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Pictures of our Sri Lanka trip
[Part 2: Kandy - Anuradhapura - Polonnaruwa - Batticaloa - Arugam Bay - Ella]
Part 1: Colombo - Negombo - Sigiriya - Dambulla - Colombo - Nuwara Eliya - Peradeniya (before Kandy)
Part 3: Ella - Haputale - Tissamaharama - Tangalle - Galle - Colombo
Sri Lanka Map
    Map of South Asia
latest picture: May 8, 2011
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070  The “Tempel of the Tooth“ in Kandy
is greeting from the lake shore. Here a
tooth of Buddha is kept, one of the holiest
relics; a UNESCO world heritage site
071  The Bahiravakanda Buddha
watches from a hill over the lake
region of Kandy, the second
largest town of Sri Lanka
072  Pilgrims are walking along the
“Temple of the Tooth“ towards its entry
Kandy – 46 miles North of Nuwara Eliya – is not only the second largest town. It is also the place of the “Temple of the Tooth”, the most important Buddhist site in Sri Lanka. It is situated picturesquely at the lake shore with the green forest as a backdrop. Here a tooth of Buddha is kept, one of the holiest relicts. It attracts devotees not only from all over the island, but also from other Asian countries.
073  Offerings are part of the religious
Buddhist rituals. On her way to the temple,
a woman chooses an arrangement of
Lotus flowers for Rp. 200 (= US$1.82)
074  A devotee prays in front of a
reclining Buddha in a small temple besides
Kandy’s “Temple of the Tooth”
075  Side by side: A Buddhist “Dagoba“
and the Christian St. Paul’s Church in the
area of the “Temple of the Tooth” in Kandy
For us it is not essential having been inside the temple because only very important visitors apparently get to see the tooth anyway. ”Ordinary mortals” will see just the golden casket where it is kept. We regard Rp. 1’000 (US$9) entry fee per person too much for just being rushed through – that many faithful are queuing up. We rather concentrate on the life outside, which is for free and really worth it.
076  One of the four small Hindu
shrines (Devales) besides the
„Temple of the Tooth“ in Kandy
077  The elephant and the two cocks
seem to like the tropical downpour in the
area of Kandy’s “Temple of the Tooth” …..
078  ..... and the monkey mother
with her baby seems to enjoy
the cooling-down too
We join the families that came to pray, carrying a floral offering, mostly a bouquet of beautiful lotus flowers. Depending on the size, a flower arrangement costs between 50 (US$0.45) and 200 (US$1.80) Rupees at the stalls. Their display is an eye-catching site. An elephant, hordes of monkeys and even two cocks roam also around in the temple area stretching along the shore of Lake Kandy, the town’s center point. It is an atmosphere of peace that is surrounding us.
079  The small artificial island with
flowers and the fountain at Kandy’s
lake add to the city’s charm
080  A white heron picks in the
shallow shore of the Kandy Lake
081  Black cormorants are cleaning and
drying their feathers on a dead tree branch.
From the other seashore Kandy’s
“Temple of the Tooth” is greeting
Only when the skies suddenly darken and a powerful tropical downpour surprises us, we leave. We buy a cheese-onion pizza for Rp. 630 (US$5.70) at the Pizza Hut and with two bottles of Lion beer from our car fridge we enjoy our today’s main meal at a lovely spot at the lake shore.
082  We are parking our LandCruiser
at the Southern side of Kandy Lake
near Malwathu Mahu Viharaya
083  Teacher and school children in
the town of Matale, 17 miles North of
Kandy, are eager to pose for a picture
084  A lovely miniature Hindu Temple
between palm trees in the town of Matale
Our main topic is the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death on 5/2/2011 in Abottabad in Pakistan, which this morning spread worldwide like a bombshell. We recall 9/11. At this day ten years ago in 2001 we were in the US selling “real” shells at a flea market in Indiana to supplement our cash.
085  The Muthumariamman Thevasthanam
Temple in the town of Matale between
Kandy and Dambulla is the
tallest Hindu temple in Sri Lanka …..
086  ..... fruit offerings are
sold at the temple entrance …..
087  ….. one of the beautifully elaborated
ceremonial “chariots”, pulled by ropes
by thousands of devotees through the
city during the Matale Theru Festival
The roof of the ‘Temple of the Tooth’ is shining golden in the morning sun, black cormorants are cleaning their feathers on a dry branch and white egrets pick in the shallow waters of the lake shore when we leave Kandy. We head to Anuradhapura, 80 miles to the North that belongs to the so called “cultural triangle”. It reaches from Kandy over Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, and thereby includes also Dambulla, Sirigiya and some smaller temple sites like Mihintale, Aukana and more. Actually there exists a “cultural triangle ticket” for Rp. 5’400 (US$50). This entry ticket allows “three for the price of two” of the above mentioned sites, but all the others have to be paid additionally at the spot – pretty confusing and very expensive, as all the locals pay only 5% or 10% of what a foreigner has to fork out.
