Minneriya National ParkSet around a 3rd century reservoir, Minneriya is a haven for wild elephant and a jeep safari herewill bring you close to the large herds as theycome to the water to drink. Birdlife in the park isexcellent, with the Ceylon fish owl and sea eagleamongst the species you may see. This park'slocation allows it to be easily combined with visitsto Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya and despite being apopular attraction, it remains largely unspoiled and is one of the best wildlife experiences in Sri Lanka. (For more information on wildlife seepage 92-93)Dambulla Cave TemplesA site of great spiritual importance, the earliestcave temples at Dambulla are thought to dateback to the 1st century BC. Successive kingsadded to them over the years to form thepresent complex of five separate temples. Today,they contain numerous statues and images ofBuddha including a colossal reclining Buddha inthe largest cave. As well as being an historicmonument, the temples are also a pilgrimage site.The experience is even more atmospheric as youmingle with devotees placing symbolic offerings inthe laps of the Buddhas, and with the scent ofincense hanging in the air.AMAYALAKE, DAMBULLAThis large hotel complex is set in spaciousgrounds sloping down to Kandalama Lake, withdramatic hills forming a scenic backdrop.Accommodation is in 106 air-conditioned chaletsand the hotel is centred around a large, airyrestaurant and bar area and an impressively sizedswimming pool. Two Ayurvedic centres offer awide range of treatments, and organic vegetarianmeals following ayurvedic principles are a tastyoption. From Amaya Lake it is possible to exploreall the sites of the Cultural Triangle. www.audleytravel.com/srilanka ?01993 838 335 ?Sri Lanka89Wild elephant at Minneriya National ParkAmaya Lake, DambullaMan-made lake at Minneriya SanctuaryBeach at TrincomaleeBuddhist statues inside the Dambulla Cave TempleBuddha's feet, Dambulla Cave TempleTrincomalee & the East CoastHaving long been off limits due to Sri Lanka's civilwar, the end of the conflict opened up Sri Lanka'seastern cities and beaches to visitors. The city isone of the main cultural centres of the Tamilcommunity with one of their most importanttemples, Tiru Koneswaram, built on a rockoffering spectacular views of Trincomalee'simpressive natural harbour. Tourism is very muchin its infancy in this part of Sri Lanka, but theregion offers some of the island's best beachesand excellent weather when Sri Lanka's southernbeaches are affected by the southwest monsoon.Chaaya Blu, a recently opened resort just north ofTrincomalee, is modern in design with a bright,almost boutique feel to it. New hotels and resortsare being built all along the east coast, so do talkto our specialists for the latest information and todiscuss your plans.
THEKANDYHOUSE, KANDYSet in a lovely rural setting a short drive outsideKandy, this 200 year old traditional Sri Lankanbungalow has been converted into a beautifulboutique hotel. The property offers nine spaciousand individually designed guest rooms. With anattractive pool set in gardens and surrounded bytrees, this is a relaxing alternative for thoseseeking a break from the bustle of city life.ELLERTON, NEARKANDYEllerton is a small and tastefully convertedbungalow, sitting on its own hilltop, only 18kilometres outside Kandy, with great views. It wasbuilt over 100 years ago for the manager of a teaestate and it preserves the character of thecolonial days. The rooms are located in either theoriginal bungalow or the recent valley house bythe swimming pool. There are a number of quietspaces for reading or relaxing. PinnawalaElephant OrphanageAbout an hour and a half west of Kandy is thewell known Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.Twice daily, the babies are fed before the largeherd of elephant are taken to the nearby river tobathe. Watching them play as their mahoutsthrow buckets of water over them is a charmingspectacle. Nearby, the lesser known MillenniumElephant Foundation cares for old and sickelephants when they retire from forestry work.Smaller in its set-up, the foundation offers aslightly more intimate experience. Don't besurprised if one of the mahouts asks you to assisthim giving one of the resident elephant a gentlescrub in the refreshing water of a shallow river.KandySri Lanka's second city is centrally located andeasily accessed from Colombo, the CulturalTriangle and the Tea Country. This pretty town is set beside a lake and is most famous for thesacred 'Temple of the Tooth'. The temple housesa tooth relic of the Buddha and bustles at nightwith pilgrims attending a lively puja ceremony. A visit to a colourful and acrobatic Kandyanperformance offers a more rowdy spectacle withbright costumes and demonic masks. Everysummer, Kandy hosts Sri Lanka's most colourfulfestival; the ten-day Perahera. Timed in accordancewith the lunar calendar, it is a wonderful spectaclewith dozens of robed elephants, dancers andmusicians thronging the streets. 90Pinnawala Elephant OrphanageKandyan dancersEllerton, near KandyThe Kandy House, Kandy