We wanted to go up to the cool highlands and see the tea plantations but first we had to visit Kandy.
Kandy was the last capital of the kings of Sri Lanka. Its highlight is Sri Dalanda Maligawa, the Temple of the Tooth.
The famous tooth was stolen from the Buddha while he was lying on his funeral pyre. It became a symbol of authority and power and it was the responsibility of the kings of Kandy to protect it. Eventually they built as shrine to protect it and now crowds of worshippers come and leave flowers in honour of the tooth.
Interesting but a bit underwhelming for such a renowned place, you are left searching for the tooth until you realise its in a fancy shaped pot behind a curtain(I think)
The Royal Botanical gardens are just outside Kandy on a bend of the Mahaweli river. Once only for royalty they are now full of tourists and locals along with many fruit bats and monkeys. There are four thousand different plant species and ten thousand trees but it is most famous for its orchids.
The real highlight of our trip to Kandy was finally getting to taste durian fruit. We thought about this in a few places but weren’t brave enough. This time we bought some and were given a carrier bag for it. The first taste was pretty awful and the texture is disgusting so we tied the bag up and got a Tuk tuk back to our hotel. As we went around the streets of Kandy the tightly tied up plastic carrier bag began to smell stronger and stronger. Durian is banned in many hotels and we began to see why. Eventually as we passed a pile of rubbish on a street corner we threw it as hard as we could into the pile. The smell lingered for hours, a change of clothes and showers were needed but it was an experience ( and never to be repeated)!
Nuwara Eliya was a British hill station when the British ruled what was then Ceylon. Its altitude gave relief from the lowland heat and familiar plants from home were suited to the climate. Its English feel is promoted to tourists, there is a golf club, a post office and the gardens are very old English looking. The hotels provide traditional afternoon tea and you can go on a tour to one of the surrounding tea plantations.
We watched the women tea pickers work in the hillsides. It’s hard hot work for very little pay and yes I did pay them for the privilege of taking their photo.