Friday, February 20, 2009

Holiday at the Kandalama Hotel

The Kandalama Hotel

Last weekend we (me and my wife) went for a holiday to the Kandalama Hotel. I don't believe in Marketing crap such as Valentines day, but it just happened to be that Valentines day fell on that weekend (Also Kandalama had a good offer for that weekend).

Kandalama Hotel is located on the hills overlooking the Kandalama Tank. The length of the hotel is around 1 KM from end to end (Dambulla Wing to Sigiriya Wing). From the Sigiriya Wing you could see the Sigiriya fortress in a distance, hence its a wonderful place to stay for anyone wanting to visit Sigiriya. A unique feature of the hotel is its commitment to protecting the environment. The hotel is built into the mountains and is surrounded by plenty of trees and creepers. You wake up to the cheeping sounds of plenty birds found in the vicinity. It is said that if the buildings of the hotel are removed that the area would look just like it was before the hotel was build. The Architect Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa has designed it in such a manner that the hotel was built without damaging anything in the surrounding environment.

At Kandalama there are plenty of activities that one could indulge in. These include Elephant rides, boat rides, Bird Watching, Mountain Biking, Hiking and so on. Most of the hotels boast about having bird watching and so on when they do not have anything to offer. This is not the case with Kandalama though. As the hotel is surrounded by trees and the Kandalama Lake, birds are a familiar sight. If you look up towards the sky at any given time you would see at least a couple of Eagles soaring over the skies. Monkeys are also a familiar sight. They come to eat seeds and fruits as well as drink water from the lake as well as the swimming pool.

We also took the opportunity to visit the Eco Park at Kandalama. Its a place where they house an Animal Rehabilitation Centre. As Kandalama is situated in a rural part of Sri Lanka Surrounded by a jungle Serpents are a familiar sight. This also means that accidents do happen and that injured Serpents and Animals can be found on the roads. Sanath who is specialist in Serpents and Animals runs the rehabilitation centre in which he brings in and treats these injured Serpents and Animals. He also maintains a collection of Serpents for people to see. These Serpents which are captured from the area of the hotel itself are not kept for long at this centre. They are released to the wild after a couple of months. Sanath also did mention that he gets telephone calls from villages when they encounter Serpents. Sanath then rushes to the rescue of these serpents and bring them over to the rehabilitation centre. The 12 foot Python that he had was such a Serpent which was captured in a neighboring Temple. Sanath is also competent in handling wild snakes. He demonstrated this by handling a Spectacle Cobra as well as petting a Forsten's Catsnake. I would call him Sri Lankas Steve Erwin.

Another environment friendly action of the Kandalama hotel is that they try to recycle everything. The hotels garbage is brought to a special centre where it is sorted and put into several categories. These are then sent to the various recycling centres. Kandalama also recycles their waste water.

We had a wonderful learning experience by visiting the Paper recycling and production plant. This was a small factory that made paper using Elephant Dung. I would cover the details of that in a separate post.

All in all Kandalama was a wonderful holiday as well as a learning experience. We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday. I would like to encourage anybody who has not visited the Kandalama Hotel to do so. Its a unique experience.

I've uploaded the photos of the trip here.

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