Today is our last full traveller day in Sri Lanka because we start to fly home tomorrow evening from Colombo. On our way to the National Park at Udawalawe where we are going on a “end of day” safari, we pass Seetha Amman Temple which we stop at despite our feeling of being a bit over-templed.
This temple is believed to be the site where Sita was held captive by (Vikram) King Ravana, and where she prayed daily for Rama to come and rescue her in the Hindu epic, Ramayana.
On the rock face across the stream are circular depressions (marked in yellow) which are said to be the footprints of Rawana’s elephant.
The temple was built around 1998 and there is an account of why this spot was chosen together with an assertion that there has been something religious on the site for over 100 years here.
One our way south to the game reserve, we stopped for refreshments at a tea house in Ella.
The view from the garden was superb
Ella is also where you get the train to Kandy, a trip which is said to be one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, certainly one of the best in Sri Lanka.
We heard the train making a great deal of noise as it departed and some while later we could see it on the far side of the valley - it is the red line in the middle of the picture above. There is a nice blog account of the train trip here. If ever we come back to Sri Lanka, this has to be on the ‘to-do” list.
Udawalawe National Park and Game Reserve
We drove south for quite a long time, average speed on Sri Lankan roads seems to max at about 40 kph. Eventually we got to the Game Reserve but drove past it in order to get to our hotel
and in doing so, we saw our first elephant of the day within the reserve. An electric fence runs around the reserve and the inmates soon learn to keep away from it.
Later on we were to see the same elephant swimming in the lake.
We went on our safari in very comfortable 6-seater jeeps, more comfortable in fact than our coach.
The game park is quite large and we were only to go to a small area in the middle of the bottom of this map, to the right of the lake.
Having seen these two elephants just inside the gate, we felt that at least the trip was not a waste of time because we had seen elephants.
Over the space of the next two hours we saw many more elephants all of which were completely used to the jeeps and so took no notice of us and we came within feet of them on many occasions.
Here a calf is imitating its mother who was about 10 feet away from us.
This family were going to the lake for a drink.
There are enough birds to keep any ornithologist happy. These are Bee Eaters
and we saw lots of peacocks here (and elsewhere in Sri Lanka).
As an aside, on the way back to Colombo I saw one of the most unusual motorway signs I have ever seen
saying “Danger Peacocks ahead”. Peacock accidents were even worthy of a story in one of the local newspapers.
There were also crocodiles which were not as exciting to us as they were to others since we had seen more than enough of them in Australia,
and herds of Water Buffalo,
and at dusk, trees full of Macaques.
Sunset was very beautiful over the lake
and also over the reserve plains.
We thought that the safari was a very enjoyable last event of our time in Sri Lanka.