A Walk through Galle district

Galle district lies in the southern most part of Sri Lanka. The district is often visited to experience the Dutch architecture and blue-green rimless coastline. Have your espresso on a breezy evening in those colonial style cafes in the Dutch Fort. I found the Dutch Fort as one of the best places to shop souvenirs, try Mansions for gift packs of flavored tea.  If nothing, just walk on those cobbled streets and enjoy the lazy life of Sri Lanka.

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Unawatuna 

Lazy beach town. Yes, that’s the word for this place. Lined by fine white sand and crystal blue water, you’d be tempted to take a dip in first sight (though I like Nilaveli beach in Trincomalee more).  Stay at Dunes Unawatuna, a place run by a tourist friendly couple. Decored like a jungle, this place in itself is an attraction. Try one of those beach side eateries that offers best Sri Lankan seafood cuisines. Hang around in those evening cool pubs. Try Koh Surf Lounge. End it with a relaxing Ayurvedic massage. The rates of Ayurvedic massage are competitive and you can really try bargaining hard here. I paid just 1,700 SLR as compared to 2,500 SLR  🙂

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery

Enroute to Bentota, visit this unique turtle conservation project. You’d be moved.

Turtle Eggs, Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

We are twins, Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Albino Turtle, Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Also Read:

Why Trincomalee worth a visit?

Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella, Sri Lanka

Are you a tea lover? If you are, Ella will certainly enchant you.  As its name, Ella is just like a virgin maiden. Lying in the Uva Province of Sri Lanka, Ella offers serene countryside, misty hills and tea plantations in abundance. Falling in the hill country, the journey to Ella, irrespective of your mode of transport, is stupendous.

sri lanka map

Photo Credits: sunnyside.go2lk

Unlike Colombo, Ella is less crowded, a lot cooler and more Sinahli.  There may be not too much to do in Ella but it will still entrap you in its natural serenity that will make you extend your stay.

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Here’s my list of few to-do things while in Ella.

Homestays

There couldn’t be any other place in Sri Lanka to experience the best homestay with a Sri Lankan family.  Ella has less hotels and more options for homestays.  The locals of this town have opened their homes for tourists.  One such place where I chose to stay is Waterfall Views. As the name suggests, you stay with a splendid view of the waterfalls amidst those dense green forests. I believe a good stay is complemented by good food. And Waterfall View has plenty of it.  Do you long for solitude in your travels, when you can talk to yourself and get into deep thinking, then this is the place for you. Don’t regret not doing this.

Misty View from room, Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Waterfall View Room, Photo Credits: A. Mittal

My Sri Lankan Dinner, Photo Credits: A. Mittal

For my tripadvisor review on Waterfall Views visit here.

For booking your stay with Waterfall Views visit here

Visiting a Tea Estate

Sri Lanka is the world’s largest producer of tea in the world. With tea growing everywhere around you, you ought to visit on of those estates that produces the finest tea. There are many reputed tea companies in and around Ella. I chose to visit the Halpewatte Tea Factory, which is one of the largest factories in this region. You’ll enter with the view of arrayed tea plantations while Sri Lankan females picking tea leaves. You can also take a tour of the tea factory and get to see the processes that involves in the making of the final product of tea.

The cost of the tour is about 200 SLR. If you don’t want to take the tour you can just do a tea tasting for free and can also buy some.

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Mythology

Not just a tea town, Ella in fact deeply connects with the Indian mythology. If you have read a Hindu epic – Ramayana, according to which a fierce demon Ravana abducts Sita from India, wife of Lord Rama and takes her to his kingdom in Lanka. It is believed that he hid her in the caves of Ella, as the jungles were there so dense, that it was rather impossible to locate Sita.

As a Hindu, one of my inquisitive reasons to visit Ella was to convince the mythological side of mine. And I must say this place didn’t disappoint me a bit, it is still very dense and even today it would be impossible to scout through these forests. The most famous cave as they say where Ravana actually hid Sita is called Ravana Cave. It is on a height and you need to climb steps to reach to see the cave.  From the top, the views of Ella are pretty awesome.

Views from the Ravana Cave, Photo Credits: A. Mittal

An interesting thing that happened to me at this place was when I started the climb there was neither any ticket counter nearby, nor any information about the tickets for Ravana Cave. When I climbed down suddenly an old man appeared with a ticket book in his hand asking me 150 SLR for taking the climb. There is no doubt that it was fake because I, nowhere read about its entry costs. However, after so much of altercation we gave money for only one person rather than two. It left me with slight bitter experience.

There are Ravana Waterfalls a short distance away from this cave. You can enjoy bathing in it too.

Ravana Waterfalls, Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Trekking

Ella offers several paths along natural trails.  The famous ones are Adam’s Peak and Ella’s Stone. The difficulty level is from medium to tough. I was told that the walk to both the places is strenuous, I decided not to go since I wanted to relax and have a lazy time in my home stay. I also have heard that the sunrise and sunset views from these points are breathtaking.

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Walking around

Even just walking around the town area of Ella is quite an experience. You can try one of those places offering Sri Lankan delicacies or more continental cafes. You can also take an ayurvedic massage or have coconut water for 50 SLR.

Don’t forget to carry your umbrella; it rains quite often here.

Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Things to take care in Ella

  • Sri Lanka follows a tipping culture. Don’t forget to tip at your home stays for their good service.
  • Carry an umbrella since it can rain anytime.
  • Since Ella is predominantly a plantation area, wear long pants or boots to avoid the leeches in rains.

