My Sri Lankan holiday started in “Little Rome” with more, albeit somewhat different, sand, sun, and specie.
In this predominantly Catholic city, I felt compelled to cross the moonstone and enter the dragon’s mouth of Angurukaramulla Temple.
While not nearly as old, I also checked out the Hindu temple, one of many Roman Catholic churches and an Anglican one, as well.
The last, St. Stephens, is situated next to the Negombo prison. There was an inmate tending to the prison garden as I walked to a nearby tower. The tower is nearly all that remains of the original Dutch fort. The fort was demolished by the British who then used the stones to erect the prison.
Not far from the prison is a giant fish market. On the beach was an amazingly colorful display of various catches laid out to dry.
All that seafood made me hungry so I was happy to patronize nearby cashew and king coconut vendors.
After draining the coconut of its very refreshing juice, I used a chip of the shell as a spoon to scoop out the yummy flesh. On my way to dinner, I got caught up in a very impassioned Good Friday procession. Since it was a religious event and I was rather conspicuous, I didn’t take pictures… I should have been rude.
After meeting up with the group and guide, we headed to Sigiriya. A visit to the Golden Temple of Dambulla marked the beginning of what was to be a fairly exceptional Exodus cycling tour.
Inside this UNESCO world heritage site were various Buddha statues, some carved from the rock. Each cave offered something a little different.
It’s a long walk up to the frescoes and ruins but you can stop for a rest and enjoy the sights along the way.
The views of the misty countryside, the history of the fortress, and the exiting sunset make it worthwhile.
The next morning, we rode out to another UNESCO sight, the Ancient City Polonnaruwa.
It rained as we arrived so I’m only posting a few pictures as the lighting got weird.
There are four entrances to the Vatadage, each with a Buddha.
The Gal Vihara statues were our last stop before making our way down the road to our next hotel.
The next day’s ride was a beautiful transition from jungle to plantation. The Kalanduwa hills were on one side and the borders of Wasgomuwa Wildlife Park, the other.
It sorta felt like the most “authentic” day as we didn’t see any other tourists. Our cultural immersion activities included a visit to a spice garden and a cooking lesson.
The next morning we cycled to Kandy. After showers, a few of us went for a walk around the beautiful grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya.
After lunch, we walked around the royal palace complex in search of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth relic.
Our last stop of the day was at an 88 foot statue, Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha.
The next day marked the beginning of the end. After a tea stop at Kotmale Dam, we continued on up to Nuwara Eliya. Being the highest city on the island, it would be all downhill from there.
We stopped at a tea plantation for a late lunch and magnificent views. We eventually rode to our hotel where we met up with the well-rested group that took the train instead of slogging up the mountain.