The Trail of Steven Spielberg (My trip to Kandy, Sri Lanka)
I came home from a ten-day trip to Sri Lanka a couple of days ago. And sure enough i have my story to tell to my fellow Indyfans.
Sit down, relax with a cup of coffee, snacks or whatever you like because here is my story:
After i spendt some days in Colombo i took the train to Kandy. From the trainstation i took a tuk-tuk to my hotel. On the way i noticed the Hotel Suisse. That's where Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy lived during the making of "Indiana Jones and the temple of doom" (Not sure if Harrison Ford lived there but my guess is that he did).
I arrived the hotel and got to my room and layd down to rest a bit and looked through my Lonely Planet book. Not really interested in sightseeing on the regular tourist stuff i went up to the reception and with me i brought two picture, one with the Sivalinga Shrine and the other of Oodewella Top Division sign(both pictures taken by COWs one and only ijq8). I asked the receptionist if he knew where it was. He knew the sign but not the stone. I asked him if he knew a good driver who could take me there. He called someone and told me that there was someone on the way to have a chat with me.
Ten minutes later the driver arrived. We sat down and discussed. I mentioned The temple of doom film that was shot around this area. Driver had never heard of it. He'd even never heard of Indiana Jones, wich i found strange, but i told him that there are filmlocations around, one at the Hantana tea estate and one at the Victoria dam. I showed him pictures from the film on my phone.
Driver: "Yes that is victoria dam but that bridge is not there anymore sir"
Me: "That i know but the pillars are. They are on a restricted area but do you think it's possible to get there?"
Driver: "Yes that spot is restricted. I can take you to Victoria Dam but i can't promise you that you'll get to that aera. There are guards everywhere. You can ask them but i can't promise you that you can get in."
Me: "Just take me there and to the Hantana estate"
Driver: "Okay. We'll go tomorrow. First to Victoria Dam and then to the estate."
Driver: "But you must know that that bridge is not there sir"
Me: :-s :roll:
The day after the driver picked me up at the hotel in the morning and we set of towards:
THE VICTORIA DAM
After driving for a while on a small road through a forest we arrived a gate. There were soldiers there talking to some other guy trying to get through.
Driver: "You just sit in the car. I'll go talk to them"
I sat there in the car and watched the other guy passing through the gate while my driver spoke to the soldiers. "This is heavy" i though to myself, thinking that we probably won't get further than this.
Then i saw my driver coming towards the car and noticed one of the guards were about to close the gate. "Sh**! We didn't get through" i thought but then my driver turned towards the soldier and said something and then they opened the gate again. "Phew!". Driver came in the car:
Driver: "Do you have any cigarettes?"
Me: "Uh no. I don't smoke"
Driver: "Oh well. Not a big deal. Just that it would be nice to give the soldiers a gift like that. They like it but we may pass"
Me: "I'll think about that the next time."
We passed the gate.
We came up to some kind of a "Welcome center", with a viewpoint and and cafeteria. My driver signed us in and then we walked out to the porch with the view over the dam.
Driver: "Wanna go down to the dam and get the view?"
I walked to the left of the porch and grabbed mi binoculars out from my satchel and started looking. There were trees in the way but i could see through the branches.
Driver: "what are you looking for sir?"
Me: "What do you think?"
Driver: "Sir, you won't find anything there. Let's just go down to the dam and.."
Me: "There they are."
Me: "The pillars. They are right there. Have a look"
Driver: "What? They are there? (grabs the binoculars and looks) Oh sir you are right! I see them! I see them!"
Me: "What did i tell ya?" :)
Driver: "Wait here! I'll get us down there"
Driver ran off to speak with the boss, a man who has being working there for 33 years (and was present during the filming of Temple of doom. Driver told me to come and meet the boss. I did and the boss asked what film i was there for. I told him and he just looked at me and nodded a little and then Driver told me to wait outside at the porch again.
While they were discussing i tried to take a picture of the pillars from the viewpoint.
Driver came back and forth many times, telling how it is going. The boss was hard to bargain with. After the third 4th time Driver came back:
Driver: "This was hard. He is telling us to leave but i do see we have a chance to get down there"
Me: "Wich is?"
