A SriLankan Sojourn: Exploring Pinnawala, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwaru Eliya, Seeta Eliya, and Colombo

Read this travelogue on a Sri Lanka trip written by traveler Sandhyaa Venkatachalam, and see what she says about Pinnawala, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwaru Eliya, Seeta Eliya, and Colombo, the 7 Amazing SriLankan destinations she explored.

Sri Lanka Travelogue by traveller Sandhyaa Venkatachalam


Sri Lanka – once known as Singhala and now also known as ‘Ceylon’ – the stunning tropical island country, the tear-drop shaped landmass, the land of tea, spices & gemstones, the land of beaches and wildlife, the satellite of Buddhism, the indispensable part of Ramayana; located south-east of the Indian subcontinent, seems to be showing an upward trend on the tourists’ popularity graph these days, especially for the Sinhalese hospitality combined with its distinctive landmarks imbued with history, mythology, and natural beauty!

Three important places that got me awestruck as a vacationer in this isle were Pinnawala, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwaru Eliya, Seeta Eliya, and Colombo.

1. Pinnawala

Pinnawalla Sri Lanka Travelogue by Sandhyaa

Pinnawala, a very large ‘elephant orphanage camp’ is dedicated to taking care of elephants captured from the forests island-wide. These mammals are sheltered, protected, and given timely attention in terms of their food, bath, and health by a troupe of sincere caretakers.

There are particular enclosures where tourists could themselves personally feed fruit or milk to the elephants!

Pinnawalla Sri Lanka Travelogue by Sandhyaa Elephant Bay

‘Elephant Bay’ is the bathing spot for the elephants in the adjoining river surrounded by lush green foliage! Restaurateurs have built their restaurants along this river bank at different levels from the ground so that visitors can have a hearty meal and at the same time revel in the sight of elephant herds letting their enormous bodies dip in the water. While some play pranks with their mahouts, there are some others that surprise tourists with a fun splash of water!!

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2. Dambulla

Dambulla Sri Lanka Travelogue

Dambulla, located at the central part of the island, also known as the Golden Temple, holds a spiritual significance in Sri Lanka.

A flight of rugged stairs reaches on top of a rocky mountain where an entrance leads to the ‘mountain caves’ amidst breathtaking scenery. These caves were shrines used by Buddhist monks dating back to the 1st Century BC for their meditation and prayers. A wide corridor housing five of the major shrine-caves are filled with golden statues of the Buddha in many postures depicting his lifestyle and teaching styles. All the more interesting are the walls of the caves with mind-blowing frescos made with only natural and vivid colours that seem intact and beautiful even now.

Dambulla Golden Temple Sri Lanka Travelogue

This awesome combination of statues and paintings is certainly a treat to the eyes which gives a mystical aura to anyone standing inside!

ALSO READ: Kedarnath – An Unfathomable Euphoria

3. Sigiriya

Sigiriya Sri Lanka Travelogue

Sigiriya, ‘the Lion Rock’, is a rock fortress of major historical value in Sri Lankan chronicles. If ancient ‘palm texts’ are to be believed, it once used to be the glorious capital of King Ravana who built a magnificent palace atop this citadel which is about 600 feet in height. The other version is that it used to be the royal township of King Kashyapa (5th century CE).

sri lanka sigiriya travelogue by Sandhyaa In any case, today it stands as a great monolithic structure, left to be discovered as per one’s own imagination. Located on a ground designed with geometrically patterned lawns and ponds, the climb begins with the rock-cut steps going narrower. After a tedious ascent between rocks, it is absolutely astonishing and refreshing to see a gallery of paintings on the outer surfaces of the mountain rock; very much similar to those found in the Ajanta caves of India!

Moving ahead, expect to land on a leveled platform where two giant ‘paws’ like those of a lion are present (supposedly, there was also a lion’s head sculpted above the paws but the head collapsed a long time ago), marking them as the actual entrance beyond which a man-made staircase built along the side face of the rock further reaches the top. This is the best part of this adventure because here one has to win over their acrophobia while scaling the zig-zag stairs to be ‘at the summit’.

Sigiriya Fort Sri Lanka Travelogue

At such a height, one can witness thick forest growth on the surrounding land far below and can’t help but wonder at the choice of location for the King’s dwelling. The ‘top’ holds the ruins of the site, much like what we have heard of Machu Picchu in South America.

Sigiriya is an invigorating feat for climbers even today and the only way to return back to the ground is just all the way down along the same pathway (stairway)!

4. Kandy

Kandy Sacred Tooth Relic Temple Sri Lanka travelogue

The imposing building structures of Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple behind the Kandy Lake bathing in the rays of the morning sun look picture-perfect.

This Buddhist temple is a part of the royal Kandyan Palace and holds high esteem due to the veneration of the ‘tooth relic’ of the Buddha, preserved here which is revered by many devotees.

