Sigiriya is one of those places we Sri Lankans are so proud of. It’s like the Taj Mahal to the Indians, Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Italians or the Eifel Tower to the French.
So on the second day of our road trip we paid a little visit there. I have been to Sigiriya once when I was a kid but never climbed all the way to the top. Sadly this time we only had couple of hours so missed out on that opportunity again. Next time, I am going to climb all those stairs, and going to be on top of that rock smiling down and taking lots of pictures. 🙂
Basically Sigiriya is the site of a massive rock that was turned into a fortress by King Kashyapa. He built his castle on the rock itself with elaborated construction on the rock summit including defensive structures, palaces, gardens and ponds.
For me it is unimaginable to think people without any sort of technological assistant managed to build such architecture 200m above ground. I really feel sorry for the people who had to carry materials up to the top!
However after the death of the King, the fortress was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. Today Sigiriya is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. It is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning and is the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka.
The entrance to the site is through a thick forest and beyond the historic site is protected by a moat and sorrounded by gardens. These gardens are among some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.
These next few photos are just to give an idea how big the fortress is. If you can find people and compare the size of them to the rock you will see what I meant by unimaginable construction.
With the thick vegetation on either side of the walkway comes monkeys. 🙂 They are as part of sigiriya as the archaelogical sites and mostly harmless. When we were there, we saw a couple of tourists walking with a small bag in hand. All of a sudden one monkey charged in and grabbed the bag from the lady’s hand and went to his tree. To see the bag had bananas in it. I am sure it was scary for the lady but hilarious to watch as the monkey sat on his tree peeling and eating bananas while trying to protect it from the rest of the gang.
Ok so I wanted to give an idea on what’s on top and why I am excited about this place. Thanks to google and some other great photographers I found a few photos to show how amazing the art and architecture is. 🙂
Sri Lanka is one of the oldest surviving Buddhist countries where 70% of its population are Buddhists. Kelaniya, a suburb about 10km away from Colombo is known for the buddhist temple built on the banks of kelani river and holds a significant place in the life of any Buddhist. It is believed that Buddha had visited Kelaniya and therefore it is said that all your sins will be washed away if you visit and worship the Kelaniya Temple at least once in your lifetime (of course it is just a saying but it just shows how much importance the temple holds).
For me Kelaniya resembles two things. My family, as I grew up in Kelaniya and the Kelaniya Temple. I am not a diehard Buddhist but still I grew up having a special place in my heart for the temple. I love visiting it every time I come down. To go there in the evening and sit in a corner away from the crowds, gazing at the massive ‘dagaba’ or just soaking up the atmosphere where everyone is quiet and dressed in white with colourful flowers in hand is an experience in itself.
It is not special only for religious purposes but because for me nothing can beat the amazing architecture, the calmness you feel when you enter the temple grounds, and the sound of the bo leaves when the wind blows or the colours… yellow & red hues from monks’ ‘sivuru’, green bo leaves, soft brown sand and white-clad worshipers.
Here are few photos to show you what I am talking about… 🙂
I love the intricate details in this place…. it is such good craftmanship that you only find in these ancient places.
Hope this post finds your interest and any comment or feedback is much appreciated! 🙂
ah! the heat!
It was good getting there in our air-conditioned vehicles but when you see the change of colour in trees, the palm trees on the side of the road and woven dried coconut leaf fences you know you are in the dry country. Kalpitiya situated in Puttalam district overlooking the Puttalam lagoon on one side and the Indian ocean on the other is a beautiful place except for the unbearable heat during day.
I guess that’s life….
I really feel for the people living here or anywhere in dry lands. They still have to go out do their jobs or things they do to make a living and here I didn’t want to get out of the shade of coconut & palm trees to do anything till the sun went down.
I met some interesting people there….
We visited a little village in Puttlam district known for a group of African descendents who are famous for their music and dancing. According to them the ancestors came to the country in the 1800’s and today there are 22 families in the village and more scattered around puttalam. They were nice enough to do a quick little performance for us saying if they had time to prepare they could have gotten their 12 people group together and dress accordingly. 🙂
And of course with the music and dancing the children came from neighbouring houses to see the performances and to see the strange people from Colombo. I tried to capture a few of those gorgeous little faces and I hope you will find these as interesting as I did…