Driver: "about 20%"
While Driver and me dicussed the Boss came behind us, standing on the top of the stairs by the door.
Boss: "Gentlemen..(we turn towards him)...come with me."
Me and driver looked at each other, wondering what's going on.
Driver: "Come sir."
We followed the Boss. Driver spoke to the boss and then sendt me a little tumbs up. We sat in the car with the boss and drove down the road. We came to a post were there were soldiers but the Boss just waved at them and they let us through. We parked a little further down the road and the boss, who is an old man, started jumping and climbing up some rocks.
Boss: "Follow me. This way"
Me: (thinking) "Gee. For an old guy this guy is like a young monkey"
I came up and walked a little bit, following the boss until he turned towards me
Boss: "Recognize something?"
And there it was. The view towards victora dam and i saw the big berg of a rock were the bridge was attached to. The cliff i was standing on is now with a huge barb wired fence(but easy to see through). I saw the pillars on the other side
I walked a little further towards the forest and then i spotted:
I went to the pillars and had a look. One of them were broken (same thing on one of the pillars on the other side)
Pillars on the other side (notice that there a still some painting on them):
The boss showed me some of the steel cable that were used for the bridge:
and of course, some posing shots:
THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED WITH MORE STORIES AND PICTURES. STAY TUNED.
UNTIL THEN, HERE IS A SMALL TEASER ON WHAT'S TO COME:
Wow, what an amazing story, and adventure! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for more pics and story. Great stuff, sounds like a lot of fun!
Here are some pics for reference:
Fantastic! I love this kind of stuff.
That's pretty awesome that you got to go to the exact location where the scene was shot!
I gotta say this is great. Good stuff man.:hat:
Thanks Guys. :)
I were about to add the second part to the first post but i'm not able to edit the post. Anyone knows what's up with that?
I believe there is a time limit here on editing posts.
ah ok. Chucks. Was hoping to add stuff to the first post so that things wouldn't become "messy". Oh well.
here is the second part:
After having my little funtime in the area we decided to go back up again. I gave the Boss some cash for the trouble, wich he appreciated. Driver thought this whole experience was cool and was looking foreward to going to the Hantane tea estate but before we went back to the car we needed to have a photo taken:
Mission Victoria complete.
We said our thanks and goodbye to the boss and went back to the car and drove off. Both of us still couldn't believe we actually got to go down in that area. We had our laughs.....until we came to the gate again. The soldiers told us to stop the car.
Me: "Oh boy...this doesn't look good"
One of the soldiers went over to the driver and told him to roll down the window. They spoke to each other.
Driver: "Sir. He's asking to see the photos"
Me: (thinking) "ah Sh**. He's probably going to delete the photos or confiscate the camera"
I took my camera out of my bag and then..
Driver: "No no! The phone. The pictures from the movie. The soldiers want to see those"
Me: "...oh." (finding the photos on the phone and handing it over to the driver)
Driver was flipping through the photos on the phone and the soldiers seemed to be amazed, like they were going like "Ooooo, aaaah". Funny and a bit awkward moment for me at the time.
The soldiers let us out and we set towards the tea estate.
Me: "Well, that went surprisingly easy. That was the supposed to be the hardest one so the next one is kittenplay.
Driver: "Yeah. I cant believe me made it through. Next one is really easy.
And we were about to find out that we were SO wrong.
HANTANA TEA ESTATE
We drove up the road, wich seemed to become smaller and rockier. I took out the photo of the Sivalinga Shrine and the road description ijq6 kindly had posted here on COW. We drove until we came around a corner and then i spotted the mountain. I knew that shape. I knew it from the film and now i know where to go but Driver wasn't too sure. He'd never been here before.
Me: "No worries mate. I have the description, i see the mountain...i know we are on the right track.
Driver: "Yes sir but i never been here before. I'll ask that guy for directions."
Me: "Uhm..directions? We got directions right here on this paper and i know that mountain. Just follow the road"
But driver stopped and asked a man for directions, wich i thought was unnecessary.
Driver: "This guy knows where it is."
