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. 

43 comments:

  1. I am glad the British Garrison Cemetery has been beautifully cared for, with details of the loved family members who died while thousands of ks away from home. It would break my heart if, for example, grandfather's final resting place was forgotten.

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    1. Thank you for your comment Hels - the caretaker at the cemetery, Charles Carmichael, is employed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We had the impression that he took his position of looking after the graves, and also his knowledge and relevant information concerning all of the occupants in the graves above and beyond the call of duty. This he did in case any descendants should arrive looking for a relative and needing to to know more. We were moved by his obvious dedication.

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  2. What a glorious garden that is, beautiful photos. Yes the tropic life was not easy for Europeans too. Many deadly diseases hit the people in those days, sad to see their graves so far from their homeland but nice someone is looking after them.

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    1. To a large extent they were completely unprepared for what lay ahead regarding the different deadly diseases that could kill them. It was as late as the early c20th before it was even realised that malaria was caused by the mosquito.

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  3. The garden certainly is glorious!

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  4. Wow, what a garden! You've had a great trip. Happy weekend, Rosemary.

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    1. It was like wandering around an exotic jungle.

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  5. What a beautiful, well kept garden. The orchid house is the highlight for me, such variety and color! Were the orchids fragrant as well?
    Thank you very much for sharing this marvelous trip.

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    1. Thank you for your visit Cheryl - I was not aware of any particular fragrance from the Orchids, although there might have been some if I had been a bit closer to them.

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  6. Dearest Rosemary,
    What a piece of heaven this ancient Royal Botanical Garden of Kandy!
    As usual in that region, orchids can put on quite a show and it makes for a regal setting for wedding photos.
    Oh, wish that barefoot entering buildings in the far east should be different... It is so hard on us western people.
    But like your leather shoes having experienced such a downpour from the heavens, I have walked barefoot, with my leather shoes held up under the umbrella, when coming home from Church in Indonesia. Luckily that was just around the corner so I survived it.
    Anyhow, you just had a great experience after all; it goes with the tropical package!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - fortunately with plenty of polish my shoes are now alright, they are so comfortable that I would not like to be without them. I bought them in Turkey so it is impossible for me to be able to purchase some more that are just the same.
      We had so many great experiences every day on this trip we feel so fortunate to have seen all that we did.

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  7. A beautifully maintained garden. Plants and lawns must grow at a fast rate with so much rain and warmth. What a beautiful array of orchids, so varied in colour and shape.
    Thanks for sharing your photos and impressions of this interesting country.

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    1. If only some of their rain would come here. We have now been without rain apart from two drizzles since the early part of May, and our lawn resembles a coconut mat.
      Thank you for your visit Betty, and hope all is well with you.

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  8. Hello Rosemary, That garden is certainly beautiful, although it is hard to compete with the natural splendors of Sri Lanka. The British cemetery is fascinating and almost surreal to be found in such a tropical place.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - may be we should have gone into the temple, after all it is a UNESCO world heritage site, but I do not regret for one moment discovering the little cemetery high up on the hill behind it. You are right it was almost surreal and especially so when the elderly Sri Lankan man appeared wearing a sarong but called Charles Carmichael!

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  9. Good to catch up with you Rosemary and your travels. Oh gosh yes, those tropical storms. They can soak you through in seconds. At least it is warm rain! Hope the shoes survived.

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    1. Wish we could have some similar rain here Jessica - our lawn and garden are looking so sad without any moisture.

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  10. What a stunning Botanical garden in Kandy, and maintained for about 700 years is remarkable! The young couple match the bright colours of the tropical blooms, and look so happy together. The short storms you experienced are very similar to those afternoon storms we have in Queensland during the Summer - that is, when we are not having a drought. Always the blue sky and sun will reappear in no time, and then we all go off for our afternoon walks. The colonial graves do sound sad, and I wonder how it must have been in earlier times when European people came to our side of the world, often to die here and never see their homes again. My grandmother never saw her family again when she came to live in Australia.

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    1. I suspect that the situation must have been similar in Australia Patricia but without so many hazardous diseases with which to fall victim.
      It must have been very difficult and at certain times throughout her life most probably heart breaking for your grandmother.

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  11. Amazing colors in the Botanical Garden and what a display of gorgeous Orchids . I appreciated the link to Marianne North !

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    1. There is a Kew Garden website showing a couple of little videos and the gallery if you are interested Jane - she was a very talented botanical painter.
      https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/attractions/marianne-north-gallery

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  12. Spectacular photos Rosemary.

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    1. That is very generous of you to say Gina - thank you.

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  13. The gardens look to be beautifully cared for. It always pleases me to see what I think of as houseplants growing in the open air! I was reading something about the Temple of the Tooth in the 1920s, and it sounded at the time quite hard just to be inside it, the writer had been so terribly hot he thought he would not stay conscious during whatever ceremony it was! Life in the East was hard indeed. One of my ancestors went through four husbands during her stay in Bengal. I'd thought the poor woman must be a serial poisoner or something - ! but then learned that people from England often died quite soon after arriving.

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    1. We all know about the perils of living overseas during earlier centuries, but to actually visit a very British looking cemetery in Kandy and see just how young most of the people were - mainly children, and young men, really brought it home to us.
      I should imagine that it might be interesting to find out more about your ancestor and her four husbands.

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  14. Loved the garden...and how handsome the newlyweds. I too like to stroll through the old cemeteries.

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    1. They were a charming couple and it was very generous of them to let me take the photograph of them on their wedding day.

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  15. You do visit the most beautiful places...
    Hope you are enjoying your Summer...
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Thanks for visiting Linda - We have had a heatwave here since the early part of May and are really desperate for rain. A cold winter and now a very hot summer!

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  16. Wow what a fascinating place, great photos. What a delightful place to get married too. xxx

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  17. What amazing garden, wonderful photos, thanks for sharing.
    Hugs
    Maria
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

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    1. We enjoyed our visit there and thank you.

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  18. Tropical rains are fierce and come as quickly as they go. I'm glad your shoes are still wearable. The variety of orchids is amazing! Life was hard for the British and others during those days. Today's medicine is something I'm very thankful for.

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    1. We could do with a few tropical rains here - we have had only two drizzly afternoons since the beginning of May - everything is dying and looking very parched.
      We only saw two quick, but very heavy bursts of rain in Sri Lanka, it appeared to rain during the night which was dry by the morning.

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  19. Beautiful photos, such lovely gardens.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments Jenny on the last three posts which I am pleased to know that you enjoyed.

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