November 27th, 2016 by admin

Gangarama Temple

Gangarama temple is a center of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist culture and learning. Located at the center of Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo, it is also popular with youth. Sundays see more visitors but you will get to see a more vibrant atmosphere there. If you would like to see the rituals visit in the morning but visit in the evening as well if you can as the lighting in the evening makes it ecstatic. I suggest you to plan your visit in the late afternoon that you can see Gangarama temple in both daylight and under night sky.

Timings: 5.30 AM to 10 PM
Museum ticket fees: Rs 100

Address: Gangaramaya, 61, Sri Jinarathana Road,Colombo 2, Sri Lanka
Website: http://gangaramaya.com/

Gangarama Temple

We reached there in the morning. After entering the temple premises saw two best of the vintage cars from the brand of Mercedes and Rolls Royce. Then we went to the museum which possesses a treasure trove collection of artifacts, historical timelines, currency collection from various periods, various Buddha idols, postage collection etc. Leaving the museum, we saw a white pagoda where people pray to Lord Buddha. Sri Lankan temples resembles a lot with south Indian temples in architecture and style. They light a lot of clay lamps and incense sticks. It makes for an awesome view. Here you can find Sri Lankan women with their beautiful saree paying homeage. Sri lankan saree wearing style is little different than India’s. The Bodhi tree is a sacred place and people offer their prayer. Ashok chakra which is the national emblem of India can also be seen there. Emperor Ashoka was a great proponent of Buddhism and helped spread it both within and outside India. I found people walking around the Bodhi tree with small pots of water and then emptying them on the feet of Lord Buddha.

Gangarama Temple

Gangarama Temple

There is also an idol of Lord Buddha inside the Beira lake on an artificial elevated platform. A wooden bridge leads to this place and on the way we found a sleeping Buddha. Once inside, we found few small idols of Buddha with a bigger one in the background. Two huge elephant tusks adorn them from both sides. There were few other statues of Buddha on both sides. On three sides of this place, metal statues of Buddha were placed in various ashana positions. One of the room had an inscription – Treasury of Truth but entry to that room was closed. The lake offers boating on swan like boats. There is also a cantilever bridge which allows people to walk from one side of the lake to an island. This section is very popular with youth and can be coined a lover’s spot.

There were some swans, wild ducks who swam and walked freely around the lake. It also has few variety of birds. Since Gangarama temple is located at the heart of the city and close to the central business district, one can see high rise buildings in the background like the Hyatt hotel, world trade center etc. Visit there with time in hand so that you can pray in peace, learn about new culture, enjoy some great views and stroll around in pleasure.

Gangarama Temple

January 5th, 2015 by admin

No doubt, Galle fort is the best place in Galle. But there are other interesting destinations to see as well outside the fort walls. So we kept the second day to explore outside Galle fort. We hired an auto for 2000 Sri Lankan rupees to show us interesting places outside Galle fort. Around 10 am we left for our day trip. Quickly we left Galle town behind and started winding through narrow roads between rice fields and woods. The first stop was a Buddha temple:


Kalutara Buddha Temple

This temple is located on a higher ground. The first thing we saw was a large Buddha statue in standing position with a huge stone in the background. A white color pagoda is side by. The place is wooded and with large stones in a hilly setting creates an intriguing feeling. There are also Buddha statues of other styles but smaller in size. A big banyan tree with a Buddha statue sitting below it reminiscing the nirvana pose of Buddha. Inside one can see Buddha in Chinese avatar, a sleeping Buddha etc. The paintings on the wall are of Chinese or Tibetan in style. We also found a picture of Hindu god Lord Vishnu there. The tuk tuk guy, who also acted like our guide told they also pray devas (Hindu gods). We were told this temple is around 600 years old.