Me: "Yeah well i don't need no guide. I got my guide right here" (the directions and photo)
Driver: "He says his brother worked on that film"
Me: "Doesn't matter. It was his brother, not him. I'm not paying extra for something i don't need. For all we know this guy is just after a quick buck"
Driver: "But sir i haven't been here before. I think we need him"
Me: "Well i haven't been here before either but i know exactly where to go and...(The guy/guide enters the car in the back)....ah godda**it..
After passing the Wickremanayake National Training Centre we noticed there were some pretty big rocks on the road and the car we drove was not made for trips like this.
Me: "I think we should park the car and walk the rest of the way"
Driver didn't respond but i noticed that he seemed nervous. He tried to drive carefully over some rocks..
Driver: "................We need to park the car and walk. Are you okay with that sir?"
Me: :roll: "Sure."
While the driver and the guide were parking the car close to some houses i walked ahead, holding the description and photos at hand. I used the photo to compare the mountain because there is a distinct peak/boulder at the top right behind where the shrine is located. I could see it from a distance.
While i was walking i noticed how far back driver and the guide were.
Waaaaay back there.
After a little more walking i came to something familiar from a previous thread here at COW (Had to wait for the others to catch up with me so that they could snap this shot):
This one goes out to ijq8 (of Club Obi Wan) :TOH:
And on the road again, and again i came waaaaay in front of the other two but then it made me think of the opening of "Raiders"..with Indy and Sapito and Barranca..Indy with the map and in lead with the other two stumbling behind. That was pretty cool in a way.
After a little while i saw the peak and i looked at the photo.
Me: (thinking)"I'm close. If my calculations are correct there should be a road turning up right around this corner" (comes around the corner)
While i was waiting for the others i studied the road a bit. It was much wider than the other roads i had seen there earlier, wide enough to have cars driving and elefants walking on it. It must be the start of the productionroad i thought. The one ijq8 mentioned must have been just a part of it.
The others came. Driver tells me that i have to go up right.
Me:I'm already on my way. I'm just waiting for you guys.
I walked up the road and had the feeling we are REALLY close to the shrine but then suddenly:
Driver: "Sir? Come."
Me: (turns around) "What? Why?"
Driver: "The guide says he knows a better way."
Me: "A better way? Can there be a better way than this? We are so close. The shrine is in this area."
Driver: "But he is saying he knows a better way. Come."
Me: (Looking up the road and turns back looking towards the driver and the guide who already have turned, walking the other way.) "I have a bad feeling about this"..(walks after the others)
THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED. STAY TUNED
Anxious bump. :)
I followed the driver and the guide back down to the main path and we went further up the road. I had a feeling that this is way off. We were walking further away from the mountainpeak that i used as a guide to find the shrine. I told the others but they seemed determined that they were on the right track.
We came to a new sign that said “Kitool Mulla Division”
Me. "Wait a minute guys. (finds the road description that ijq8 had written) Look! see? This is way off. we have gone too far. We have to go back."
Driver: "But the guides brother worked on the film. He knows where it is"
Me: "Well that was his brother, not him and from the description i have in my hands and by looking at the peak we are walking further away from i say that he doesnt know exactly where it is. This is just a waste of time. From my point of view the shrine should be right there" (points at a spot)
Driver: "If you say so"
We didnt go back to the production road. We went of the road and walked by big rock and bushes. Not an easy path to take but i was determined to find the shrine. The others followed behind. Driver, dressed in nice shoes and suitpants didnt seem to enjoy this very much.
The further up we came the closer i felt we were to the shrine. I looked at every big rock we passed.
Me: "nope. Not that one......not that one either.."
Driver: "Sir..i think we should go back and just follow the guides route"
Me: (thinks: "Can you please shut up?") "I'm not going back there. we are close. You guys just wait here. I'll call you if i find it"
I went further up by myself, looked at big rocks and pushing myself through bushes and fell through a couple of holes on the ground that were covered by grass and bushes.
Me: (thinks) "I'm close. I'm really close now. I can feel it. There is something familiar about this place and that is a good sign"
I suddenly cale to a place that were covered with bushes and i could see that there was a big hole under them.
