Royal Kandy

Royal Kandy

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Resplendent in red and white costume that is centuries old, Kandyan dance is an important part of the culture of the ancient kingdom. Originally aligned to the Temple of the Tooth, the dance’s origins lie in an exorcism ritual originally performed by Indian Shamans. According to legend, the Indian shamans came to the island upon the request of a king who was suffering from a mysterious illness. The king was said to be suffering from a recurring dream in which a leopard was directing its tongue towards the king, believed to be as a black magic of “Kuweni” the first…

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Portuguese Architecture

Portuguese Passion

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Like gems hidden in the mines of Ratnapura, Portuguese architecture is around every corner in Sri Lanka. It lays secret behind lush jungles, or shows off on a main street façade. Akin to traditional handmade lace, the ironwork drops and curls down from the roofs, the stalactites gripping on – barely fighting the humid climate. When Lorenzo De Almeida arrived to Sri Lanka in 1505 – sent off course after a storm at sea – the Portuguese influence immediately hit this island nation. Forts and townships were created, architectural gems and decoration showing themselves off as a sign of newfound…

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Rev. K. Upali of the Ancient of Gandara.

Dedication

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The Rev. K. Upali watches with pleasure as his giant Buddha is built. In the background, the legs of the monument can be seen – each placed by hand, a labour of love. A lifetime achievement for the Rev, he has watched over this historic vihara (Buddhist temple) for decades and painstakingly planned the monument. Inside the smaller temple, frescoes date back hundreds of years – perhaps even to the Kandyan period. Narrowly missed by the tsunami, the colours are still bright, the statues still stand as strong as the faith of the monks who practice here. The Rev. K….

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Lassetter

An unusual visitor

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Our local Lassetter pops in for a visit to Talalla Retreat to attend a wedding ceremony. Although technically this Elephas maximus maximus can weight up to 5500kg, she walks with grace through our grounds, stopping now and again for a nibble. Lassetter lives at the Dondra temple, the celebrity of the local Perahera parade. An important cultural symbiosis has continued to exist between the elephant and humans for over two thousand years – no religious procession is complete without its retinue of elephants, and many large Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka still have their own elephants. Lassetter has walked here...
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Dried fish

Fishy business

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Walking or driving through the coastal regions of southern Sri Lanka – from Weligama to Talalla and Dickwella – a sudden pungent scent fills your unsuspecting nostrils. The culprit? Dried fish! A key ingredient in traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, dried fish are widely used to add flavor and salt to curry and sambol. These little guys pack a punch, and only a pinch is required to really turn up the flavor. The fish are air-dried under the scorching Sri Lankan sun, until they take the appearance of wood or leather. Being kept in this manner, the fish can be kept…

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Holy Cow

Holy Cow

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Who’s that in the middle of your roundabout? A lovingly cared-for cow, feasting on any remnant of grass she can find! Although a predominantly Buddhist country, cows are still given a certain reverence in Sri Lanka. They wander freely on median strips, through tea plantations or anywhere where a lawn mower is required. You might find one lazing on the freeway, strolling the town, or wandering through the village of Talalla. Either way, these gentle beasts provide the daily milk for your famous Ceylon tea. Image courtesy of D. Jones photography and may not be reproduced without permission.

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Picture Perfect

By | Did You Know? | No Comments

Some places seem to be too postcard-perfect to be real. Welcome to Tangalle. White sands, royal blue waters and – of course – palm trees lining the beach. Here, Talalla Retreat’s resident surf instructor, Richard, climbs a coconut palm for an image straight from a movie. James Bond, eat your heart out. No photoshop required! Image courtesy of D. Jones Photography and may not be reproduced without permission.

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Parrot

Talalla Twitter(er)

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“Hello?!” This little guy is a Rose Ringed Parakeet. He lives in the gardens at Talalla Retreat and can often be found twittering with his friends, welcoming the morning with his happy little song. His bright green colour and rosy beak mean he easily blends in with the tropical gardens of Talalla. He lives on grains and seeds, found throughout the grounds, and loves to swish his wings about in the bath. He loves to eat wing beans, the very same ingredient that’s found in our dinner most nights of the week! While we love them stewed with tomato, or…

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Still warm samosa from Risara Bakers, Haputale. Heaven!

A Sri Lankan Picnic

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High in the tea-stained hills of Haputale, a delicacy awaits. First, the painstaking preparation. The vegetable curry is first delicately spiced then cooled. At the same time, roti dough is pounded and cooked. It sits waiting for its delicious inheritance. A boiled egg is peeled and the stage is set. The curry is spooned into the roti and the egg placed in the centre. It is lovingly wrapped, like a tiny present, and all openings are sealed. Finally, it is dropped into boiling oil, and cooked for a few seconds before your eyes. Then, magic. One bite and you’re hooked….

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Smoky Okra Curry at the Original Mama's Galle Fort. Sublime!

Keep Calm and Eat Curry!

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Curry glorious curry! Spicy or mild. Gravy or dry. Creamy or light. In Sri Lanka, a simple rice and curry is never a simple rice and curry. Fork over between 100 – 500 rupees and you’ll be awarded a gluttonous feast of up to 12 mouthwatering creations. Sour mango, creamy jackfruit, pungent beetroot, dry purple potato. Mixes of up to 15 spices, crushed and mixed by hand, and usually with a hero flavor. All served with red rice, husk still on, and eaten with the fingers or skillet-hot roti. Accompaniments abound – sambols of hot, sour or sweet goodness –…

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