After a day of hiking many-a-mountain (okay, fine – just two mountains), we spent the rest of that evening in Sri Lanka having calming Ayruveda massages and dining on as much delicious Sri Lankan food as we could lay our hands on (which was quite a lot).
The following day however, we packed up our things, left what had been our home for the past few days and headed straight out in search of more amazing sights to see in Sri Lanka.
We didn’t have to go too far before arriving at Dambulla with its UNESCO World Heritage site – the Dambulla Cave Temples. We arrived in the pouring rain (the first we’d experience during our time in Sri Lanka) and I couldn’t have been more pleased!
Rain in the UK is annoying cos it’s just cold and miserable but in Sri Lankan heat, rain is such a welcome respite! The sun did pop out in between bits of rain but given the cloud cover, it didn’t feel quite as strong as it did the last few days.
We made our way through the temples and throngs of like-minded visitors to the cave temple at the top of the mountains. As it turns out, we arrived on the day where a full moon was expected and because of that there was no entry fee charged to get into the temple. This also means it can get busy at different times.
Also, do pay attention to the opening times as we arrived a tad earlier and had to wait about 30 minutes for it to open (which was actually fine because there’s a fair bit to see while you wait).
Dambulla cave temples are thought to be over 2,000 years old and the monastery here is still functional. Its actually so significant for Buddhists all over the world that you even get monks from all over the world who make a pilgrimage to the site. There’s so much more detailed history on Wikipedia if you’re interested so do check that out here.
After Dambulla, we made our way over to Kandy – of which I was asleep for most of the journey (one of the joys of having a driver for week organized with Evaneos as part of the bespoke itinerary we created with them) and by the time we arrived in Kandy, those rain clouds had disappeared (almost like they never existed) and the sunshine seemed to have doubled up to make up for lost time (I know I keep going on about the heat but it certainly took us all by surprise). 🙂
Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest city (after the capital city of Colombo) and is home to Sri Dalada Maligawa – The Temple of the Tooth Relic (also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
*Oh yeah, you also need to cover your legs (guys and girls) in trousers or a sarong when you visit… and take your shoes off too.
The Temple of the Tooth Relic is very much an integral part of life in Sri Lanka and is quite a privilege to get to visit and see a fairly different side to Sri Lanka that we hadn’t seen before (despite having visited several temples prior to this one).
The history of the temple is long and intricate so rather and it is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world. It attracts, not just tourists looking to gain an insight into Sri Lankan culture and history but locals who come here to worship.
Eventually, ushered by our driver who knew still had a little drive left, we made our way back to the car, taking care to pick up our shoes – like I mentioned earlier, you’re not allowed to wear in the Temple so leave you expensive (or heavy) shoes at home when you visit as you either need to pay to leave it at the entrance or carry it around with you in a bag.
Next stop – something of a Sri Lankan tradition but more on that in another post!