Day 01 Departure from France. Night flight via Dubai

Day 02 Airport / Dambulla - 148 km

8h30/10h - Arrival, assistance and welcome at the airport. Making contact with the driver: Mohara.

Stop in Negombo, to take a look of the port, without much interest. Opportunity to meet around a king coconut. Route to Dambulla

Lunch in the restaurant Diya Dahara on the bank of lake Rantalia in Kurunegala, beautiful view, clean kitchen. If we do not stop at Negombo, this leaves time to see the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela on the road and avoid the do while in Kandy. This saves a half day tour.

Before arriving at the hotel, we went around the Kandalama Lake ... many village scenes, baths families, women wash clothes ... Arrival at the hotel around 18:00.

We chose to stay three nights in Dambulla to radiate in in the cultural triangle.

Amaya Lake Hotel

Day 03 Sigiriya / Polonnaruwa / Dambulla - 159 km

Very early in the morning departure for Sigiriya because it is cooler and there is less tourist bus (to avoid bobs and white striped polo on the pictures).

Just before the site of Sigiriya on left, there is a craft center (Handicraft Center) established by the government to help in difficulties villages, beautiful authentic items, and cheaper than in town.

Sigiriya is an attractive site: its frame with the rock (lava cap), which dominates the area (370 m), the slow ascent that leads to a 360 ° panorama. The ruins are less interesting.

King Kassapa have built a palace and gardens at the top of the rock, as well as fortifications and moats at the foot of the rock in the 5th century to escape his brother Mogallana who have been exiled in India, and to protect from his revenge after killing his father King Dathusena who reigned in Anuradhapura.

Great lover of women, with many courtesans, he commanded to draw some in a crevice of the rock: the ladies of Sigirya. There would be 21. We have access to some. Historians call into question the fact that they were painted at the time of Kassapa.

Mogallana returned from exile with an army raised in India and made the seat of the rock. Not having enough to live, Kassapa surrendered and was executed.

Refuse using helper ... you get up the stairs alone. Most helpers are pickpockets who help you offload your watch or your wallet.

In the gallery des Demoiselles, guards put a stepladder across the alley on the left and try you believe that paintings are not accessible. They propose to show exceptionally but demanding money.

It is not legal, the ticket provides access to all the paintings open to the public. One can go see other paintings without having to give a tip, even move the stepladder.

On the road to Polonnaruwa, visit Mandalagiri Vihara  of Medirigiriya (no accrued but beautiful road rehabilitation) Route and site full of charm. Mohara discovered this site at the same time as us. Very few tourists come because of the track. It makes him happy to discover sites because he can provide to its customers coming.

Mandalagiri Vihara is a vatadage (circular room) consisting of concentric rings 16,20,32 pillars dating from the fourth and

7th centuries, with four Buddhas facing the four cardinal points. As Mihintale, a hospital was nearby, spotted the treatment basin shaped body.

Lunch at the Polonnaruwa Resthouse, terrace overlooking the lake, great view and good rice & curry.

Polonnaruwa is an area surrounded by large reservoirs.Former capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa saw a succession of princes Cholas from South India, Sinhalese kings who drove them up to its peak during the reign of Parakramabahu I, who erected the various sites, draw beautiful gardens, and dig a huge reservoir. The Royal Palace, The Royal Bath, the Terrace of the Tooth Relic. The rock of "Gal Vihara", the cave with the "Buddha sitting in meditation", and lying Buddha.

King Nissanka Malla who succeeded him, pushed the capital to its lost, making it vulnerable to new Indian invasions. Polonnaruwa was abandoned.  

Back to the hotel around 18:30. On the road, sometimes encounter wild elephants crossing. Sometimes they are nervous. Mohara do not like driving at night for these reasons.

Amaya Lake Hotel

Day 04 Avukana / Anuradhapura / Mihintale / Dambula about 144 km

Departure for Avukana. the best time for photos is early morning. Region of reservoirs and rivers ... Visit one of the highest standing Buddha statue. Avukana would mean "sun-eater" because the statue is oriented towards the rising sun. Very nice setting.Beautiful setting.

Route to Anuradhapura,first capital of the island in 380 BC during the reign of Pandukabhaya. Its importance grew during the reign of Devenampiya Tissa after his conversion to Buddhism. It was later locked repeatedly by Indian invaders, until the king Dutugemunu (161-137 BC) comes to recover and make expel the invaders. He was behind the development of the current site, supported by the interventions of his successors, interspersed with new invasions of South India. We are indebted to these dynasties the "Sri Maha Bodhi" - Bo tree, the "Ruwanveliseya" dagoba, the "Thuparama" dagoba, the "basins Kuttam Pokuna" statue "Samadhi Buddha".

