Culture and beaches make Sri Lanka

Trip Start Jan 28, 2012
Trip End Mar 12, 2012

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, March 5, 2012

Our Sri Lanka days were filled with culture and beaches, and too much travelling. Our travel agent should have prepared us better for the trip he organised. And yes, we should have been better prepared ourselves by having a Sri Lanka travel book. The tour was too ambitious with long days in the car. Our pleasant driver Susil was a big plus in the five days we travelled around the island.

The first two days we did the cultural triangle in Northern Sri Lanka. It was very impressive, but too overwhelming for us. I took many pictures of overviews and details, so we will treat each site in separate postings.

The first one is Anuradhapura, the most celebrated of Sri Lanka's ruined cities. It is the first Kingdom, Capital and Centre of Buddhism in the island and carries the reputation of being the hub of the present Sri Lankan civilisation that has grown in 22 centuries. Very impressive, especially when you compare it with our Dutch history. Archeologists and historians consider that the wisdom enriched by Buddhism at Anuradhapura is the cradle of the national heritage. Unesco declared it a world heritage site in 1982.

The drive from Colombo took us nearly five hours. The site is only accessible through a mediocre museum and at a cost of US$ 25 per person. But what you get is spectacular, ruins, shrines, Buddhas, old stupas spread over a great distance. 

Susil drove us around and gave short explanations. Many sites brought many impressions, but after a while they became too many and we stopped taking in anything.

The most intriguing feature is the many long piles that are in front of a Buddha statue, stupa, or shrine. They are called dagabas, constructions of small sun-dried bricks that helped support a sort of roof, we learned later. The most notable of these dagabas are the Ruvenweli which dates back to the 2nd Century BC and is 300 feet in diameter and the Thuparama which enshrines the collarbone of Lord Buddha.

Susil knew that combining this in one day with Sigiriya, the Lion Rock was impossible. Our hotel in Dambulla was another two-hour drive, so we reached there only at 19:30, when we were feeling very tired. The years begin to count for us.

We noticed only that night that the tour operator, Tangerine had not included Galle in our itinerary, but instead Hikkaduwa in Galle district, 13 km away. When we phoned them we settled for two nights at Hikkiduwa and do Galle on the second day.

For an overview o the cultural triangle online see
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Nel de Heij-Wiltenburg on

Dear Dick and Chris,
Your journey sounds really impressive. But I think you want to do too much in a too short time! Nevertheless this will be the journey of your life! Our children always told us that we should go to see Sri Lanka,. They went there now and then, when they had to leave India for as short time because of their Tourist Visa. This was in the time that they were working as volunteers (1.5 year long) in Veppampattu ( neighbourhood of Chennai). They love Sri Lanka too! It is amazing that in spite of the revolutions which Sri Lanka passed, the very old ancient history still can be found. That is terrific! Enjoy everything as intense a and as much as you can! Plus, wishing you more good times and journeys with the Kindly Regards of Nel and Ate de Heij-Wiltenburg

Jo en Betty on

Very nice trip, it seems from your stories. Also surprising northern Sri Lanka; I thought that because of the war there was not much left but it is really great seeing the pictures. Enjoy the rest of the trip and also enjoy it by taking some rest! Take care. j&b

Rajat Das on

Dear Dick and Chris,

You are great travellers and you are enjoying Sri Lanka to the hilt. I too remember the country when I visited 06 years ago when Laila got her D.Litt from Colombo and the Saha couple ( Chris - Late B. K. Saha ) was with us. We remember the beaches, the glass bottomed boat over the corrals and please taste the different varieties of Apams

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