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Sri Lanka Trip: Day 5

Day 5 of the trip started with my favourite breakfast of appam with sambhal and fruits. It was our last day of sight seeing at Sri Lanka as some of us in our group were leaving the following day by early morning flight.
Elephant Trip
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

We visited this orphanage which is the home for about 60 elephants, out of which some are baby elephants found abandoned or orphaned in the wild at 11.00 AM. They were being cared, fed and trained by the wild life authorities. It was the hottest day ever but the feeding times made up for it. We saw baby elephants being bottle-fed with such huge bottles. After that we walked along the road to a river close by where all the elephants came for their daily bath. We sat for lunch at the nearby restuarant where we can see these elephants play in the water. Kids loved it.

After lunch, we walked around to shop for soveniers and was ready for our drive back to Colombo which was close to 2 hours. We rested for the night.

Rest of us spend Day 6 walking around the streets of Colombo. We ate at Shanmugas Vegetarian Restaurant before our evening flight that day. The food was delicious and you should definitely visit it if you love sambar and rasam.

Elephant Tour

 

 

How to plan a trip to Sri Lanka?

Image Source from Google

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island country located in Bay of Bengal. It is our neigboring country but I couldn’t visit it until 2009. My parents visited Sri Lanka in 2010 with their friends and they loved it so much that they joined us for our trip. We had travelers who were Indian and American citizens. So my below tips will help travelers who have American or Indian passport. We flew by Mihin Lanka and Sri Lankan Airlines. It takes 1 hour from Chennai airport to Bandaranaike International airport.

The information shared in this post is compiled from the experience I gained in our trip. I am not an expert so if you have any questions with regards to visa or travel arrangements, please contact a travel agent or Sri Lankan Consulate. I travelled with our family of 15 members between the age of 2 to 70 years old.

Visa

A visa is needed to enter Sri Lanka and it can be stamped on arrival at the airport. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union in South Asia. It’s member countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. If you are from a SAARC country, the visa charge is $15 and it is $30 for other nationals.

Health

I travelled with my 2 kids who were less than 5 years old. Please contact their pediatrician atleast 1 month before the date of travel. I met with my primary care physician and also visited local travel clinic for my vaccinations. Anti-malaria weight based tablets were prescribed to the kids. We received it from a compound pharmacy. I also purchased bug repellant spray, Steripen UV water sanitizer tick (incase we hiked in Sri Lanka) and sunscreen. I made them wear full sleeves shirts and pants which was also washed with Sawyer clothing repellant spray. Despite this my daughter got some mosquito bites which we treated with Calamine lotion. We bought it from local pharmacy at Sri Lanka.

Food

My kids ate what was available. I didn’t carry anything special. Since the cuisine is very similar to South India, we all ate appam, dosa, bread, tropical fruits and yogurt. I made sure they ate food that were completely cooked (ofcourse except fruits).

Currency

The national currency is Sri Lankan Rupee. We exchanged dollars for Srilankan rupees with Thomas Cook at airport. The process takes 15-20 minutes.

Stay

We stayed in different location each day as we wanted to cover Negombo, Anuradhapuram, Polonnaruwa, Kandy and Colombo.

I have written a detailed post about our trip here:

  1. Day 1 of my Sri Lanka Trip
  2. Day 2 of my Sri Lanka Trip
  3. Day 3 of my Sri Lanka Trip
  4. Day 4 of my Sri Lanka Trip
  5. Day 5 of my Sri Lanka Trip

Sri Lanka Trip: Day 4

We were all set to conquer our agenda for Day 4 of our trip at the most beautiful country Sri Lanka. Personally I loved the breakfast spread each and every day I ate appam or dosa and fresh sambal topped with shallots.

Please read about Day 1, Day 2 , Day 3 of our journey in Sri Lanka if you are planning a trip.

Day 4:

We planned to cover Dambulla Cave temple, attend a pop-up meal at Matale Heritage Centre with 25 dishes and proceed to Kandy for a cultural dance show.

Dambulla Cave Temple:

It is again a great hike. We had travellers between 2-70 years old and all of us hiked up to the temple. It will take 1-1.5 hours to reach the top. The temple was donated by King Walagambahu in the 1st century BC to Buddist Monks. Dambulla is a world heritage site. We loved walking through 5 different caves. Our travel guide first took us to the Golden Buddha Statue, Dambulla Golden temple which involved climbing about 500 steps and it is located downhill from the cave temple. We made it to the temple quite easily. We sat for sometime and then began the real hike to the top. Our kids loved it as they saw monkeys on the way. My 2 year old daughter was little tired so we took turns to carry her. My 5 year old was excited and he walked all the way to the top by himself. We carried a lot of water bottles as it was a hot summer day in early June.
Dambulla 1

 

Traditional Sri Lankan Lunch at Matale – Ena De Silva’s Home:

