After reaching the beautiful resort at Habarana, we sipped a cool drink at the reception while being checked in. It was so peaceful and relaxing to just be there, admiring the layout as we walked to the little chalet that was assigned to us. All the hotels we stayed at in Sri Lanka had their own charm, and Chhaaya Village was perhaps the most charming, long-tailed monkey families scampering across the lawns next to a lotus lake, on the other side of which marched a row of elephants.
Funny thing about road trips and travelling together is the three of us sharing the same bathroom along the way, and it gets funnier if we all need to go at the same time 🙂
We opted to have a relaxed afternoon, freshening up with showers, a leisurely lunch followed by nap for me while Huz and Amu went for a romp.
The next day we set off for Anuradhapura after an early breakfast. It was a long drive to get there and ultimately we kicked ourselves for it.
We paid $25 each to explore this place (probably a hundred times more than the locals), Anuradhapura being one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization….but we skedaddled from there as fast as we could. It was horribly hot!! I would have loved to roam around on a cloudy, drizzly day and the remnants were indeed fascinating and terribly historic. But Amu and I found ourselves longing to be submerged in the cool pool at the resort in Habarana
And once again, I was far more fascinated by the monkeys than the ancient Sacred Bodhi Tree
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!
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.
Myth has it that Ravana held Sita captive in the highlands of Lanka. Sita (the heroine from the Indian epic Ramayana) meditated on a rock and cried a river of tears. Then she dropped lotus flowers into the water, in the hope that they would make their way to her husband Rama so he could come rescue her.
It is believed that the monkey-god Hanuman was instrumental in finding her and bringing her back.
This could be the only Sita temple in the world.
Went up on the roof to see if I could take some nice night shots. On one end was a waning moon….
On the other, a bedecked Mazaar, all dressed up for the 12th of Rabi ul Awwal……
In a garden named after Gandhi, in the heart of the city….a remnant of a colonial past.