Sometimes there are many pilgrims, sometimes there is one. Everything depends on the religious calendar. When there is the world, the fervor is to go. Sri Lankans warmly share their moments of contemplation.

The Monastery Issurumuniya is cave temple dating from the reign of Devenampiya Tissa with its sculptures and its basin, worth a visit. Good atmosphere, very photogenic website.

Lunch at the Hotel Villa Nilketha, old Mihintale's road,a nice adress from Mohara it's clean, delicious, and inexpensive. Rice & Curry varied and plentiful.

Route to visit Mihintale. One of our favorite sites for the view and the atmosphere ... Go there in the late afternoon, the colors are perfect. It is important to take the time to sit down and look, feel, observe, meditate ... this is a rather magical.

Admission fee: Rs 500 per person. Mihintale is where in 247 BC the king Devenampiya Tissa, who was hunting, met Mahinda, son of the Indian emperor Ashoka. Mahinda after testing the wisdom of the king converted him to Buddhism. Mihintale is considered  like the entry point of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

1843 steps leading to the site. On the right are the ruins of the ancient monastery, and some the ruins of the old hospital where you can see a stone bath used for Ayurvedic treatments.

You can reduce the rise in half by going to the second car park a little higher. It reached a plateau where the monks' refectory, with huge trays used for rice and porridge. The room relics with two steles engraved under the leadership of King Mahinda IV in the 1st century that define the rules of life, trade rules, the tasks for the monks.

On the last set, the dagoba of Ambasthale or mango dagoba, the statue of the king, and the rock of meditation Aradhana Gala. One flight of stairs carved into the granite leads left to a seated Buddha statue, another flight of stairs to the right lead to the dagoba Mahaseya.

In the evening return to the hotel around 18:30

Amaya Lake Hotel

Day 05 Dambulla / Nalanda Gedige / Kandy - about 72 km

Early morning visit to Dambulla. Temple and monastery carved into a granite rock. The first caves dating from the 1st century BC, when King Vatajamini Ahhaya evicted from Anuradhapura took refuge there. When he regained his throne, he carved the caves. The kings who succeeded him continued his work. The paintings date from the 19th century.

This monastery is still active, although considered a tourist site. Beware of monkeys, they tend to take what is left on the floor, bag, camera, etc ...

Departure for Kandy. En route visit Nalanda Gedige small Hindu style temple, little known, very intimate. One of the first stone temples of Sri Lanka, in ruins, completely rebuilt in 1975.

Lunch at Matale: along the road handicrafts (batik, masks etc ... for coaches and groups, price accordingly) and spice gardens (in fact it is exposure). The spices are not grown here. View Aluvihara monastery and the monks who recopies sacred texts destroyed by the English, on palm leaves ...

  A good spice garden: Highland No. 25 Spice garden, very good restaurant with rice & curry suited to our palates. Request Bobby for a visit in French. Avoid false massages in the spice gardens, provided by the staff of the garden. This is bogus and it is a waste of time.

Just after Matale instead of continuing on the main road to Kandy, take the small road Ukuwele - Wattegama ... The scenery is beautiful, waterfalls (Hunas Falls), rice, small Buddhist monastery in the middle of rice fields ... beautiful photos do. Many drivers refuse to take this route, it must impose. It is quite feasible and more intimate than the main road to Kandy.

Visit the "Temple of the Tooth" in the late afternoon. Fee Rs.500 + camera. Many pilgrims make offerings at the end of the day. Very secure place, following the bombing of 1998. Body search and bags.

A tooth of Buddha was subtilized at the stake in 483 BC. She was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD, hidden in the hair of a princess. It was moved several times, depending on the invasions and political turmoil. It was reported in India by Indian invaders and recovered by a Sinhala king.

This tooth would become a symbol of sovereignty and power. (which may partly explain the nationalist and elitist tendency of the current Sinhalese Buddhism). The Portuguese would have seized the tooth and have destroyed. But it was only a replica. Nobody asks whether the tooth is real, or why ite was brought to Sri Lanka?

The temple of the tooth was built at the request of Kandyan kings from 1687 to 1782. It was part of the royal palace. The octagonal tower which contained manuscripts. The central part, built on two levels: Vahahitina Maligawa, contains relics, attraction of all pilgrims and tourist. It does not contain the true tooth, but a copy. The real tooth would be hidden in a secret location. The golden roof was donated by the Japanese.

Sri Lankan Buddhists believe that theymust have been at least once in their life at the temple of the tooth to improve karma.

At the time of Perahera, the atmosphere is at its peak.