088  Gate to the Aluvihara monastery
just North of Matale, where a golden
Buddha is sitting on a huge rock
boulder on a mountain slope …..
089  ….. Close-up picture
of the golden Buddha
090  A monk dressed in a
saffron robe is on his way to a temple
In Matale, between Kandy and Dambulla, we pass the ‘Muthumariamman Thevasthanam Temple’, the tallest Hindu Temple in Sri Lanka. A watchman waves us aside to a shed. He raises two tarps. Beautifully elaborated ceremonial chariots (carriages) appear, which during Hindu festivals are pulled by ropes by thousands of devotees through the city, one chariot for each deity. Shortly after a golden Buddha statue of the Aluvihara monastery, sitting on a huge rock on a mountain slope catches our eyes. What an interesting religious diversity!
091  Devotees pray at the more than
2’100 years old Mirisavatiya Dagoba
in Anuradhapura, the capital of the
ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka …..
092  ..... the Mirisavatiya Dagoba
is one of the eight sacred
sites in Anuradhapura …..
093  ..... two young people
meditate in a quiet corner
Anuradhapura, the capital of the biggest ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka, exceeds by far our expectations. In its heyday it is said to have been the biggest monastic city of the ancient world with dozens of monasteries and ten thousands of monks. We are especially fascinated by the historic, monumental dagobas, called also stupas and pagodas.
094  The Jetavanarama Dagoba (400 ft.)
in Anuradhapura was the tallest ever
built Dagoba. 93.3 millions
of red bricks were used
095  Cheeky monkeys wait for
an unattended moment to climb
to the roof of our LandCruiser
096  The Thuparama Dagoba in Anuradha-
pura is considered to be the first Dagoba
in Sri Lanka (250-210 B.C.). It was
rebuilt in 1862 due to destruction
They have been built to protect the holiest relicts of Buddhism. In a shiny white they tower towards the skies. According to our guide book, from all the architectonic masterpieces of earlier civilizations only the pyramids of Gizeh in Egypt are said to be bigger than the three main domes in Anuradhapura. We are awestruck by its mere grandiosity.
097  Here at the Northern protective wall
of the Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba (was once
338ft. high; 370ft. circumference) in
Anuradhapura hundreds of elephants are
standing guard shoulder by shoulder …..
098  ….. the immaculate white
Dagoba is one of the
masterpieces in Sri Lanka …..
099  ..... the Western part of the wall
in the North is the counterpart of the
Eastern part – hundreds of guarding
elephants. There are 1’900 figures
within the whole Dagoba
In this city stands also the most worshipped tree of the world, the holy „Sri Maha Bodhi“ (a kind of fig tree). It originates from a seedling of the original tree of Bodhgaya in India, under which Buddha found enlightenment and from where his teaching spread. The oldest branch is carefully supported with golden crutches and the whole tree itself – it is one of the oldest trees worldwide – is protected by a railing. It looks rather unimposing and we almost missed it. Entry is through a little gate, where shoes have to be deposited and where visitors are checked. In general, the presence of the police at those holy places is quite big; no wonder because also Anuradhapura was hit on 10/6/2008 by a suicide bomb attack of the Tamil Tigers.
100  The  lovely Indian Roller
(Coracias benghalensis), called also
Blue Jay, apperas at the Stupa
101  The Lankarama „Vatadage“ in
Anuradhapura – a relic house consisting
of a small Dagoba, flanked by Buddha
images and encircled by pillars
102  Anuradhapura: A procession of
devotees and monks walk to the most
worshipped tree of the world - the holy
“Sri Maha Bodhi” (a kind of a fig tree)
After two days we are on our way again – in Southeastern direction to the second of the ruined cities of Sri Lanka: Polonnaruwa – once a flourishing trade and religious center. For some reason, we are in not in the same mood today to stroll around the ruins and stones of a by-gone empire as we were end of 2005 in Cambodia, at least not for a daily tourist entry fee of US$25. We therefore concentrate to the Southern, entry free part near the Polonnaruwa Rest House, where once Queen Elizabeth II has been lodging. Langur monkeys romp between stony witnesses, pillars and an impressive stony lion. They bring some life into the clutter of stones.
103  A monk is praying with devotees
at the „Sri Maha Bodhi“ tree in Anuradha-
pura. It originates from a seedling of the
original tree of Bodhgaya in India, under
which Buddha found enlightenment …..
104  ….. after prayer the
devotees leave the holy site of
the “Sri Maha Bodhi” Tree …..
