a place to showcase

a smorgasbord of mudras

Where were we?

Oh yes, day 4 in Sri Lanka. We had left the gorgeous botanical garden and were making our way towards the Cultural Triangle.

About 72 km later, we stop to explore the Dambulla cave temple on a rock that towers 160 m above the surrounding plains. Though the slope of the Dambulla rock is gentle, climbing it is a task and a half for a respiratorily challenged person such as I, while my poor legs had yet to recover from the 4 and a half hour trek through the Horton Plains.. But it is worth the effort. Plus, there are monkeys. Lots and lots of frolicking, playful monkeys 🙂

Yours truly would, of course, much rather monkey-watch than appreciate a World Heritage Site!

children sitting outside the temple...
children sitting outside the temple…
we removed our shoes outside, paying a little bit of money for a sheltered, protected spot

we removed our shoes outside, paying a little bit of money for a sheltered, protected spot

The temple complex features five caves under a vast overhanging outcrop, the walls and ceilings of which are painted intricately with religious images following the contours of the rock. It dates back to the 1st century BC…..the architecture was embellished with gabled entrances and arched colonnades in 1938.

Inside, there are a total of 153 statues of Buddha, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses. The caves are very dimly lit.













Dhyana mudra….signifying inner wisdom, emotional balance, and clarity.

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21 responses

  1. Great pictures from a beautiful setting. It is a part of the world I know nothing about. You continue widening my horizon. Thank you Munira.

    January 3, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    • My pleasure Peter, glad you enjoyed them. Indeed there is much beauty in Sri Lanka. Took so many pictures there but have been slow with documenting the journey on the blog 🙂

      January 4, 2014 at 6:24 am

      • I have been in Colombo in one afternoon in 1959. I was captivated by multitude of cultures and religions. Of course one can not but get only one little glim in an afternoon. I was struck by the friendliness of the people.

        January 4, 2014 at 7:59 am

  2. Beautiful place! But where are the monkeys? You know me…I’d be right there beside you, interested in the cute fuzzies that just happen to be near a world heritage site 😉

    January 4, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    • The statues are remarkable, but I have to admit it’s the patterns that draw me in. Can’t keep my eyes off the ceilings!

      January 4, 2014 at 11:37 pm

      • Haha, I wondered if anyone would comment on the lack of monkey pictures! The thing is, I couldn’t observe them through the camera lens simply because Amu was off and away doing all the clicking! And she has taken some marvellous photos. I’d love to share them on the blog, but the child is fierce about copyrights! 😛 As it is I sneak in some of her masterpiece shots 🙂
        So I was happy just to sit there, catch my breath, rest my legs, and watch the capering monkeys. They are such human-like, fascinating creatures I tell you. Such fun!
        As for the cave paintings….I can’t convey how very amazing they were. Couldn’t seem to focus on them with a camera, my eyes were overwhelmed by the intricacy and sheer volume of work. Buddhist art is quite interesting in all its story-telling and I just wanted to lie down on the floor and stare at the ceilings, but that might have looked odd, so I just absorbed as much as I could. Since it was dark inside and I hate using the flash, I just clicked the statues, since they were better lit. But you can imagine why this site needs to be preserved…..some parts of the walls and ceilings had been damaged by water seeping in.

        January 5, 2014 at 6:25 am

        • I’m glad that there are people who are dedicated to preservation. History holds some amazing things, and it’s easy to lose sight of them when they’re gone.
          I think I’d have just lain on the floor. I’ve learned not to care so much about how silly I look – often flattening myself on snow and ice for a better angle. And I distinctly have a memory of a good friend lying on the floor of the Biltmore Hotel (very swanky!) in Miami, FL taking photos of the intricately painted ceiling. I figure if he didn’t care about how silly he looked in such posh surroundings, I could let go of my ego a bit too. Besides, why paint such lovely works on ceilings if not to have us mere mortals bend our necks to them? 🙂

          January 5, 2014 at 4:53 pm

  3. Utterly utterly enchanted by this location, by the Buddha shots, by the children in white, by the Misty Mountain…Thank you a million times for visiting Sri Lanka M!!! When I go, I’m going to follow your footsteps 🙂

    And ❤ that title!

    January 5, 2014 at 4:59 am

    • I’m so glad we climbed that rock! I had such misgivings at the foot of it. You see, I tend to get put off very easily by the slightest hint of kitsch. I ONLY like ancient Buddhist art and architecture I’m afraid! the newer structures are just too…..you know what I mean I hope. 😛
      As for that first lovely shot of the children in white, that was taken by Amu 🙂 I knew you would notice the mountain in the distance! Uff H, I cannot tell you how uplifted my heart was as we travelled the breadth of this island. The terrain is simply surreal. I really did expect to see prehistoric creatures rearing their heads through the tops of the trees!

      January 5, 2014 at 6:36 am

  4. I know exactly what you mean M! Old is GOLD as far as I’m concerned! 🙂 🙂 M…you need to get some of those Buddha shots printed onto canvas! Arrange them like a collage on the wall – they will look fabulous!

    As for Amu – I hope photography features in her career choices…she is too gifted for it not to be 🙂

    January 5, 2014 at 6:48 am

    • I LOVE your idea H! Will look into it asap!

      February 3, 2014 at 5:44 pm

  5. Wow, what a temple. Great pictures bring it to life. Nice one.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    • Such a serene place to be 🙂 Thank you Alan 🙂

      February 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm

  6. Poor lighting doesn’t prevent you taking splendid pictures, does it? Like Heather, I kept hoping to see your monkey friends as I scrolled through your photos… but it looks like there’s another post coming dedicated to them, so ok. Monkeys or not, to visit a 2,000 year old site such as this must be a great experience.

    January 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    • Once I dodged the kitsch and caught my breath, it was pretty cool :)I love catching light in dark places 🙂

      January 14, 2014 at 8:09 pm

  7. It would be so nice to visit there (or just travel the places unseen)… Thanks for sharing Munira! Happy New Year to you! 🙂

    January 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm

  8. I just had a physical reaction scrolling down through all the details of the Buddha. Something in my belly leaped. Something visceral happened. However, before that I especially admired the photo of the children.

    February 2, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    • Wow Kathy, and may I say I think your reaction is wonderful? Thank you!

      February 3, 2014 at 5:47 pm

  9. Ajaytao2010

    Nice reading about you

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Be in touch. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may find something of your interest.

    Happy New Year !!!!!!! and best wishes for you in 2014 🙂

    February 15, 2014 at 8:39 am

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