Me: (Thinks) "Sh**! How the He** can i pass this? Never know whats in those bushes or how deep the hole is. Dangit! I'm so close." (looks at a big rock standing next to me) "Ah i can climb up this rock and get a view of the area"
I climbed up to the top of the rock. I could see the others further down the tea field. I searced for the shrine but i couldnt see it.
Me: "This is it. It should be here. Why can't i see it?"
Driver: (Shouting) "Have you found it sir?"
Me: "Wait!" (still searching with my eyes)........I can't see it but i should be here, i know it!"
Driver: (shouting) "Sir, come. We follow the guide. We'll find it."
Me: (thinks) "dangit! I know it's here. It must be. I can't be wrong...(climbs down the rock)...i just can't"
Walking down to meet up with the others again i walked further away from the one thing that i was there for. Hidden in plain sight it had to wait for me a little longer.
After following the guide for a while i was now certain he didn't know where he was going. We were way of. I had cut my hand pretty badly so i wrapped some cloth around it. Driver also got hurt during this little expedition. He cut his led and injured a toe. We all started to look really messed up. With No food and no water we started to get really tired.
Me: "Okay, this is rediculous. Let's get back to the main path and find that road we were about to follow. It will lead us straight to the shrine."
The others agreed and we went back to the main path. Driver had to sit down. He was really tired. He was a bit concerned by the wounds he got (I had given him some tissues and bandage)
Me: "We'll we wouldn't have been in this mess if we just stuck to the road at first. We are way off now"
Driver: "Probably but i'm sure we need the guide"
Me: "I told you we didnt need him in the first place. We are actually way off because of him"
Driver: "He is a nice guy.."
Me: "I'm sure he is but that doesn't mean we need him for this. Where is he anyway?"
Looking after the guide i spotted him further up the road. He was talking to an old lady whom was working in the fields.
Me: "dangit! We don't need more people to help us. Let's just go back to that road and i'll show you"
We walked towards the guide and the old lady. I passed, walking back towards the production road. Driver stopped and had a chat with the guide and the lady. I heard the lady shouting after another one"
Driver: (Shouting) "Sir! Sir!"
Me: (have been walking å bit down the road before i turn around) "What?"
Driver: "The photo! Come with the photo!"
Me: (Thinking) "geez this should be interesting" (sarcasm)
I walked back to them and then there was another guy there, younger than the lady.
Driver: "Show him the photo! Show him"
Me: "Alright keep your shirt on"
I showed the guy the photo of the shrine. He examined it and then suddenly "ah." and then he used his machete to point out the location"
Me: "Yes i know it's there. That's what i've been telling all the time but how does he know?"
Driver: (asks the man)"..he's saying he was one of the village kids in the film"
Me: "oh really? How old is he?"
Driver: "He's about 40"
Me: "Okay. I can believe it"
So another guide was added to the group whom i called "Slave kid"
Slave Kid showing the way
We didnt follow the road but went straight up through the fields of rocks and bushes. We walked a bit until i started to recognize something. I turned towards Driver with a bit of a mean look
Driver: "What is it sir?"
Me: "This is the same rock i climbed on top of earlier"
Passing the big rock, Slave Kid said we had to pass through a little jungle of bushes. We did and boy that was heavy. All the branches were really tight, almost felt like passing a crowd of people who scratched and pulled you from every directions.
Spot the frustration in those eyes.
After climbing rocks and passing through more bushes i heard Slave Kid up ahead, shouting.
Driver: "We have found it sir"
Me: "About time" :)
I came through some bushes and spotted Slave Kid standing on the side of a big boulder and then i spotted the shrine next to him. I pushed myself through some branches and then suddenly i was there.
Tired,dirty and wounded i walked up to the shrine, up the one step that is still standing(the other two are still there but have been tipped over. I didnt bother to ask the others to help me put them back because i was too tired, as well were the others)
I looked around. The whole area around the shrine is covered with trees and bushes so it was no wonder i couldnt spot it (but i would have if i just followed the production road)
Pose by the shrine, finally (notice my hand wrapped up. I can still see the scar right now while typing this)
Me with the Guide and Slave Kid.
Driver and me. Mission complete....finally.
After taken photos and such we decided it was time to head back. We followed Slave Kid through tha bushes but after we came out from the bushes we went a different direction. We came to the road wich Slave Kid confirmed was made for the production of the film.
After had said goodbye to Slave Kid and the Guide, Driver drove me back to the hotel
Me: "We'll....i think we jinxed ourself by saying the last one was going to be easy"
Driver: "I agree with you sir"
While sitting in the car i felt something in my leg, inside my pants. I felt it falling out from my leg.
Me: "What the he..(looking down on the floor)....you gotta be kidding me."
Driver: "What is it sir?"
Me: Look on the floor, there"
Driver: "What..(looks)...Holy! That's a leech! Was it on you?"
Me: "Yup. It fell out from my leg"
Driver takes a piece of paper and picks up the leech and throws it out the window while i'm checking myself for more.
Driver: "Got any more on you?"
Me: "I don't think so but that one's been having a fiest on my knee apparently" (my knee was bloody. It even showed through my jeans)
We arrived the hotel and was greeted by the receptionist. I wanted to pose for a photo of my knee(my first leech attack :P ). After the photo was taken the receptionist noticed that that wasnt the only bloody place on my leg. He noticed my sock was soaked with blood too. Apparently i had cut myself badly on my leg. But before i went down to my room the have my wounds cleaned driver thanked me for the day. He had such a great time and was much different experience than what he usually do in his work and he gave my a few words that i think i'll never forget:
"Sir, you are a very lucky man. With that will of yours you can do anything"
Back in my room i took a closer look at the cut on my leg. It was bad. Blood was pouring out from it, like REALLY. My sock was so soaked i could squeeze alot of blood out of it.
The last mission gave me quite a sour feeling. Much because we could have found it sooner and without all the wounds we got but also that i had an arguement with driver, him claiming we would never have found the shrine without the guide while i say we would have found it without. So a bit of my pride got a slap during the mission but while laying there in my hotelroom, resting and having a bit of a hard time letting that sour feeling go i came to think that this is some of the things that happen to Indiana Jones as well. He doesnt always get away with is pride intact during his adventures. He does the job, gets beaten up and others steal the glory.
It wasn't that bad after all. I found the place and it was a great experience getting there.
And after my vissit to Kandy, Driver (actually named Hinosh) is now planning and Indiana Jones-tour and said he will have that jungle around the shrine cut down so that people can find it easily and he will gladly help any Indyfans around.
I think this is about it from that one specific day in Kandy. Hope you all liked my story and now i'm looking forward to the next indyfan telling his/hers.
Hats off to you all.
Wow, what an adventure. This is just so much fun. I wish there was more. So was the whole village pretty much gone and overgrown with jungle and bushes? I'm just imagining the shrine from the movie was right in middle of the village, so is the village gone?
Any other adventures during your trip to India? I just find this fascinating. Thanks for sharing!
I didn't see anything of the houses or anything else but i didn't search the area much because me and the others were really tired and the temperature didn't help much (it was pretty hot).
But when i searched the place from the top of the rock i was standing on i noticed that the whole area that were used for the village was overgrown with grass that were really high, reaching taller than a average man. The grass was ONLY in that area through the whole plantage.
And in front of the shrine there were this tight little jungle of bushes and trees,(as i mentioned) and that also was ONLY in that area. During the production, the village area was just dry and sandy.
It's weird how much stuff that can pop up during 30 years. Nature has pretty much reclaimed the whole place using strong force.
PS: This was in Sri Lanka, not India;) And yes. This was just one of my days in Kandy. I was in Sri Lanka for ten days in total and traveled around.
Thank you for reading my story. :)
No sorry. I didn't think about filming until after i had been there. I had a camera with me that were perfect for filming so it felt a bit like a kick in the nut when it came to my mind afterwords... BUT as i say about every place/country i go to; This will not be the first and last time i come here. ;)
This is such a great quest. Has anyone mirrored the pics in this thread, as they are currently unavailable?
This was one of my favorite threads. I checked photobucket, and the site is riddled with adds now, and seems to be going down hill fast. hopefully the OP can move the pictures to another host, they were so amazing.
Edit: I found this site which has a very similar story, and pictures: http://templeofdoomlocation.blogspot.com/
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