By Train in Sri Lanka

I’m stuck at home still with a foot in bandages, only now I’ve been told that I won’t be back on my feet properly until the middle of August. So, nothing for it but to indulge myself with a bit of a train journey.

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On Colombo station – the madding crowd at a typically busy time.

 

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At Kandy station, the departures board is refreshingly low-tech!

 

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At Kandy station.

 

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Leaving Kandy and travelling up into the hills, the traveller passes tea gardens…

 

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…and small farms carved out of the jungle…

 

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…and plenty of jungle.

 

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Ella station, our destination. far from the madding crowd, indeed!

 

 

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Sri Lanka – The Hill Country

I thought I’d bring you a third helping of Sri Lanka today, so to speak. These are a few of the photographs that we took when we went up into the hill country for a few days.

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First up, a view of Ella Rock taken across the tea gardens.

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Next, a view of the charming Lizzie Villa, our home for a few days. It is set in beautiful gardens, and run by our equally charming hostess, Mrs Lizzie. For the first day or so, we had good weather – rather humid and a little cloudy, but pleasant enough. But then the heavy rain arrived, and our walk from the road to the villa became an adventure in trying to avoid the leeches that magically appeared from every leaf and twig.

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During one of the breaks in the weather, we walked to Little Adam’s Peak which is approximately an hour and a half’s walk from Ella to the top. On the way back, we stopped in this lovely flower-covered cafe for some late refreshments.

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Tamil tea pickers in a tea garden near Nuwara Eliya. Most tea pickers in Sri lanka are still Tamils, descendants of those brought from India by the British over a hundred years ago to work in the tea gardens.

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A farmstead in the jungle near Haputale.

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Hillside jungle near Ella.

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Finally, the rather quaint railway station at Ella, which was unfortunately closed due to landslips on the line when we wanted to get the train back down to Kandy. We had left the cottage early, and a taxi had dropped us off here. But when it was apparent that the line was closed, the taxi driver very kindly loaded us back into his taxi, drove us to a bus stop and explained which bus we should get, where we should go, and what bus to take from there to Kandy. And would he let us pay him? No, he wouldn’t. Small, unexpected, kindnesses again.

Sri Lanka (2)

Sra Lanka – Ancient Cities

Today, a return to Sri Lanka, and a few of the photographs that I took at some of the ancient sites.

Dambula – Rock Temple – reclining Buddha. There are 5 caves in all, each one more splendid than the last (assuming, of course, that you visit them in the correct order!), containing some 150 Buddha images.

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Dambula – Rock Temple -feet of reclining Buddha statue.

BELOW: A further selection of images from the caves at Dambulla.

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Anuradhapura – Red brick Jetavanarama Dagoba.

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Anuradhapura – moonstone. Moonstones were not merely designed to be decorative, the patterns and figures are all relevant to Buddhist cosmic symbology.

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Anuradhapura. The Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba.

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Anuradhapura. Elephant carvings at the Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba.

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Buffaloes at Anuradhapura doing what they do best!

Kandy and Environs

A few pictures from Sri Lanka, today. I have only had the pleasure of one visit there so far, but it is another place that I should like an opportunity of returning to at some point. These ones are all from the time that we spent around Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second city up in the hills of the Central Province, and which enjoys a much cooler climate than that down in Colombo.

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On the bus to Lankatilake. Like most of the rest of the Indian subcontinent, the cabs and interiors of buses, taxis and lorries in Sri Lanka tend to be dedicated to placating whichever deities preside over traffic accidents and mishaps. The majority in Sri lanka, like this one, are Buddhist.

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Lankatilake Buddhist temple, some 10km SW of Kandy. The temple also has a Hindu shrine incorporated in it.

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Inside the Buddhist shrine.

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Bodhi tree at Lankatilake temple. Bodhi trees are to be found at all Buddhist temples, and are all descendants of the tree that the Buddha achieved enlightenment beneath, 2500 years ago at Bodhgaya, Northern India. Properly, they are Sal or Neem trees. Only the ones descended from the original Bodhi tree are called Bodhi trees.

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Lotus flower in the tank at Lankatilake. As in India, ‘tank’ refers to any artificially created body of water, from temple pools all the way up to reservoirs.This tank is a small, circular construction, and can be seen on the left in the photo of Lankatilake above. With its roots in the mud, its stem growing through the water and its beautiful flower in the air, The lotus has special significance to Buddhists – it represents the true nature of beings, who rise through samsara (the suffering of this world) into the beauty and clarity of enlightenment.

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Hindu temple entrance at Lankatilake.

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Dagoba at Lankatilake. ‘Dagoba’ is the name used in Sri Lanka for the structures known elsewhere as pagodas. They are usually built around a holy relic of some sort.

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Here in this shop in Kandy, you can get postcards and masks, false teeth and gramophone needles, shoes and Buddhas, elephants and exhortations to love Jesus. Something for everyone, really.

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The Departure Board at Kandy station. We were waiting for the 3pm train to Colombo, departing from platform 3.

 

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Beautifully carved and painted ceilings in the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy.

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Entrance to the shrine room, Temple of the Tooth.

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Moonstone, Temple of the Tooth. A moonstone is a richly carved stone, frequently placed at the bottom of a flight of steps. It is semi-circular in shape.

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Door, Temple of the Tooth.