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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sigiriya & Polonnaruwa

Day -07 - 24-Dec-2015  (I continue From Here )  

I wake up at around 6 in the morning and get ready to leave in an hour. I see the the front house doors are all open and no body is around. The gate too is left open. I am actually happy to find no one there. I take a bus to Sigirya which is a 30 minutes drive from Dambulla. Coincidently, Tadashi too boards the same bus. He has found a hotel next to a bar so he is happy with the beer that is much cheaper than in the restaurants. 

From a distance, the magnificent Sigirya rock is visible. We have to take an entry ticket here too. Its Lrs 4200 for foreigners. I show my passport and avail my half price.  

There is an ongoing debate if it is the palace built by King Kassapa (AD 477) or a Buddhist monastery. It is said that King Kassapa after overthrowing and murdering his father, King Dhatusena of Anuradhapura sought out a new residence here. There is also a theory that expects this to be the palace of Ravana and the lion's paw at the entrance may be a paw of a peacock instead thus being a part of pushpaka vimana - Ravana’s aeroplane that is said to have a bird structure at the front. 


The climb is not very difficult but it is good that we take this journey early in the morning as there are less people around. I think these pictures shall explain better than my words. 

Royal Gardens - With impressive water gardens and pools. 



Frescoes - Wall murals. Some say it could be of Sita with her maids. 


Lion’s Paw - Some say this could be a paw of a peacock indicating towards the Pushpaka Vimana from the epic Ramayana. However, historians expect a lions head around this entrance that is missing now. 


Summit - Ruins of a palace or an ancient civilisation. Currently, it bestows some great views of the surroundings. A very nice place to relax after that short climb. I am impressed by the thought of constructing a palace here. We all prefer high rise condos for the view it bestows. In olden days, this could have been a way to achieve that. Very impressive and creative. 



We next take a tuk-tuk to Inamaluwa junction. I negotiate with the driver from Lrs 500 to Lrs300. Tadashi and I think that it is a good deal to share. From here we take a bus to Polonnaruwa. At Polonnaruwa we rent  bicycles. Again a good negotiation gets me a bicycle for Lrs 200. We head to the archeology museum first and buy the tickets to the historic sites. Again a huge amount to be paid but I get my half price for representing SAARC country.

The south Indian Chola dynasty made Plonnaruwa their royal capital after conquering Anuradhapura in the late 10th Century. This place filled with ruins, reminds me of Hampi. There are both Sinhalese and Chola influence in the architecture. It is truly impressive and you can bicycle around the area in about 2 to 3 hours. Again, I think Pictures speak better here - 

Royal Palace -  Constructed by Parakramabahu was a magnificent structure and is said to have had seven storeys. 


Audience Hall -  Notable for its frieze of elephants, each of which is in different position. 


Bathing Pool - 


Shiva Devale -1 - 


Vatadage -  A circular relic house is typical of its kind. The central Dagoba has four Buddha statues. 



Thuparama Gedige -  hallow Buddhist temple with thick walls. The building shows strong Hindu influence from the time of Cholas.


Hatadage - Erected by Nissanka Malla, this building is said to have built in 60 hours. 


Latha Mandapaya - The pillars are shaped like lotus stalks, topped by unopened buds.


Gal Pota -  Is a colossal stone representation of Ola book. It is 9m long by 1.5m wide and 40-60 cm thick. 


Satmahal Prasada - 


Atadage -  A shrine for the tooth relic. 


Shiva Devale - 2-  From brief Chola preiod. 


Pabula Vihara - 


Rankot Vihara -  The 54m Rankot Vihara Dagoba, the largest in Polonnaruwa and fourth largest in the island believed to have been built during the reign of Nissanka Malla.


Buddha Seema Prasad - 


Lankatilaka - It was built by Parakramabahu and later restored by Vijayabahu IV. Aisle lead to a huge Standing Buddha statue. 



Kiri Vihara - 



Gal Vihara -  On of the best places in the town.  Standing Buddha is 7m tall. Due to its expression of sorrow some think it is Buddha's disciple Ananda, grieving for his master's departure for nirvana, since the reclining Buddha is next to it. The reclining Buddha depicts Parinirvana state and is 14m long. 




While returning, I see a wild elephant waiting to cross the road. Suddenly all vehicles stop and allow it to pass. I had heard of this elephant crossing around Sigiriya but it was great to witness it. In Sri Lanka, people treat Elephants like Hindus worship cows.

When I return back to Dambulla the golden temple is flooding with devotees on this special night of Poya (Full moon day). After a quick dinner at a nearby restaurant, I visit the temple. It is an amazing feeling to sit there under the gigantic Buddha idol, along with several devotees. 


The museum there is very impressive with some tiny artwork that neatly details out an elephant procession and Kandiyan dance forms. 


Back in my hotel, the owners are still missing, though the gate and the main doors of the house are all left open. I wonder if they are deliberately avoiding me out of embarrassment about their own act the previous night. 

Enriched with a journey into ancient history, I go to bed peacefully and hoping that my sleep is not disturbed again this night. But an overhead tank is overflowing all night making this night yet another one with intermittent sleep.

Route - Dambulla - Sigiriya -> Polonnaruwa -> Dambulla




Continued Here 

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