Sunday, January 17, 2010

Anuradhapura: Part 1

Well, a new year has arrived and I couldn't even write a post yet. So, here's one about a trip that I just returned from!  

Spoiler: It has ECLIPSE photos!!! :D

We arrived in Anuradhapura on the evening of the 14th, passing the beautiful Knuckles range and the city of Matale as we headed there from Kandy. In stark contrast to the last time I visited, around July, everything was green this time, the lakes were overflowing with water, and the flora and fauna were in full celebration, after the much needed North-East monsoon successfully delivered her cargo in the last few weeks.

On the 15th morning, we visited the Sri Maha Bodhi, followed by the Jethawanarama complex (including the museum, which we hadn't visited before) and then Mihinthale in the afternoon.

The Bodhi 

The original sapling is held up by the golden supports. There are 4 saplings
planted around the original sapling in order to protect it.


This was once the tallest stupa in the world, and is still the largest,
with a volume of 233 thousand cubic meters. (Wikipedia)

The Jetavanaramaya shrine room has the old flags of Sri Lanka's provinces depicted
on the ceiling. Being the avid amateur vexillologist that I am, I snapped two photos.

 The Peacock flag is from Walapane.

The Museum

...was a bit anal with their photography rules that didn't let me take any photographs inside the building. But if you ever visit A'pura, this place is a MUST visit. You would be amazed at the stuff that they have on display, including a piece of gold less than a centimetre long, on which the ancients had managed to intricately carve 18 or so flowers! There were also bead-necklaces on display, which to me atleast, proved that the ancients had pretty awesome colour coordination skills, since they had used beautiful turquoise and jade coloured stones. Damn I wish I had pics! :(

I did snap these outside the building though:

Stone used to store semi-precious stones and other 'treasure' in the foundations
of ancient buildings. Somewhat akin to modern day Mulgal or foundation stones.

Our ancestors were really good at plumbing, as Cerno would say! :D

Kuttam Pokuna

The twin ponds, or Kuttam Pokuna (or should that be Pokunu?) seemed to be a really popular photo-op for newly wed couples. We met two such couples during our brief visit... :)


Stupas from Afar

We then visited the Basawakkulama lake bund to catch a glimpse of Anuradhapura's monuments from afar. We saw 4 major stupas from here: Ruwanwelisaya, Abhayagiriya, Jetavanaramaya and Mirisawetiya.

 Ruwanwelisaya over the lake...

...and Abhayagiriya over the paddy fields.


We had our lunch, but totally forgot about the whole annular eclipse taking place, till some guys turned up at the place we were staying with an x-ray and started looking at the sun. The environment grew really dark, and it felt as if you were looking at the world through a tinted glass! I managed to capture the eclipse using the x-ray. Yeah, I know it's not safe to do that, but this could be the last annular eclipse any of us get to see, so I took that risk regardless! :)




Ambastala Stupa

We visited the cradle of Buddhist civilization in Sri Lanka in the evening, when the rock would cool down enough so that we could make the climb. The panoramic views were breathtaking. I simply love being on high, windy places, as long as there's a railing to cling onto! :D (I have a semi- fear of heights I guess!)

We first climbed to the Mihinthale Maha Stupa, which is a very easy climb with good cement steps:

Mihinthale Maha Stupa

 above and below: view from Maha Stupa

We then climbed the 'Aradana gala', where the Arahath Mahinda landed and is said to have made first contact with Tissa, King of Lanka.

Aradana gala (which translates to 'Rock of Invitation')

I'm particularly happy with this one handed snap I took from the top
of 'Aradana gala', looking at the Maha Stupa. I was (predictably)
clinging on for dear life with my other hand! :D

Ok, 20 photos on a single post is stretching it, so I'll have to break this post into two pieces. I've written the post and scheduled it for tomorrow... :)

And please don't forget to check out Harumi's photoblog for a beautifully written and very detailed account of the historic and religious sites in Anuradhapura... :)