Day 6 (3 of 3).
Located in the hilly heartland of Sri Lanka, Kandy was the last capital of pre-modern Sri Lanka before the country was colonized by the British in 1815. Kandy was our last stop in the Cultural Triangle, and the first stop into the hill country. The Kindgom of Kandy was established under King Sena Sammatha Wickramabahu (1473 – 1511). In 1592, Kandy became the capital city of the last remaining kingdom in Sri Lanka, while the colonial powers, Portuguese and Dutch had taken over the coastal regions and gradually made their way into the heartland.
Home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, Kandy is an UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist attraction. Many tourists, including us, stop by Kandy before heading to the villages of the hill country, such as Ella, Nuwara Eliya or Haputale. Today, Kandy remains as the second largest city in Sri Lanka, and a major transportation hub in the region. It also lies in the midst of tea plantations. Known as the Sea of Milk, the artificial Kandy Lake remains as the focal point of the city. The lake was built in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe right by the Temple of the Tooth Relic. During our 1.5 days in Kandy, apart from the Temple of the Tooth Relic and Royal Botanic Garden in Peradeniya, we had a waterfront stroll at Kandy Lake, made a brief visit to the national museum, had lunch in the old city centre and dined at the historical Empire Cafe. Though a heavy shower in the second afternoon cut short the time we spent in the rather laid-back city.
On our first night on Kandy, we dined at Empire Cafe adjacent to the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Housed in a beautiful colonial building, Empire Cafe also serves as a hotel.
Under a rather vintage ambience, we had a enjoyable meal at Empire Cafe.
It was pleasant to sit by the window and enjoy the evening streetscape right by the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Taking the tuk tuk down the steep slope from Villa Rosa was an exciting way to enter the city of Kandy.
Wall paintings could be seen in a number of locations around Kandy.
On the outer wall of a school building, different groups of painters were busy making murals.
Similar to other Sri Lankan cities and towns, tuk tuk is the best way to get around in Kandy.
Like other tourists, we spent most of the time in Kandy near the Temple of the Tooth Relic. The temple entrance plaza was always crowded with visitors.
Around the Temple of the Tooth Relic, vendors were selling all kinds of Buddhist souvenirs, lotus offerings, snacks and king coconuts.
We made a brief visit to the small national museum behind the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Kandy Lake is the main focal point of the city. The waterfront scenery reminded us of some European cities and towns.
Right by lake embankment, the Ulpange or Queens Bathing Pavilion stands out as a beautiful between the palace and the lake. Built in 1806, the building was used as a bathing chamber in the past. Today, it belongs to the local police.
Kandy Lake is also home to Asian water monitor lizards, one of the largest lizard species in the world.
In the heart of Kandy Lake rises an artificial island planted with palm trees and shrubs.
Known as Walakulu Bamma or Cloud Wall, the ornate wall was built around part of Kandy Lake for aesthetic purpose.
With over 160 years of history, the Queen’s Hotel stands proudly across the street from the entrance of Temple of the Tooth Relic and Kandy Lake.
The elegant colonnade of Queen’s Hotel prominently connects the entrance plaza of the Temple of the Tooth Relic with the old city centre.
We followed the colonnade of Queen’s Hotel towards the old city centre.
The old town centre is a busy hub of shops, banks and restaurants. We had lunch at one of the cafes before an afternoon shower forced us to return to the hotel.
Haveli in India refers to a large historical mansion built by a wealthy merchant over a century ago. Designed to impress both the residents and outside spectators, these buildings usually come with ornate carvings, beautiful frescoes, intricate window screens, and an airy courtyard or lightwell. While many have been fallen into disrepair over the years, some havelis have survived into modern times and become valuable heritage buildings. Rajasthan has some of the most famous and well preserved havelis in India, and some of which have been converted into museums or hotels. Situated in the old city near the Gulab Sagar Reservoir and Clock Tower Market, the beautiful Pal Haveli was our hotel in Jodhpur. Owned by the Pal Family, the two-hundred-year-old haveli was the place where we first experienced the historical sense and beauty of the Medieval Jodhpur. Antique housewares, paintings, textiles and furniture offered a charming ambience. From the rooftop restaurant, views of the busy Clock Tower Market and the majestic Mehrangart Fort were breathtaking. Outside the hotel, the market streets and square near the Clock Tower dominated the street scenes.
