Habarana to Kandy is just about 100km apart, and we should have completed the journey in about 3 hours. Well, it took us the whole day! Yes, we stopped at various places during the drive…not that we minded them. However, in our lust to see and experience it all along the way, we missed the Kandyan Dance performance in the evening. The traffic in Kandy town was partly to blame too…we got held up for more than an hour on the town’s outskirts in the evening…Here’s a round-up of the Habarana-Kandy drive…and the pit stops along the way….
First stop, at the Dambulla Cave Temple which is 20km from Habarana. Its famous cave temples are perched on the top of a hillock, and the complete tour takes about an hour. The Dambulla Cave Temples form part of the religious circuit in Sri Lanka, along with the town of Anuradhapura, Pollonnruwa and Sigiriya. There are five caves that house more than 150 statues of Buddha and many paintings and murals. The temple complex is more than 2000 years old. Very well maintained and clean, one would love to sit and look out into the greenery after the tour of the temples. Being popular with both local devotees and curious tourists, it can get quite crowded here. Read more about the temples in the post – Tour of the Dambulla Cave Temples, Srilanka.
Second stop, at the Spice and Herbal Garden — About 30-45 minutes away from the Dambulla town, along the same road that we took from Habarana to Dambulla, are a series of botanical gardens that offer tours for the herbs, medicinal and spice plants they grow. A total of a 30-minute tour, you can stop by to see how Sri Lanka uses Ayurveda and for a ‘sort of’ free massage too. Read all about the tour here – Spice & Herbal Garden Tour in Sri Lanka – To go or to not go.
By the time we came out of the spice garden tour, it was lunch hour. Since we wanted a typical Sri Lankan spread, our guide, Sushanta, took us to almost a home-like restaurant about 45 minutes away. A good wait, and we were rewarded with a lavish spread of brown rice, veggies, salads and chicken….all cooked in Sri Lankan style, which we devoured in no time.
Post lunch, we set off for some tableware shopping at the Noritake outlet in Matale. Located about 45minutes before Kandy, we spent a good hour there buying crockery for home. Read about our shopping spree here – Tableware Shopping at Noritake, Sri Lanka.
Squeezing all of this tours and stops cost us dearly! We had been booked for the cultural dance program in Kandy that starts at 6 pm every evening. By the time we left the Noritake outlet, it was already 5.15 pm. Our chances of making it to the program on time appeared bleak. To make matters worse, Sushanta found out that the road to Kandy was caught in the evening hour traffic. Well, that dashed our hopes. A one-hour program, we reached the premises at the fag end, horribly missing all that traditional dance inside the hall. As saving grace, we managed to watch the 10-minute fire walk and dance outside the hall. Had to be satisfied with only that much. Sadly.
Our tip to you when you drive from Habarana to Kandy with a similar itinerary, keep an eye on the watch and ensure that you do not spend inordinate amount of time in any one place. Our mistake we took it easy right from the beginning!
One final note: The stretch of road from Habarana to Kandy is mostly very good. The traffic is also decent. It is a nice, stressless drive throughout…
P.S: For a complete Sri Lanka itinerary and tour details, read — Best Itinerary & Blogs for Sri Lanka Road Trip