Highlights: Views from the former rock fortress of Yapahuwa, the school children ceremony at Dalada Maligawa Temple, driving around Sri Lanka.
An early 8 am checkout of the Jetwing Sea Hotel for a day of visiting temples and former capitals and long drives awaited on today’s private tour of Sri Lanka. While it still feels weird to have a private guide just for myself it does mean the schedule and how long we stay at each place falls in with my interest.
First we visited Dambadeniya, the capital of Sri Lanka in the 13th century. The purpose of this visit was to experience the Dalada Maligawa Temple. The temple is said to contain the corporeal relics of the Buddha. We were in luck as also in attendance was a group of local students who performed a cleansing ritual / gift giving ceremony (video here). These students are in Year 12 and sitting their Unversity level exams next week and the ceremony was to help provide good luck.
Next up was a visit to Parakramapura (aka Padaviya) the location of a sub-King from the 12th century. This was a remarkably well preserved site as you can still make out the types of buildings and their layout. The bath, which looks like a walled pond, still has water and gives you an idea of how it operated.
During the course of the day I got to see a lot of the Sri Lankan countryside especially when we got off the paved roads and onto unsealed roads with tuk tuk and motorcycles our road companions and farms and stray dogs littered the landscape. This is something I didn’t really get to experience up until now in this trip as most of the travel was by plane between cities.
The real highlight however was the the rock fortress of Yapahuwa. Maybe it feels like a highlight having to hike / climb to the top of the mountain to see the stupa in the heat and wearing long pants (needed for earlier religious site visits). The climb up to the fortress wasn’t that hard and gave a great view of the local area. The gate at the top of the stairs as two tigers guarding it. For a brief moment I thought “well that was worth I’m at the top its time to head down”. I was wrong.Up we climb to the top of the mountain, while it was mostly stone steps there were times of just climbing up rocks. Coming down I saw other tourists and even some locals really struggling which made me feel better. Going up we were the only people at the time.
The stupa itself is fairly modest but the views were grand and made me appreciate the grand landscape before me. The climb was definitely worth it even if it top a while in an air conditioned car to stop sweating bullets 🙂This left us with a 1.5 hour drive to Anuradhapura location of my hotel for the next two nights the Palm Garden Village which while very beautiful is remote meaning I’m confined to the property in reality and they have very slow to no existent internet coverage.