Starting off at the temple in Anuradhapura was an ideal place to start our tour and learn a bit more of why this city is significant to Sri Lanka’s history (it is the first capital after all and a UNESCO World Heritage site) but there’s so much to see in Anuradhapura that you kinda need to decide in advance what to see and what you might have to miss out on.
Left to me, I would have tried to cram everything all in and arrived at our hotel at like midnight but thankfully, all the planning was left to the local experts Evaneos had organised who took us around the parts of this ancient city that was particular significant to Sri Lankan. (Case in point – Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi).
After leaving the temple, we made our way past the steaming pile of used clay pots (they’d gathered so much head from the sun, that it felt like walking next to a furnace) and made our way to Ruwanwelisaya – a stupa & one of the tallest monuments in the world (but more on that later).
Via Lovamahapaya (the bronze palace) and a place that makes me chuffed with myself (as douchey as that make me sound) for remembering all the names so far without making a single note! 🙂 Hehe!
We carried down the walkways, marvelling at how well preserved the city is. To understand the gravity of this, bear in mind that the city is over 3,000 years old! It is actually one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.
Even from a distance, you can spot Ruwanwelisaya and it’s a rather impressive sight to behold!
(Had to get a cheeky “We wuz ‘ere!” photo.)
We stopped off at the monastic ruins (this one in particular is where people used to bring food for the monks). Below is where they put the rice.
Before you head into Ruwanwelisaya you have to take your shoes off and cover your legs so don’t forget to bring a sarong with you or loose trousers you can slip on over shorts before you head in! Oh and socks too, you can walk barefoot (I did) but Georgia gave up in the end and had to put socks on as the ground does get quite hot.
In front of the stupa stood a monk with a sign saying not to offer any money and to feel free to observe and take photos if you wanted. He was simply carrying his out duties and wasn’t there for anyone else’s attention. I can’t remember now what exactly that was (I think it’s standing meditation) but in the scorching sun, his steely resolve was nothing short of impressive.
You have to walk around Ruwanwelisaya stupa in a clock-wise manner… (Remember, it’s believed that the Buddha will bless you from your right arm).
There are smaller stupas around the main one too btw…
Just to get a true sense of how huge Ruwanwelisaya is – looks at it relative to the size of the people below! (Now you can probably get a sense of how impressive it is). 😉
Monkeys getting up to monkey business! 🙂
Just as we were about to leave, we were stopped in our track by loud clamouring and lots of chanting…
Turns out, a procession of villagers had arrived for a post-harvest ceremony at Ruwanwelisaya. They carried on a rather long piece of orange fabric which they proceed to carry around the stupa and subsequently wrap it around the stupa.
We figured we might as well stick around for a bit longer and observe the ceremony…
After a wee while there, we decided we had to carry on before the sun set and said farewell to Ruwanwelisaya (and this adooooorable puppy) and headed for the next spot on our visit.
This one is of particular significance as it’s the meditation caves for the first monks in Sri Lanka. It was given to the monks by the King (the monks were also members of the Royal family) and its also where old Sri Lankan alphabets are engraved on.
We figured we might as well finish off our day by going slightly off the beaten track a bit and hitting the countryside. Gotta say, it’s a pretty nice way to finish off the evening…