Day 2 (3 of 5).
After a brief stopover in Negombo, Anuradhapura was the real first destination of our journey. Lying on the north central plains, the historical cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Kandy are often referred to as the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka where visitors flock to see the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological sites and Buddhist temples. We began with Anuradhapura, one of oldest and certainly the most important capital cities of ancient Sri Lanka spanning 1300 years from 337BC to 1017AD, and the centre of Theravada Buddhism for many centuries. We stayed in Anuradhapura for 1.5 days to check out the Buddhist stupas and archaeological sites, as well as the famous 2300-year-old sacred Bodhi Tree. Most visitors stay in the new town where the majority of hotels and restaurants are located. Only a handful of hotels and restaurants can be found in the old town along with ancient stupas, lily ponds, and archaeological sites, including the historical hotel The Sanctuary at Tissawewa, where we stayed two nights.
Opened in 1907 as the Grand Hotel Anuradhapura during the time of British governor Henry Arthur Blake, the 22-room Sanctuary at Tissawewa is one of the most well known colonial hotel in Sri Lanka. The hotel has served a number of celebrities and foreign heads of state in the past, including Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, etc. After extensive renovations in 2013, the hotel reopens its doors again. The century-old building is a great example of architectural combo of east meeting west, with large eaves and covered verandas coupled with stone arches, timber balustrades and antique furniture. For us, the most lovely feature was the 14 acres garden, where we watched peacocks and monkeys chasing around the hundred-year-old trees in early morning, and looked for flying foxes and fireflies dancing over the bushes before dusk.
Heavier than usual rainfall prior to our arrival flooded the hotel’s entrance path. Every time we walked out the hotel we would need to walk over the flooded path with our sandals.
The flooded water perhaps came from overflow of the ancient artificial reservoirs nearby.
Peacocks roamed around hotel garden every morning.
There are a number of beautiful trees in the hotel garden.
The walk through the lush-green garden was our first pleasant experience of the day.
Renovated in 2013, the 113-year hotel is a fine colonial building.
The covered passenger drop off welcomes all visitors from close and afar.
The veranda on the ground floor faces directly to the lush green garden.
Apart from peacocks, a large group of monkeys came to the garden
The upper veranda offers better view to the hotel garden.
Staying at The Sanctuary at Tissawewa offered us a comfortable sleep.
In the evening, the hotel stood quietly in the darkness of the garden.
During our stay, there were a few other rooms were occupied.
Occasionally we could see fireflies in the hotel garden.
The staff was always busy with paperwork at the receptionist counter.
During our stay at The Sanctuary at Tissawewa, we always have dinner at the hotel restaurant.
For breakfast, we could choose between Western or Sri Lankan breakfast.
Outside of the hotel compound lie a number of wetlands, including rice paddy fields.
A number of lotus ponds also lie across the street from the hotel entrance.
In one evening, we had a warm encounter with a kitten just a short walk on the main road from the hotel entrance.