You are looking for a major heritage sites in a scenic natural setting with plenty of diverse cultural attraction, undisturbed by crowds of tourists, in short: for a genuine Sri Lankan dream destination? Then Dimbulugala is the place to visit. Actually, Dimbulagala played an important role in the history of Theravada Buddhism, for Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia alike. Dimbulagala is the highest mountain in the plains of Anuradhapura, it can be seen from many places and is close to the main road (A11) from Polonnaruwa to the East Coast beach resort of Passikudah. Nonetheless, most tourists don’t known, that this mountain is crowded with interesting places and inviting with hiking trails to vantage points. Actually, there are at least four places of interest, not far from each other. Nalum Pokuna at the northern slope is an archaeological site with remnants a typical ancient monastery, a picturebook “ruins in the jungles”. A large monastery inhabited by monks is at the southwestern base of the mountain, including a small museum and footpath to a stupa with perfect panorama’s. Further east is a lonesome cave temple high above the plains and at the southern base of the mountains are remnants of ancient paintings. Actually, you can spend an entire day in Dimbulagala to explore all the places of interest. But a half-day detour from Polonnaruwa or Passikudah is rewarding, too.
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The north gate of the 20th century main temple in Kelaniya is flanked by quite spectacular Gajasimha sculptures. Gajasimhas are hybrid anmimals, a lion's body is depicted with the head of an elephant. Gajasminhas do not play a role in Hindu mythology. Probably, they are not a twist of the Narasimha incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as this Avatar has a lion's head. Nonetheless, Gajasimhas are a quite common sight at historical temples of southern India. Gajasimhas signify strength and sovereignty, particularly the might and wealth of a kingdom. Gajasimha sculptures are not known from Sri Lanka's Anuradhapura period, although some Indian specimens date back to the first millenium A.D. Gajasimhas are quite popular in the art of Southeast Asia in the second millennium. Depictions are found in Cambodia's Khmer temples in Banteay Srei and Roluos as well as in central Vietnam Cham culture and in various periods of Thai history. In Southeast Asia, Gajasimhas are portrayed as guardians of temples or as a mount for human warriors. In Sri Lanka, Gajasimhas are characteristic of the medieval Yapahuwa and Gampola periods.
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.
See our newest photos from Kandy Perahera 2019. They are taken at the Sri Dalada Veediya, which is the road leading from the town centre to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. To be more precisely: What you see is the street's segment near Kandy Lake in the background and the famous colonial-style Queens Hotel. The photos are taken from the side of the said hotel.
Sri Lanka's most illustrous pageant is not only celebrating Kandy's Sacred Tooth Relic, which is the national palladium of Sri Lankan Buddhism, but also including the island's four major Hindu deities protecting it and their entourage. Each god is represented by a specific colour of the decoration atop the tusker.
The ancient stairway to the hill sanctuary of Mihintale is an attraction in itself. Some of the steps are carved out of the rock, whereas most stairs are huge hewn granite slabs. The stairway has been restored using the original slabs. Such stairway served as a part of meditation paths, symbolizing a spiritual ascent. The four flights of the major stairway leading to the Middle Terrace are made up of of about 2000 granite slabs. The photo shows the second stairway leading to the Ambasthale Terrace. Both stairways are picturesquely shadowed by frangipani trees, which are called "Araliya" in the Sinhalese language. Araliya flowers are common devotional offerings in front of stupas and Buddha images in particular. The total number of steps till the top of the Mihintale Hills is more than 1000.
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We chose to express sadness and sympathy with a short comment. Friends suffered losses in their families and neighbourhoods. The worst of the Easter Sunday terror attacks took place in Sebastian Church, Katuwapitiya, Negombo.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka,