9 June 2014
We fed a couple of mosquitoes well last night. Oh Sri Lanka- your mossies are deadly. We walked down the hill and went to see the Holy Temple one last time before finding a local bus to the next UNESCO site- Dambulla Caves.
Transportation is remarkably convenient and the proximity of historical sites within the Central Province allows one to never lose interest. I like how sites within a city are so close to one another. As Kandy Lake waved goodbye, we slowly inched our way towards the Temple complex.
It was a great idea to visit the holy site at night-time since it was more magical. The temple is still majestic by day. The garden, situated in front of the Temple is a nice and peaceful place….this is no doubt, our favorite spot in Kandy. As we walked through the gate, which signified the end of the temple complex, some commotion in a courtyard with a golden fountain caught our eyes. It was a splendid wedding shot featuring a delightful young couple.
So as two wedding crashes(?) we joined in the fun. And this is how they do wedding photos here in Sri Lanka- love the traditional clothing, love the style and above all- the smile.
It must be weird to get stared at by foreigners! Instead of shooing us out, the lovely couple smiled at us when Fishe and I clapped and congratulated them. We sincerely wish this couple endless happiness and of course I hope that everyone can find that special someone (not easy in this world).
We took the long route back to the bus station since we couldn’t bare not seeing the temple and lake for one last time. We wandered around, keeping an eye on the landmark (Clock Tower) which pretty much gave us the location to the bus station. The local market was busy with people and it certainly is a great photo opportunity. The action, the colours and friendly locals, who pretend that you don’t exist is a dream for any photographer. This is an energetic place and there’s nothing more that I love than to watch and snap away.
The bus from Kandy to Dambulla took a couple of hours.
We got to the closest bus station around midday and after a ten minute tuk tuk ride, we arrived at Dambulla Cave Temple.
We walked up the stone stairs to reach the caves situated in the 150m tall rocks. Dogs, annoying monkeys and a couple of brown snakes were just a few animals that we’ve bumped into. Animals and humans got along well all against the backdrop of Buddhist statues and murals. I didn’t though since I hate that stupid monkey who stole my water bottle and nearly ran away with my snack bag!Halfway up the hill, the Golden Buddha looks out towards UNESCO WHS Sigiriya Rock (Red Arrow). That will be the destination for tomorrow. Love how many treasuries there are hidden amongst these vegetations in Central Sri Lanka!
The Golden Temple of Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. With more than 80 caves in the area, there are 5 caves that form the main attraction due to its incredible Buddhist paintings and statues. In total, there are 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of deities. Before it became the home for these artworks, it used to be the home for prehistoric human beings since skeletons have been found in the area.
Built during the Anuradhapura (1st century BC to 993 AD) and Polonnaruwa times (1073 to 1250), the paintings tucked away in the gentle slopes of Dambulla Rock were able to survive through the test of time due to the interiors being kept dry by the overhanging rocks.
The first cave, called the “Cave of the Divine King” contains murals and statues of Buddha and his favorite pupil- Ananda.
The second and largest cave contains 16 standing and 40 states statues of Buddha as well as a statue of a King who was responsible for gilding 50 statues during the 12th century. Hence, this is known as the “Cave of the Great Kings.” The murals depicts scenes from Buddha’s life and important events from Sri Lankan history.
I stared at the cave temple and choked. That’s right- smack me silly with how beautiful and intricate your murals are. Suffocate me with your culture, art and history. I felt like a kid in a candy store- completely high and walking from cave to cave trying to take in as much of the art as possible. I want to take this home with me. I can’t believe how wonderful this world is and how refreshing and at peace I felt as soon as I stepped inside. I love how the murals covered every inch of the cave and the way it trickled and followed the contours of the rock walls.
The veranda, long white corridor and courtyard is another relaxing spot in the temple complex. I sat beside the lotus pond and soaked up the early arvo sun.
In terms of preservation, I was told that the murals had been cleaned and the surfaces were reapplied with protective coatings. The overall structure of the complex has always being left unaltered. The surrounding areas, after suggestions from a 2003 UNESCO inspection, is also under protection. By forming a protective zone, the wonders of this complex will continue to woo future visitors. Any signs of modernization in this cultural triangle must be kept at bay- imagine, a modern residential complex within 500 m of Dambulla Tempe- what an eye-sore! Let big cities expand and keep such cultural and historical wonders untainted please.
The Bus from Dambulla is hard to miss. It’s part of the Golden Cultural Triangle route and although there was no stop sign, the driver and locals made sure that we got off at the right place. The 20km ride was dirt cheap (USD 0.30) and we arrived after 40 minutes of passing through local villages and windy roads.
After a bit of rest at our isolated guesthouse, we walked towards the main road and had dinner at a cool local restaurant. We can’t wait for tomorrow!