Travelogue - Chennai to Colombo - Part 5
22 Dec & 23 Dec
We started our journey from Colombo on 22nd Dec around 7:15am. Our first target to go Anuradhapura through Kurunegala. The traffic was less and we drove at comfortable 60Km speed throughout. The highway is named such as A1, A2... A9. We took A1 highway.The roads were not broad and traffic was thick on our way compared to vehicle movement towards Colombo. We stopped our car on the way to take herbal porridge with Vellam. We shopped for cashew on our way alongside the road (Bataleeya) and found the taste was very good.
On our way, we visited Bandaranayake's memorial near Nittambuwa. Sirimovo Bandaranayake was the first women prime minister and she had a towering personality and important person in Non Aligned Movement (NAM). I do not know much about Mr Bandaranayake although.
We looked around for breakfast and Lankans have tendency to eat early. So some hotels were running out of stock and we found one place to eat Warakapola . Lankans have bread with Dhal in the morning whereas we take the same with jam. Some kind of Idiyappam is also widely available provided you reach for breakfast as early as 7:15am.
The rain started from this place and we stopped at Kurunegala for bit of official work. The office was like one resort or bangalow and was amazingly neat and organised. We proceeded from there and took a circle in Kurunegala lake. Kurunegala had a medium sized hill and it has one towering Buddha Statue to greet the public.
We took road back to Anuradhapura. We saw one huge textile manufacturing facility of MAS.
We kept travelling and stopped near Galewala for our Lunch. We found one restaurent called AUR and it was one 1970s look and feel party hall. The lunch was served immediately and the buffet was like Rice, Dhall, Aloo gravy, Chicken gravy, keerai. The food was okay but nothing was hot other than Rice.
We reached a place called Galewala and took our diversion thru pass road there by avoiding Dambulla. But it was raining fully and the water level hitting the ground. We went some 12KMs inside and we could not go further as the water was overflowing. We took U-turn and came back fully.
We saw one lake near Dambulla stadium on our way back in a place called Ibbankatuwa. It was so big and water was fully muddy. The shutter was open and excessive water was getting divered into river. It was raining heavily and we observed the same with holding umbrella. We further went and touched Dambulla town and bought some water and enquired about road blockade. We didn't get much of quality information and we proceeded to Kalawewa.
Kalawewa had one huge lake and we travelled above the Bund in a decent road. One can see the lake on the left side whereas full landscape was visible on right side. The road was heightened and one can realise the height is as high as to match 1 1/2 cocunut tree's height. It was so picture perfect and we went on and on over some 4-5Kms of length. We crossed the shutter of this lake and it was so low and the water was going below the road and people were standing and watching the fun.
We went further to see Buddha's statue in a place called Aukana. It was very old temple overlooking the gushing water of Kalawewa water and forest. The stone work was so natural and it had the waves or folding of traditional dhoti. I was told by my guide that the water falling on the nose of Buddha designed to fell on the feet of statue.
We went down and took the main highway to Anuradhapura through a link road. We saw lot of bird chirping, cow (first time in this Lankan trip), Banana plantains. The highway linking sign board showed Anuradhapura and Jaffna in one direction from here. We were probing our guide about Jaffna a lot (due to LTTE factor, how sri lankan government governs the place etc).
Finally, we reached Anuradhapura and there was no rain when we joined this road from Awukana. We were just miles away from Dambulla. The entire road to Anuradhapura is full of paddy fields. We sighted one military tank on our way and the soldiers were beaming and waving. The security check was happening on high-ways and but we were never stopped and always observed partially.
We finally reached Anuradhapura around evening. It is a quiet place and we entered the town and started finding a place to stay. Our guide had a tie-up with local hotel but it was fully booked. We went around to find a suitable place. Lot of old mansions were converted as guest houses and hence they were mosquito prone. We didnt take chance and we stayed in one hotel called "Miridiya Hotel".
Galway's Miridiya hotel / Lodge had huge lawn and scenic backdrop of Nuawavewa lake. It was raining so we stayed put here. Had a good buffet dinner for LKR 800 (7.5 USD) per head. Hotel was fully booked and had lot of pilgrims were piling up for Poya Day (Full moon day) and due to this we had to pay around 70 USD. The food taste was definitely different compared to Colombo food and the salt, spicy was moderated.
The room facility was very basic and had no TV, paper etc. The hotel officials dressed traditionally. We woke up next day morning and found the crowd was starting early to Queue up for breakfast and the Lankans were dressed up in traditional wear very early in the morning. We had our quota, vacated the room and left around 9am to work on 23rd Dec,07.
Our official work got over around 12noon and we were taken care nicely during our work. We left to sacred city and We walked through the ruins of very old structures. The town was had three divisions and it is spread over huge land back drop. We combed through many structures and realised the scope of town which was set up some 1800 years ago.
The tourists were supposed to be charged around LKR 4500 (42 USD) to take a look at the entire Anuradhapura. We saw only one place and we just drove through without buying the ticket.
We saw a Jetavana Stupa which was built during the reign of King Mahasena (273 - 303 A.D). We first stighted the tower and generally walking towards that. We could not get the full picture as the ruins had lot of trees and small structures.
We were simply overawed by the structure when we got a full view. It is a marvel of work and can be compared with any great Indian temple. They used bricks a of Stupa and had big circle and they build a "handle of bell" above the circle. Too good to believe that there is nothing inside the structure. The archaelogical team is maintaining the structure. We took a circle and it took almost 10-12m to complete the circle. Too impressive indeed.
We left there and went driving around the area and reached the town for lunch. We finished and took road to Dambulla on our way to Kandy. We left around 2pm and reached Dabmulla around 3:15pm. The rain was lashing all over Dambulla locality and we were joking that epic center of rain is Dambulla. It was water, water everywhere.
We crossed Dambulla and came near Kekirawa in different route than what we took earlier to reach Dambulla one day before. The water was flowing all through the road and the paddy lands were brimming with water at ground level. We felt something is wrong and rain is chasing where ever we go and proceeded.
Dambulla is a nice commercial center and remains as important linking of all towns. It had a huge commodity market or economic zone. Dambulla has also a huge Buddha temple with golden tower. It has also a rock climbing kind of temple to Buddha. We did not venture to both these places due to rain.
We saw towns like Nalanda, Matale on our way. It was raining all through until we reached Kandy. But the town Matale is very impressive and had lot of activity. Matale also had a nice Hindu Temple. The route had lot of herbal gardens and they attract lot of visitors.
The hill station route to Kandy started after Matale. Kandy is similar to Yercaud but had a different look and feel. The chillness was far better than what one gets in Yercaud (probably due to heavy rains near our visit) The great cricketers like Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakara hails from Katugastota before Kandy town. We saw mountain on both sides and could not see much of land. My boss was joking that is why Murali had become a spin bowler rather than a fast bowler.
We checked into a hotel called Riverdale and it was quite homely hotel. We checked out news in the TV and Dambulla flood was the headline attraction. The news also claimed that the rain is never before rain for around 20 years and the badly affected areas were Dambulla, Mathale, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura and Pollannaruwa & Jaffna. We saw the lashing of rain and travelled right through with it without realising it !!!
We had dinner at Sriram Indian Restaurent. The sambar was more of Dhal but the taste was decent and the price was moderate. We had a look at the night view of from a small hill and came back to rest.
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