Second stop was Sea Turtle hatchery: It is located at Habaraduwa around 5 km from Galle – Matara road. This non profit organization was started in 1986 to conserve sea turtles. Being here one will come to know some good aspects of sea turtle’s life. It gives that rare opportunity to see a baby turtle as well as a grown up one. We found various kinds of Turtles like Olive Ridly, Green Turtle, Leatherback, Hawks bill and Loggerhead. We also came to know the process of breeding of sea turtles there. Entry to the hatchery will cost Rs 400 Sri Lankan rupees.

Website: www.seaturtlefarm.com
Ph: 0094 – 777836115

3rd stop was Ayurveda park. It is is spread over a huge area. Here indigenous Ayurvedic or medicinal plants are grown to produce Ayurvedic medicines and treatments. There is a lake in the estate where one can go for boating for a price. We choose not to do so as it was hot during the afternoon. We went for a nice session of ayurvedic message which cost us around Rs 800 INR.

Our next stop was a tea estate which specially produces white tea. The estate is a green abode and we also got to see an Iguana there. The estate also had sizable rubber plantation. But the highlight of the estate was white tea. The specialty of this tea is that it is made from the most slender tea leaf from a stem. It is said that this leaf is very high in anti oxidant content and has health values. So it costs high as well. Then we went through the tea making process there. The machines used are still the vintage ones from the British era. Finally we came to the tea testing and buying session. Around 30 different types of teas were on display. Tried various teas from wine tea to honey tea. It was an amazing time there. Ended up buying few packets of tea like mint tea which are typically not available here. The estate also provides lodging.

The last stop was Kalutara temple. It is a Buddhist temple situated on top of a hill. The view from here is amazing. One can see the vast shore line of Galle’s beaches. Best way to reach here would be a tuk tuk. The beautiful white peace pagoda is also nicely maintained. It has nicely crafted Buddha statue, elephant heads, trees etc which adds to the beauty. Very nice place to spend time with yourself, nature and beauty. There is also a Hanuman (monkey god) statue on the other side of the pagoda.

September 24th, 2014 by admin

Galle is the center of Dutch colonization and heritage in Sri Lanka. It is also the district headquarters of Galle district and the administrative capital of the Southern province. Located around 119 km from Colombo, it takes around 3 hours to reach here. However, if one takes the southern expressway, it takes much lesser time. Frequent buses are available from Petta bus stand of Colombo. Go for air conditioned buses as this region is pretty hot.

Located on the coast of Indian ocean, Galle’s old town and its fortifications are an UNESCO world heritage site. It has some amazing beaches as well. The environment inside Galle fort is very European. It is certainly going to awe you with its laid back life and old world charm. We reached Galle in the evening from Weligama in a bus. From near the Galle railway station, we took a tuk tuk and went to Galle fort. Being last week of December, which is the height of the season proved difficult for us to find a room inside Galle fort. In our first effort we could not find lodging. In despair, went out of the fort and YMCA. Nobody could show us where it was located. Some said it has moved, some said it is just a school. The address was provided by YMCA, Kandy. Then the tuk tuk took us further after the market area and was able to locate a locate a room for 1800 Sri Lankan rupees. But somehow that place did not strike a cord with us. We decided to give another try at Galle. This time we got lucky. We found a jeweler who was ready to rent out his recently furnished room on the first floor. We truck the deal at 2500 Sri Lankan rupees. Once I saw the fort, at any cost I wanted to stay here. That evening was the final day of the annual Galle carnival. Our hard effort to stay inside the fort rewarded us with the carnival. The procession went through the entire circumference of the fort. What a colorful display of Sir Lanka’s culture and dance. This gave an wonderful opportunity to do photography and we walked with troupes all along the way. There was also a small fair and I found that local singers were blurting out Hindi songs. That was definitely sweet music to the ears.

