Sri Lanka, India’s tear
tooth. Just 2.5 cm of upper left canine, but with a great story behind it. It is one of few conserved relics of Buddha in the world and you can find it in the mountain city of Kandy, Sri Lanka, a World Heritage Site. According to legend, the owner of the tooth had a divine right to govern those lands. That is why the relic is in the old royal palace, Sri Dalada Maligawa, or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
It is one of the best-known Buddhist temples in the world, and the most sacred place in Sri Lanka. The building is in a classic European style, with an octagonal structure. It was built in the early decades of the 18th century, under the mandate of King Vira Narendra. This temple a hotbed for pilgrims and visitors, all going barefoot, with long trousers and covered shoulders.
Grazing the Sri Lankan sky
At over 2,500m above sea level, Pidurutalagala or Mount Pedro is the highest mountain in the country. At its feet is Nuwara Eliya. Adam’s Peak (Sri Prada) is the country’s other well-known mountain. At the summit is a footprint attributed to Buddha, Adam or Shiva.
The artificial lake of Kandy doesn’t attract as many tourists as Buddha’s tooth, but it is still the nation’s most-photographed landscape. Plus it’s the reference point of the city, with the temples and palaces signposted from this green lung. It was King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha who ordered its construction in 1807. It is home to fish, turtles and a type of reptile similar to the Komodo dragon. So harmless is it in appearance that locals and tourists don’t hesitate to take a dip in its waters.
Two hours away, you will find the mountainous region of Nuwara Eliya, known as little England for the English-style houses built by British colonists. It is here, in the country’s Highlands, where they make the best tea on the planet. Sri Lanka is the largest producer of this drink in the world. The main variety, Ceylon, has the name the British gave the island.
The plantations are more than 2,000 m above sea level. There, a team of women work as individuals: each uses her stick to select any leaves that are poking out, and then deposits them in a bag hung from her shoulders. That is the first part of the process, which continues in the factories. Mackwoods is the best known in Nuwara Eliya. Set in the plantations, at this factory, you can observe everything from drying to packaging. The tour ends with a tasting of the island’s ‘liquid gold’.
Tea isn’t the only treasure. Sri Lanka is home to eight World Heritage Sites. One of them is Lion Rock, in the quiet village of Sigiriya. It is a rock more than 200m tall, with lion claws carved into it on a terrace, where stairs lead visitors to the top. The Golden Temple of Dambulla has also been recognised by UNESCO. This cave monastery dates back to the first century BC. After climbing the 100 m stairway, where monkeys will liven up your efforts, five caves await, between them home to more than 150 statues of Buddha. Tranquillity reigns. It is the perfect place to forget about it all and put a Buddhist maxim into practice: “rejoice, because every place is here and every moment is now”.