Cultural triangle Sri Lanka
Trip Start Sep 19, 2010
54Trip End Sep 19, 2011
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We set out on our Cultural triangle tour at around mid morning. It was a miserable wet start but surely the weather would improve as the day went on. Our first stop was the cave temples of Dambulla about 65 Km north of Kandy. We arrived here about noon after travelling through the lush green interior. Sri Lanka has not been spoiled by deforestation unlike many other parts of Asia and the people seem to coexist with all this tropical beauty really well. I have been surprised at how stunningly beautiful this Island really is, from it's miles of gorgeous beaches to the outstanding hill country with its marvelous tea estates. I suppose its time for a little background on Sri Lanka as I have so far forgotten to mention it.
Sri Lanka is a teardrop shaped Island that sits off the South East coast of India. It has been the possetion of the Portuguese, Dutch and lastly Britain. The British handed the Island back in 1948 and the name was changed from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. I personally liked the name Ceylon and hate the way these nations change the names of towns and in this case country for no good reason. I.E. Madras was changed to Chennai (how horrid) or Bombay to Mumbai ( what's the point ) I still call them by their proper names Madras and Bombay and stuff anyone who tries to tell me I am saying it wrong. I do however recognize Sri Lanka, don't ask me why, I suppose it is a nice sounding name. The population is made up of 75% Sinhalese, 16% Tamils and 9% Muslims. The Sinhalese are the native population and are Buddhists. The Tamils are from Southern India and were brought over by the British to work the Tea estates as the Sinhalese, I'm constantly told by the Tamils don't want work. The Tamils are Hindus. The Muslims, well they get everywhere don't they!
So we arrived at the cave temples of Dambulla and the first thing you see is a massive statue of Buddha, 30 Meter high. It is claimed to be the largest Buddha statue in the world. It is new and painted gold. Some people say it is a monstrosity, I say go and look at some Hindu temples if you want monstrosities. But again that is my own opinion and I always have an opinion, Sorry. Anyway at the left hand side of said statue is a series of steps that lead up to the rock temples at the top of the hill. Half way up these steps it started to rain and I mean RAIN. In fact it did not stop raining for 3 Days!! The walk up was made more interesting by the troops of monkeys playing around on the steps. The rock temples themselves were lovely and within each one there was a large statue of Buddha carved in the 1st Century BC. The statues were in different poses I.E. standing, sitting in the Lotus position or reclining. The views from the top were also nice but as it was raining we did not linger and got back to the car as fast as we could.
Our next stop Anuradhapura another 65 Km north where we were spending the night at the Milano Hotel. It was on this drive north that Cathy and I got talking about a house my parents were selling. By the time we arrived in Anuradhapura we had decided to buy the property and I got straight on the phone to my parents to tell them our intensions. They were happy to sell to us and we closed the deal there and then. Well that was a bit sudden!! We were the proud new owners of a second home. Unfortunately this will have an effect on our plans of staying away the full year. As we will need money when we arrive home for the deposit and to start doing up the house. It was too good an opportunity to miss and our dreams have always been to get a second property as a sort of pension plan. We now plan on returning home sometime in May. We are broken hearted about having to cut short our travels, but it would have been stupid not too. Besides we are both exited about getting started on our new project.
Our night at the Milano was fine with good food and nice room, sadly it was still raining heavily the next morning when we set out for the ruins of Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura is the ancient capital of Ceylon and was founded 300 something BC. It was sacked in the 1200s AD by an invading Indian King, whom completely destroyed this grand city. Don't worry though because he was caught up with shortly after and put to the sword and served him right too. All that is left of this once huge city is mainly foundations, but you get an idea of the scale of this impressive place. It reminded us of Angkor Wat in that it is set in woodland and covers a huge area. On a sunny day Cathy and I would have loved to wander around this beautiful place but as it was raining so heavy we only skirted around the fringes and got back to the car PDQ.
Next up was Polonnaruwa 70 Km South East of Anuradhapura. The journey here was a bit of an ordeal as all the rain was causing flooding throughout Sri Lanka but mainly in the area we were travelling. It was so bad that roads were getting washed away and we had to make detours. We also witnessed peoples homes getting flooded and their crops washed away. It is always the people who are already struggling who seem to have these natural disasters it seems, and my heart went out to them for all the good that did. We stayed the night at a little Inn come hotel in the middle of the countryside and we were the only guests that night. We were put in a Cabana in other words a Chalet in the grounds of the hotel. The wildlife around here was fantastic. Monkeys, eagles and my favorite, Fireflies. I sat out that night under the porch and watched hundreds of these extraordinary Insects lighting up the trees. Just like fairy lights on a Christmas tree. An awesome sight I will never forget.
The next Morning we set out to the site of the Polonnaruwa ruins. This ancient city is younger than Anuradhapura being only 1000 years old and not on such a grand scale either, but it is in better repair. It was still raining hard and Cathy and I had little enthusiasm for walking around getting drenched. So we cherry picked the best of the best, took a few photos and got back in the car fast.
From here we drove to a place called Sigiria and stayed at the Lion Rock hotel. Again nice place with good food, shame about the weather. By this point everywhere was flooded. It was all over the news on the TV that people were loosing their lives and thousands and thousands of homes had been abandoned due to flooding and it isn't even the wet season!! The world's weather is going crazy, that's climate change for you.
We awoke the next morning to an overcast sky but no rain!! Finally. Our climb up Sigiria rock was on. Somewhere in the annals of history a king decided to build his palace come fort at the top of a huge rock. This place he called Sigiria. We had saved the best till last and finally the weather was on our side. We set off for our climb through country lanes and woods and finally arrived at the bottom of this amazing rock. And not quite an hour later we had reached the summit after conquering many flights of stairs and amazing scaffolds built into the rock itself that were an engineering marvel in themselves. The views from the top were fantastic and the breeze was welcome as Cathy and I were sweating like dogs after the exertion of the climb.
We headed back to Kandy hearing news that landslides had claimed the lives of several people there.