For most Sri Lanka travellers Tissamaharama is the perfect starting point for safaris in the surrounding national parks of Yala and Bundala and Lunugamvehera, some also enjoy birdwatching in the close-by Wirawila sanctionary. But Tissa - as its name is commonly shortened - is also an attraction in itself. Tissamaharama is the ancient Mahagama, which was the capital of the southern principality known as Rohana in the Pali chronicles. It was the hometown of the Sinhalese national hero Dutugemunu (Dutthagamani in Pali). Due to its historical significance, Tissamaharama alias Mahagama is sometimes called the "Anuradhapura of the south". Four major dagobas survive from the early centuries of Buddhism on the island. The best restored one - from a scientifical point of view - is called Sandagiri Dagoba. A small archaeological museum is attached to it. Two other dagobas are much larger, actually the largest of the entire Southern Province of Sri Lanka. However, the Tissa and Yattala stupas are restored as white domes in a more modern style.
The photos shown above are taken in the complex of the Sandagiri Dagoba (stupa) of the ancient city of Mahagama, now known as Tissamaharama alias Tissa. This is only one of 4 archaeological sites in Tissa. To learn more about the history of Tissa and its places of interest for heritage round tours, please click here...
The Meetiyagoda moonstone mine is situated in the hinterland of Sri Lanka's southwestern beach resorts Hikkaduwa and Ambalangoda. A visit is also easily managable as a half-day excursion from other coastal towns between Galle in the south and Bentota or Beruwela in the north. Actually, trips to Meetiyagoda, also combined with otherr nearby destinations such as Madhu Ganga wetlands are quite popular with holiday makers who spend some days or weeks in beach resorts of this region.
Guided tours in Meetiyagoda include a short walk to the shaft of the mine, where you can also study the filtering process, and then to the workshop and showrooms. You can study the filtering. The promotion slogan "the world's only moonstone mine" is a little bit misleading. Moonstones are found on all continents. The classic finding place in ancient Europe was the area of St. Gotthard in Switzerland. Today, Europe's richest moonstone mines are in Poland and Scandinavia. Most moonstones are from Mynamar and India. But Sri Lanka's moonstone - mostly from Meetiyagoda - have a reputation of being among the finest, although the quality of the finds has been decreasing for several years. Myanmar's and Sri Lanka's moonstones are those of the highest value due to their uniquely intense blue sheen. But the blue-shining moonstones have become even rarer in Myanmar than in Sri Lanka in recent decades. This is why claiming to be the world's only moonstone mine has some justification, as Meetiyagoda is the only remaining mine for moonstones with the highly attractive blue sheen.
a less-kown large excavation site in the Deep South of Sri Lanka - not far from Tangalle
Though it is situated at the A18 main road, which is connecting the southern beach resorts such as Tangalle and Kirinda with the "elephant national park" Udawalawe and the "gem city" Ratnapura, the Rambha Viharaya (also transcribed "Ramba Vihara") is rarely visited by foreign travellers. To be honest, this archaeological site is not as amazing as the nearby rock and cave temple of Mulgirigala. And Situlpawwa in the Yala area might earn the fame of being a more fascinating ancient site, just due to its environmental settings. However the Rambha Viharaya is one of the largest excavated temple complexes in the southern plains of Sri Lanka, although not many Sri Lankans and foreign guests seem to be aware of this fact. What is now called the Rambha Viharaya once served as the main monastery of an ancient city named Mahanagakula, which was an important trading center in antiquity and became the capital of Sri Lanka's Deep South during the Polonnaruwa period. Even the nation's famous Tooth Relic is said to have been kept here for a while during the period of Indian Chola hegemony over the northern half of the island. The reputation of the "banana monastery" - which actually the literal meaning of "Rambha Viharaya" - remained to be far-reaching after the Polonnaruwa period, when even monks from Myanmar's world-famous temple-town Bagan sought advice from the monks residing here in southern Sri Lanka.
