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Sri Lankan Sojourn: Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapur

05 Dec

The last in this long winded travel series.

Sigiriya had left us breathless (literally and figuratively). After buying some work from the local artisans workshop we made way to Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa was  Sri Lanka’s second capital and became Sri Lanka’s royal medieval capital in 1073.

We reached Polonnaruwa as the evening was setting in. The light was perfect to view these centuries old ruins. Even my point and shoot photos look like works of art in this perfect setting.

 

The sacred quadrangle with the 4 seated Buddhas

Polonnaruwa was  Sri Lanka’s second capital and became Sri Lanka’s royal medieval capital in 1073. It remained Sri Lanka’s capital until the late 13th century, but became increasingly susceptible to Chola invasions and it became lost to the jungle once more as the capital drifted south-west. Today, the ancient city’s ruins remain in remarkably good nick, and are a fascinating site to visit.

 

Gal Vihara-Dhyana Mudra Buddha statue

Gal Viharaya, is a rock temple of the Buddha situated in Polonnaruwa. The central feature of the shrine are four images of the Buddha, which have been carved into the face of a large granite rock. The images consist of a large seated figure, another, smaller seated figure inside an artificial cavern, and standing figure and a reclining figure. Three of the images are quite large; the smallest of them is more than 15 feet (4.6 m) tall, and the largest is more than 46 feet (14 m) long. The size of each image seems to have been decided based on the height of the rock at that point, so that the maximum possible area could be used for it. According to the archaeologist Senarath Paranavithana, the images were evidently coated in gold in their early years. (from Wiki)

By the time we saw all these the dusk had fully set in. We checked into our hotel and called it night.

The next morning we woke to face out final day of cultural tour in Sri Lanka. We were going to travel 3 hour to Anuradhapura and then back to Colombo.

Anuradhapura-Sri Lanka’s first capital, was the greatest monastic city of the ancient world. This remarkable city of Anuradhapura is Sri Lanka’s most sacred town and has some of the most extensive ruins in the world. This city served as a great monastic centre. It remained residence and royal capital for over 100 successive Sinhalese Kings for around 1500 years from the 4th century BC to the 8th century AD, after which it was abandoned and the capital moved to Polonnaruwa.

 

Ruwanweli Seya stupa-Apparently there is big fat diamond at the top

We visited the ruins. They are not in as great a shape as Polonnaruwa. However Anuradhapur is considered as quite a religious city and there were streams of pilgrims at all temples.

 

The Moonstone which describes the circle of life of earth

We spent a couple of hours seeing the almost 2000 year old statue of meditating Buddha, the twin ponds and visited a rusty old museum as well. The museum guide showed us around the cobwebbed, dimly lit museum while providing some interesting nuggets of information.

After a quick lunch at a local restaurant we set back to Colombo-a 6 hour drive!Checked into a hotel for couple of hours to catch a quick shut eye and onwards to the airport for our flight back to Chennai.

Sri Lanka truly surprised me with its warmth. The people are friendly and hospitable-happy to see that you have come to see their country. I hardly sensed any armed force presence in any place I visited. There are routine security checks which coming from India doesnt shock or surprise you and you willingly submit to them.

Tourism has really picked up. When we tried to book our hotels online each one of them was overbooked as a result we hardly had any choice wherever we went.  Every where we went, we either saw Caucasian crowd or SE Asians.

And there is so much more to see. We had just covered the central Sri Lanka.

There is the quaint Hill town of Nuwere Elliya to visit, Adams’ peak (the original Eden supposedly) and beautiful beaches in the south in Bentota. Then there are wildlife reserves like Yala which deserve a visit. After such a wonderful experience I definitely dont mind going back for these.

And you should go to.

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Posted by on December 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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