105  ..... the oldest branch is carefully
supported with golden pillars and the whole
tree itself is protected by a golden railing.
It’s said that it was planted 288 B.C. or
246 B.C., what makes an age of more than
2’250 years, hence the oldest living tree
Mid morning of the following day we leave Polonnaruwa on the very smooth A11-trunk road towards the East. The villages end, the traffic gets scarce and for the first time we encounter military checkpoints, one after the other. Either they occupy the primitive military sheds that line the road, or they are busy standing guard with a shouldered gun at the road side.
106  The pillar with lion heads is a
supporting element of the dome shaped
temple opposite the University Park in
Mihintale, 9 mi. East of Anuradhapura …..
107  ….. the huge structure of the
dome shaped temple shows beautifully
elaborated reliefs on panels in each
four cardinal directions …..
108  ..... detail of one of the panels
Is it a hangover of the civil war fought until 2009 between the Hindu Tamils and the Buddhist Sinhalese? Or is it merely providing jobs? Or even both? During the war lasting two decades, the Tamils living in the North advanced along the East Coast of the island all the way to the Yala Nationalpark in the South.
109  The Maha Dagoba of the
temple complex in Mihintale,
10 miles East of Anuradhapura,
greets from the hilltop
110  About 10 miles West of the main high-
way from Dambulla to Anuradhapura stands
the 40ft. tall Aukana Buddha, carved out of a
single rock in the 5th century. Since the Taliban
destroyed in March 2001 the biggest Buddha in
the world back then in Bamiyan/Afghanistan,
this one became Number 1
111  On the road to Polonnaruwa
another huge, but newly built
Buddha is greeting at Minneriya
along the Minneriya Tank
The military checkpoints wave us through without exception contrary to the police in their brown uniforms, who start to flag us down more and more. Slowly but surely they get on our nerves. „Why are you always stopping us? What did we do wrong?“ – Emil starts to ask in an upset manner. That usually disconcerts them and with a broad smile they make us a sign to proceed. Only once a senior police officer got grumpy and insisted to see Emil’s international driver's license, as if we had received a permit for our car to drive around Sri Lanka without having a driver's license.
112  Freshly planted rice fields
in Polonnaruwa
113  An unusual street picture: Two
bicycles highly loaded with timber. Fire-
wood has be to carried from far away
114  Flocks of Cattle Egrets
are a common sight on the fields
We are driving towards the East coast through “no man’s land” along a flat steppe with shining yellow grass, intercepted by green trees. Automatically our thoughts return to the African savanna. It was long, long ago! What a beautiful sense of emptiness and freedom! However as soon as we reach the East coast the density of the population restarts.
115  A beautifully sculptured lion amidst
lonely stone pillars in the Southern ruined
city of Polonnaruwa. The ancient city
of Polonnaruwa is listed also as a
UNESCO world heritage site …..
116  ….. Hanuman langurs live
on the trees between the ruins …..
117  ..... Emil is standing at the edge of
the historic sluice of the “Royal Baths”
Here we reach also the area, where on December 26th, 2004, the Tsunami struck, leaving more than 35’000 people dead – after Indonesia the most casualties. We feel that people are poorer than in the West. There are a lot of bicycles – in the West we hardly have seen any – and motorbikes are on the increase. On the other side, there are fewer cars. But the new LandCruisers of the UN are still circulating.
118  One of the lovely Hindu temples along
the East coast close to Chenkaladi …..
119  ….. details of the goddesses
120  Another small Hindu temple
Hindu temples replace now the Buddhist temples of the West and Christian churches are somewhat increasing. Skinny cows roam freely around. People are more curious. “What is your name?”, “Where are you from?“, “How many babies do you have?“ – it is India pure! Early afternoon we are already in Batticaloa and cross the single-lane bridge to Kallady. There, the Tsunami hit really badly. Part of the coastal road has been swept away; the bypass is still merely an earth track. There, directly at the white sandy beach, we find a lovely spot for lunch.
121  A Moslem School has finished
in Maruthamunai near Kalmunai on the
East coast – the girls are heading home.
On the East coast live predominantly
Muslims and Hindus, some Christians
and just a few Buddhists
122  A small shop selling
dresses in Batticaloa
123  The eye-catching blue
church “Our Lady of Sorrows”
(or “Our Lady of Presentation”)
in Batticaloa is eight-sided
While we eat bread and a can of tuna fish, we watch out to the sea, which is calm today. It is a strange feeling to imagine that all of a sudden it could change into a disastrous inferno erasing everything in its way. But life goes on: Two fishermen are bouncing with their canoe on the waves and waiting for the right moment to throw their net. At the beach four women are breaking off branches of young casuarinas trees, replanted after the Tsunami. They bundle them to take them home as firewood.
