Note : This post is in a series of posts covering our entire Sri Lankan backpacking experience. Please refer to individual posts covering the places visited.
Earlier Posts :
For City Tips jump to the bottom.
DAY 2 in KANDY
Highlights : Hot Air Balloon Ride at Kandalam, Visiting Sigriya Rock and Dambulla Caves, Cultural show in Kandy.
On our second day in Kandy we had an early start at around 03.30 Hrs. Booked a van for the full day (SLR 8500 ).
We first headed to Kandalam, Dambulla for our very first Hot Air Balloon Ride experience.
Organised by Sunrise Ballooning (http://srilankaballooning.com), this particular ride catches the sunrise over Dambulla and is quite a treat.
The ride itself lasts about an hour and upon completion we are given the traditional champagne too!!
Next was a visit to the historic site of Sigriya Rock.
Located about 2.5 hours drive north of Kandy and about 30 minutes from Dambulla, the spectacular citadel of Sigiriya rises sheer out of the plains, sitting atop a huge outcrop of gneiss rock towering 200 meters above the surrounding countryside. One of the most spectacular of Sri-Lankan medieval capitals, Sigiriya “Lion-Rock” is a world heritage site and consists of a complex of buildings, part royal palace, part fortified town and water gardens on par with the best in the ancient world. This citadel was built by King Kasyapa in 5th century A.D and was in use for 18 years.
Located at the visitor centre and booking office, the archeological museum showcases the result of nearly three decades of research of Sigiriya and the surrounding areas.
TIPS FOR SIGIRIYA:
1) Arrive early in the day, as you will need a good three to four hours to explore the rock. The entire walk from the booking office to steep climb to the top of the rock is in the open and devoid of shade so come well attired to brave the sun and carry lots of drinking water. The climb to the top involves climbing a large number of steps. These range from wide stone steps to steep metal steps, these are fixed to the side of the rock
2) Best time to visit is during weekdays as the site gets quite congested over the weekends with local tour groups.
3) The ticket price is USD 30/- for foreigners, USD 15/- for SAARC nationals and SLR 50/- for Sri Lankans
About 20 kilometers from Sigriya, and enroute to Kandy lie the ancient rock cut Buddhist caves of Dambulla. The rock ceiling is one large sweep of colorful paintings depicting Buddha’s life and Buddhist mythology. Some of these paintings are over 2000 years old!
Within the cave temple is the collection of the largest number of Buddha statues in one place. There is also a recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, some 14 meters long.
At the bottom of the steps that lead to the cave temples stands the Golden temple topped by a 30 meter seated Golden Buddha. There is a museum too within the premises.
TIPS FOR DAMBULLA :
1) Although Dambulla is closer to Kandy than Sigriya, it is advisable to visit Sigriya first to avoid the blazing sun later in the day. The Dambulla Cave temples are relatively easier to explore, are well shaded and relatively cooler even in the afternoons.
2) The ticket price is SLR 1500/-
3) There are five caves and it is recommended to visit them in reverse order as you get to see them in increasing degrees of magnificence.
4) Cave 1 – contains the famous 14 meter long reclining Buddha carved out of a single rock.
On our return back to Kandy we visited the Tooth temple, although we did not get to explore it completely due to lack of time and also as it was quite crowded with evening devotees.
We ended the evening by watching the cultural show conducted by local artisans which give a broad glimpse of Sri Lankan dressing and rituals.
TIPS FOR KANDY:
1) Kandy serves as a good base for visiting PINNAWALA ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE, PERADENIYA BOTANICAL GARDENS, Sigriya and Dambulla.
2) Plan to stay for at least three days to cover the sights mentioned above and also to visite the Tooth temple and other sites within Kandy. The cultural visits are quite exhausting and there is ony so much of history than can be savored in a day.
3) It is best to hire private vehicles for the full day when visiting the sites in and around Kandy.
For more tips on Kandy visit earlier post: