Sri Lanka - Day 6

Trip Start Jan 04, 2013
Trip End Jan 26, 2013

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Flag of Sri Lanka  , Central Province,
Friday, January 11, 2013

We awake to our final day in the tree tops greeted by clear skies. After a quick breakfast our tuk tuk driver (Charminda) picks us up for our trip to the Dambula Caves, a temple complex located 160 meters up a rock face in the town of Dambula (hence the name). At the foot of the rock we first pass the entrance to the Golden Temple. A kitschy building painted in pastels covered in concrete lotus leaves and topped by an enormous 30 meter high golden Buddha. The main entrance to the temple was built to resemble a lions face, in which you enter by walking up a stairway and pass through cats open mouth. Along the way up the rock we pass various vendors selling fresh mangos and religious offerings. The climb up is steep but manageable. The view from the top reveals the vast hilled countryside of the area.

We leave our shoes at the entrance gate and make our way into the complex. The temple was established in the 19th century and is made up of 5 separate caves containing over 150 Buddha images. Entering the caves you are instantly immersed in a sea of Buddhas. Rows of Buddha statues line the perimeter of the caves. In addition to the numerous statues of Buddha (seated, standing and reclining), every inch of the rock face is painted with more Buddha images. A small stupa surrounded by yet more Buddhas acts as the focal point of the first cave.

On our way back to our hotel we stop off at an Ayurveda spice market to learn about the natural herbal and spice remedies that make up this ancient healing art. The ladies buy a few items as I indulge in an impromptu massage to take the edge off. From here it's off to a batik factory to see how a processes of waxing and dying is used to make beautiful fabrics and clothing. After the tour, Chaminda provides us with a gift from our hotel owner. A bottle of Arack, a spirit made from distilled coconuts. We pick up a few "short eats" at a local road side vendor and make our way back home for a quick lunch on our balcony.

With the day, and our time in the forest, coming to an end we decide to go on a self guided nature walk. Along the way we pass the ubiquitous wild dogs laying along the roads and feed a local family of monkeys that we have met several times in our travels. In addition we come across a crocodile in the near by lake and a giant monitor lizard in the swamps, all within an hours walk of where we are staying. I guess that's why they told us not to go walking when it gets dark.
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