SRI LANKA – The Millennial History – Part I

Now that you know what you need to travel to Sri Lanka, let’s travel around this incredible country!

Sri Lanka is a country with an infinite cultural diversity.
The different ethnicities and immense history make Sri Lanka a very, very special place.
It is the birthplace of one of the oldest and purest strains of Buddhism – which makes it even more special to me, as I am so sympathetic to this religion.

Colombo, the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya – the country’s golden age – Kandy with its tea plantations, the Yala National Park, the fortified city of Galle and the beaches are more than enough reasons to fall in love with this country!

There were places I had put on the “not to be missed” list – the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, the Kandy region, and a safari in Yala.

A walk in the historic ruins of Polonnaruwa

We divided our trip by regions.
We flew to Colombo (which is in the west) but from there we went straight to Dambulla which is in the central region near Sigiriya – a trip we already made with Parveen who had picked us up at Colombo airport, and which lasted about 4 hours .

Let’s start with the first three days, which were the hardest to discover the oldest and most historic cities in the country!

Dambulla Golden Temple
World Heritage since 1991, this site consisting of five caves with Buddhist temples forces you to climb huge steps (or so I thought, until I climbed Sigiriya and Pirudangala!) in rock to contemplate its beauty.
The most imposing image is the 15-meter reclining Buddha. The caves are imposingly decorated with gold and colorful frescoes with religious images.


This temple had its history marked by the refuge of King Valagam when he was expelled from Anuradhapura. Upon his return to the throne he had the site transformed into a sacred temple of worship.

Os main inhabitants of the temple

The stunning view of the Golden Temple was a small omen of what would turn out to be the rest of the trip

From here, and quite exhausted from the trip, we decided to head to the hotel where we would stay for the first few nights, the Jetwing Lake Dambulla Sri Lanka.

Sunset at the Jetwing pool

The following day we started very early on the adventure of visiting the two ancient cities – Sigiriya and Pollonnaruwa.

Starting the day climbing about 700 steps is just sick, right? But that’s precisely what we did!

Lion’s Rock in Sigiriya
The ruins of Sigiriya Palace, at the top of Lion’s Rock, are the country’s biggest attraction. Walking through gardens that were once an immense water distribution complex and an authentic city, the palace is only accessible to those willing to climb more than 700 steps.
This kingdom emerged in the 5th century, on top of a rock 375 meters high.

The king at his castle

The terrible Kassyapa killed his father to seize power. He ruled the kingdom for 18 years, but obviously, he had to take refuge in a place of difficult access in order not to be captured and killed. And so he decided to make a palace almost touching the sky! This historic and incredible complex is shaped like a lion, hence the name.
Right at the entrance we can see the gigantic paws of the lion.


Mas depois do desafio de chegar ao topo da rocha por umas escadas íngremes e rudimentares ficamos em modo perplexo tamanha é a beleza.
Na realidade, o Sri Lanka é de todos os países que já visitei o que tem as vistas mais impressionantes.
Como é possível há 2500 anos atrás terem a capacidade de construir um complexo no topo duma montanha com aquela grandeza e imponência?

But after the challenge of reaching the top of the rock by some steep and rudimentary stairs, we were in perplexed mode, such is the beauty.
In fact, Sri Lanka has the most impressive views of all the countries I’ve visited.
How is it possible 2500 years ago to have the ability to build a complex on top of a mountain with that grandiosity and lordliness?


Even before we reach the top, we have a plain as far as the eye can see, adorned with statues among the vegetation.
At the top of the rock, only the remains of what was once a grandiose and insane complex with gardens, fountains, royal pools, palace and temples remain. Obviously this complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From here we head to Pollonnaruwa.

Pollonaruva is an architectural complex filled with palaces, bridges, meeting rooms, royal baths, monasteries, various temples and numerous Buddha statues.
It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.

Tip: take flip flops, espadrilles or flat sandals that are easy to remove. Whenever you enter sacred ground, you have to take off your shoes.
Also take shoulders and legs covered. As on the trip to Bali we had bought some beautiful Sarongs, we put them in our backpack and we use them all the time.

This complex is huge, consisting essentially of ruins, but which is perfectly perceived as an imposing and highly organized city from other times.

The ideal way to visit Pollonnaruwa is by bicycle or, as we did, with a driver. Why? Because the complex is gigantic and even the ticket office is extremely far from the complex itself!

