Day 2 of Sri Lanka Trip, Anuradhapura on July 12, 2017

Second day of our Sri Lanka trip.
The plan of the day was to meet up with our chauffeur driver for the rest of our journey through Sri Lanka, then drive up to Anuradhapura, the first capital city of Imperial Sri Lanka, with many cultural relics sprinkled around the city.

Shops along Negombo Street


Shops along Negombo Street



The images in this post are hosted on Imgur. Email me should there be any display problems.

We arranged pickup time of 0830 in the morning with the chauffeur driver company, and found our driver at the hotel at 7 (he said that the company told him to come this early). Given just how long it took for Sri Lankan restaurants to serve your order, it seemed that the company did prepare quite some cushion for the driver to be on time, but it’s just too much in our opinion.

Since we experienced baggage delay on our flight to Colombo, the first thing that morning was to reach airport to retrieve our bags. Airport was usually the last stop for chauffeur drivers around Sri Lanka, we made it our first.

Since we didn’t ate any breakfast that morning, we asked our driver to take us to some local bakery, which served various bread and sandwiches. Unfortunately, bread in Sri Lanka usually have stuffings like curries and strange leaves, which wasn’t very much to our taste. Compared with what we ate yesterday, they were reasonably cheap though.

Visit to Colombo Airport Baggage Office

Well, to retrieve our delayed bags, we first need to get a “Day Pass” from a counter outside arrival hall.

Colombo Airport Day Pass


Colombo Airport Day Pass
Well, since the baggage service counter was located in the arrival hall before Sri Lanka customs, we needed this day pass to access its office in the Airport’s secure area, and clear customs for our bags. This wasn’t some nice design (but seemed to be the norm for other airports).


This took a lot longer than what we expected, because we need to fill out a form first, then wait for the officers to type in our information, that’s not to mention it’s a crowded counter (I guess Colombo Airport has this magic to leave behind checked bags?).

After that, we reached the baggage office and quickly identified our bags. Then there’s more form-filling, and that included going to the customs desk for a stamp and back. Oh, and it seemed that there’s only one clerk to handle all these bags and forms, so that won’t be quick.

After that, we needed to go through customs, as somehow Sri Lanka customs would go through these left-behind baggage, opening them one by one. Guess what? There’s only one counter.

Currency Exchange and SIM-Card Shops at Colombo Airport


Currency Exchange and SIM-Card Shops at Colombo Airport

Road Trip to Anuradhapura

So 80 minutes later, we were finally on our way to Anuradhapura.
But before that, our driver showed us his home in a village not far from Colombo Airport, which gave us a brief glimpse of what ordinary life in Sri Lanka was like: cement walls and floors, no aircon. It happened that that morning, our driver’s village is having a big cleanup to deal with the country’s mosquito crisis, so basically everyone in their village was on the streets clearing the ditches.

Crossroads


Crossroads

So it’s nearly 11 O’clock when we set out of Negombo.

On the way North our driver told us some interesting stories along the way, like how Muslim people occupied parts of Negombo suburb and Buddhism people occupied other parts, with what street acting as the boundary, of how mothers were bringing brooms to clean up playground of the school of their children (I liked this one) and so on.
For what was otherwise a boring ride up the congested country road A3 up Puttalam. (I guess it was that West Coast’s highway only went as far as Colombo Airport, so the highway traffic and local road traffic all got squeezed in this two-land A3 route.)

Roadside Golden Coconut Stand


Roadside Golden Coconut Stand


These golden coconuts were sold as low as 60LKR (0.39USD) each, which was the cheapest I’d every seen, and they tasted good.
Gate to Murugan Temple


Gate to Murugan Temple
A Hindu Temple under construction.

Our driver stopped and showed us this Murugan Temple, which turned out to the most important tourist attraction today along the way. But since it was still under construction, we treated it as bathroom stop.

Downtown Chilaw

Downtown Chilaw
Downtown Chilaw


Deduru River


Deduru River


Mundel Lagoon

Mundel Lagoon
Mundel Lagoon

The traffic congestion went all the way up Puttalam, then we turned on A12 route, and there’s no traffic on it.

Soldiers Training

Soldiers Training
Soldiers Training


Our driver told us these cyclists were soldiers training. Well, it seemed that their gear was way too expensive for the everyday life in Sri Lanka. It’s like the word “corruption” written on their shirts, and they were riding to show it off to the taxpayers.

