. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: June 26, 2000

Monday, June 26, 2000
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's FlagCentral Province's Flag

Map
Kandy, Sri Lanka:
Latitude: 7° 17' 14" North
Longitude: 80° 38' 32" East
Altitude: 1629 feet
From Seattle: 10119 miles
Lodging: Hotel - Sharon Inn

Map
Today's Travel:
Country: Sri Lanka
Region: Central Province
Route: Hired Van: Kandy - Sigiriya - Polonnaruva - Dambulla - Kandy (Roads: A9, A11, ?, A11, A9)
Start: Kandy, Sri Lanka
Stop 1. Sigiriya
Stop 2. Polonnaruva
End:Kandy, Sri Lanka
Linear:124 miles
Weather: Partial Sun / Mostly Sunny / Rain

Available Photos:

Sigiriya Rock Water Gardens, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Water Gardens Trail up rock, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

One of Sigiriya's "damsels" (fresco) Trail up rock, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Lions Paws - entrance to top of rock complex Near top of rock, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Water Gardens Top of rock, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Foundations and pool Top of rock, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The Potgul Vihara Monastery Potgul Vihara, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

The Potgul Vihara Monastery Potgul Vihara, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

The Royal Palace of Parakramabahu The Citadel, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

The Council Chamber of Parakramabahu The Citadel, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Elephant detail The Council Chamber of Parakramabahu, The Citadel, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Entry stairs to the Council Chamber of Parakramabahu The Citadel, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

The Vatadage Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Thuparama (Image house), from the Vatadage Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

On of the Moonstones (entry stone) of the Vatadage Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Thuparama (Image house) Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Carving at the Vatadage Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Buddha in Thuparama Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

The Vatadage Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Buddha in the Atadage (The Tooth Temple of Vijayabahu) Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

The Terrace Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

A Vatadage Buddha from the Atadage Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Pabalu Vehera The Ancient City, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Pabalu Vehera The Ancient City, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Toque Macaque Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Rankoth Vehera (The Golden Pinnacled Dagaba) The Alahana Parivena, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

The Pinnacle of Rankoth Vehera The Alahana Parivena, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Baddhasima Pasada (The Chapter House) The Alahana Parivena, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Sleeping (Dead?) Buddha The Gal Vihara, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Sleeping (Dead?) Buddha The Gal Vihara, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Sleeping (Dead?) Buddha The Gal Vihara, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Sitting Buddha shrine The Gal Vihara, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Big sitting Buddha The Gal Vihara, Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Monkey in ruins of the Tivanka Image-house Polonnaruva, Sri Lanka

Entrance to cave temples The Dambulla Rock Temple, Sri Lanka

View from cave terrace The Dambulla Rock Temple, Sri Lanka

Entrance to cave temples The Dambulla Rock Temple, Sri Lanka

Worlds largest Buddha and Sigiriya Rock in distance The Dambulla Rock Temple, Sri Lanka

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

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Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 1173
Linear Dist: 225857
Countries Visited: 69
Regions Visited: 261
More stats...
Hotels: 396
Friends / Family: 302
Camping: 126
Hostels: 261
Transit: 74
Other Lodging: 13
Beers: 4115
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Journal Entry:
My wake up at 5:30 was very unpleasant. By six o'clock I was in the van on my way to see the ancient cities of Sigiriya and Polonnaruva and the cave temples at Dambulla. Watching the day get lighter and everyone bustling around was interesting, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open and ended up dozing the entire two and a half hour drive to Sigiriya.

Sigiriya is an ancient fortress / city centered around the large Sigiriya rock which rises 200m and is topped by the remains of a heavily fortified palace. I had very high expectations for Sigiriya and I was a little disappointed. The ruins are just the remains of foundations. The entry is through the "Water Garden" - a collection of symmetric water features that have survived fairly intact. The path wanders in to the "Boulder Gardens" where it weaves through and under a collection of giant boulders at the base of the rock. Then there is the "Terrace Gardens" a series of staircases and platforms that actually start to ascend the rock. At the top of the terraces is a spiral staircase that goes up to a gallery of frescos carved into the cliff face. There were originally 500 painting of women but only a handful survive - though those that do are incredibly bright and vivid - they were the highlight of Sigiriya for me. Then there's a long ramp that is partially carved into the face and ends on a large platform not far below the top. The platform is dominated by a large pair of lions paws all that remains of the large lion the marked the entry to the palace. The stairs climb between the paws (and used to go into the lion's mouth) and up to the top. The view is incredible, but all that remains of the structures is some brickwork, stairs, and a few pools.

Another two hours in the car to the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruva. On the road caught a quick glance of an elephant - not sure if it was wild or a worker. I though Polonnaruva would be mildly interesting - I was blown away by it. It's spread over a large area and we stopped that car at seven distinct sites: Potgal Vihara, The Citadel, Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic), The Ancient City, The Alahana Parivena, The Gal Vihara, and The Jetvana Monastery. We spent a total of about two and a half hours at Polonnaruva. The highlights for me were definitely the Dalada Maluva (The Terrace of the Tooth Relic) and the Gal Vihara.

The Terrace of the Tooth Relic was a collection of about a dozen buildings and was very reminiscent of some of the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan peninsula. Included in the ruins is one of the earlier temples built to hold the Buddha's tooth. The buildings are in good enough condition that I could us my imagination to fill in the details and see what it must have been like. The carvings were detailed and well preserved - entryway moonstones, many Buddhas, and elephants and supporting dwarfs were all over.

The Gal Vihara is a large lump of rock that has been carved into. Three giant Buddha's and a small temple fill it's length. The most impressive to me is the giant (14 m / 46 ft) long reclining Buddha - the detail is amazing and the grain of the rock is clearly visible and just feels right. There is also a large (7 m / 23 ft) standing Buddha and two sitting Buddhas, one of which is in the small temple.

On the two and a half hour drive to Dambulla saw several working elephants. The Sri Lanka's subspecies of Asian elephant has smaller ears than the African, and has a lot of pink on their ears and neck - I also don't think they're nearly as large. As it had already been a long day, there was still a long drive back, and the Dambulla Rock Temples just didn't sound that interesting I almost choose to skip it. But I decided to do a quick visit. If I had realized that the caves meant another long climb to the top of the hill I definitely would have skipped it. Lucky me. The caves were very beautiful and had that "holy" / peaceful feel that you sometimes find in great cathedrals / mosques / temples. The views from the terrace in front of the caves were spectacular and included Sigiriya rock some fifteen miles away. The earliest of the temple caves goes back to the first century BC. The interior of each of the five temples is completely covered with fine paintings and there must be a total of several dozen Buddhas.

I just noticed, or really just noticed that I've noticed, that animals here are not afraid of people like they are in most developing countries. Furthermore I haven't seen a single person kick at any animal - cat, dog, or monkeys even. Buddhism at work? The drive back to the hotel was another long two hours. Finally got back just in time for diner. It had been a very long day - I was gone over 14 hours, and 9 of those had been in the car! Another great dinner then I sat around talking for a bit before falling exhausted into bed.


Related Sites:
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: Sri Lanka
CIA World Fact Book: Sri Lanka

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