124  A fisherman is casting his net
in Kallady near Batticaloa
at the East Coast
125  We drive through the fertile
plains fromBatticaloa to the
more Southerly Arugam Bay
126  A rural scene on the
East coast after heavy rains
South of Batticaloa the image is changing dramatically. The elaborated Hindu temples are replaced by uniform green painted mosques (green is the color of Islam). After the school hours, children and students in their traditional Arabic outfit are swarming by the hundreds to the streets. 50 miles further, at Arugam Bay – a surfer and hanger paradise – the call of the muezzin to pray interrupts the night hours at 5am – the first time after our visit of Socotra in Yemen. Yes, there is no doubt: We are in a Muslim corner of Sri Lanka. 7.5% of the population are Muslim, 70% Buddhist, 15% Hindus and around 7.5% Christians.
127  A few remaining ruins along the
East coast are silent witnesses of the
Tsunami of December 26, 2004
128  Emergency shelters at Pottuvil for
Tsunami stricken people along the East
coast. Although the East coast bore the brunt
of the disaster, Sri Lanka was hit all around
very badly: 35’000 dead and missing
129  The historic ruins of 'Mudu Maha
Vihara' at Pottuvil in the East. There
is a 10ft.-high standing Buddha and
two smaller statues
Before the 2004 Tsunami Arugam Bay was considered also a kind of “Ceylonese hippie center”. Our impression is that the situation is partly returning. It is not “our” place. Therefore, next morning we are on our way again. We backtrack to Potuvil and turn inland, thus driving West, following the highway A4. Ponds with carpets of white blooming water lilies pop up.
130  Fishing canoes are parked at a sand-
bank at Arugam Bay. It’s said that due to the
Tsunami boat donations were so generous
that some fishermen owned a small fleet
131  The picturesque beach of Arugam
Bay is lined with colorful fishing boats.
Arugam Bay is also famous as a surfer
paradise. This beach place was before
the 2004 Tsunami from time to time a
kind of “Ceylonese hippie center”
(if the political situation allowed it)
132  No road noise – just beach,
sea and sun at Arugam Bay
We spot our first wild elephant taking a bath, two pairs of wild peacocks and swarms of water fowls. It is so peaceful, but the heat is nearly unbearable. It is said to be the hottest region of Sri Lanka. Despite of it, in Wellawaya we make a little detour to Buduruwagala to see the seven Buddha figures carved into a sheer cliff. The biggest statue is 52ft. high. Really very impressive!
133  In the vicinity of the small Eastern
'Lahugala Kitulana National Park'
we see our first wild elephant
134  The highway No. 4 to the West
leads us through a serene landscape
with many water lily ponds
135  The “Mimosa pudica“ is a sensitive
flower. Its leaves shrink when touched
Then the cool mountain air is calling. A good tarmac road leads up to Ella, a popular tourist village on 3’400ft. altitude. Shortly before we arrive, we cross the Rawana Ella waterfall that plunges through a rocky gorge from a height of 82ft. down to the valley. As it is the case in most touristy places, cheeky monkeys are on the spot immediately. Woe betide those who do not close their car windows or doors immediately!
136  The Buduruwagala Buddha figures
cut into a sheer rock near Wellawaya
(3 miles South on A2 and 2 miles
West on a narrow side road)
137  The Ravana Ella Falls between
Wellawaya und Ella rumble
down 82ft. through a rocky gorge
138  The highly praised Ella Gap where
at a clear day the coast should be seen
A few miles further, after a short but badly potholed stretch, the quaint restaurants of the small mountain resort are greeting. We hardly reach the first buildings that we are already out of the village again. Apart of the mountain scenery with the highly praised Ella Gap and a railway station there is not much to admire though. But the cool air is just all we need for now, before we descend again to the plains of Southern Sri Lanka. We find a lovely room at the Country Comfort Hotel with an inviting bay window.
139  An inviting snack at the
site of the Ravana Ella Falls
140  A newlywed couple enjoys
the view over Ella Gap
141  Where there are tourists, there
are also monkeys (there is something
to guzzle). Here at the Ravana Ella
waterfall some ‘Toque Macaques’

More websites from Sri Lanka:

  • Part 1: Colombo - Negombo - Sigiriya - Dambulla - Colombo - Nuwara Eliya - Peradeniya (before Kandy)
  • Part 3: Ella - Haputale - Tissamaharama - Tangalle - Galle - Colombo
Articles in newspapers about us in Sri Lanka:
Article"Record breaking cruise", Daily Newspaper "Daily News" - April 22, 2011
Article"Around the world on a steady truck", Weekly Newspaper "Sunday Observer" - April 24, 2011