Up in the mountains of central Sri Lanka is the ancient city of Kandy, as important now as the second
city of Sri Lanka, as it was back when known as the Kingdom of Kandy. Set amongst the hills around
the edge of Bogambara lake, the city is a draw for its scenery and history, including the Temple of
the Tooth, one of Buddhism's most revered sites.
Upon arrival at Negombo airport for Colombo,
I jumped straight in a minibus and we chugged our way up
the mountain roads to Kandy a few hours away. I stayed in a small hotel/hostel on a hill to the south
east of the lake, which served a multi-course curry on its rooftop terrace. Getting back to Colombo
was by the 6am train, and seated in the observation car at the back there were great views over
the jungle and mountains as the sun came up.
Bible Rock or Batalegala as it is correctly known, dominates the skyline on the way up to Kandy.
We stopped at this colourful fruit stall on the way up the mountain road.
The view from the top of my hotel, the appropriately named "Kandy View Hotel". It was borderline hostel
but like everywhere in Sri Lanka, served excellent food.
The city is built around Bogambara Lake, with the Temple of the Tooth to the south, and a very rectangular
island in the middle. It was very pleasant to walk around on the relatively quiet footpaths.
A local monk on his way home from the temple.
The Queen's Hotel is the city's grand old dame, previously the private residence of the British Governor,
and now one of the most splendid and historic hotels in town.
The road next to the Queen's Hotel was as frantically busy as the other side of the lake was quiet.
Heading towards the Temple of the Tooth. Within is a relic of the tooth of the Buddha, after which
the temple is called.
A detail of an elephant's head carving on the path towards the temple.
The Temple of the Tooth is one of the most sacred sites in Sri Lanka, yet was subject to terrorist attacks
on more than one occasion. In 1998 the octagonal tower and facade were extensively damaged by
a truck bomb.
Inside the temple, it was clear the reverence that the site holds for worshippers.
Detail of a Buddha carving inside the temple.
The temple was also home to Raja the Elephant, a "tusker" who served for over fifty years. Such was
his influence on the local community that his remains were preserved for posterity.
Back in the city I wandered through some very impressive fruit stalls before heading for a curry at
Kandy Muslim Hotel, delicious.
On the main road heading into town is a large seated Buddha.
The following day I was up at ridiculous o'clock to get myself a seat in the Observation Car at the
back of the train heading down to Colombo. Although very slow, it was perfectly comfortable and not
too hot on board.
The railway track snaked through the jungle on the way down to the coast.
There were very atmsopheric views of mist covered hilltops as we descended the line to