Kandy is the perfect example of a pleasant tropical, mountain city. The town center, adjacent to Kandy’s picturesque lake, is set in a bowl of lush green hills. The main commercial district is a delightful jumble of tiny old shops, modern stores, and a bustling market. Nearby is the Royal Palace Grounds which contains the Temple of the Buddha’s Tooth. As the focal point of so much activity it can be frenetic, however, there’s an underlying feeling of relaxed calm, perhaps from the Buddhist pilgrims nearby.
Sri Lanka was a British colony until 1948, and remnants of their culture still lingers. Kandy has a number of elite private schools for children, and the sight of groups of schoolgirls in their neatly pressed white dresses is a step back to the 19th century. And typically, the male staff at our hotel keep the TV tuned to cricket, sneaking glances while they go about their duties. The British also left more enduring signs of their rule, in the form of colonial architecture and monuments dotted around the landscape.
With so much activity, the downtown area is a people watcher’s paradise. This is a photo of a cook in a snack shop specializing in rotti, which is a rice flower pancake stuffed with tasty ingredients. Our favorite is vegetable curry. If you notice how small the spatula is, and how large the rotti are, you realize what a pro this guy is. He had on his “game face” for the photo, but beamed and gave me the thumbs up after I finished.
When thoughts of the tropics come to mind, they’re accompanied by bright colors. Kandy completes this picture well with women in colorful saris, beautiful foliage, and flowers. The fabric for saris can be any color in the rainbow, the brighter the better, and this small shop had every color imaginable.
One of the important ceremonies in Buddhism, is making offerings. Frequently, the offerings are flowers, but can be anything of significance. I even saw a small bottle of gin (half full) at the feet of one statue of Buddha! This market stall next to the Kandy temple had lotus flowers for sale.
Kandy has shown us another interesting side of Sri Lanka, and tomorrow we move north to Dambulla.
P.S. Happy Birthday too our new friend Amila!