Monday, November 13, 2017

The stabilising Sri Lanka- Part II

The stabilising Sri Lanka- Part I - Here

Beatiful Kandy

After lunch, we drove for 2 hours and reached Kandy by 4 pm. We got a wonderful place to stay in Kandy- ‘Sadhara Homestay’.

It was a two bedroom apartment with kitchen and bath. We could see a stream just down the balcony.

It was a beautiful relaxing experience to sit in that balcony, look at the flowing water and sip Sri Lankan coffee.  After a restful night, we set out again for sightseeing.

Victoria dam was our first stop, which was one hour drive from Kandy. It is the tallest dam in Sri Lanka, situated among green hills covered in tea bushes and jungles.

Considered the crown jewel of Mahaweli Development Project, The Victoria Dam is built at a deep valley just above the Victoria Falls rapids and 300 meters below the point where the Hulu Ganga meets the Mahaveli River. The construction of the dam began in 1978 and was ceremoniously opened in 1985 which was graced by Margaret Thatcher, then prime-minister of UK.  The funding, design and the technical expertise were provided by United Kingdom and the project’s most memorable event was recorded when Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II visited the construction site on October 24, 1981.

We have seen so many dams, but this ‘C’ shaped dam definitely stands out.

Sita Kotuwa

Devi Sita was first kept in this place before she was moved to Ashoka Vatika. The city of Lankapura once stood in this place. It had a beautiful palace for queen Mandothari, surrounded by waterfalls, streams and varieties of flora and fauna.

                                                                  Sit Kotuwa

We didn’t see any other tourist during our twenty minutes trek through forest trail to this place, and we could do it because our driver knew the way. The place was very serene, with calming grounding energy and we meditated there, experiencing some awesome visions.

Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, our next stop, is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha.

The relic has played an important role in local politics since ancient times because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage Site mainly due to the temple.

Daily worship is performed in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings, and we were lucky to be there at noon to witness it. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present.

Awesome lunch

By the time we came out of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, it was after 2pm and we were hungry. The driver told we would get food only after reaching the city. I remarked, ‘Let’s see when and what Sita ma would give us for lunch’. Within a few minutes we spotted a small restaurant and had an awesome lunch there- with tapioca curry, fish fry, some leaf preparation, dal and another vegetable. And to top it, got yoghurt with treacle, which was our favourite in Sri Lanka.

The famous Sorabora Wewa, a massive irrigation reservoir, was our last stop for the day. It has an interesting story that you can read here . The tank has been built by damming the Diyawanna Oya with a 485-meter embankment. It does not make use of the structure called Bisokotuwa, which helps to regulate water pressure at the sluice gates from inside the tank and protect the embankment from erosion. Instead of that, the sluice gate (Sorowwa) of the tank has been placed strategically away from the embankment and made up utilizing the massive natural rock around the tank. We took a long walk in this magical place and headed back to Kandy.

On the next day we visited the impressive PeredeniyaUniversity campus where I gave a presentation at the Dental school. The University of Peredeniya, the state university in Sri Lanka, hosts nine faculties (including the newly added Management faculty), two postgraduate institutes, 10 centres, 73 departments, and teaches about 11,000 students in the fields of Medicine, Agriculture, Arts, Science, Engineering, Dental Sciences, Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Management and Allied Health Science.

Coming back to our hotel in Kandy, we spent a leisurely afternoon sitting in the balcony, looking at the flowing stream, and reading a book. In the evening we went to attend the cultural function at the Kandy Cultural Club. The Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Centre has an auditorium which organises a 1-hour traditional dance and music performance showcase every day at 5:30 pm, which includes fire eating and fire walking. As many as 12 different folk and traditional dances were performed by Kandy lake club dance troop and it was a feast to the eyes.

The highlight of the show was definitely the fire walking, where the artists walked through a specially prepared fire pit, roughly 8 feet by 3 feet covered with red-hot charcoal, completely barefoot and emerged unharmed at the other end!

The fire walking is supposed to have its roots in the Valmiki epic of "Ramayana", where the king of Sri Lanka Ravana abducted "Sita" and after regaining her in an epic battle with Ravana, she was made to prove her chastity by walking through fire barefoot.

On the next day we started from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and prayed at the Hanuman temple. It is believed that Sri Hanumanji set his feet in these holy hills when he was in search of Sitaji, before rescuing her from the Seetha Eliya where there is Sri Seetha Amman Temple today.

It was Chinmayananda Swamiji’s  Sankalpa, when he visited Sri Lanka in 1980, to set up a spiritual centre at Rambodha. Chinmaya Mission Sri Lanka, with the blessings of Gurudev, purchased 10 acres of land in 1981 at Wevanden Hills.

