Growing up as an only child, I was always looking forward to the New Year holidays in April and the Christmas holidays in December. Why? Well, on top of being the only child, I am also the youngest in my generation; my youngest cousin is roughly 15 years older than me! It is only during the New Year and Christmas holidays that all my cousins take leave from work to rendezvous at our ancestral home in Kandy. Weren’t they the best of times! The days flew by while playing cricket, board games, goofing around and sharing stories. However, the most anticipated event was the family trip! What you have to understand is that this was a much simpler time, computers ran on MS-DOS and social media was not even invented, so going on a trip or travelling was somewhat of a luxury and not so mainstream.
Situated in the lower central hills of Sri Lanka, Badulla is the capital city of the Uva Province and the District of Badulla. The scenic route to Badulla is via a ten hour long train ride with “Podi Manike” or “Udarata Manike”. If you’re someone who is travelling for pleasure and wants to soak in the beauty of the hill country, then the train ride is definitely for you! Think the view from Kadugannawa to Peradeniya is amazing? Well then, you‘re in for a treat! The view keeps getting better and better as the engine slowly tugs the ensuing carriages up into the cold misty mountains passing the famous Demodera Station.
They say that the world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page. But we generally tend to overlook the fact that the country we live in is chapter one of the book. The first chapter of a book can either get you hooked, or regret ever reading the book in the first place. The book of the world is no different! Fortunately for us, our motherland, our first chapter, Sri Lanka, is a country like no other. This tiny island paradise is home to a variety of astonishing sights, rich history and amazing cultural heritage. Go ahead, read a few more pages from chapter one! Trust me; the chapter on Sri Lanka is much larger than you think…
On my quest to cover the coastal region of our beautiful island home, we’ve covered most of the south from Hikkaduwa to Dondra Head in Matara, as well as a few locations on the east; namely Paasikudah and ArugamBay. This travel entry is on a spontaneous trip to Ahungalla.
As with all our trips down south, we were up early in the morning and heading down the E1 highway to Galle. But unlike many of our trips down south, this time we were traveling as a pack. Together with my cousins and cousins in law, we were speeding long the highway in the wee hours of the morning with the hope of reaching the Galle Navy Base by 6:00 AM.
The Galle Navy base is situated in the vicinity of the commercial Galle Harbour. One of the most active ports in Sri Lanka, the Galle harbour is a natural harbour that has been recognized by the International yacht societies as one of the world’s best attractions for yachting. Galle harbour has been Sri Lanka’s most important harbour until the artificial harbour was built at Colombo in 1873. Along with the construction of the Galle Fort, the harbour was one of the major ports in the Indian Ocean for over 200 years.
As a kid who grew up in Colombo, going to the Zoo was definitely a highlight! I used to love going to the zoo and vividly remember being taken to the Dehiwela Zoo as part of the annual Grade 5 class trip. We spent the day roaming around the Zoo learning about the different animals. Of course at that age we were simply fascinated by seeing wild animals in real life and didn’t pay much attention to what was being taught to us! The day ended with the Elephant show followed by the Seal show.At that young age we had no idea of how depressing it must be for these animals to be caged up and put on display.
I’m fascinated by Elephants. Though I’m utterly afraid of them, I have a lot of love and respect towards these majestic creatures. And without question, I would jump at an opportunity to spend some time with them! If you’re up in Kandy and it’s not Perahara season, the best place to go see Elephants is the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.
The Asian Elephant is smaller than the African elephant. But, it’s still the largest land animal living in Asia. Given the scientific name Elephas Maximus, Elephants have been part and parcel of Sri Lankan culture and heritage. These gentle giants who roamed abundantly during the time of our ancient kings have now been listed as endangered on the Red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
If you live on the West Coast, it will take you quite a long time to get to Arugam Bay since you will have to cut across the breadth of Sri Lanka and end up on the East Coast. Irrespective of which mode of transport you take, it’ll take you somewhere around 8-12 hours or more to get to Arugam Bay from Colombo. If you’re travelling specifically to Arugam Bay, I suggest you leave out 2 days for travel (one day to get there, and another day to get back). From the perspective of travel time Arugam Bay may not be the ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
There are a few route options available when travelling to Arugam Bay. If you’re up for a long drive, and starting the journey from Colombo, you can take the rout through Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, UdaWalawa, Thanamalwila, Wellawaya to ArugamBay. From Kandy you can drive to Mahiyangana via the 18 hair-pin bends on to Bibile, Monaragala, Siyambalanduwa, Pottuvil Town and reach Arugam Bay. From the south, you can take the highway to Matara, and drive through Tissamaharama and Buttala via the Kataramaga road to Monaragala and continue to Arugam Bay. Of course you don’t HAVE to drive, when travelling in a group the best option is to hire a van or small bus based on the number of travellers in the group.