We visit the Palace of King Nishshanka Malla which is located by Lake Bendiwewa, surrounded by lush gardens, but outside the archaeological complex of Polonnaruwa.

King Nishshanka Malla Palace
We also visit the Royal Palace, at the southern end of the ruins and its incredible friezes carved in stone with magnificent reliefs of elephants.
What I liked the most, and don’t ask me why, was the Sacred Quadrangle of Polonnaruwa. It is a compact group of ruins located on a small elevation of land, surrounded by a wall.

Sacred Quadrangle of Polonnaruwa

 

This complex is huge and takes a good two hours to visit.

Despite the craziness of the day, and the tiredness, and how funny we thought it was to start the day climbing 700 steps, we decided to end it the same way and went to what was one of our biggest surprises and challenges on this trip.
The mountain of Pidurangala!

Pidurangala

It’s not part of the usual Sri Lankan itineraries, but in addition to having read about the breathtaking views over Sigiriya, Parveen told us it was a must-see for the best sunset of our lives.

The easy part of the climb

Not being the usual stopping point, there are very few tourists visiting, which is great, as it becomes a unique experience.

There is a symbolic price to pay at the entrance, as in reality, in addition to this rock formation, the site is home to a temple with a reclining Buddha statue. The focus was not on the temple at all but on the top of the mountain and what would be the best sunset of my life.

Parveen accompanied us all the way, which gave us some confidence, since I didn’t know that, in reality, the journey was quite complicated!
The first part consists of very irregular stairs, rocky and clearly made by secular use. They are no longer easy stairs but they are easily climbable!

We couldn’t make it easier because the time of sunset was approaching and the mountain still takes a while to be traversed, especially if other people are coming down (there’s only one path and it’s not that spacious).

It was an incredible feeling, diving into the dense forest without knowing very well what was waiting for us. It’s just that it doesn’t really have a script. As I told you, it is not a place that is part of the usual places to visit, which is why nothing is organized in that sense. It is done under the responsibility of each one. I believe that the fact that I turned 36 that day enhanced the experience!

Along the way we found a small cave where another reclining Buddha, made of brick, rested.

Only at the end of the climb I realized that I did not know what I was going to do, definitely! Yes, it’s one thing to climb meander and difficult steps, another very different is to climb granite rocks!!!
I’m even a person who goes to the gym with a certain regularity, but that was quite exaggerated, besides being a bit the dangerous! The fact that Parveen was climbing with us has made a big difference.

Tip: wear sneakers and comfortable clothes on this day! You’re going to need it!

 

 The view from Sigiriya

Mas, na realidade, viam-se crianças a acompanhar os pais, por isso, se elas conseguiam eu também conseguia! Assumo que na última rocha a coisa não foi fácil, mas tive a ajuda doutros turistas que já se encontravam no topo e me puxaram.

Mas… mal percebi a dimensão do que se via do cimo de Pidurangala, todo aquele esforço se desvaneceu num ápice. Dum lado Sigiriya, e a toda a volta apenas verde, muito verde, muita floresta, muita natureza. O céu estava perfeito, o sol estava quase a pôr-se, e aquele momento foi, indubitavelmente, um dos mais perfeitos da minha vida.

But in reality, there were children accompanying their parents, so if they could, I could, too! I must say that in the last rock, things were not that easy, but I had the help of other tourists who were already at the top and pulled me.

But… As soon as I realized the dimension of what we could see from the top of Pidurangala, all that effort faded at a glance. On one side Sigiriya, and all around just green, very green, lots of forest, lots of nature. The sky was perfect, the sun was about to set, and that moment was undoubtedly one of the most perfect moments of my life.

A unique moment!

That day ended in an exemacity! It was time to rest because the next day the time would also be filled!
We stayed only 10 days in Sri Lanka, if we could have stayed much longer? We could, but like I told you, we have a clinic to run, and that limits us on time.

But these  10 days were immensely taken advantage of. It always makes me a bit crazy when I hear some people saying,
“oh, just for 8 days it’s not even worth going that far, these trips are three weeks at least. That’s why I’ve never been to these kind of countries!”

Convince yourself of one thing: time is the least of your problems! If I have the chance to travel and be happy for 10 days, I’m not going to do it because I should go three weeks?

Anyone who uses this as an argument does not like to travel or will never do so, but loves to issue their opinion on the subject!

With the ancient and historical region of the country seen it was time to lighten the trip and go to Kandy!

Versão Portuguesa

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