After two days of early starts, this one was more relaxed, since the only agenda for the day was the Tooth Relic Temple. Okay, and some hazy culinary plans. Breakfast was a pleasant affair, largely because I got to have Milk Rice and chicken curry with some amazing onion based chutneys! Breakfast, imagine! Sigh.
The Tooth relic Temple is probably why Kandy is known as the heart of Buddhism in Lanka. There seemed to be three prayers that were open to the public – Dawn, Morning and Dusk. Security was quite high. The LTTE had done of their suicide bomb acts here too.
The word ‘temple’ is used rightly, because considering the rush, it was like say Guruvayoor or Sabarimala, in India. To me, this place nailed Buddhism clearly as a religion. I somehow doubt that was what the Buddha had in mind. So, like most religions, interpretations rule, and when you disagree, you form a new sect. ‘Ahimsa’ is interpreted enough to allow non-vegetarianism, just another way of life. I like to believe in one’s own notion of faith, but it was difficult to miss the fact that a tooth was being worshiped. It also struck me that Buddhism in Lanka was a sort of passed on faith. The Buddha never went to Lanka and Buddhism came to Lanka long after the Buddha died. Perhaps it is because I am an Indian Hindu and used to ‘owning’ my gods that this thought came to me. Anyway, thanks to my high expectations of Buddhism, its Lanka version and the ochre / bright orange clad monks didn’t command the respect their counterparts in Leh did. Cameraman was on auto-mode.
Though we didn’t take the Kandy Express, we managed to climb up the hill and visit two tourist shopping destinations the guide recommended. The first was a Batik store, where they showed us the entire process after which D went into a shopping frenzy. She was revived much later, after we’d also finished the wood workshop and gallery. If you’re willing to suffer a little on the ‘authenticity’ retail setting, you’d actually find the Odel ( a retail chain) store in Colombo a better place to buy knickknacks.
Arthur Seat offered a splendid view of Kandy city. We had lunch at a place called Oak Ray – strictly ok, and then moved on to a jewelry store to learn about gems. My eyes were opened wide, not from amazement, but to prevent them from closing. To be fair, the gemstone mining process was interesting. Siesta mode is auto activated whenever I’m on vacation!
In the evening, we decided to walk a bit. Kandy reminded me a little of Trichur, where almost everything of note is located near that massive round. In this case its the Kandy lake. The mango juice at Bakehouse, touted on travel wiki as phenomenal was a few notches south of ordinary!! We also roamed inside the open market, but it was just like any other. The Kandy lake is really a pretty picture at night, and we sat on a non-bird-toilet bench and watched life pass by, passing comments, noticing the co-existence of Lankan and Indian sari wearing styles and scoffing at people sporting umbrellas in the twilight.
When it was time for dinner, we were in a quandary. The Lyon’s cafe was highly recommended in travel wiki, as was Devon. We didn’t like the setting of the former much and the Captain’s Table restaurant in the latter semmed to serve only Indian and Chinese. We finally climbed up to ‘The Pub’ above Bakehouse, and watched Kandy life pass by as Bakehouse redeemed itself with a fabulous dinner. We also tasted Lankan Arrack (made from coconut) via a cocktail called Elephant’s Kiss. It was quite bad, and D wasn’t thrilled when I wondered whether there had been a typo – after all K and P are pretty close on the keyboard! Everyone – Kandy people, D, crows – had their revenge when a large splotch of fresh crow shit was discovered on the back of my tee.
Star World and Masterchef were sorely missed, and we went to sleep early, since the next day required a transformation from city and zen to beachbumming.
PS: Thia also happens to be Post # 800 on this blog. Thanks for reading.