Sri Lanka relies heavily on its rail system and many cities can be reached within 8 hours so islandwide. It’s a good way to get around given most roads – apart from some of the highways in and out of Colombo – are a single lane each way. We rode the train from Colombo Fort Station to Kandy, which left at 09:00 and arrived at about 12:30.
Colombo is worth some time for a couple of days.
A curry buffet is a common food offering – rice, some veggie options and then chicken or seafood. The curries tend to be on the hotter side compared to say Northern Indian. This was in the basement food court of the Creskat Center in the Galle area of town and was mighty fine.
Victorian-era memorial in Colombo’s Anglican church shows the hazards of life in Sri Lanka.
Modern hazards include tuk-tuk rides, although traffic keeps speed levels down.
Abandoned Victorian-era department store, Fort District.
Serious pipe-smoking 1920s/30s gentlemen and actor staring at floating flame, in the National Art Gallery.
The train is efficient although in a well used condition – you can open the windows and stand in the open door. Colombo Fort Station works well enough but hasn’t had much of an upgrade.
Outside Colombo it gets rural and you find intensive agriculture.
The landscape picks up some hills a you leave paddy country.
Great views from the open door…
End of the line at Kandy.
Kandy sits in a valley by a lake created from rice paddies by the last King of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, who ruled the last independent kingdom pre-colonization.
The other main attraction is the mostly 18th-century Temple of the Tooth, which is the resting place of a tooth reclaimed from the Buddha’s funeral pyre, and is also located on the site of various palaces.
If you visit, don’t be wearing shorts unless you have a sarong to cover up with.
You head up to the offering area where the throng doing the offering squeeze by the throng seated praying on the floor. You have to squeeze by and be somewhat quick about your offering as the folks behind are keen to do the same.
Pilgrims and daytrippers to Kandy.
Kandy is a pleasant town to walk around in a low-key way. In addition to the temple and the original palace complex, you can absorb the colonial vibe at the Queen’s Hotel, which is in pretty similar shape to around 1902.
Grand staircase and less grand elevator.
The “Mountbatten Bar” that fails to mention Admiral Mountbatten had his headquarters at the Hotel Suisse – up the west side of the lake and full of tour groups from countries the Admiral would have interned if he had the chance. A nice place for a cool bottle of Lion.
Kandy has a great central market.
Snacks are freely available.
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I stayed one night each at the Anna Shanthi Villa and McLeod’s Guesthouse and went through booking.com on both occasions. Both were very comfortable and walkable to the city (McLeod’s being slightly closer), although the ring road round the lake is very busy – the east side of the lake is less busy.
Foodwise there are plenty of options. The Sharon Inn has a Sri Lankan curry buffet that’s good and worth it if you need a discovery session – call to book for the 7:30 evening sitting.
Kandy’s a great jumping off point to the highlands to the south and east, or northwards to the ancient cities.