Off to explore the town.
Started off with a lovely walk around the lake. The lake is in the middle of the town, with a circumference of 3.4km. We are staying on the south side. On the north side are the temples and the main town.
The lake was built in 1807 by Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, the last ruler of the kingdom of Kandy. It is home to a plethora of different birds, monitor lizards, fish and tortoises, which we spotted. The town is actually fairly compact, made up of several busy streets on the north wears corner of the lake. The town is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Lots of shops selling random piles of things – huge piles of rice, terracotta oil burning dishes, remote controls….! There were a couple of church’s dotted around. The supermarket was fun – looking at all the different foods. Bought some more Bombay mix – there was a whole aisle just for this!! And some rice crackers. They don’t seem to do crisps at all here.
For lunch I had a dosa masala. A thin rice batter pancake cooked on a hot plate and filled with a spicy potato mix. Then you serve yourself the doping sauces – a vegetable curry and a ‘coconut chutney’ as they call it – not a chutney as we know, but a creamy coconut with coriander seeds and crushed lentils. I had dosas a few times in India too – and just as delicious as I remember!! And 66p – I could only manage half!
The large temple – the Temple of the Tooth is alongside the lake.
Outside are rows of stalls selling pretty flowers as offerings – waterlilys, jasmine and the large tulip type flowers that you see everywhere and I’m not sure what they are!
You have to be dressed appropriately to visit – long trousers and sleeves. I saw quite a few people being turned away.
The temple is within the Royal Palace complex. There is also a couple of layers of security to enter, as there was bomb set off here in 1998. This temple is the most important Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. Said to hold a relic – a Buddha tooth. I have also been to a Buddha tooth temple in Singapore. And a Buddha hair temple in Burma. People liked to take things from the Buddha!!
This temple was built in 1595, but large parts rebuilt after the bomb. Again a rather pricy 1,000rp (£5) to get in. You have to take your shoes off – the floor is burning hot! Up the entrance stairs and the ceiling of the entrance hall is covered in lovely colourful paintings.
The first corridor is also covered in paintings – really pretty. The main shrine is golden and a curtain hangs to cover the tooth casket. It’s only visible during the prayer times. Outside is pretty, a small fountain, a large hall with ornate wooden poles to hold the roof up. And a row of lit up burning oil in small terracotta dishes.
The actual temple was fairly small. Around it was a Buddha museum and a couple of other nice temples. Some stupas and a temple around the top of a tree. I like temples! There was a man with an elephant, the elephant was tied up so he couldn’t walk – his back legs tied together. So sad.
Dotted around the town are several performance halls, where every evening a dance performance is shown. It costs 500rp (£2.50) for an hour.
We arrived very early for the 5pm showing. But at least we could reserve some front row seats! And went back outside to sit by the lake. By 5pm the hall had filled up. The dancing was good.
I’ve been to a few of these cultural shows put on for tourists – and they were usually quite fun. There were men and women dancing, men playing drums, men spinning plates – that was impressive and afterwards, some hot coals walking! I enjoyed it.
The show finished at 6pm and after a long queue, we reentered the temple grounds to have a look at the temples all lit up at night. Whilst we couldn’t go inside, unless we paid again! It was nice to wander around the grounds. For dinner, another dosa masala! They are just so good!!