Next day morning we went to had breakfast at one of the food joint. Trying local food is a must in Sri Lanka. Then by 10 pm went out to see sights which are located outside the fort. We were back by late afternoon. As we wanted to catch the sunset went to the beach side. Due to clouds could not get a proper sunset. But that did not deter us to take a deep in the oceanic waters of Galle. In the late evening went for a walk in the dutch styled alleys. The lanes are lined by shops, restaurants or houses on both sides. The fort area is so clean and nicely maintained. A walk through it will take you to a different world. Later had scrumptious dinner at one of the restaurants. Following this went to the marine walk which is the fortification boundary with the beach. Leisurely watched ships moving in the distance and slowly walked back to our room. The Galle fort has struck such a chord with me that for sure I will be back here again.

To view more pictures of Sri Lanka visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

September 15th, 2014 by admin

Mirissa was the next stop after Nuwara Eliya. Direct buses are available to Matara (district headquarters) and it typically takes around 6 plus hours. Road trip on this stretch of road is really beautiful with the scenery you get to see. As the proximity to the beach increased the temperature also increased considerably. We reached Matara in the afternoon and had food at one of the restaurants opposite to the bus stand. The beach is located on the other side of the road and I am sure, it will be a sight to see in the evening.


Mirissa harbour

Mirissa is further 7 km from Matara. Local buses ply continuously through out the day. After reaching Matara we started looking for a place to stay and finally found Mermaid Inn. This is a family owned guesthouse. We found the rooms very clean, well maintained and economical as well. The owner stays on the other side and were very co-operative. I would suggest you to go for a AC room as Mirissa is pretty hot even during winter.

Address:

321/1, Wihadhagoda Road,
Udupila, Mirissa 81740,
Sri Lanka
Phone: +94 41 2 254978

In the early evening we went to the famous Mirissa beach. It has a soul touching landscape and environment. Soon our cameras were out and we went on capturing moments. As dusk started to dawn and the colorful lights came on, it brought out a lovely different facets to the beach. It has a lot of beach facing restaurants to spend a laid back evening here. There are sitting arrangements on the beach where the water would come and kiss your feet at night. You can expect a variety of food here. It is here I tasted Corona beer for the first time and it has remained my number 1 beer to go for. Later in the evening we decided to take a dip in the water. It was awesome. The climate cools down considerably in the night. The restaurants at the beach remains open till 11 pm. Next day our whale watching trip in the Indian ocean was scheduled early in the morning. Keeping that in mind we headed back to our guesthouse.

We were in Mirissa for little over 24 hours. But the experience and memories are like for a lifetime. If you are travelling in Sri Lanka, do say yes to Mirissa and you will not repent.

To view more pictures of Sri Lanka visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

September 11th, 2014 by admin

During our Sri Lanka trip last year, whale watching was one of the most interesting activity. Earlier during our research we found one of the best whale watching trips are done by Raja & the Whales in Mirissa. As they are in demand, we booked our slots by sending an email.

Bookings:

One need to send an email with their full name, passport number and nationality.

Cost: 6000 Sri Lankan rupees ( around 3000 INR) and 3000 Sri Lankan rupees for kids of 6 to 12 years

Email: RajaAndTheWhales@gmail.com

Phone: +94 (0) 77 695 3452 (daily from 2 pm to 8 pm Sri Lankan time)

You can hire their Small boat for private trips at $750 (45000 INR)

One need to be at their office to collect the boarding pass at 6 AM. The office is located at Mirissa harbor opposite a small temple. As we boarded the boat, it seemed to be a well maintained one and equipped with required instruments. In all it carries about 35 people in two decks apart from the crew members. Wearing life jackets were mandatory and safety tips were given after people settled in their seats. We sat on the upper deck which make for better view and more thrill. As the boat sailed, the sun was just rising from the sea shore. The fresh air of the early morning was even more refreshing as we ventured into the Indian ocean. Slowly the shore line started diminishing in size and we knew we were sailing deep into the ocean. After sometime into the voyage, we were asked about our choice of breakfast. I went for slightly fried egg, bread & butter with Salad.

