop a rock close to Dambulla, at a height of approximately 160m, is a temple so unique that UNESCO has included it as part of its World Heritage sites – the famed Dambulla cave temples, perhaps Sri Lanka’s best-preserved temple complex. Dambulla cave temples When I was planning my trip to Sri Lanka, I was sure there would be no beachside retreat, unlike my previous visits to this beautiful island. After researching on places to visit, the central part of the country seems the most alluring. From the cultural capital – Kandy, to perhaps one of the most beautiful train journeys anywhere in the world. And then there was…

  • Out and about in Kandy
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Out and about in Kandy

    It lies amid hills, surrounded by tea gardens, in the centre of the island. It’s the cultural capital of the country and has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1988. It is home the famed tooth relic of the Buddha and Sri Lanka’s most successful cricket bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan. If you have a day or two to spare, then Kandy is for you. Triple ride is common across Asia Kandy is a small city. Walking on the streets, it reminds me of other smaller cities that I have visited, especially in Europe. Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Bratislava come to mind, and so does Luang Prabang closer home.…

  • A Kandyan dance performance
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    An evening of Kandyan dance

    When I was planning a trip to Kandy in Sri Lanka, a quick read of various travel blogs assured me that one of the things I had to do whilst in the city was go for a show that has its origin, and lends its name to this unique form of dance – Kandyan dance. The women added grace and poise as they danced to tribal rhythms I’ll be honest, I’ve got two left feet and dancing isn’t my favourite part of spending an evening. However, when it comes to watching it, I don’t mind doing so, occasionally. Fire eaters Every region in the world, from towns and villages, cities…

  • Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha statue
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Keeping watch over the people of Kandy

    Seated on top of Bahirawa Kanda hill, barely two kilometers from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, is the tallest statue in Sri Lanka – Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha statue, keeping a watchful eye on the people of Kandy. The Buddha statue from the steps leading to the compound A visit to Sri Maha Bodhi Temple, where the statue is located, is among the highlights when visiting Kandy. In fact, as you shuttle around, his omnipotent presence if felt and seen from most parts of the city. However, if superstitious beliefs and internal politics would have prevailed, this statue would never have seen the light of day. The Buddha from…

  • View of Kandy lake
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Kandy lake – the centre of town

    Kandy lake is in the centre of it all, literally. Whether you are hopping around in a tuk-tuk, heading from one spot to another, checking the views of the city from the viewpoint up on a hill, or simply taking a leisurely evening walk, the lake dominates the town. And why shouldn’t it. View of Kandy lake from the hilltop It is in the heart of Kandy town. Surprisingly, with a ring road that goes along one side of the lake, it is peaceful, offering you respite from the busy street. The island (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) This body of water wasn’t always there though. It was a stretch of…

  • Eight varieties of tea to taste
    Asia,  Blog,  Resources,  Reviews,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    A cup or eight of tea please

    I’ve only drunk tea the way I know to make it, using tea bags dipped in hot water for a couple of minutes and then adding milk. Refreshing and satisfying it is. But is it necessarily the best tea I’ve had? That is open to debate. Inside the tea shop at the factory (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) While I’ve been drinking tea since I can remember, it was would always be a cup for breakfast and another one later that evening. However, once I got into university, all that went for a toss. Sitting in the canteen, it would be anywhere between 10 to 15 small glasses of tea through…

  • The pathway to the temple
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

    It involves a princess on the run smuggling across land and sea. It had the protection of kings, eager to retain power over their kingdom. With an air of mystery surrounding it, it is one of most well-protected sites anywhere in Sri Lanka. This is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka. The royal palace complex The Temple of the Sacred Tooth relic, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, sits north of the lake, within the palace complex of the former Kandyan kingdom. Thanks to its historical, cultural and spiritual significance, the temple is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of eight sites across Sri…