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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday, The Ellerton and Mt Sigiriya

The Ellerton Hotel, 18 km from Kandy is a treasure. Built in the early 1900’s, it offers three guest rooms in the main house. The Valley house, where a small tea factory once stood for bio-organic tea plucked at a certain phase of the moon, houses an additional three guest rooms. The view from the Valley house is beautiful. The estate was originally called Seethevalley, and had more than 1000 acres of tea. There are now only 13 acres of tea planted on the much smaller estate.

There was an interesting assortment of guests, including a couple en route to Autralia following a year in Bangalore, and two Canadian women who didn’t socialize much. Alison's theory is that just as there is a difference between joggers and runners, so too is there a difference between tourists and travelers. We met Jennie and Ed, a couple traveling from a 4 year stint in Shanghai to live in the UK. They are traveling with their 5 year old son and were great company on the first evening for drinks. Friday night we all had dinner together.

We were served a feast of vichysoisses,papadums, curried chicken., curried fish, dhal, aubergine, yam, green beans and rice, There was pannacotta for dessert. A frog sang to us from the window, a spider was retrieved from another guest’s room, and Ed captured a large moth that had been dive bombing us during our otherwise relaxing meal. I will not miss the “wildlife”.

The main adventure of the day was a 3 hour drive to Mt Sigiriya, an ancient monastery built in the third century BC. The mountain itself is impressive; one wonders why anyone would think to inhabit it. The entry includes bricked-in foundations of former water fountains. This was a very early example of Sri Lankan hydraulics technology. Four fountains were fed by two adjoining moats, creating what must have been an impressive entryway.

We were greeted by guides selling their service. Alison explained that she had been there before and was not in need of a guided tour. One guide responded “But you haven’t seen the new parts”. I guess he was right – we didn’t see any new construction in this site built more than 2000 years ago. We did see beautifully preserved frescoes, believed to be at least 1600 years old, and The Mirror Wall, with very faded art, inscriptions and graffiti.

There are 1200 steps to the top of the mountain. It was very hot, and in some places the steps are worn so unevenly you can imagine slipping to a dramatic demise. The view from the top is both beautiful and satisfying for having been brave enough to arrive.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like the guides have been a menace throughout the trip!


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