We highly recommend this meal if you are on your way to Kandy. You can enjoy the peaceful garden, talk to batik and embrodery artist and sit down for a delicious 25 dishes lunch meal. The meal was served in a beautiful location amidst trees and is located on a hill. . The craft centre is the place where local artists were making quality batik, embrodery, carpentry and brasswork. The centre’s kitchen makes the meal for the group (need to book a day in advance – Hema (+94-662222404) and we paid 2500 Srilankan rupees per head for a banquet of 25 dishes including rices, curries, chicken and fish. There is a video of the meal served at The Matale Heritage Center here by Asia Travel.com

En De Silva Meal Matale 1

Ena De Silva Meal Matale 2

Susantha Spice Garden Visit:

Lastly before our drive to Kandy we stopped at an Ayurvedic Garden. A natural medicine practioner did the tour for us and it was really informative. We purchased few products at their store. Later when I googled about the place, there was lot of articles which called it a spammer. So read those articles before you go and before you make a purchase.
Medicine Center 1

Kandy Cultural Show

We wrapped the day by watching traditional Kandyan dance and fire performance by Sri Lankan dancer. It was priced at 1000 Srilankan rupees per head.

We headed to The Hotel Hill Top, Kandy for the night stay. The hotel rooms were neat but not mosquiot nets like the previous hotels we stayed.

 

 

Sri Lanka Trip : Day 3

Our travel in Sri Lanka for Summer of 2016 was fun. Hope you had a chance to read about Day 1 and Day 2.

On day 3, we were set to cover Polonnarwa, Habarana and then proceed to Sigirya Rock Fortress.

Day 3:

Coconut and Corn Snack: After breakfast, we were ready to leave for Polonnarwa at 09.00 AM. Our first stop for the day was at a coconut and corn shop on the highway. We took a short walk around the thatched shop. Kids loved seeing the paddy fields, a cow and a red auto. This reminded me of my vacation at my grandparent’s home (Cuddalore / Nellikupam).
Coconut
Coconut Sri Lanka

Polonnarwa:

It took close to 2 hours to reach Polonnarwa from Anuradhapuram. We had one of the most knowledgable travel guide Ben who shared lots of history and stories about the places we visited. He told us that King Vijayabahu-1 declared Polonnarwa as the capital city of Sri Lanka when he defeated Chola invaders in 1070 AD. We visited the  world heritage site to see the royal palace, the Gal Viharaya where four splendid statues of Buddha carved out of rock is present. There was also King Parakramabahu’s statue. King Parakramabahu’s reign is considered as the Golden Age of Polonnarruwa as agriculture and trade flourished in the region. He built the best irrigation system in the country and we stopped for a quick look at the Parakrama Samudraya lake built by him.
Polonnarwa 1
Polonnarwa 2
Village Food Tour:

After touring Polonnarwa, we were super hungry. This place will be the icing to cake for food lovers. We signed up for a village food meal at Habarana (Wildlife Safari) with Nilanth (+94-777-067833). The meal is arranged on traditional buffet style in a long room covered with thatched roof. The food was placed in clay pots. The meals were served on a lotus leaf placed over bamboo plate holder. The lunch comprised of red and white rice along with 6 authentic curries, papadum, chicken, fish and salad. For dessert they served farm fresh seasonal fruits. Mineral water was also served as part of the meal. We payed 750 Srilankan Rupees per person. She also did a cooking demostration for a delicious dish she made with banana flower. I shared a short video on how to cut a banana flower here.
Sri Lankan Village Food 1
Sri Lankan Village Food 2
Sri Lanka Village Food 3
Sigiriya Rock Fortress:

After a delicious lunch and the summer heat made all of our 50+ year old family members except my grandmother who is 62 years old and kids tired. So we decided to drop them at Kassapa Lionrock Hotel and just 5 of us left to hike the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Kids spent the evening swimming at the pool and enjoyed running freely in the wide open space of the hotel. My couins, me and my grandmother were climbing the 5th century Sigiriya Rock Fortress hearing tons and tons of stories from Ben. The fortress was buildt by King Kashyappa. Here goes the story as narrated by Ben, our travel tour guide –

“Kashyapa was the eldest son to King Dhatusena. However he was not the heir to the throne as he was born to a mistress. Moggallana was the son born to the queen and he was the legal heir to the throne. Migara the commander of the king’s army had disagreement with king so he helped Kashyapa become the king. Kashyapa murdered his father by entombing him in a wall. Moggallana fled to South India fearing that Kashyapa would kill him. The people of Anuradhapuram disliked him so fearing an attack from Mogallana or  his people, Kashyapa moved his capital to Sigiriya. His palace was built on top of the Sigiriya rock and from the top of the rock he had view of the city in every direction. Finally in 495 BC Moggallana returned from South India with an army and defeated Kashyapa’s army in the land around the rock. Seeing the defeat, Kashyapa killed himself with his sowrd. Moggallana became the king.”

