So much like us, yet so different. So much like our country, yet there is a difference. So much like our food, only if you are a south Indian! Our Sri Lankan holiday was much as expected and yet it surpassed all our expectations.It’s certainly greener to start with. We landed in Sri Lanka pretty early on a Sunday morning and from the word go it was a holiday pretty much like the day we landed. Easy, relaxed and left us with a sense of calm and peace.
Our first halt had me pretty much exhaust all the ‘Awwwwwwws’ I had in my system. It was the cute-needs-another-word-now elephants at the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage. Easily the island country’s most popular tourist attraction. The orphanage has the world’s largest collection of captive elephants and they range from hold-your-breath newborns to the elderly, serious looking mammas and pops. The abandoned, elderly and injured are all well taken care of in this elephant haven. A little one greedily suckling from a meter long milk bottle and finishing it in a matter of minutes is a sight that’ll stay with me. Forever.
The next few days were a whirl of culture, architecture, history and of course sheer beauty. Starting with Dambulla, a a sprawling, 500 feet high isolated rock mass. What did we see here? A first century Rock Temple! It is said that the caves of Dambulla sheltered King Walagamba when he was in exile for 14 years from Anuradhapura. It was he who built this most magnificent Rock temple there ever was. Walk around, explore the caves, get awestruck by the life size statues of Buddha.
Anuradhapura, yet another place of historical and religious significance was next. The star here is the Maha Bodhi Tree dating 2300 years! It is said to be a descendant of the tree Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment under. The glimmer of the lamps, the beds of fallen frangipani or temple flowers as its called in Sri Lanka, the soft murmur of prayers from the lips of the devout and the brilliant offerings of exquisite water lilies makes the Anuradhapura experience sublime. Just the way I like it.
After that it’s a World Heritage Site, Sigriya. Considered one of the most important urban planning sites of the first millennium, it skillfully balances concepts of symmetery and asymmetry to make man made geometrical and natural forms of the surrounding to work in tandem. To me, it was nothing short of magic.
Our next stop was at Little England, no we didn’t leave Sri Lanka. Little England is how our next destination Nuwara Eliya is also known.
Here’s where we completely surrendered to the demands of our body for rest, relaxation and dwell on the mysteries of life, like why isn’t kothuroti (Sri Lankan street food) available in India!? We stayed in this picturesque little cottage straight out of Enid Blyton’s enchanted land and had the best home cooked delicacies and walked for miles soaking in the misty greens. And this what we got back with us. Memories of a beautiful country, that’s so much like ours, yet so different!