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Travel tip: women AND men have to cover their knees and shoulders when going into temples. I was prepared with lots of long skirts and trousers, but unfortunately for Andy he was wearing shorts this day…and he had to buy a very attractive skirt! I would share the photo but I don’t think he’d ever forgive me!
After our little clothing dilemma, leaving our shoes outside and paying our way in, we finally made it into the Temple of the Sacred Tooth; it’s Sri Lanka’s most important religious temple as it houses what is believed to be a tooth from Buddha himself. We arrived just before puja (offering to the tooth), which is well worth seeing if you can.
My photos are little blurry as I wasn’t using my proper camera and there was a lot of jostling so standing still to take photos was a little difficult!
This is Raja Tusker, an elephant who has a whole part of the museum dedicated to him! He took part in the Esala procession for many years and was the sacred casket bearer in the final night of the procession for 37 years. He’s so important to Sri Lankan culture that you’re not allowed to take a photograph with your back to him, much like you’re not with any statue of Budda, as it’s seen as a sign of disrespect.
Once we’d seen everything we wanted to see, it was time to have another walk around the lake, get some food and start finding our seats for the procession! Honestly, the procession didn’t start till 8/9ish and we had to have seats by 3, which meant a solid 6 hours of my bum sitting on the pavement.
It’s at this point that I was thankful that Andy had to buy a skirt as it turned into the perfect blanket!
True to form, I wanted a little childish entertainment and bought some bubbles to keep me occupied!
We met such a nice Australian couple who were touring Sri Lanka after a friends’ wedding and had a great chat with them about their experiences in the country and gleamed all the info we could from them!
And then (finally) the procession started. Wow.
It starts with fire dancers..
And then the elephants appear! They’re all dressed up – it looks really spectacular.
Never have I taken so many photos! I mean I know this post is photo heavy but it’s not even a quarter of the photos that I took that night.
Everyone comes round quite a few times. I have to say, that by the end I was getting quite tired (read: cranky) and though I had enjoyed the procession, I felt it was time to get a tuk tuk and head home!
Though I can’t leave without showing you some of the costumes as they were spectacular!
If you ever go, don’t pay for seats, sit on the pavement with the locals – it’s a much better experience!
But by this point it was very much time for cranky Lauren to go home!
We only had a morning left to Kandy, and being a bit of a history geek, there was a park with WW2 relics in it that I wanted to visit! (Fun fact: Lord Mountbatten spent time in Sri Lanka during WW2, and was based in Galle)
So we climbed up what turned out to be a rather steep hill to get to Lover’s Park. And boy oh boy, this place has earned it’s name: I think it must be a requirement to be here in pairs!
It’s very much worth the walk for the views; looking down at the lake and seeing bits of the temple is really incredible. It’s really cheap to get into the park and you could easily see it all in an hour so I’d really recommend going up.
Not feeling that we’d had quite enough of the amazing culture yet, our next stop was Anuradhapura, the centre of the cultural triangle.
Top tip: you can see Kandy in a couple of days and it’s fairly accessible by road and public transport so don’t miss it if you can visit!