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Sri Lanka - Colombo

sunny 33 °C

Sri Lanka. It is an island in the Indian Ocean, located to the South of India Subcontinent. Sprawling over the area of about 60,000 square kilometres, Sri Lanka with its tear dropped shape is dominated by the astonishingly varied features of topography. The pear-shaped island is consists mostly of flat to rolling coastal plains, with mountain rising in the south central part of the island.

I was there with two of my colleagues for a business trip in Aug 2004. We stayed at Ceylon Continental Hotel, Colombo for about three weeks and only managed to visit some of the interesting places during the weekends. I enjoyed my stay at the hotel, which was well maintained with its friendly and warm-hearted staffs. The hotel was strategically located near the heart of the city facing the Indian Ocean and it was really convenience for us to move around the town with the taxis or the local transportation like “tuk tuk” in Thailand.


Let’s me talk about Colombo. It is the capital or Sri Lanka. Being the largest city in the country, it is quite congested, noisy, frenetic, and a little bit of frenzied. In fact, I dun really like the hustle and bustle of the city as it made me felt complicated. However, the diverse cultures and the major attractions there just made me keep going and to love the place. The city holds a lot of interest as we can see a lot of interesting places, culture, art and people around the there that will easily captured the heart of tourist like myself. Colombo is the country’s business centre, which has department stores, shops, business centres, banks and a lot more. In addition, other significant buildings like the parliaments, Central Bank and the World Trade Centre twin towers proudly stand there. There are also ample sights such as the clock tower. A former light house, the president’s residence and a cluster of colonial building, which lend the district an aura of bygone Empire.

I remember that there was a hotel by the name of Galle Face, which is more than a century old. This hotel is established in 1864 and soon became and continues to become one of the unique, exclusive and exquisite hotels in Colombo. We managed to try the elevator that was operated manually by the hotel staffs, which we will not able to find it elsewhere. It was an interesting visit for us. However, due to the strong colonial feel, the hotel did send some chill to my spine.


We went to Kandy during one of the weekends. We wanted to take a break from all the stress of the work there. Kandy is one of Sri Lanka hill capital that is located about 500 metres above the sea level and the city is acclaimed to be one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka. The focal point of the town is the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. However, we did not enter to the 15th century temple where the sacred tooth was enshrined as it was too commercialized. We were required to pay a certain fees to enter the temple. After deep thoughts, we just ignored the plan to visit the temple and walked around the town. Also, we managed to try out the traditional costumes at one of the shop there.


We also went to the botanical garden and elephant sanctuary, which were very interesting to us. The Botanical Garden was situated near to Kandy, about 5-6 kilometers. Based on the brochure and travel information, this garden dates from 14th century reign of King Vikrama Bahu III. It provides spectacular and extraordinary beauty for nature lovers as well as casual visitors like us. Also, it is well know for it's large variety of plants ornaments, useful machine and other creepers that produce the special spices at Sri Lanka including those use for Ayurveda treatments. While exploring the place, we could see the great lawns that highlights the huge tropical trees and trees with amazing roots that help the trees to expand its size.

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As mentioned earlier, we also managed to make a side trip to the Elephant Sanctuary. It's more known as Elephant Orphanage and located about 70 Kilometres away from Colombo. Upon entering the place, we could see elephants as well as jumbos wondering around the place. We also had the experience to witness the bottle feeding for baby elephant. It was too bad that I did not capture those pictures. At least during the bathing sessions (two sessions a day - 10 am and 2pm), I managed to snap a few pictures for memories. It's definitely a place that will give us all the fond memories about elephants.


Among other interesting places visited by us was the Sigiriya Rock. This ancient architecture was acclaimed to be the Eight Wonder of the Ancient World. I suppose this it is one of the world heritage sites, which need to preserve for the future generations appreciation.


The Complex consists of the central rock, rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular precincts on the east (90 hectares) and the west (40 hectares), surrounded by two moats and three ramparts. The plan of the city is based on a precise square module. The layout extends outwards from co-ordinates at the centre of the palace complex at the summit, with the eastern and western axis directly aligned to it. The water garden, moats and ramparts are based on an “echo plan” duplicating the layout and design on either side. This city still displays its skeletal layout and its significant features. 3 km from east to west and 1 km from north to south it displays the grandeur and complexity of urban-planning in 5th century Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya dates back from over 7,000 years ago, through Pre-Historic to Proto-Historic to Early Historic times, then as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 3rd century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees to the sangha. The garden city and the palace was built by Kasyapa 477 - 495 AD. Then after Kasyapa's death it was a monastery complex up to about the 14th century.