Hotel Tree of Life

Day 06 Kandy / city tour and surroundings / Kandy - 56 km

Breakfast. We assist in the preparation of a traditional wedding taking place at the hotel. The bride and groom are dressed in period costumes.

In the morning, visit the city of Kandy.  Temple of the tooth outside, the fruits and vegetables market, street goods'stores for Buddhist.  Monastery Malwatte Vihare is no longer open to tourists, too bad. Small purchases ... fabric store known and reliable : Junaid store, 19, yatinuvara vidiya - Devon Restaurant  for lunch in town, very good and cheap ....

A few kilometers from Kandy by small roads in poor condition, but with pretty villages and landscapes visit three temples dating from the 14th century :  Gadaladeniya built on a small rock dotted with small pools, flanked by a hindu temple, Lankathilake half bouddhist half hindu resembling externally strangely some small Tibetan temples Embekke all wood Kandyan style. This is done in two hours. If there is time, around the lake or other curiosity. Few tourists and it is better for photographs and quiet .....

In the evening we saw the Perahera: a parade that lasts 3 hours.

Security forces, we were frisked at least three times by police before the start of the parade. There is a palpable tension, and a fear of attack. Explosive detection dogs.  All the best dancers of the island have made an appointment for the festivities. Parade religious and secular. Many elephants decorated like Christmas trees. Mohara booked for us seats on the terrace of the Queen's Hotel, near the Temple of the Tooth. We are at the edge of the parade, could not be better placed. Music is still pretty much the same, many dance groups are similar, but there's enough variety to not get bored.

Back at the hotel, but the service was over long ago. The servers keep our diner warm and someone staid to look after us. Lovely touch.

Hotel Tree of Life

Day 07 Kandy / Nuwara Eliya - 77 km

Departure to Nuwara Eliya, Enroute visit a tea plantation, Mohara proose visit the Blue Field Factory, less known than Gleenloch factory, but largely also interesting tea tasting and lunch at the restaurant very correct from the factory.

Arrive in Nuwara Eliya, walk in the hills. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. On this road the tea pickers tend to ask for money when taking pictures. Some even expect a car stops pretending to pick.

Rock hotel

Day 08 Nuwara Eliya / Ella - 80 km

Visit the Nuwara Eliya area. Waterfalls and scenery, tea plantations. Continue up to Ella through Badulla.

Just before Badulla we met on the road a procession of pilgrims kavadis practicing mortification. Many devotees are hung by hooks in the back and suspended by ropes attached to pickets on a truck. Others pierced cheeks and tongue with small metal picks. No trace of blood. They are accompanied by a band that plays songs recalling the South American rhythms.Impressive. We find this practice sometimes in Kataragama.

Visit Mutiyangana Viharaya temple. Many photo stops, the scenery is breathtaking.

In Ella have a drink in the garden of the hotel Grand Ella Motel (hotel expensive for comfort offered): view of the spectacular valley of Ella (Ella gap). Go to the Rawana Ella falls, impressive. It is also the public bathroom of all travelers.

Ella is a peaceful village and authentic, with lots of ballads like little adams Pick

Country Confort hotel

Day 09 Ella / Buduruwagala /Kataragama 126 km

Schedule the trip for the evening in Kataragama falls on a full moon (the ideal full moon of August), or a weekend evening (Saturday).

Early departure for Kataragama, visit Dowe, beautiful little temple, little known on the road a few miles from Ella on the left down ...

Bandarawella road (best ayurvedic massage center in the Island), Haputale visit the tea plantation Stassen Bio.

This plantation practice culture method based on Steiner Biodynamic. It has a very different philosophy of work: wages respectful of people, educational system, health, housing and decent employee participation in various departments of the company. We have much to learn ...

On the road from Wellawaya, Diyaluma Falls (lunch at the falls), many points of view throughout the road.

Continue to Wellawaya and the sacred city of Kataragama. Long road lined with villages.

Before reaching Kataragama beautiful view of the White Stupa Tissamaharama in rice field, on right. On the left a lake full of pilgrims bathing. Friendly meeting.

 End of the day (from 18h) temple Maha Devale, many Puja. Think about going to the great dagoba of background ... the evening was magical. We must stay there until at least 21h. On the same site, beautiful lesson of tolerance, there are Buddhist temples, Hindu, others belonging to different denominations of Gurus ... thousands of people come to pray at the same time in a very calm and gentle vibes, Do not forget to see the small mosque, a little gap on the left when you leave through the main entrance, it is beautiful, one can visit freely, it is exceptional. The rector is a charming man, few tourists think of visit and it's a shame, it changes the representations that we have on Islam, back to the hotel around 22:30. You can attend all the ceremonies and take as many photos as you want.

Mandara Rosen hotel

Day 10 Kataragama - Tangalle, Mirissa - 159 km

Early morning return to the Temple of Kataragama Maha Dewale to see day and attend the puja in the morning ... at the entrance of the temple many purification bath in the river. Full of meetings and shared photos ... bath of kindness.

Departure for Tangalle, Just before Tangalle: at Rekawa, Turtle Conservation Projetc (this is not a zoo or a vivarium) ... opportunity to attend the laying or hatching turtles of different varieties of the night on the beach. Call ahead to ensure that there are things to see and to book (as 0777 810508/9) provide a hotel in Tangalle if this is the case.

On the road, many stalls selling Curd, buffalo yogurt, enjoy it fresh with Kitull sirop (palm) . Mohara made us taste, but not enough. It's so good.

Visit the temple Mulkirigala at Dondra, 10 km before Matara, visit Blow Hole Nilwalla next Dickwella (without interest if you've seen the blower at the Reunion Island)

3km from Dickwella: monastery of Wewurukannala. Magnificent monastery, very original, gigantic Buddha statue, very kitsch. Take the stairs inside the Buddha, hundreds of naive frescoes explain Buddhism. Very few tourists. Temple statues are very photogenic.

On the coast there are fishermen "perched" in Ahangama. Be aware that they ask for money, and most have no wires or hook at the end of the cane. They are really there to tourists .... Aggression guarantee if you take pictures without paying ....

Palace Mirissa

Day 11 Mirissa / Unawatuna - Hotel Thambapanni 40 km

Rise later to enjoy the beach of Mirissa, one of the most beautiful in Sri Lanka - Unawatuna road, en route visit Welligama Bay and the island of Taprobane,occupied and built in 1920 by Count de Mauny-Talvande, first owner, adventurer and friend of Sir Thomas Lipton. Gardens, courtyards bedrooms oriented ocean views, the island became the paradise of famous men, eccentric personalities from all sides. Taprobane was the name given by the Greeks to Ceylon.

Meeting with real fishermen and boats return fish unloading. Here we exchange smiles and not money. Most boats are gifts of French fishermen's associations after the tsunami.

Visit Galle, its walls, its old colonial streets, the lighthouse, many photos, lunch at Restaurant Rampart, another good address from Mohara. Beautiful home, beautiful view, good food, many choices of dishes ... excellent fried noodles with vegetables. Very reasonable prices. Back to Unawatuna.

Visit the International Buddhist center next to the hotel in Unawatuna.

Hotel Thambapanni

Day 12 Unawatuna / Bulutota / Ratnapura - about 158 km

Early departure for the Ratnapura by Bulutota pass, very long road with many photo stops so the scenery is beautiful. Many rural scenes and authentic village. On this road the tea pickers do not require money: some ask if we can send some pictures that were taken of them or their children. We do it with pleasure. This can be used for those who go behind us.

Lunch at the Rakwana 's GuestHouse just after the neck Bulutota: Very clean and very reasonable. Good rice & curry.

It is in our opinion one of the most beautiful roads of the island. Narrow and not always in good condition, but what peace and what authenticity .... visit extraction wells of gems.  Beware, some touts waiting for a car stops to offer to take you to see mine. They will ask for money and try to sell you fake stones.

Arrived late at the hotel.

Boulder Gardens

Day 13 Ratnapura / Wadduwa - 73 km

Road to Panadura - Just when leaving Ratnapura, on the left, below, visit extraction wells of gems, here they do not ask for money and they are very proud to get what they do. The ideal is to make more wells, because when the  take earth back and dig wells, they do not seek the stones. And when they wash the mud in baskets to find stones, they do not dig. We arrive to restore the integrity of the work by visiting several mines. Visiting  people working in rice fields, many stops in the villages. Descent to the coast, arrived at the hotel mid afternoon

Privilege hotel

Day 14/15 Wadduwa - beach without a car -

Small seaside holiday. Every morning walks in the village of Wadduwa to the market to buy water at the small supermarket, 5 times cheaper than the hotel.

Visit the fishing village of Wadduwa ... partially destroyed by the tsunami and still waiting for aid ... invitation in some families. We became friends with a family that we met each of our trips and we are trying to help.

Discovery of fishermen. Great photos.

Visit the Temple of Wadduwa, with the young monks who jumped over the wall to see some girls.  Samudraramaya temple.

Day 16 Wadduwa - Colombo, late afternoon airport. 40 km

Sri Lanka

Le Tour de l'île du 08 au 24 Août 2008

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