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Sigiriya to Colombo with a Taste of Kandy

Paradise Found in the Indian Ocean: Day 3
Visiting Sigiriya to Colombo with stops in Dambulla and Kandy.

At 6:30 am, we surveyed the damage from the mosquitoes. Looks like the only war victim was Christina. Stepping out of our room, we had the first look of our hotel, The Lion Rock, in daylight. Breakfast was a mix of traditional Sri Lankan egg curry, vegetables, and rice noodles and western buttered toast with jam, eggs, and coffee. Splendid!

Lion Rock Hotel

Pleasant exterior and rooms. The Lion Rock was a convenient and friendly B&B.

Our driver, Thushara, washing the car while curious dogs wander about the hotel.

Our driver, Thushara, washing the car while curious dogs wander about the hotel.

Sigiriya

A short drive away was our first destination, the ancient ruins of Sigiriya!

Large Lizard

A large lazy lizard greeting us from the moat of the park.

We purchased our tickets (US$30pp) and strolled through the Sigiriya Museum. Besides some history and displays on the excavations and restorations, the architecture of the museum peaked my attention more than the exhibit.

Roundabout walkways and a lake under the building!

Roundabout walkways and a lake under the building!

We then continued to the lonely rock that holds the ancient capital at the top. The ascent wasn’t very difficult besides convincing the many guides that their services were unneeded. The first sight of importance was of the many well preserved frescos of topless women. Climbing up a circular rusty staircase we reached the mirror wall which apparently use to be so shiny that it served as a mirror for the king. Since the 8th century visitors have marked the wall with graffiti giving insight to the thoughts of the visitors during the time.

The ancient fortress of rock juts out from the flat surrounding landscape. It was used as a palace for King Kashyapa in 477 AD and later as a Buddhist monastery.

The ancient fortress of rock juts out from the flat surrounding landscape. It was used as a palace for King Kashyapa in 477 AD and later as a Buddhist monastery.

The wall we saw was very dull and not shiny at all, but Christina's teeth sure were.

The wall we saw was very dull and not shiny at all, but Christina’s teeth sure were.

Cover your eyes children.

Cover your eyes children.

Further up lies the majestic <strong>Lion Gate</strong> which is the staircase entrance for the King.

Further up lies the majestic Lion Gate which is the staircase entrance for the King.

A bit of a daunting climb.

A bit of a daunting climb.

At the top of the mountain you find the ruins of the ancient kingdom including the throne and a large swimming pool filled with green growth.

At the top of the mountain you find the ruins of the ancient kingdom including the throne and a large swimming pool filled with green growth.

Christina on the top of the world!

Christina on the top of the world!

We enjoyed the views over the gardens and national parks while taking plenty of pictures. Heading down, we passed a snake charmer before finding our driver. We stopped for some wifi before driving to our next destination.

Cobra dancing for a fee

Cobra dancing for a fee

Dambulla

We arrived in Dambulla to view the famous Cave Temple and the Golden Buddha Statue. Our driver parked and we bought our tickets (1500 rupees). We walked up a fleet of stairs in the drizzling rain passed monkeys and street hawkers. At the top, you must check in your shoes before stepping on the temple grounds. The decorations and murals on the walls were impressive and in surprisingly good condition.

Another World Heritage Site, there are 5 caves you can visit built between 1st century BC to 993 AD.

Another World Heritage Site, there are 5 caves you can visit built between 1st century BC to 993 AD.

The figures throughout the caves represent Buddha and his life.

The figures throughout the caves represent Buddha and his life.

It was interesting to see how they designed the laying Buddha statue to fit with the contours of the cave.

It was interesting to see how they designed the laying Buddha statue to fit with the contours of the cave.

We bought some fresh mango slices and tourist shirts for Sri Lanka.

We bought some fresh mango slices and tourist shirts of Sri Lanka.

Through the rain we walked back down. At the base of the stairs is another set of stairs to the largest Buddha statue in world. As it was raining we didn’t stay long and headed to Kandy with only a stop for gas.

This gold juggernaut overlooks the parking lot and all those around.

This gold juggernaut overlooks the parking lot and all those around.

Kandy

Arriving in Kandy, we parked right next to the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic and went into a nearby deli. We dined on traditional Hoppers (appa), a light flour, coconut and palm based fried pancake eaten with spices and sauce, accompanied by Ceylon milk tea.

Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic

With our bellies full and an umbrella in hand we approached the temple. I first noticed the police security check with separate entrances for men and women. It was quite lax though, with no frisking. This was probably put in place after the terrorist bombing in 1998 by the LTTE killing 17 people.

The Temple of the Tooth Relic in all its restored glory!

The Temple of the Tooth Relic holds Buddha’s tooth as the legend goes!

Once inside a tour guide convinced us to see a traditional dance show taking place nearby mentioning that the tooth relic was going to be displayed at 6 pm. It was now 5 pm.

We followed his advice and he led us to the show, which was a short walk away. It was held in the auditorium of a Red Cross building and cost 500 rupees. The audience consisted of mostly tourists and some locals huddled in the back of the room.

The performers seemed to be a local dance troupe that put on a great show. They displayed the traditional dress and dances with a smile.

The performers seemed to be a local dance troupe that put on a great show. They displayed the traditional dress and dances with a smile.

The fire-eater was a highlight.

The fire-eater was a highlight.

We left the show 5 minutes to 6 pm as the sun was setting. We could already hear the chanting coming from the temple.

It was raining hard in the quiet town of Kandy.

It was raining hard in the quiet town of Kandy.

At the entrance you purchase your tickets and put your shoes away. There were traditional drummers performing inside and some dancers similar to what we saw in the show. Upstairs we found the masses of Buddhists waiting for the ceremony to start.

At 6:30 pm they opened the golden window to expose the tooth relic, which looks like a miniature golden stupa.

Prayers lined up and to give their offers through the window.

Prayers lined up and to give their offers through the window.

Everyone except the tourists was dressed in white.

Everyone except the tourists was dressed in white.

Then we explored the rest of the temple, stopping at the octagon, which held the world’s oldest oak leaf book, another room with a Buddha and the great hall with a series of paintings depicting the story of the tooth relic.

Apparently taking pictures of people in the great hall is prohibited.

Apparently taking pictures of people in the great hall is prohibited.

After the tour through the temple, we headed back to the car and were on our way to Colombo. Christina napped as I chatted with our driver about his life in Sri Lanka. Three hours later, we arrived at our hotel Tingatel Colombo. After a quick check-in we bid our driver goodnight and settled in for well needed rest.

David De Clercq

About David De Clercq

Founder and writer at World-Adventurer.com, David is on a mission to travel to every country in the world and recently surpassed 100 countries! He loves new adventures, unique cultures, historic landmarks, and luxurious hotels. Follow along as David shares a journey of a lifetime!