This is a nicely built Hanuman Temple in serene surroundings overlooking a valley with mountain range that  look Like Lord Hanuman sleeping with face up towards the sky praying to Lord Rama. The statue is about 19' tall.

After seeing the Ramboda Falls, which is 109 m high and 11th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, we checked into the ‘Dewy Resort’ in Nuwara Eliya.

                                                                 Ramboda Falls

Nuwara Eliya is a city in the hill country of the Central Province, Sri Lanka. Its name means "city on the plain (table land)" or "city of light".  It is at an altitude of 1,868 m and is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka.  Nuwara Eliya is known for its temperate, cool climate — the coolest area in Sri Lanka.

When you check into a hotel, confirm that there is hot water supply 24 hours since many hotels do not provide and it is quite chilly at night and early mornings.

After lunch we went to Seetha Eliya, to the Seetha Amman temple.

                                                Hanumanji's foot print infront of the idols

This place is believed to be the site where Sita was held captive by king Ravana, and where she prayed daily for Rama to come and rescue her. The temple is patterned on the modern south Indian temple, set in idyllic countryside beside a clear stream. Here also we were lucky to be present during the puja time.


Then we drove to Ambewela, which is a small town, or a hill station, with ideal climatic and economical conditions for dairy farming. The country's only milk powder factory is situated in this area, which is also sometimes called "Little New Zealand".

The Ambewela Farm has purebred Ayrshire cattle. These pedigree cows require a great deal of attention, and in order to maintain the quality of the milk, the farm management takes great care to provide them with a balanced diet and sterilized drinking water. In addition, the cattle are given excellent healthcare by two resident veterinary surgeons at the farm that tend to the animals on a 24-hour basis. The farm also produces yoghurt and cheese, and we bought a packet of Gouda cheese and it was comparable to what we have eaten in Europe.

On the next day, Sunday morning, we went to Bojun Hala (Food Stalll) , which we came to know only because of our driver, Nuwan.

These are spacious halls with open kitchens, serving quintessentially Sri Lankan food  at subsidized prices, to promote local produce and to empower women, who do the cooking.  

Oh my! What a variety of items they have. The dishes are prepared by ladies.  Wherever we found these points, we always ate from there.

And every single item we sampled was superb. I have adopted many Sri Lankan dishes in my daily cooking. We just couldn’t sample all the items, looks like we need to make another trip to do that.

St. Clair's Falls

With our satisfied stomachs, we went to the St. Clair's Falls, which is one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka and is commonly known as the "Little Niagara of Sri Lanka". The falls are located along the Kotmale River, it cascades over three rock outcrops into a large pool, running through a tea estate, from which the falls derive their name from. The waterfalls consist of two falls called "Maha Ella" (Sinhalese "The Greater Fall"), which is 80 metres high and 50 metres wide and "Kuda Ella", (Sinhalese "The Lesser Fall"), which is 50 metres high and located immediately downstream of the main fall.

Now it was time to experience the train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. Bought our train tickets from Nanu Oya station, ate our packed lunch of milk rice, dal payasam and unniyappam and boarded the train for 2 ½ hours train trip, which is described as ‘journey through the clouds’.

Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya

Our driver Nuwan was waiting at the Ella station and we took a room in ‘Sun Top Inn’.

After a short rest, we started for the Dhowa rock temple (Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya), which is thought to be done by King Walagamba in the in first century BC. The temple has gained popularity mainly due to its uncompleted image of the massive 38 feet Buddha Statue carved in the granite rock.

The Image house built inside the cave is full of colourful murals and Buddha Images and consist of 3 chambers. At the main entrance, on either side, there are two guardians, one with an elephant in its mouth and the other with a bull in its mouth. They are supposed to be Watuka and Kuvera, two Rakshasa tribal leaders, guarding the entrance to the shrine room. The door frame of the Image House in the temple is made out of solid rock and has an inscription to say it was built in 1880.

At the back of the image house is a small stupa inside a cave. Behind the stupa is a tunnel called the Ravana Guhawa guarded by a figure of a Clay King Cobra. This 11 km long tunnel is said to be connecting the Ravana Maha Viharaya at Ella and the Bogoda Raja Maha Viharaya. It is believed that Ravana used to come through this tunnel to worship here.

Ravana waterfall

Next day early morning we checked out of the hotel and visited the Ravana waterfall. It was really beautiful and exuded so much of power that I had to just close my eyes and do a short meditation to imbibe some of it. On a small wayside shack we got awesome rottis, red chilli sambal and tender jackfruit dry preparation. He also served us a herbal drink that was prepared from the leaves of a jungle tree.