 

Related Posts

Why Trincomalee worth a visit?

A Walk through Galle district

Why Trincomalee worth a visit?

What do you expect from a country that was gripped in a civil war for over half a century?

Since independence (i.e.1948), Sri Lanka had faced sporadic conflicts between Sinhali and Tamil speaking population. In 1980s, the country witnessed serious insurgency by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a focused group that demanded a separate state for Tamil speaking population. It was only in 2009 when Sri Lankan army crusaded LTTE and had put an end to the long saga of retaliation. Like any war, it was reported that in order to achieve peace a lot of civilians lost their lives and means of living.

After reading so much about the uprising and debacle of Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, I was more than intrigued to visit the country to see by myself the current state of the country. However, all my assumptions were washed away as soon as I saw the tarred roads and lush green bounty all around me. Oh! Did I mention it was difficult to spot a garbage bin there? But still the nooks and corner of the streets were devoid of filth.

IMAG1425Photo Credits: A. Mittal

I was still not contend and wanted to see the ‘real Sri Lanka’ and with that I mean I wanted to visit a Tamil town that I thought would portray a clear picture of the country and will give me an opportunity to condemn the merciless killings of Tamil civilians during the combat between Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tigers. Due to time constraints I couldn’t make it to Jaffna, used to be the hub of LTTE operations, and so I chose Trincomalee (“Trinco”).

Located in the east of the island and falls to the south of Jaffna, Trinco is primarily a Tamil-speaking town. My first take on Trinco was that it didn’t look dilapidated as I thought. It was very much a buzzing town with an array of fishing harbors and breathtaking sunset. I did see naval forces around the Trincomalee dockyard, which I came to know, is because the town serves as the major naval base to Sri Lankan Navy.

CapturePhoto Credits: ExotichoildaysInternational [Edited by: A. Mittal]

Slightly hotter than rest of the island, Trinco provides a great location to backpackers due to its non-touristy beaches and inexpensive water sports.

Trincomalee Guide

What should bring you to Trinco?

Beaches. Nowhere in Sri Lanka will you find pristine beaches like Nilaveli and Uppuveli.  Nilaveli being more calm draws more tourist than Uppuveli. Stay beach side for the best experience.

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Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Where to stay

Since Trinco opened for tourists only after end of the war, the place offers only fewer options of decent accommodation around Nilaveli. Though quite pricey by Sri Lankan standards, I stayed at Sea Lotus Park Hotel that was located right on the Nilaveli beach. If you are looking for an offbeat stay try Backpacker’s Cave next to Sea Lotus Park Hotel which is literally just a bed and costs no more than 500 SLR. Other good resort in the town is Pigeon Island Beach Resort.

Backpacker’s Cave 

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Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Where to eat

People say being a vegetarian and backpacker is not very good combination, at least not economical. After quite a struggle, I found Annapoorani Vegetarian Restaurant on the dockyard road that serves a delicious vegetarian meal at very cheap prices. The place is run by Tamil females and offers local Sri Lankan/Tamilian food. It was difficult to communicate with them since they didn’t know a word of English. However, I was quite impressed with the efficiency of females managing the place. I ate there thrice and every time I saw a bevy of customers. It was by far the cheapest place I ate in my whole trip to Sri Lanka. There was no menu but display of 2-3 curries, stringhoppers, the famous kottu, roti, stuffed roti, Dosai etc. Try this, you won’t regret. Mind it, Sri Lankan food is very spicy.

ImagePhoto Credits: A. Mittal

What to do in Trinco

Whale watching

Since Mirissa down south is famous for whale watching, not many people know that Trinco in fact is also a good place to spot whales and at much cheaper price than Mirissa. I paid just 2,500 SLR as compared to 6,500 SLR that I would have paid in Mirissa. And I spotted 3 gigantic sperm whales.

The best time to take the tour is early morning, by 6 am. It can take about 3-4 hours depending on your chances to spot a whale.

ImagePhoto Credits: A. Mittal

Snorkel with sharks

If you are somebody who is not afraid of exploring sea life, then Pigeon Island National Park is just a place for you. Located just 15-20 mins away from Nilaveli beach, Pigeon Island National Park offers Coral Sea life and is a nest to blacktip reef shark. It is said to be a good place to swim with sharks and sea turtles.

Koneshwaram Temple

Being a Tamil town, Trinco homes the famous Hindu temple of Lord Shiva known as Koneshwaram temple. The temple is located uphill the Dutch fort – Fort Frederick.  Behind the temple is the peak that overlooks the Gokarna Bay and Indian Ocean.

According to Mythology, when Lord Shiva was mourning the death of his wife and carried her body all the way. It is believed that a piece of her body fell on this place and it is so considered holy.  I learnt that there are other temples like this in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in context of  this story.

ImagePhoto Credits: A. Mittal

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Photo Credits: A. Mittal

Walk by the bays

As the sun starts setting, the gushing cool breeze not only gives respite from the heat but also provides good opportunity for an evening walk by the bays. Trinco has 3 famous bays – Back Bay, Dutch Bay and the Inner Harbor.  You can also go for evening coffee to the colonial style Dutch Bank Cafe on Inner Harbor Road.

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Photo Credits: A. Mittal

To all those who are planning to visit Sri Lanka, Trinco definitely deserves 1-2 days space in your itinerary.

I am sure there would be lot many things to do in Trincomalee which I missed out. It would be nice if you can add more about Trinco.

Also Read:

Ella, Sri Lanka

A Walk through Galle district