Kandy – A Mélange of Experiences • Menzene.com
By Mohammed Mirza
Deep in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka, rests the island nation’s second largest city – Kandy. The city became popular for being the shooting location of the Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the temple of doom.
The fairy tale like city boosts of breathtaking scenery in the form of its mountainous plains, tropical plantations and numerous tarns. Kandy also happens to be the source of the country’s famed Ceylon tea.
Setting off early morning from the metropolitan city of Colombo we drove on a narrow twin-lane carriageway that runs to Kandy and beyond. Midway on our journey we stopped at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. After paying a rather expensive entry ticket; 2000 rupees to be exact, we entered the orphanage.
We saw elephants of all sizes roaming around the grassy enclosure in a well tamed manner. The biggest attraction in the orphanage was a blind wild elephant that was the largest of them all with chains and shackles gripping onto its feet.
We took a few photographs with the elephants, sometimes requiring to pay nominal tip to the mahout. We went there when the elephant herds were coming back from the river after their bath. It was an amazing sight watching the younger ones trying to keep pace with the elder ones as they crossed the highway on their way back to the orphanage. On our exit we saw a souvenir shop selling all sorts of things made of elephant including paper!
After travelling through verdant plains, dense forests and luxuriant rice paddies we finally reached the famous Ceylon tea gardens on the outskirts of Kandy. The copious tea trees filled the horizon with the occasional oak tree popping out of them like proverbial sore thumbs.
After an elongated 5 hour journey considering it was only 120 kilometer drive we reached the Kandy town center. The town was quite and serene, with river and ravines running across it.
Near the city center we saw the Kandy Lake below us with the Kandy royal palatial complex on the other side of the lake with its numerous edifices embellishing the surrounding hills.
For lunch we went to a restaurant sitting atop a hill. The view from there was breathtaking –cliffs, jungles and tea gardens all bedecking the beautiful city.
After a delightful traditional Sri Lankan lunch our guide took us to a tea factory. Over there a detailed process of how those green tea leaves are transformed into black powder that we use for tea was shown. Moreover the gift shop in the factory has numerous souvenir items available along with a freshly prepared array of tea powder.
In our original itinerary we included a visit to a spice garden considering Kandy was famous for its tropical plantations. But unfortunately we didn’t have much time as we reached Kandy pretty late and proceeded on our way back to Colombo. We did however catch a few glimpses of the bible rock; named after the book like flat surface of the large rock sitting atop the hilltop – more or less resembling the famed citadel of Sigiriya further north.