Sri Lanka – Second Part

Hello friends and faithful readers of the blog! I’m back for the second part on Sri Lanka.

I put the photos straight away and I’ll tell you.

Tourists goes towards the rock-fortress Sygiria, probably the most famous archaeological site in Sri Lanka. From the third century BC Buddhist monks settled in the caves of the rock. At the end of the fifth century the royal residence was established for a couple of decades at the top of the rock. After, it returned to be a monastery until the thirteenth century, after which it was abandoned and forgotten, swallowed by the forest.
Here below there were the gardens, with pools and fountains irrigated by a complex water system.


A monkey on the climb to the rock. Still today along the way are visible some splendid paintings (it was not allowed to take pictures) that once covered most of the rock face.


Two large lion paws are carved on the sides of the entrance to the top of the rock, also called the “Lion’s Rock”.


Schoolgirls observe the panorama from the top of the rock, where once there was the royal residence.




The great stupa Rankot Vihara in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
Polonnaruwa was chosen as the capital by the Chola, Tamils from South India, when they invaded the island in the 10th century. When, after about a century, the Cholas were driven out, Polonnaruwa remained the capital of the Sri Lankan kingdom for about two centuries (XI – XIII), during which it reached its peak as a political, religious and trading center. In the following centuries it declined until it was swallowed by the forest.
The ruins cover a fairly wide area (I visited it by bike) and consist of the royal palace area, a pair of Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva built by the Cholas and several Buddhist temples.


Old ladies come down from the “Vatadage”, a circular complex with four entrances, each with a statue of Buddha.


The stupa Kiri Vihara (White milk).


Fishermen on the beach of Kalkudah, on the east coast. As I said in the previous post, the eastern area suffered particularly the civil war, which ended only a decade ago, and was also devastated by the tsunami of 2004. For this reason tourism has not yet developed fully compared to the rest of Sri Lanka. On the other hand you can find deserted beaches such as this in Kalkudah, several kilometers long.


Further north on the east coast there is the town of Trincomalee. This is the “Pathirakali Amman” temple dedicated to the Goddess Bhadrakali. As you know in Hinduism gods and goddess are often particular manifestations of greater divinities. In this case Bhadrakali is a manifestation of the Goddess Parashakti, absolute reality, eternal and unlimited energy that transcends any form and concept. She also manifests herself as Shiva’s wife in the forms of Durga, Parvati, or the terrible Kali (the Time that devours everything).


Inside the temple.


At one point a Brahmin began to ring a deafening bell, and after that a door was opened. Inside the room a priest performed a ritual with a flame.


The statues on the ceiling have an almost psychedelic effect, you get lost in the kaleidoscope of images with their millennial symbolism.


Deer roam freely around the city.


College girls.


Excursion with the motorboat to see the whales from Uppuveli (where I was staying). When they come out of the water it’s really exciting, they’re huge.


Another whale tail.


(The focus in the foreground was not intentional, the motorboat was constantly dancing and it was easy to make mistakes, but I like the way it came.)


Finally, I went to Anuradhapura , another ancient capital of Sri Lanka. It has always been one of the main centre of Theravada Buddhism in the world. The ancient city is full of stupas (also called dagobas) and temples.




“In Sri Lanka, there grows to this day, a tree, the oldest historical tree in the world which we know certainly to have been planted as a cutting from the Bodhi tree in the year 245 B.C.”
- H.G. Wells

It was actually planted in 288 BC, and it is true that is the oldest planted tree in the world with a known planting date. It is said to come directly from the Indian tree where Buddha reached the Enlightenment.


On the peak of Minthale , a few kilometers from Anuradhapura. It is a Buddhist pilgrimage site with a spectacular view of the surrounding plains.


Devotees pray before the great main Stupa. In the background you can see the Aradhana Gala rock from which I took the previous photo.


On the train from Anuradhapura to Colombo there was only one free seat left but it was reserved “for clergy”. I pretended I didn’t see it and I sat down. Anyway, I have given so much space to Buddhism in these last two posts that I think I deserve at least one seat on the train. The novice next to me seemed promising but I think he was too much on WhatsApp. This is not the way to reach Nirvana.


