Kandy with its Esala Perahera festival at Sri Lanka
August 13, we visited everything that we wanted and we still had 1 week left. The dilemma was to find a city to go. On the East side, we didn't do anything but it is totally dedicated for the beach and we preferred to dedicate the remaining time for the culture.
Currently, Kandy was celebrating its Esala Perahera (summer procession) because the full moon was on August 17 and the first time we came here, we missed it so the decision was taken. We said goodbye to Polonnaruwa with its Buddha and to reach Kandy, we took the bus.
We used the same tactic as when we left Dambulla with its royal rock temple. We went to the bus stop (just at
few steps from the tourist police station) and the first express buses (red ones) we asked the driver if he would stop there. Hopefully, we didn't have to wait long but the first one didn't, the second one yes.
After 4 hours trip (180 rupees each - 1,10 euros, from 11h05 to 15h), we arrived to the main bus stop. Once off the bus, we called our hotel Suyaama (24 sri dhammasiddi mawatha) since it is situated at the outskirt to send us a tuk-tuk and our surprise, they told us that they didn't have any free rooms in spite that we booked it.
Bad, very bad hotel... so we went to the KFC in the downtown since they have wifi, unfortunately, it didn't work so we looked for another places nearby and no wifi (we found out later that Délifrance and Delicacies have it). The ultimate solution, we used the data of the local sim that we bought the first day we landed in this country and we booked a room at the hotel Golden View Rest Kandy (46 saranankara road - 36 euros per night).
The place is just next to the expensive (for us) hotel Ozo Kandy. We got a clean room at the last floor with a very small "normal" bathroom (not an all-in-one bathroom), air conditioning, hot water and a strong smell of humidity. The wifi doesn't work for our floor but it does in the common area. Although it is quite normal that hotels increase their price for the festival period, the price was expensive for the room.
The festival is to honor the sacred tooth enshrined in the temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa). It ends the day of the full moon and the parade occurs every day at 19h30, depending of the night, it may last 3 or 5 hours.
It was very crazy, early in the morning, a lot of local people were already reserving their space on the sidewalk and inside the temple. In the afternoon around 15h, much more and the only way to move, it was to walk on the street beside the cars !!!
Instead to do like them, we visited the World Buddhism museum (500 rupees each - 3 euros). It is located just behind the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. To go there, there are 2 quick ways:
- To walk along the lake crossing the human sea
- Or to go through the free outdoor space of the temple (just a little quicker but no short pant and sleeveless t-shirt)
We took the second option because it was nice to see elephants (they were here because of the festivity). To enter, we paid 500 rupees each (3 euros), no shoes, no short pant and no sleeveless t-shirt. The museum provides very great information about the Buddhism in each Asia countries and some stunning pieces of Ancient art. To kill the remaining hours, we did shopping without buying.
At 18h30, the sidewalks were totally full of local people, most of tourists including us were looking a simple small free space because the police was chasing out everyone on the streets where the parade will pass. Meanwhile looking for a place, some local people came to see us to sell seats but there were expensive. At the end, we found a space just in front of the Kataragama Devale Hindu temple (sri skanda kumara devala ln) which is a little away from one of the parade streets.
It was a good thing because some elephants, drummers and performers started just in front of us then we could see fire dancers, singers, elephants, etc. parading, of course, not so well as the people at the front row. The show was interesting to see, particularly their traditional costumes and the ones for elephants and their traditional dances. The show was quite repetitive so we stayed only until 21h.
At the end, we decided to move to another hotel called Kandy Waters (22 saranankara road - 48 euros per night), just a little down of the same street. The hotel is much more better and we got a very clean nice room with all our requirements and a very small all-in-one bathroom. Moreover, there is a mosquito net for the bed and a good wifi in our room.
The next days, we were looking for gift, particularly about wooden souvenirs. We visited:
- Laksala (5 sangaraja mawatha), it is the government's shop
- The World Buddhism Museum shop (temple of the tooth)
- Kandyan Art Association shop (72 Sangaraja Mawatha)
- Roshan Gamage (phone (+94) 0773738880 - 20 william gopallawa mawatha), the guy owns a house converted in warehouse storing different souvenirs (statues, painting, pants, masks, key rings, etc.)
- And some local shops in the downtown
So comparing the prices, the best deal we got was with Roshan Gamage. His place is behind the Jayasuriya Optical Services (a blue-white building), at few meters from the Kandy’s Hospital but it will be better to call him because he is not always there.
During our stay, we went to eat in different places:
- Devon restaurant (11 dalada vidiya), local people like to come here because it is not expensive and the food is good (a basmati prawn fried rice for 480 rupees - 3 euros).
- Delicacies (9 dalada vidiya), very European food, an excellent beef burger for 450 rupees (2,80 euros).
- Cafe 7 (temple street), a very bad beef burger for 400 rupees (2,40 euros), to avoid absolutely
- Mango Garden Restaurant (32 saranankara road), a chicken no spicy noodle for 500 rupees (3 euros), the food is normal.
Our next and last stop was Colombo with its national museum because our holiday was ending.