The Mahavamsa, the ancient historical record of Sri Lanka, describes King Kasyapa as a parricide, who murdered his father King Dhatusena by walling him up alive and then usurping the throne, which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana. To escape from the armies of Mogallana, Kasyapa is said to have built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya, but Mogallana finally managed to get to Kasyapa and he committed suicide.

However, there is also another version of the Kasyapa story, related by one of the most eminent historians of Sri Lanka, Prof. Senerat Paranavitana. He claims to have deciphered the story of Sigiry, written by a monk named Ananda in the 15th cent. AD. This work had been inscribed on stone slabs, over which later inscriptions had been written. Till to date no other epigraphist has made a serious attempt to read the interlinear inscriptions.

Since Sigiriya was abandoned after Kasyapa’s death, visitors had been attracted to it from around the 6th century till about the 13th century. They had come to see the paintings and the palace on the summit and the garden below, even as they do today. Inspired by the wonder they saw, they transferred their thoughts into poetry, which they wrote on the Mirror Wall (The term Mirror Wall is an attempt at translating the word used by the ancient writers)

Most of these graffiti were addressed to the ladies in the paintings. Paranavitana, has studied these writings in detail in his masterpiece "Sigiri Graffiti", describing the people who had written them, their ideas, their way of life and the grammer and style of a period ranging over a span of over eight centuries.

The most significant feature of the Rock would have been the Lion staircase leading to the palace garden on the summit. Based on the ideas described in some of the graffiti, this Lion staircase could be visualised as a gigantic figure towering majestically against the granite cliff, facing north, bright coloured, and awe-inspiring.

Through the open mouth of the Lion had led the covered staircase built of bricks and timber and a tiled roof. All that remains now are the two colossal paws and a mass of brick masonry that surround the ancient limestone steps and the cuts and groves on the rock face give an idea of the size and shape of the lion figure

Though traces of plaster and pigments occur all over this area, only two pockets of paintings survive. These are in a depression of the rock face, about a 100 meters above the ground level. These paintings represent the earliest surviving examples of a Sri Lanka school of classical realism, already fully evolved by the 5th century, when these paintings had been made. Earlier the Sigiri style had been considered as belonging to the Central Indian school of Ajanta, but later considered as specifically different from the Ajanta paintings. The ladies depicted in the paintings have been variously identified as Apsaras (heavenly maidens), as ladies of Kasyapas court and as Lightening Princess and Cloud Damsels.

There are also remains of paintings in some of the caves at the foot of the rock. Of special significance is the painting on the roof of the Cobra Hood Cave. The cave with its unique shape dates from the pre-christian era. The painting combines geometrical shapes and motifs with a free and complex rendering of characteristic volute or whorl motifs. It is nothing less than a masterpiece of expressionist painting.

In fact whenever, I came across anything about Sri Lanka, this magnificent piece of art from the past will just run wild in my mind. Visiting the Lion Rock, the citadel of Sigiriya is a must for all visitors so that they will have the opportunity to let their imagination runs wild in this picturesque and unique place and try to feel the flamboyant lifestyle of the King at that time.

Time to leave. It's a great place to shop as well. It was evidenced by the baggage that we were bringing back home then.

Posted by terrence79 23:03 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged ecotourism

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hey my friend where ar u from?

by rashi

I am from Malaysia.....staying in Kuala Lumpur...

by terrence79

Thanx i'm from sri lanka,nice to meet you I'm doing tourisam,

by Rasi

ic ic....nice to meet you....thinking of revisiting sri lanka ...maybe next year

yet to visit anuradhapura

by terrence79

oh yap next time u can go with me i will arrange u cheep tour.lol if your friend come to visit just ask them to contact me.i will help them.

by Rashi

Ok....if the plan materialize..may check out with you...

by terrence79

we are agree with you we had also nice time with www.hotelsrilanka.info in sri lanka

by padmal

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