Sri Lanka – the Highlands

Frank Neumann

On the way to the highlands

On our way to Kandy and the highlands of Sri Lanka, we stopped briefly at Sigiriya. A monolith in the middle of the plains. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. About 1550 years ago, it was a fortress of the then King Dhatusena. It was located on the plateau of the 200m high mountain. The ascent is quite difficult, but it is rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Halfway to the plateau you will pass the world famous cloud girls, which were painted on the wall of the mountain. The stairway to the fortress proper is flanked by two mighty lion’s paws.

At the foot, where the tourists arrive and the traders offer their goods, there are also many monkeys, which have it contemporary on cell phones. But also a bag of potato chips is not despised. In the extensive parks around the rock you can still see very well preserved the former splendor of the entire estate. Also the rare ebony trees can be admired here.

sigiriya aufstieg

At the foot, where the tourists arrive and the traders offer their goods, there are also many monkeys, which have it contemporary on cell phones. But also a bag of potato chips is not despised. In the extensive parks around the rock you can still see very well preserved the former splendor of the entire estate. Also the rare ebony trees can be admired here.

Sigiriya
Sigiriya rock fortress
Wandgemälde
Wall mural
Monkey familiy
Monkey family
Agame
Agame

Spices, Hindu temples and red bananas

In the further course of our journey into the highlands of the island we visited one of the numerous spice gardens. Sri Lanka is a country in which pretty much everything grows, except apples. At least that’s what we were told. We did not verify it. But due to the so different climatic conditions, which this island offers, it is absolutely conceivable.

In said spice garden we could, besides already known to us, also get to know a lot of unknown fruits and spices. New refers now perhaps less to completely new and previously unknown, but to the type of plant and how it grows. Which is for Besipeiel the difference between, green, white, red and black pepper. Also spices like clove, ginger, star anise, nutmeg etc. grow. A very nice compilation of many fruits, flowers and spices from Sri Lanka they find on “Sri Lanka Discover“..

hindutempelOf course, after such a guided tour ser visit to the affiliated little shop must not fail.
But beware ! The Ayurvedic products, mixtures and remedies offered here are highly overpriced. So if you want to buy products of this kind, it is better to do it in a pharmacy or market.

The further you go into the highlands, the more common the vegetation and the more often you will find Hindu temples. While the majority of the population (about 70%) is Buddhist, there are many Tamils (Hindus) in the north and in the highlands. They were brought from India by the British as plantation workers during the colonial period. To this day, the black manual labor of tea picking is done by the women of the Tamils. They still work like slaves for 2.50 € a day, 7 days a week.
You can find a good article about this in the “Spiegel“.

Also at the roadsides it becomes colorful. Many farmers sell here directly your goods. Mainly fruit and vegetables. There one should stop in any case once and try. The prices are not worth mentioning. A mango from such a stand tastes completely different from what you find in your local supermarket. But also all the other fruits are tempting. Crab apple, guava, betel nut, breadfruit or jackfruit. Yellow and green coconuts, mangosteen and especially delicious and only found here, red bananas.

You should also try an Ayurvedic massage in one of the countless centers.

cacao
Cocoa
red banana
Red bananas

Kandy

kandy

Kandy is located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka at about 500m and has about 150,000 inhabitants. The climate here is with an average of 24 degrees much more pleasant than in the warm and humid Colombo. Kandy was the capital of the last Sinhalese king.
The Tooth Temple in MItten of the city is said to house the upper left canine tooth of Buddha. This relic is one of the most important in the Buddhist world and has always been kept in the royal capital. Once a year, at the full moon in August, this tooth is carried around the city on an elephant.

kandy
Tooth temple
temple
Monks
buddha
Buddha statues
incense sticks
Incense sticks
Flower Seller
Flower seller

Hotel recommendation

Infiniti PoolIn Kandy we stayed at the hotel “The Golden Crown” A 5 star luxury hotel, in the middle of the green mountains of the highlands.

The hotel had a spectacular Infiniti pool and also otherwise let service and equipment still very much remind of old colonial times. Less from a temporal point of view, but of luxury and comprehensiveness. The room is available here from about 13,800 LKR which is the equivalent of 60 euros.

The hotel is located just outside the city of Kandy and is thus shielded from the noise of traffic and tourist bustle.

The Golden Crown

5/5

322 Udugama
Ampitiya Rd
Kandy 20000
Tel: +94 812 244 000
Website

A visit to the Royal Botanical Garden of Peradeniya is also highly recommended. It is located about 5 km west of Kandy and houses one of the largest orchid exhibitions in the world.

Here one meets also very many young bridal couples, which kassen themselves before the splendid blooms and plants to be photographed. Even the traditional costume of the groom and the lavishly embroidered with pearls wedding dresses are an eye-catcher and make you pale with envy.

What you have to get used to here as a German are the many swastikas which you see everywhere. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with fanaticism according to German history. Rather, it is in Hinduism and Buddism a symbol of luck and stands for the footsteps of Buddha.

Nuwara Eliya

Tea PickersNuwara Eliya (City of Light) is a small town with about 25,000 inhabitants and is located at an altitude of about 2000m. Due to its mild climate, the place was founded in the 19th century as a health resort for British colonial officials. Until today you can still find the influence of the British here. The hotel “The Hill Club” is still a noble remnant of the colonial power Great Britain. There is also a Formal 3 track, a motorcycle racing track, an 18-hole golf course and a horse racing track.

Of course, the surrounding area is characterized by countless tea plantations and the associated industry. It is ultimately due to the preference of the English that Cylon tea became a worldwide known and sought after brand. Tea is grown on the island from about 1200m, so that the highlands with their hills up to over 2500m are completely covered with tea plantations. To this day, Sri Lanka is one of the largest black tea producers in the world. There are over 850 tea factories on the island. Here it is really recommended to make a tour to one of these tea factories.Quality Control

Driving through the plantations, you see the many women who have to harvest the top 3 leaves of each shoot every day starting at 6am and then spread them out on the side of the road with your “overseers” for inspection. All this happens 7 days a week, from 6 am to noon. Then it gets too hot and the shoots lose their quality.

One learns a lot of interesting things about tea production. For example, that the difference between green and black tea lies only in the lack of fermentation, white tea is obtained only from the tips of the tea plant (silver needles) and has the most intense flavor, but unfortunately is also the most expensive tea. In short, a must not only for tea lovers.

RailwayWe made the return trip from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy on the Sri Lanka Railroad. Departure was in Nanu Oya Stationmaster and from there we went across a beautiful lush green landscape of hills with tea plantations, waterfalls and colorful Hindu temples. Even here you can still find the relics of old British days. Well, as far as the departure time is concerned, one can no longer speak of British punctuality. Unfortunately, our train had about 1.5 Stdt. Delay. Thus, it was clear that we would have to complete part of the journey in the dark of the evening.

The line is single track and at each station the driver gets a ring from the stationmaster. Only with this ring one is authorized to drive the next part of the route. The same can be found in other countries with British colonial history until today. On the stations on the way the children sell you roasted nuts with leaves of the curry plant and other “delicacies” partly unknown to me I admit, I kept to the nuts and took no risks there.

Unfortunately, it then also began to rain and the environment, which was so already slowly dark, disappeared more and more in low-hanging clouds.

More pictures

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