Into our voyage, we encountered fish trawlers, other tourist boats, Sri Lankan army boats and container ships. Till now probably they were the largest container ships I have seen. And then the time came for which we took this voyage for the first place – first hand sighting of marine life. We saw a sea turtle. This was just the starting but people wanted to see whales as quick as possible. As people were wondering, they gave a valuable advice that with patience we will have whale sightings. Yes, we need to understand that we are going in their kingdom and they will give sightings as per their wish. After looking for whale in a couple of locations, we had sightings of the biggest of the mammals of the ocean. The whales are a real giant mean machine. They come to the surface of the ocean periodically to breath. This is when we can see then. It is also during these times that they puff water through their nose. What a spectacular moment that is! All through the sightings I tried my best to get shots at the whales with my camera but my 55-250 mm lens was not good enough in terms of zoom to produce a shot that I desired. However, watching the majestic whale roaming around in its kingdom was treat in itself.

The life at ocean for the aquatic life there and the humans who go there for a living is very interesting. During this voyage was able to catch a glimpse of this people’s unique daily life. I had seen innovative fishing boats, which I had never seen before. It is here I realized the might of the ocean first hand. Apart from the waves at the sea shore, the ocean looks clam. But it is not so. The ocean is never stale. I saw water rising to about half feet to one feet over a large area, then going down. Again rising in another adjacent area, then going down and so on it continues. For me it was a moment of truth for the oceanic might! After spending around 6 plus hours in the ocean, we started our return journey to the harbor. During the onward journey we were sailing along with the wind. So we traveled faster but in the return journey we had to sail against the wind. The crew told that it is going to take little more time to reach the shore.

On the return journey, people had become relaxed after the sightings of aquatic life. Some were even enjoying sun bath. But we were not lucky enough to sight dolphins. I positioned myself on the right hand side railings of the upper deck with one leg outside. For safety, I was holding the nearby pillar. It was thrilling to see the ocean and the oceanic life from there. After sometime walked down to the lower deck to explore the boat. Around that time the shoreline started to get visible again. During this voyage one can also see the shoreline of Weligama and Galle from a distance. We reached the harbor around 1 PM and it looked busy on our return. It had stationed different kind of boats and yachts.

Whale watching is a must do activity, I would say. And it is done in a very professional way by the Raja & The Whales crew. By the way, crew members are friendly and a big fan of Bollywood movie & Songs. They also know little bit of Hindi. I would recommend their service so that you can also enjoy like the way I did.

To view more images of Sri Lanka visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

September 6th, 2014 by admin

After our whale watching adventure in Mirissa, we headed for Weligama in a local bus. It is located 30 kms away from Mirissa in Matara district of southern province of Sri Lanka. The Matara road which connects Mirissa and Weligama runs along the sea shore. This makes for awesome view while traveling on this road provided you are facing the sea side. After having lunch, we went to the beach. It was a hot afternoon and we decided to spend some time under the shades of tree. I sat on the sand while watching the panoramic view of Weligama beach.

Weligama is not only a beautiful beach resort destination but also a interesting water sports destination. One can go for snorkeling, scuba diving or wave surfing. My friend did snorkeling here under supervision of an instructor. For a session they charge about Rs 1200 INR. Snorkeling typically takes place in shallow water, so this place also makes for good swim. This place looks like a fishing helmet but nevertheless a clean one. The green blueish water was too much an attraction for me to say no to a swim. For the first time swam in the Indian ocean. What a joy! The shore and the water is dotted with boats. It was a different feeling to play in this water.

Here speed boats are available for hire on half an hour or hourly based. This could also make for a good adventure.

We did not stay in Weligama. Matara, Mirissa and Weligama are located very nearby. So one can select any one place for lodging and cover all of them. For a wonderful stay experience in this region try the Mirissa Hills resort.

To view more pictures of Sri Lanka visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

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