                                                                 Ravana Waterfall

                                             Rottis, red chilli sambal, tender jackfruit sabzi

                                                  Health drink made from this jungle leaf

Hambantota port

It is a maritime port in Hambantota, Sri Lanka. Construction of the port began in January 2008.The first phase of the port was opened on 18 November 2010, with the first ceremonial berthing of the naval ship "Jetliner" to use the port facilities. However the port incurred heavy losses making debt repayment an issue.

On July 29, 2017 Sri Lanka signed a long-delayed US$1.5 billion deal to lease its deep-sea port of Hambantota to China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPort). Under the agreement, CMPort, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), the Sri Lanka government, Hambantota International Port Group (Private) and Hambantota International Port Services Company (Private) agreed on the terms of a 99-year concession agreement in relation to the development, management and commercial operations of the Chinese-built Hambantota Port. 

Mirissa beach

Mirissa is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Mirissa's beach and night life make it a popular tourist destination. It is also a fishing port and one of the island's main whale and dolphin watching locations.

Mirissa was affected by the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, with numerous houses, guesthouses, shops, schools and temples destroyed or damaged and many deaths. The sea is crystal clear and warm. This small sandy tropical beach boasts some of Sri Lanka’s best and most stunning sunsets and sunrises.

We had an awesome traditional lunch at the beach, of rice, dal, breadfruit curry made with coconut milk, fish curry, beans and raw mango sweet curry.

Galle Fort

Galle Fort in the Bay of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, and then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 423 years maintains a polished appearance, due to extensive reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka.

The Galle Fort, also known as the Dutch Fort or the "Ramparts of Galle", withstood the tsunami which damaged part of coastal area Galle town. The Sri Lankan government and many Dutch people who still own some of the properties inside the fort are looking at making this one of the modern wonders of the world. The heritage value of the fort has been recognized by the UNESCO and the site has been inscribed as a cultural heritage UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We walked around the fort, then sat there and watched the sea for sometime, which was a very relaxing experience.

Hikkaduwa beach

Now we drove to the last stop before reaching our destination, the Hikkaduwa beach. It is a well-known international destination for board-surfing. On this beautiful beach you can relax, enjoy the sun and have the option of surfing, snorkelling or scuba diving. Being the site of the famed coral garden, glass bottomed boats are available on hire and visitors can explore the underwater fantasies. It has approximately seventy varieties of multi-coloured corals.

Hikkaduwa was affected by the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake along with nearby villages Telwatta, Paraliya (Queen of the Sea rail disaster), Dodanduwa, Kahawa and Rathgama.

                                             In memory of those who died in the Tsunami

In the aftermath of the tsunami, many of the families who had lost everything were given sewing machines as part of the relief operations. As a result, the town has a multitude of tailors who will custom make shirts, pants, and shorts.

During the drive back we got to see sunset and enchanting skyline.

Back to Battaramulla

By 8.30 pm we reached our friend’s house, had a shower, dinner and slept. Next day was for relaxation before spending another sleepless night to take the flight back home. We did some yoga, Reiki, and a group meditation.

That meditation consolidated all the things that I had accumulated during the trip and I got the message why our previous two plans to visit Sri Lanka did not materialise. This was a country with stabilising energies that could take our spiritual level to a higher plane.  During all these years with our continuous spiritual progress, this upliftment was significant, which must be what the Universe had decided to bless us with!

Grounding and stabilising energy

During our flight back, I was pondering why the energy I experienced in Sri Lanka was so stabilising and grounding. Sita was held in captivity there and she had ample time to meditate and do deep listening. This definitely must have imparted a great amount of energy.

Sita was the daughter of mother Earth and she must have been totally in spirit with her daughter at that spot. That may be the reason we saw so many huge trees with thick roots that were visible spreading far and wide. This was really an exceptional sight that one doesn’t get to see in other parts of the world.  Big trees have the ability to ground us and it was very evident there.

Ravana’s power was palpable and even a few minutes meditation at the Ravana waterfall energised me so much. He was one f the gate keepers of Lord Vishnu and due to a curse, he had to take birth on the earth, with an option to take seven births as a devotee of Vishnu, or to take three births as his enemy. Since he couldn’t bear the thought of staying away from Vishnu for seven lives, he chose to be born three times as enemies of Vishnu. After the three births, he returned to Vishnu Loka as Jaya. In the modern era of Kaliyuga, he is free from the curse and it is possible that there may be energy streaming from Vaikuntha, the abode of Vishnu.


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