The ruins of the Barandi Kovil in a suburb of Seethawaka (formerly known as Avissawella) are rarely visited by foreigners, though many travel along the close-by main road from Kitulgala to the coast. To be honest, what can be seen of the former state temple of the 16th century is not quite imposing. However, the Barandi Kovil archaeological site is worth a short break, as the location is quite charming and the temple is of some historical significance, as it was the main building of the former Seethawaka kingdom, which was the most important principality of the island in the second half of the 16th century. Furthermore, this is the only major state temple of a Sri Lankan monarchy that was dedicated to Shiva and thereby Hindu instead of Buddhist. Actually, Hinduism seems to have replaced Buddhism as the Sinhalese state religion in the Seethwaka period. This is the reason why the Seethawaka kingdom, though the major proponent of Sinhalese independence against Portuguese overlordship, has not a good reputation in Buddhist historiography.
Learn more about the Barandi Kovil of Seethwaka here...
Visit "Little World's End" and "Big World's End" of Horton Plains...
...when you are on tour with me in Sri Lanka
and if you are fascinated by either biodiversity hotspots or large deer or scenic beauty
or waterfalls... or all of it, to be seen on a half-day hiking tour.
The original Sinhala name of Horton Plains is Maha Eliya, which translates to "Great Plains".
The name refers to the open grassland areas within the montane cloud forest
situated in an elevation of more than 2000 m above sea level.
Did you know that Horton Plains - the escarpments of which are called "World's End" -
is the only place on our tropical island that is both a National Park and a World Heritage Site?
Though Trincomalee is famous for the Koneshvaram Shiva Temple on the Swami Rock in the first place, there are some more Hindu temples of interest in the town. The largest one is devoted to Kali. In contrast to Vishnu, who is venerated by Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus alike, worship of Kali is exclusively Tamil in Sri Lanka. Kali is the most powerful and violent form of Shakti, the female energy of male deities. She is venerated as destroyer of evil forces in the first place. But in Bengal, where tantric practices became dominant in the 7th to 9th century, Kali is held in high esteem as the mother of the universe, too. Kali plays a role in some Buddhist traditions, too, namely in Buddhist tantric schools, particularly in Nepal and Tibet. However, Kali is of no significance for Sinhalese devotees. Among Tamil temples in Sri Lanka, Kovils dedicated to Kali are not as common as those for her husband and sons, Ishvara (Shiva), Kataragama (Murugan) and Pilliyai (Ganesha). Most temples of the mighty and often furious Kali in Sri Lanka are dedicated to one of her more delightful incarnations, the helpful and curing Amman, known as Mariamman among Tamils.
The Kali temple in the very centre of Trincomalee is dededicated to Bhadrakali in particular. A separate Kovil for Ganesha is attached. The Kovil is built in the typical stlye of Dravidian architecture of south India. The most eye-striking feature of the Dravidian style is the large gatetower known as Gopuram, which is adorned with plenty of sculptures. Colourful sculptures of deitie and other celestial beings are fond in the interior of the Kovil, too. Just as in the case of Kataragama shrines, it is a comon practice of praying for needs by breaking coconuts in front of the temple oentrance.
Access is allowed to foreigners, if they respect the local dress code. Pooja is celebrated trhee times a day, at 7.00am, 12.00 noon and 5.00 pm. Most locals venerate Kali n Tuesdays and Fridays in particular. The temple feast of this Kovil is usually the fortnight in the second half of March.
Located in the southern part of Colombo's most noble neighbourhood, Cinamon Gardens (Colombo 3), the Independence Square is one of the must-sees of a Colombo city tour, besides Galle Face Green and Beira Lake. The very center of Independence Square is the Independence Memorial Hall, which was designed by a group of eight architects. It resembles a classical wooden celebration hall of the Kandyan period. The hall was built at the very location where the ceremony marking the beginning of independence from British colonial rule was held on 4th February 1948. Ever since, most of the annual celebrations of Independence Day as well as several inauguration ceremonies of presidents were held at this monument.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka,