Saturday, 21 July 2018

Kandy

The origins of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya on the outskirts of Kandy date back as far as 1371. They extend to almost 150 acres, and are filled with a huge array of Sri Lankan plant life.












We were given a small guide to the gardens, and I 
noticed a painting on the back cover done by Botanical Artist, Marianne North.  I have always loved her paintings, and enjoyed the thought that she had been here in these very gardens painting the trees and flowers in 1876. 



Orchid Houses are always interesting to visit, and this one was no exception


This happy couple kindly let me take their photograph


We had our first short splash of rain during the whole tripd in these gardens, but luckily we found shelter quickly. As soon as the rain stopped the sky turned blue and the sun reappeared again.

Along the side of the river is the bamboo collection where they have the largest bamboo in the world growing which comes from Burma (Dendrocalamus giganteus). The stems attain a height of 40m and the average growth rate of new shoots is 30cm a day. 
After lunch we headed off to visit the Royal Palace in Kandy which is now the Temple of the Tooth. 
The temple houses the tooth of the Buddha which was concealed in the hair of an Indian princess and brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century. It is an object of great reverence for Buddhists the world over.
However, on arrival we changed our minds about visiting the temple. The soles of my husband's feet had had enough. This very large building which had been the Royal Palace is filled with many rooms, courtyards, steps etc which all have to be negotiated without shoes.
As we were making our minds up on where else we should go the skies suddenly opened up and sent down an almighty torrent of rain, the second and final rainfall of the trip. The sky was blue, the sun out, but in the blink of an eye it was like standing beneath a fireman's hose continuously for 15 minutes. It took my leather shoes 5 days to dry out, and I wondered whether or not I would ever be able to wear them again. It was an experience, which made us laugh on reflection, and something we shall never forget. Just as suddenly the rains stopped, the sky turned blue, the sun appeared, and everyone continued with whatever they had been doing before.
We climbed the steep hill behind the temple to visit the British Garrison Cemetery which gave us a poignant glimpse of Empire days. The epitaphs showed that those who are buried in the cemetery were from many corners of the British Isles - Limerick in Ireland, Inverness in Scotland, Guernsey, Liverpool, and London etc. As we wandered around reading the tombs we quickly realised that the Colonial lifestyle is not all about hunting, shooting, fishing, and lavish cocktail parties. The headstones revealed to us just how hazardous the early 1800s were for those living away in far off exotic lands. "Three infant daughters each died in consecutive years of cholera"; "John Spottiswood Robertson, died 1870, the seventh and last known death of a European to have been killed by a wild elephant in Ceylon"; "Captain James McGlashan, aged 26 years old, who fought valiantly at the Battle of Waterloo, but died of malaria in Ceylon"; "William Robert Lyte 19year old grandson of Rev.Henry Francis Lyte, author of the hymn 'Abide with Me'. 
As we were strolling around the cemetery reading the tombstones, an elderly man suddenly appeared wearing a sarong. He turned out to be the caretaker of the cemetery, and he began talking to us in his eloquent BBC English. We discovered that his name was Charles Carmichael, a Sri Lankan, but with some Scottish and Indian ancestry. He told us about several of the tombs, and how he tended and cared for the graves every day of the week throughout the year.