Cows in the Field


Cows in the Field


Sri Lanka Country Road


Sri Lanka Country Road

When we approached Anuradhapura, we were hit by a downpour, which turned out to be basically the only rain we’d seen throughout these two weeks. We checked in at our hotel, headed downtown for lunch (at 1530 though). And since it was birthday for one of my friends, it’s a small party of celebration.

After that, our driver advised that we visited Isurumuniya Temple and Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya today which carried separate tickets, and tomorrow the rest of Anuradhapura temple groups with a collective ticket, which was good advice.

Isurumuniya Temple

Isurumuniya is a Buddhist temple situated near to the Tissa Wewa (Tisa tank) in Anuradhapura. The temple was built by King Devanampiya Tissa (307 BC to 267 BC) who ruled in the ancient Sri Lankan capital of Anuradhapura. After 500 children of high-caste were ordained, Isurumuniya was built for them to reside.

As I said it rained heavily the afternoon when we arrived, so it was not a pleasant feeling walking on the temple grounds barefooted (Shoes weren’t allowed in temples in Sri Lanka, and everyday Sri Lanka people didn’t seem to like them). Plus, there were numerous bugs crawling the grounds we trod on, thank God they didn’t bite.

Elephant Pond


Elephant Pond
The elephant carvings from which this pond got its name was in the central left.

Photography wasn’t permitted in the cave temple or in the museum nearby, where famous stone relief of the temple like Lovers and Royal Family were displayed. They were nicely carved though.

There were some giant rocks in Isurumuniya Temple, and one can climb upon them.

Stupa


Stupa


Surrounding Lotus Ponds


Surrounding Lotus Ponds


Squirrel

Squirrel
Squirrel


Temple Entrance


Temple Entrance


Stupa on Rock


Stupa on Rock


Tree


Tree
This walled-off tree must carry some religious significance. I guess it’s a Bodhi tree.


It was a quite temple by the way, not many visitors, it’s a nice experience after a rainy afternoon at Isurumuniya Temple listening to the birds watching sunset.
Elephant Pond


Elephant Pond
The elephant carvings from which this pond got its name was in the central.

After that, we headed for Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi

Road to Maha Bodhiya


Road to Maha Bodhiya

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (ජය ශ්රී මහා බොධිය) is a Sacred Fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens, Anuradhapura. It is said to be the right-wing branch (southern branch) from the historical Sri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. It was planted in 288 BC, and is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date. Today it is one of the most sacred relics of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and respected by Buddhists all over the world.

There were two passages into Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (and other major temples in Sri Lanka like Kandy’s Temple of Tooth Relic) separated by half a meter, one for men and one for women. I’m not sure whether that’s for security checks and religious blessings. It’s just two empty passages when we arrived.

Maha Bodhiya


Maha Bodhiya

In the grounds of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi we witnessed what we thought was a funeral procession. It’s like people of a whole village were out singing requiem for someone they loved, and that’s awesome.

By the way it seemed that the locals in Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi were all dressed in white, a color that Sri Lankan’s deemed belonged in this holy ground.

Temples around Maha Bodhiya


Temples around Maha Bodhiya

It was sunset time when we arrived at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, and the locals were spread around the temple doing their evening prayer. It’s a spiritual and tranquilizing presence at the site.

Cloths Hung on Bodhi Tree Plants


Cloths Hung on Bodhi Tree Plants
There were Bodhi Trees grafted from the central one planted all around Maha Bodhiya, and people hung cloths onto their railings for blessings. We saw some old rags alongside newer ones, and was awed at such a culture that kept people’s wishes and blessings for years.

By the way the original Bodhi was high on the pedestal, and in our opinion, off visitor access. We could only walk around the Tree looking up to its presence.

Maha Bodhiya


Maha Bodhiya


Maha Bodhiya


Maha Bodhiya


Stairs


Stairs


People Praying around Maha Bodhiya


People Praying around Maha Bodhiya


Entrance to Maha Bodhiya


Entrance to Maha Bodhiya

After that, we headed back for hotel and called it a day.
END

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Day 2 of Sri Lanka Trip, Anuradhapura on July 12, 2017 by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *