Queen’s Baton Relay: Sri Lanka’s historic tea train

Taking a ride on an old steam train across the countryside seems like a great way to enjoy the weekend, and that is exactly how the Queen’s Baton spent its time in Sri Lanka.

The Viceroy Special steam train, built in Manchester, runs from the capital Colombo to Kandy and transported the baton across the country.

The train followed the historic tea route in Sri Lanka that would see the product travel across the country before it was shipped to the UK. Taking about six hours, the engine is still powered by coal from Britain.

The Viceroy Special steam train runs inland from the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo to the ancient kingdom of Kandy. Taking about six hours it is a thoroughly civilized, but also exciting, way to travel and the perfect transport for the Queen’s baton.

Historically the train line was the way that tea was brought across the country to be shipped to the UK and all around the world. This is why the train was, and still is, powered by British coal – continuing a great trade link of the Commonwealth. At each station, we were met by hundreds of schoolchildren and a dazzling array of traditional dancing and musical performances.

The shell and drum orchestras provided the soundtrack to the impressive acrobatics of the Paneru Netum dance, where men back flipped and leap across the platform. The dress of the Kandyan dancers, doing their Ves dance impressed the most, each wearing 64 pieces of ornament.

For much of the day it rained. Heavy, tropical rain onto the thick jungle vegetation. But it did nothing to dampen spirits for the baton’s reception.

[Via BBC News]

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