When travelling with your family from Colombo or Negombo to Kandy, don't miss to have a break at Pinnawela. Kids in particular will love to see the elephants coming down the street and taking their bath. Though the state-run elephant orphanage is Pinnawela's main attraction due to the sheer number of elephants, the nearby private elephant camps are also worth visiting, because they allow kids to come in closer contact with elephants, having a ride or washing them. Instead, the main activity for children in the Elephant Orphanage is the bottle-feeding of baby elephants.
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.
Tamil temples in India and Sri Lanka are called Kovils. Both photos taken in Colombo show two characteristic features of Kovils, namely the gateway tower called Gopuram and the chariot called Ratha. Gateways carrying the highest towers are not found in temples in northern India. Gopurams have been a feature of Dravidian (Tamil) temples since the classical Pallava period and have surpassed the other temple towers (Shikharas) in height since the Nayak period of the early modern age.
In contrast to Gopurams, Rathas are actually not found at Tamil temples exclusively, Rathas are the cariots of temple feasts all over India. During the festival season, they are richly decorated and pulled through the streets.
The name 'Ratha' is of Sanskrit origin and etymologically related to the Spanish word 'rueda', meaning 'wheel', and more obviously to the Latin and English term "radius", indicating a circular form. Though this may appear to be somewhat odd, the origin of Gopuram architecture is actually the Ratha. How can this be? Rathas are made of wood and Gopurams are stone buildings. However, the Pallava architecture of the 7th century imitated wooden chariots by stone constructions of almost the same shape and size, as can be seen at the famous Pancha Rathas ('Five Rathas') in World Heritage Site Mahabalipuram near Chennai in India's state of Tamil Nadu. Actually, these Pancha Rathas of the Narasimhavarman period of Pallava architecture, though not completed afterthe king's death, became prototypes of Tamil tower architecture in general - and in the course of the centuries their original shape developed into those giant towers known as Gopurams or Gopuras.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka,