By PN Sampath KumarConcluding Part
Our stay in Colombo was taken care of by the Colombo Dock Yard. The Guest Relations officer of the Guest House helped us immensely in chalking out the trip.
Colombo has traditionally been one of the major commercial hubs in the sub continent from at least mid 19th to mid 20th Century which has attracted professionals from all over the places including India. Colombo has a rich maritime tradition; the tea, cinnamon and other spices from this land are even now very much sought after all over the world.
|Colombo City Road drenched in rain|
|Colombo Railway Station|
Colombo is the best place to shop items like gems (sapphire is mined from a place called ‘Ratnapura’) and readymade clothes. Sri Lankan tea, painted masks and batik works are also in high demand. Though coconut is a local produce, costs SL Rs.45/- (Indian equivalent of around IN Rs20, which is high by the Indian standards). Similar is the case with locally cultivated vegetables, rice and pulses.
|Coconuts on sale|
|Masks displayed in a shop|
|Galle face hotel|
|Slave Island Area|
|Lord Ganesha kept inside the Monastery worshipped by Buddhists|
Ganga Ramaya Monastery
|Murugan (Karthikeya) temple|
Sri Lanka has a number of world class beaches. Selecting a couple of beaches to visit during a short visit is difficult as there are quite a number of them to choose from. We took the coastal route through the west coast to reach Galle, the southern most point in Sri Lanka. The railway and road go side by side and was pleasure watching sea on our right throughout.
|Sea on our right while going|
We ran into a building, having “Hikkaduwa Diving School” written on top. The inhabitants there offered us to take to sea to show us the famous coral gardens and the underwater world. We readily accepted in exchange of SL Rs. 1500/-, which according to our driver was a good deal.
A couple of Kilometres into the sea, has in stock the most beautiful views of the underwater life. We get a good view of the underwater life through the glass bottom of the boat. It was fascinating to watch flower like corals in different designs (cabbage coral is one of them) and shapes and the multi coloured fishes swimming in group. I found it difficult balance myself to take proper photographs. Sea was rough. We turned down his offer to take us to go further to watch dolphins.
The effect of dreaded Tsunami would have been even more severe had there been no Coral reefs in the coastal sea. Incidentally, it was in Hikkaduwa, the devastating tsunami overwhelmed a passenger train killing some 1,500 passengers.
Half an hours journey from Hikkaduwa brought us to Galle. This town is also known for the devastating Tsunami which killed thousands. Galle is a decent town having Railway station and a good Cricket Ground (international cricket is played here). Portuguese and later Dutch built Fort and maintained their control over here. Ruins of the Fort and a functioning light house are the major attractions. The town and the antique shops resembled our own Fort Cochin Area. Yes, both the places are sharing similar history. Galle was the ancient seaport. Cinnamon is said to have been exported from Sri Lanka as early as 1400 BC.
|A Light House at the Southern Tip|
Back in India, after a fortnight, we checked once again what all places we missed to visit in Sri Lanka. Definitely Trincomale, the famous harbour of the British (Thirukkonamalai in Tamil, famous for the Shiva Temple, as important as Rameshwaram or any other Jyotirlingas), Kathirkama (Kataragama), the historically important Skanda Kumara (Kartik) Temple in the southern Sri Lanka, a couple of very good beaches in the East, “Yalle” National Park, Adams Peak, and the disturbed North. Now that the shipping services are restarted between Tuticorin and Colombo and another one due from Tuticorin to northern Sri Lanka, a second trip to this land is thinkable. That is the beauty of some places; you tend to visit again and again, like your home town.