Now I’m at Colombo airport leaving Sri Lanka for the next destination, that maybe will surprise you a little…

Sri Lanka – First Part

Hello friends! Here I’m for the first post of a trip that will last almost four months and probably will be, for various reasons, the last long journey of my life. I did not quit the job: the company has granted me 4 months, called “sabbaticals”, in which I will not work (obviously not paid) for having reached the fifth year. A surprising result of which the company can be very proud, since before no company managed to keep me not even until the second year! But to be honest the sun and the sea of ​​Malta have contributed greatly to this goal. For the same reason, I have also received as a gift a voucher of 1250 euros to be used for air flights. So, unlike my other long journeys, made mainly following an itinerary by land, this time you will see me fluttering like a joyous dragonfly from one petal to another of this part of the planet. As you see, even my dry style does not disdain from time to time some colorful metaphor.

The first stop is Sri Lanka, and I still don’t tell you the next stops. You will discover them by traveling here with me on Dekaro Diary! But if you want to reach me physically somewhere for travelling together a couple of weeks, let me know.

But now don’t run away for the usual “historical pill”. I will be brief. Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is an island in the south of India, 433 km long and 244 km wide, with 21 million inhabitants.
In general, it is inhabited by the Sinhalese to the southwest, mainly Buddhists, and by the Tamil minority, to the north-east, mainly Hindus from South India. For centuries these two ethnic groups have coexisted, sometimes peacefully sometimes waging war.
In the 16th century it was colonized by the Portuguese, about a century later by the Dutch and by the early nineteenth century by the British until the independence in 1948.
With democracy, the Sinhalese majority could enact laws clearly discriminatory against the Tamil minority, which started an independence movement that led to a sort of unrecognized state, with its own laws, tax authorities, police, etc. .
In 1983 began a civil war for independence led by the Tamil Tigers (Tigers for the Liberation of Tamil Eelam, LTTE), that sometimes used terrorist tactics. They had a regular army and even an own air force that bombed Columbus airport in 2007.
The civil war tormented especially the areas of the north-east inhabited by Tamils, that were also hit by the tragedy of the tsunami in 2004, with over 40,000 victims and the destruction of large areas of the coastal area.
In 2009 the government defeated the Tamil Tigers and a couple of years later removed the state of emergency.

Let’s see the photos.


The capital, Colombo , is, like many big Asian cities, a mix of old decrepit buildings togheter with new buildings that seem coming out from a science fiction movie. On the streets, the usual perennial traffic. I haven’t seen much of the city, but I’ll visit it better when I will be back there.

The train is often the best way to travel between cities.


A man on the train.


Galle, a sothern small town, fortified by Portuguese and Dutch settlers. It has always been one of the main ports of Sri Lanka. The lighthouse, still active today, is its best known landmark.


The fortification wall that surrounds the city.






At Galle station.


Bird flies away with a blade of grass to build the nest.


As elsewhere in Asia, buses are colorful.


Bus back mirror.


One of the beaches of Tangalle, in the south.


Fruit shop.




Kandy, in the middle of the island. From the end of the fifteenth century it was the capital of the Kingdom of Kandy, the only one that resisted the Portuguese and Dutch domination. It is still today one of the main cultural centers.


The face of the giant Buddha statue seen in the upper left corner of the previous photo.


In a tea factory. Sri Lanka is one of the largest producers of tea in the world. The girl explained to me the various production processes and confirmed that, generally, in the teabags, even of the famous brands, there are the waste of the privileged parts.


Workers of the tea factory.


Another giant Buddha statue, this time at the Ranawana temple near Kandy.


Often the Buddha statues are inside small crypts.


Worshipers pray.


And finally, the most spectacular of Sri Lankan Buddhist temples: the Dambulla Cave Temple. It is a complex of five different temples carved directly into one large rock. The first temples date back to 2000 years ago, done by Buddhist hermits.
In the photo, one of the two big temples. The other three, instead, are very tiny, you can just enter.


On the rock ceiling there are paintings and all around there are statues and Buddhist deities.


The other big temple.


A small temple.


Well, a very “Buddhist” post. As I said, in the central-south are predominantly Buddhist while in the north-east, where I will go in the next few days, they are predominantly Hindu. So be prepared for many Hindu deities for the next time. However, besides Buddhists and Hindus there are also many Christians and Muslims spread homogeneously.

Ok, I’ll write again in about two weeks. See you soon! :-)