Hill Country – one of the main reasons tourists visit Sri Lanka. Cool weather, misty dusks and dawns and not forgetting the lush valleys of endless tea plantations. We begin this leg of our Sri Lankan adventure on the fringes of hill country – Kandy.
After a perilous 3 hour train ride, we arrived safely in the hill country town of Kandy. The fresh mountain air and cool breeze was a welcome change from the stuffy, sweltering heat of Colombo. Kandy is a resort town and also a holy city. Most visitors flock to Kandy for one or both of these two reasons: 1) The Temple of the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic 2) New age avuryedic spas/Meditation centres. Neither my father nor I belong to any of these two groups. What is there for you to do then? Pretty much nothing. However, in the hectic lives we lead these days, doing nothing has become somewhat of an understated luxury.
Where to Stay?
After hours of travelling, we both needed a well deserved rest. We flagged down a taxivan and in a matter of minutes,we arrived at our home for the night – Villa 49. Villa 49 is a small privately run guesthouse. Shnani, the owner, is very warm and accommodating. A personal welcome accompanied by tea and ginger biscuits followed by a tour of the property. Rooms are well-appointed with A/C and cosy with verdant views of the lush hills surrounding the town. Certain rooms also feature a private terrace/balcony. Wi-Fi is available and strong throughout the property.
Kandy is a rather small town. You can travel from place to place on a bicycle or on foot. Villa 49’s location puts you within walking distance to all the major attractions.
What to Eat?
The highlight of our stay was the homecooked Sri Lankan dinner by Shnani herself. For a small price, you’ll be treated to an authentic delicious 3-course Sri Lankan meal freshly prepared with ingredients sourced from the local morning markets. Shnani entertains particular requests when made in advance as well.We spent the entire day traversing through town but couldn’t find anything other than Indian and Chinese food. If you’re searching for authentic Sri Lankan food, look no further than Villa 49.
Despite Kandy being a holy city, that’s no reason to miss the opportunity to sample some of Sri Lanka’s best beers unless it’s a holy day of course! Consumption and sale of alcohol is prohibited on holy days. Besides the national beer – the creamy smooth Lion Lager, give the lesser known Three Coins a taste as well. Brewed from natural spring water, Three Coins leaves a unique spritzy and fresh taste on the palette. Perfect for washing down those spicy Sri Lankan curries! Spend a lazy afternoon at one of the patio bars such as The Pub and watch Kandy street life roll by below.
What to do?
As mentioned earlier, the two main draws of Kandy are the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and Avuryedic spas/meditations centres which both didn’t appeal to my father and I. We did however explore Kandy Lake.
Kandy Lake is the centrepiece of the town. Due to the small size of the town and its disproportionately massive sized water body, the lake serves as a major reference point in finding your bearings. My Dad and I never intended to visit the lake. It was coincidence that we chanced upon it on our way to and fro from the town centre. Lush hills dotted with resorts and hotels form the backdrop of the lake. The lake is also home to ecletic range of wildlife ranging from ducks to alligators. My dad likened the lake to Lake Zurich but I wouldn’t go that far!
We spent a full day in Kandy and that is pretty much all the time that you need if ayurvedic/meditation programmes are not your cup of tea. Kandy is a nice quiet town to relax and chill before surrendering completely to the serenity of Hill Country.
***TO BE CONTINUED***