It is a long hike and plan to start the hike around 4-5 PM as the sunsets and temperature drops. We watched the sunset from the top of the rock and it was the most beautiful sight ever. The hike took about 2-3 hours. This is a must see spot so plan accordingly to visit them.
Sigiriya 2

Sri Lanka Trip: Day 2

Stay at Hotel Alakamanda, Anuradhapuram

We woke up early to pack the bags to leave for Anuradhapuram. The tour package included breeakfast which comprised of eggs, sausage, toast, fruits and tea/coffee. There were tons of tropical fruits like pineapple, papaya which were so tasty. Kids enjoyed a nice morning stroll around the resort that was nestled among backwaters and coconut trees. It was such a beautiful and serene place. We left for Anuradhapuram around 08:30 am. We travelled in an AC mini bus that fit our family of 14.

On our way to Anuradhapuram we visited Muneeshwaram temple at Chilaw and also a Murugan temple.

1. At the Murugan temple, we spotted a dancing peacock. Kids were so excited to see it. It did rain after 30 minutes.

Peacock 1

2. Muneeshwaram temple has a story. It is believed that after his victorious battle, Lord Rama left Ayodhya in one of Ravana’s vimana. He felt that he was being followed by brahmas this dosham as he had killed Ravana who was a Brahmin. Stories say that when he visited this place at Chilaw, Rama felt that brahmahaasthi dosham was not following him so he stopped the vimana and asked Lord Shiva for remedy. Lord Shiva blessed him and asked him to install four long and there and pray to get rid of the dosham. Since then lots of Hindu devotees flock to this temple. We were asked to light lamps as a mark of respect for your ancestors.

Scared Tree 2
3. ANURADHAPURAM CITY TOUR:

We did Anuradhapuram city tour after visiting the temple. Anuradhapuram is the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. We first went to the  It is the home for two world heritage sites. Sri Maha Bodhi (Sacred Bo-Tree) was brought as a Sapling of the tree under which prince Siddhartha attained to enlightenment and it is over 2,200 years old and is the oldest historically documented tree in the world. We walked along the entire premise where there was Brazen Palace (2nd century B.C), the 1600 stone columns we saw were all that is left of a magnificent multi-storied residence for monks.
Sacred Tree 4

 

Ruwanweliseya (2nd century B.C) is the most famous of all the Dagobas. It originally depicted the perfect ‘bubble shape” that modern restoration has not been able to accurately reproduce. Samadhi’ Buddha statue (4th century AD) is one of the most famous statues, depicting the Buddha in a state of ‘Samadhi’ or deep meditation. Isurumuniya rock temple (3rd century B.C) is well known for its rock carvings of ‘The Lovers’. Kuttam Pokuna – twin ponds (6th century AD) was used by the Buddhist monks as a bathing pool. Thuparama Dagoba (3rd century B.C) is the oldest Dagoba in the island, which enshrines the right collarbone of the Buddha.
Scared Tree 1

Sacred Tree 5
4. MIHINTALE:

After that we visited Mihintale. Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is now a pilgrimage site, and the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures.

Overall it was a busy day we stopped at a local restuarant for lunch. Food was excellent but little expensive. It was close to a wildlife safari. We travelled with 4 kids between the age 2-6 and they were little tired as it involved a lot of walking and climbing the stairs. We finally returned to Hotel Alakamanda at Anuradhapuram.at 07.00 PM. The breakfast and dinner were part of our tour package.

Sri Lanka Trip: Day 1

 

I just got back from a trip to Sri Lanka covering Western/ central province with my family (cousins and aunts). The travel time from Chennai is 1 hour 15 minutes. The most convenient trip ever with 4 kids on board.

We landed at Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake, 34 km north of Colombo, near Negombo around noon and the drove straight to Negombo, ( it translates to ” neer cozhumbu” in Tamil) . It is 35 km north of Colombu and it is a beach town famous for sea food.

Sri Lanka 2

We requested our travel guide to take us to an authentic restaurant that serves typical Sri Lanka food – the rice and curry platter. We are so glad that he found a restuant on our way to Negombo. The meal comprised of red or white rice, vegetable stir fries, lentil curry, seafood, poultry and red meat curries. The meal was served over lotus leaf which was available in abundance in Sri Lanka. In Hindu and Buddhist temples the Gods and Buddha were decorated with lotus and water lilly.
Sri Lanka 3

For me it reminded me of American Chipotle where we can pick our combination of dishes. I asked them for white rice, cabbage leaves stir fry, egg plant curry, potato masala, fish curry. We noticed that at Singhalese household yogurt / curd is not part of the main meal which is different from Tamils as we eat yogurt mixed in rice as the last dish in almost every meal. So we missed finishing off the delicious meal with dollops of yogurt.

For dessert, we tried a local flavor in ice cream. It is called Pani Cadju ( it tasted like vanilla ice cream topped with honey and nuts)
Sri Lanka 4

Within 45 minutes we reached Kumudu Valley resort which was located near the beach. We spent rest of the day walking around the resort and kids loved the beach. We ended the day by cooling ourself at the swimming pool.
Sri Lanka 1

 

Overall the first day at Sri Lanka was simple and relaxed. The weather was hot and humid so we kept ourself hydrated throughout the day.

 

Sri Lanka 6