After 10 hours of flying and 3 hours of driving, we found
ourselves at Ulagalla Resort.
Despite our arrival at 6am, the staff greeted us with warm
smiles, introduced us to the Sri Lankan traditions of lighting the oil lamp,
ringing the bell and drinking tea and then immediately got our chalet ready.
Ulagalla is a beautiful resort, recently opened on a 58-acre
piece of farmland. There really is no
need to leave the resort – the chalets are charming, the staff is friendly and
you can spend the day doing anything from biking or swimming to horse-back
riding and archery. In addition, the
resort is eco-friendly and striving to be 100% sustainable, with the paddy fields and vegetable garden on the premises.
While there are only 25 chalets, the staff outnumber the guests by more
than double, making it easy for them to achieve fantastic service.
We truly enjoyed the activities and the spa, but we decided
to spend half a day away to visit the nearby ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura.
Anuradhapura is part of Sri Lanka’s “cultural triangle” and
the oldest ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka. While quite a bit of it was destroyed during multiple invasions of the South Indians, there are still many temples and
dogabas (stupas) to visit. In addition,
it seems that many locals make a pilgrimage to this ancient city to visit a
very famous dogabas built with the oldest tree in the world – the Bodhi tree.
Lord Buddha is said to have reached enlightenment under original
Bodhi and Buddhists believe that Buddha’s daughter came from India to
Sri Lanka with a sapling of the original Bodhi tree, which was planted in
Anuradhapura. Today, you can visit the
beautiful temple that surrounds in this 2,300 year old tree. Unfortunately, you
cannot walk straight up to the tree though – that honour is reserved for the
President of the country and other “important” people!
We managed to fit in the highlights in 4 hours, but one
could easily spend days wandering through this ancient city.