The Temple is astounding. Though it had simple exteriors, the interiors of the temple were opulent. Grand frescos adorned the walls, rich wooden architecture defined the doors, windows, railings and ceilings, and a golden canopy protected with a golden fence housed the main deity or the ‘tooth’ which was enclosed in a stupa-shaped golden casket guarded with long elephant tusks.

It has multiple floors, many rooms and corridors, and divine statues of Buddha studded with precious gemstones. It is customary to offer a lotus flower to the God, a ritual appreciated by the locals.

Kandy springs a surprise as it is not only celebrated for its heritage but also turns out to be a shopper’s delight. The craftsmanship of the artisans here is bewildering which becomes obvious when looking at their exquisite pieces of wood carvings; every work in wood stood out with a life that held the pride of its maker as it was made to perfection and finesse like nowhere else.

Next is the bewitching eye lock with Sri Lanka’s treasure – umpteen numbers of colored gems originally mined on the island itself which is unparalleled to anywhere else in the world by quality. The supreme expertise of the gemologists in this country is realized when observing the size, luster, cuts, and refractive index of a variety of precious stones such as sapphires, amethysts, rubies, emeralds, etc. and clearly, this is the warranty for which celebrities all over the world are infatuated with Sri Lankan gems.

5. Nuwaru Eliya

Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka travelogue

All through, the meandering roads of the scenic tea-clad mountains in Nuwara Eliya are a welcome respite away from the bustling towns of Sri Lanka; a highland about 6000 feet high with a cool climate contrasting to the heat and humidity in the other parts of the island. It is a mesmerizing verdant countryside ideally suited for tea plantations making it the third largest exporter of tea in the world – the very famous Ceylon tea.

Although this pocket of land looks infinitesimal on the already elfin isle on the map of Sri Lanka, it only seems endless and boundless in reality. There are nearly a hundred and fifty hair-pin bends of the tea mountains, making it a very long cruise wading through aromatic tea estates with continuous step-cultivation pastures of tea, dotted with waterfalls, amidst the green hues which is why it has aptly been nicknamed the “Emerald Island”.

6. Seeta Eliya

Real Hanumanji Footsteps in Sri Lanka travelogue

Sita Temple located at Seeta Eliya, is the ‘Ashoka Vatika’ described in the Ramayana where Sita Devi was held captive until Hanumanji saw her here for the first time. His ‘footprints’ are found on some rocks here, one of the proofs based on which the authenticity of Ramayana is pledged by the Hindus.

Sanjeevni Mountain in Sri Lanka travelogue photo

The temple is located in quaint surroundings enriched with deciduous trees and gushing streams. Right here, the ‘Sanjeevini’ mountain (a mountain of herbs) is also visible from the temple, the one which Hanuman carried all the way from the Himalayas to cure a diseased Lakshmana.

7. Colombo

Colombo Gangaramya Sri Lanka travelogue

Like any other commercial capital city, Colombo was no different – heavy traffic, high-rise buildings, malls, and beaches. Amidst these stands the Gangaramaya Temple; a busy temple complex being the biggest crowd-puller in Colombo; comprising of a museum, basically an extraordinary collection of bejeweled items, embellished statues of Gods, intriguing artifacts, and antiques.

Seema Malaka Sri Lanka travelogue

Two queer things found here and not to be missed would be – (i) the smallest Buddhist statue enclosed in a case, which people can view with a magnifying glass, and (ii) homage to a minuscule ‘hair relic’ of the Buddha inside another secure coffin.

Gangaramya Sri Lanka travelogue

Additionally, a gigantic Bodhi tree in the courtyard, along with a white Stupa reinforces the peace and tranquility of the environs in the minds of the people.

Seema Malaka Colombo Sri Lanka travelogue

At a stone’s throw away is the Seema Malaka temple. Although much smaller in size, its high points are that it has been built in the middle of Beira Lake making it appear like a floating temple, and the line-up of Buddha statues {in seated positions displaying different mudras} around it which especially look splendid when lit up at night.

Coast Line Colombo Sri Lanka travelogue

Colombo has plenty of other sights of which Galle Face Green (an open stretch that is popular for street food facing the Indian Ocean), Coastal Line (the famous train that runs along the coast), Independence Memorial Hall (in tribute to gaining independence from British rule, along with a museum which commemorates brave souls who fought for the nation), Colombo Lotus Tower (observation deck with shopping and restaurants) and Pettah Floating Market (former swamp transformed into a marketplace, lined with wooden walkways) are prime attractions.

Best places to travel in Sri Lanka travelogue Gangaramya

Sri Lanka during the yesterdays was totally undeveloped and was just a meek kingdom. The transformations of this nation to the present day have been tremendous and quite incredible!

A well-planned SriLankan holiday is a sure-shot to carry loads of beautiful memories back home!

Sri Lanka is a hidden jewel in South Asia with lots and lots more to explore! It is turning out to be the best destination for those travelers who want an ideal tropical getaway, for the kind of diversity present here.

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