Just a stone throw away stood a simple omelette shop that has been frequented by foreign tourists ever since Lonely Planet named the local eatery as the famous “Omelette Shop” in 1999. Since then, this simple eatery has been elevated into legendary status among foreign tourists. The life of Ramkishan Gawlani the owner has been completely transformed ever since. According to an interview with Reuters, Ramkishan Gawlani was used to be poor and drank all day. For 24 years he cooked meat, rice, lentils and sometimes omelette. After Lonely Planet’s listing however, his business boomed dramatically with tourists all over the world come to him for omelettes. He gave up the other options in his menu and became an omelette specialist. Just a decade after the listing, he was cracking 1000 eggs a day and earned much respect in the city of Jodhpur. Interestingly, the famous omelette man is in fact a vegan and has not eaten an egg for years. His story reflects an interesting phenomenon about the tourist and guidebook industry. According to Reuters, Lonely Planet has sold over a million guidebooks on India from 1981 to 2007, and has inevitably bringing tourists to the same hotels and restaurants throughout the years, and has created tension and jealousy among businesses, such as the hostile feelings of the other omelette shop owners towards Ramkishan Gawlani. For us, we did visit the famous Omelette Shop for our first meal in Rajasthan because of its convenient location. While not as legendary one might imagine, Ramkishan Gawlani ‘s omelettes were indeed delightful and convenient for us.
We arrived at Pal Haveli hotel straight from the airport in early afternoon.
Through the grand entrance, we entered into the main arrival courtyard of the hotel.
On the roof, Indique Restaurant is a well known establishment with good food and great views of the old Jodhpur.
The hotel reception lobby is situated right at the courtyard.
Despite its modest size, the reception lobby of Pal Haveli is decently decorated with traditional furniture and antiques.
Even the light switches reflect the long history of the building.
Our room was located right by the courtyard.
Inside the room, walls were decorated with traditional miniature paintings.
Just a stone throw away, the legendary Omelette Shop was busy serving foreign tourists.
Stacks of eggs and signs of “Lonely Planet” and “Tripadvisor” suggested we had come to the “right” place, but not one of the imitated ones.
Ramkishan Gawlaniwas busy making omelettes at the stove.
Made with several eggs, mayo, cheese, spices and bread, we tried the tasty Alibaba Omelette.
Near the Omelette Shop was the entrance into the Sardar Market or the Clock Tower Market.
Across the street from the Omelette Shop, we could see the side facade of our hotel Pal Haveli.
Dozens of tuk tuks or auto rickshaws await for tourists at the heart of the old city across the street from the Omelette Shop.
After a few rounds of bargaining, we hired one of the passing auto rickshaw for Mehrangarh Fort, the single most iconic sight of the city of Jodhpur.
Posts on 2018 Rajasthan:-
Day 1: Jodhpur
DAY 1.1: IN TRANSIT TO RAJASTHAN
DAY 1.2: PAL HAVELI & THE OMELETTE MAN, Jodhpur
DAY 1.3: SPLENDOR OF THE SUN FORT, Mehrangarh, Jodhpur
DAY 1.4: SUNSET OVER THE BLUE CITY, Mehrangarh, Jodhpur
DAY 1.5: SADAR MARKET AND GHANTA GHAR CLOCKTOWER, Jodhpur
Day 2: Jodhpur, Osian, Jaisalmer
DAY 2.1: MARBLE CENOTAPH JASWANT THADA, Jodhpur
DAY 2.2: MEDIEVAL STEPWELLS, Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra, Gulab Sagar, & Toorji Ka Jhalra, Jodhpur
DAY 2.3: PILGRIM OASIS IN THAR DESERT, Sachiya Mata Temple, Osian
DAY 2.4: SUNRISE AT THE FIRST GATE OF GOLDEN FORT, Jaisalmer
Day 4: Jaisalmer
DAY 4.1: RESERVOIR OF THE GOLDEN CITY, Gadsisar Lake, Jaisalmer
DAY 4.2: ARCHITECTURAL JEWEL OF RAJASTHAN, Patwon Ki Haveli Part 1, Jaisalmer
DAY 4.3: ARCHITECTURAL JEWEL OF RAJASTHAN, Patwon Ki Haveli Part 2, Jaisalmer
DAY 4.4: DESERT HERITAGE, Hotel Nachana Haveli and Thar Heritage Museum, Jaisalmer
DAY 4.5: LAST STROLL IN THE GOLDEN CITY, Jaisalmer
Day 8: Bhangarh, Abhaneri & Agra
DAY 8.1: ON THR ROAD TO AGRA
DAY 8.2: HAUNTED RUINS, Bhangarh, Rajasthan
DAY 8.3: CHAND BAORI, Abhaneri, Rajasthan
DAY 8.4: THE ABANDONED CAPITAL OF MUGHAL EMPIRE, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
DAY 8.5: FRIDAY MOSQUE, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Day 9: Agra
DAY 9.1: CROWN OF THE PALACES, Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
DAY 9.2: AGRA FORT, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
DAY 9.3: RAWATPARA SPICE MARKET, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
DAY 9.4: SUNSET AT MEHTAB BAGH, Agra, Uttar Pradesh