A Travellerspoint blog

Sri Lanka

The Dawn Chorus

sunny 31 °C

As the sun rises over the misty jungle we are woken by a heavenly choir unmatched by any sounds created by man. A symphony of sound greets us as the wild creatures herald the start of another sun-filled day. The birds in the canopy are the coloraturas, the altos, sopranos and tenors. These exotic flyers sing point and counterpoint with an agile range of runs, leaps and trills. Lower down the scale, in the branches, the orchestra of sound is provided by chattering chipmunks and howling monkeys, while the elephants on the forest floor pulsate the air with their deep baritone calls.
Here are a few of the many wild animals we have encountered so far...
P1080370.jpglarge_P1080478.jpg
Troupes of mischievous monkeys can be seen everywhere here in north central Sri Lanka, but wild elephants are more elusive. This is the first one we spied...
large_P1080528.jpg
This fine creature watched us warily from his roadside hiding place while, at the elephant orphanage in Pinnewala, we had a grandstand view of the elephant's bath...
P1080325.jpg

Sri Lanka has a very long and rich human history beginning some thirty two thousand years ago when nomadic settlers called Veddahs came across a land bridge from India. The bridge eventually disappeared but invasions of other civilizations continued, bringing with them their religions.
Anuradhapura was the capital of Sri Lanka from 380BC for nearly a thousand years. Few of the ancient buildings remain apart from the many Buddhist temples with giant stupas known as dagobas. This dagoba was built in the 3rd century AD and is said to contain the collarbone of the Buddha himself...
large_P1080512.jpg
While King Dutugemunu had this dagoba built in 150BC in penitence for eating a hot curry without first praying...
P1080403.jpg
Anuradhapura is the religious centre of Sri Lanka and our visit coincided with an auspicious time in the Buddhist calendar – the February full moon – when thousands of congregants from all over the country bring great rolls of cloth to ceremoniously wrap around the stupas...
large_P1080443.jpgP1080440.jpg
Before visiting the temple the white clad worshippers purify themselves by bathing in the nearby lake...
large_P1080411.jpg
The enormous dagobas were badly neglected for centuries during the colonial times that began with the Portugese invasion in 1502, but today they have been restored to their former glory and rise like shining beacons above the surrounding jungle. The historical site at Anuradhapura covers a vast area and ruins of ancient buildings can be seen everywhere. However, perhaps the greatest treasure of the city is the Bodhi tree...
P1080366.jpg
This carefully guarded tree was brought from India some two thousand years ago and is claimed to be a sapling from the very tree where the great Buddha once sat to meditate. It is the oldest documented tree in the world.

Posted by Hawkson 22:30 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (8)

Just Another Sri Lankan Day

sunny 31 °C

The perpetually warm Indian Ocean, fed by the great rivers of Africa and Asia, is a perfect breeding ground for fish of every kind and we began our day on the beach in Negombo where the fleet had come ashore with the night's catch...
large_Fishing_in_Negombo.jpg
It was still early morning for us and our friend Christine, but the main business of the day was already done. The fish market opened at 4am when the serious buyers vied for the swordfish, marlin and tuna, and by the time we arrived the locals, and the gulls, were scrapping over the small fry of whitebait, shrimps and blue crabs...
Turning_the_fish.jpg
Negombo's seafood market is just a ragtag assortment of flimsy stalls along the seashore, so the fish has barely left the sea by the time it ends up on the slab. However, even the freshest fish has a sell by date counted in minutes under the blistering tropical sun, so much of it is dried for export to China and Japan. Relatively rare red squid command a premium in Tokyo and these women are braving the heat to lay out the night's catch under nature's broiler...
large_Red_squid.jpg
Entire families live and work in shanties along the shore and scrape a living by catching and drying all manner of fish in a round-the-clock operation that will continue until the monsoons come in October.

But our day has just begun and we head to the capital to witness Colombo's biggest annual cultural event – the Perahera of the Gangaramaya Temple. Three days of celebration take place around the February full moon every year and is kicked off with a incredible parade of some five thousand dancers in splendid costumes...
P1080193.jpg
Along with the dancers are numerous gaily attired musicians...
large_Drummers.jpg
There are hundreds of monks, flag wavers and parasol carriers...
large_P1080117.jpg
Troupes of plate spinners, acrobats, and stilt walkers add to the excitement with daredevil displays as they slowly pass the cheering crowds...

We, being foreign visitors, have front row seats and, like everyone else, we are anxious to see the highlight of the show; the mighty Sri Lankan elephants...
large_P1080187.jpg
Twenty or thirty? We lose count as one after another the giant beasts in their flowing robes are led sedately past surrounded by dancers, musicians and mahouts...
P1080127.jpg
The hours tick by until the grand finale when three giant tuskers sway into view carrying a relic from the Buddha himself...
large_P1080246.jpg
Colombo's Perahera is a magnificent and unforgettable sight and we go to sleep dreaming of elephants. Tomorrow we head north to the tropical jungles where we will undoubtedly see many more of these magnificent creatures.
large_Elephant.jpg

Posted by Hawkson 20:14 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (7)

On the Beach in Sri Lanka

Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen....

sunny 32 °C

The island of Sri Lanka is just a teardrop in the Indian Ocean. Its northern neighbour, India, is weeping over the fate of this tiny piece of tropical nirvana – and with good reason.
Sri Lanka has a history riven with death and destruction. Competing religions, races and empires have fought over this land for thousands of years and the recent three decade long civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamils is still very much an open sore. The war ended in 2009 but, as in all civil conflicts, the scars run deep: recriminations and accusations will linger for generations. As we tour the island we will undoubtedly see signs of conflicts, ancient and modern, but in Negombo, an oceanside town north of the capital Colombo, we are surrounded by beauty. From our balcony we have a vista filled with palm trees laden with bananas, papayas and coconuts...
large_P1070899.jpg
Coconuts.jpg
Outside our window the mangos are sweetening in the hot sun...
large_Mangoes.jpg
And the orchids are blossoming in its shade..
26A42CC0AA91E6DDFE5E4821E98E5298.jpg
We also seek the shade from the baking equatorial sun and after breakfast we take a tuk-tuk tour of the town. Tuk-tuks rule in Negombo. Hundreds of these colourful little people carriers buzz around the town like busy insects...
Tuk_tuk_drive.jpg
We cross the canal built by the Dutch when they ruled this island in the 17th century...
Dutch_canal.jpg
And arrive at the near-deserted beach at midday...
large_Negombo_beach.jpg
There are neither mad dogs nor Englishmen, (apart from us), but the Indian Ocean looks inviting so we brave the baking sand to dip our toes in the tepid water. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing and we quickly retreat to an air-conditioned cafe for lunch. Sri Lanka is now a popular place for northern sunseekers but the beach is not for us. We are here to explore its many natural beauties; to visit the tea plantations; and to connect with the beautiful people who have already made us so welcome in this corner of Eden...
Neetha.jpg
This is Neetha, the lovely matriarch of our small hotel in Negombo, From Neetha we learned the secrets of making Sri Lankan hoppers...
Hoppers.jpg
Hoppers, (called Aappas locally), are traditional rice pancakes that are stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings. Neetha's hoppers are light and delicious. We see a lot of hoppers in our immediate future and we are happy about that.

Posted by Hawkson 03:27 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (10)

(Entries 11 - 13 of 13) Previous « Page 1 2 [3]