Breathtaking Views from the Victoria Range
It is Saturday morning and as usual, the road to Kandy is a driver’s nightmare. Despite the rain holding off and the sun trying valiantly to make an appearance, we get to the Victoria Range bungalows in Digana way past lunch time. By now we are hungry, finished listening to all the music CD’s on board and fast running out of conversation. Nearly six hours later, we arrive at the entrance to the Victoria Range.
The relief was almost palpable. Our first impression was ‘nice’. The tarred streets are beautified by tall palm trees and colourful bougainvilleas. An araliya tree, in full bloom, is the landmark we have to take a right turn at. This six-hour journey is beginning to look like it was worth it. The weather outside is perfect with a slight chill in the air. This is a refreshing change from the untoward weather gripping the entire island. At some points, we could see the surrounding landscape of the Victoria Mountains. This weekend looked like it was going to be a good one after all!
As we drive in, we passed a Mini Market, a well equipped children’s playground, a nature trail and a community centre. At the Main Office, where I have to collect the keys to the bungalow, I see a well kept tennis court which is available for guests who are also allowed to use the gym and squash courts. Unlike most hotels, there was no welcome drink, no smiling concierge and no engaging manager. The Main Office, which also doubles up as the Club House was deserted. I took the chance to sneak a peek around the place. With a perfect view of the breathtaking Victoria mountain range, this Club house is the preferred place for meal times or ideal to chill in. On the far side of a large and manicured garden is a large infinity swimming pool which looked inviting but I was not going to get into. I hate cold water!
I get the keys to the Tamarind bungalow which is located a short drive off. Situated in the midst of this large housing scheme, Tamarind is a small, neat, three bed room bungalow set in 13 perches of land. There is, however, one glaring blunder that makes you catch your breath… it is the bright orange speckled floor tiles. My immediate reaction was that is looked like a movie set from Dexter! But after some time, you get used to this quirky, yet unique floor. Although I am yet to find out who is responsible for the interior décor!
The Victoria Range Holiday Resort comprises three bungalows which can be rented out for the weekend or longer depending on your requirement. Whilst some are three bed roomed, the other two have additional rooms that can accommodate up to eight to ten persons.
As usual, it is time to explore. The most exhilarating feeling about the Victoria Range is the freshness in the air. Fresh winds blow across from the mountains adding a certain chill to the afternoon. Walking around the Scheme, we come across perfectly groomed lawns that add colour and variety to the rows of similar homes. I am told that some of these gardens have won awards in various Home Garden competitions. Adding to the color and serenity of the surroundings are three large lotus ponds, teeming with fish. Park benches are strategically placed for anyone who cares to sit and while away time.
I have to say that there is some wonderful greenery enveloping this entire Scheme. Looking out of the balcony of the Tamarind bungalow, I see a forest of trees that surprisingly are devoid of pesky monkeys that usually frequent these areas. The rustle of the leaves adds to the soothing calmness of the place.
Mealtimes can be a bit disorganized as there are no landlines in the bungalow to connect us to the kitchen. And since the bungalow does not have an equipped pantry, we have to depend on the main kitchen for meals. So please take along a mobile phone to avoid any unnecessary walking. Our lunch, dinner and breakfast were brought on trays laden with boxed meals. The food is palatable, and the service is prompt and personable.
The downside of this holiday home is the lack of entertainment and facilities. Unless you are prepared to read a lot of books or just spend time staring at the mountains, there is nothing much else you can do here. Although cable TV is an option on the microwave-sized television set, the evenings can get boring unless you have friends to enjoy your stay with. And that is just what we did! With the reruns of the ‘wedding-of-the-year’ playing in the background, we had a lot of fun devouring chocolates and drinking some sublime intoxicant.
The next morning, we went on a full tour of the Scheme. We were driven through the maze of individual homes in various models. All in all, it looked like a relaxing and restful place to live in, especially as a holiday get-away. And for the price you pay for this holiday bungalow, it is worth the drive up.
It is time to leave. The last thing anyone wants is another tiresome drive back to Colombo. But we are in for a surprise as the roads are almost deserted due to May Day, we presume. Needless to say, we were thankful for another wonderful weekend…