One of the most unique hotels that I have stayed at was the Kandalama Hotel, in Dambulla, Sri Lanka…
Apparently the design kept to the natural topography of the rock face. No rocks were injured during the building of the hotel; instead rooms and corridors were built around them!
The Kandalama Hotel is one of the world’s first eco-friendly hotels built much before ‘going green’ was fashionable. It was the brain child of genius architect and design guru the late Geoffrey Bawa.
Though it’s seven storeys high, it’s almost invisible from a distance as it has been sensitively fitted to its surroundings and covered with ficus, grass and jungle creepers.
It has won many awards and was the first hotel in Asia to receive the prestigious Green Globe 21 certification.
The rooms seem to be a natural extension of the verdant forest around as Hanuman langurs shriek and chatter, peering into our rooms from a ledge. The bathroom has a Jacuzzi facing a glass window with spectacular scenery outside and we voted it the best ‘bathroom with a view’.
We took a boat ride on the ancient Kandalama reservoir, and were astounded by the boatmen’s rich knowledge of bird life on the lake- Brahminy kites fly in the thermals, fish eagles swoop down on their daily catch, egrets and cormorants sit in the rushes, bee-eaters and colourful orioles flit by and the magnificent flight of the hawks is mesmerizing in the burnished gold of the setting sun.
Our days at the hotel were busy. The hotel has the unique distinction of being within the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka and is surrounded by UNESCO World Heritage sites. We visited the Dambulla Rock caves filled with frescoes and Buddha statues one day, and trekked up to Sigiriya, the ancient pleasure palace of King Kashyapa the next.