Sri Lanka Touristic Treasures

Report: Pr. Bassam Lahoud

 

Prestige Expedition in Sri Lanka continues … After Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Sigiriya, Prestige takes you to Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Pinnawala to present their fabulous touristic treasures.

 

 

 

The elephant

King of wildlife in Sri Lanka

Asian elephants survive only in 13 countries of the world and are concentrated in small areas. The current population of elephants in Sri Lanka is estimated at over 3,000 wild and 500 domesticated. Indeed, the construction of new cultivated plots, the urban expansion and the expansion of the road network reduce their territory.

 

Pinnawela

The elephant orphanage

Created by the government to help «disadvantaged elephants», the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela is one of the most popular attractions in Sri Lanka. It is home to some sixty elephants representing for a long time one of the emblems of Buddhism. Visitors will discover the many aspects of caring for young elephants, as well as their daily lifestyle. They observe the elephants swimming on the bank of the river. The orphanage also offers many products such as T-shirts, key rings, mugs…

 

Polonnaruwa

Pearl of the Indian Ocean

Succeeding to Anuradhapura as the capital of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa is characterized by its grandiose vestiges and numerous monuments including the Gal Vihariya which groups together four great Buddhas  carved out of a rock wall, two sitting in meditation, one standing with arms folded on the chest and another lying. Rising to a height of 15 meters, the latter is the most perfect and mysterious statue in Sri Lanka.

In Polonnaruwa, the traveler is seduced by the frescoes on the walls of the temples: Sinhalese dancers, evoking the Khmer apsaras of Angkor, seem almost alive. In the evening, the sunset is beautiful… At this time of the day, believers come to pay tribute to the stone Buddhas planted on the shores of Lake Topawewa.

 

 

Priors in front of the great lying Buddha at the Gal Vihariya.

 

 

Pr Bassam Lahoud with a pilgrim posing in front of the seated Buddha of the Gal Vihariya.

 

 

Besides its temples and famous ruins, Polonnaruwa is characterized by its peaceful atmosphere.

 

Atadage,

The temple of the Tooth

Atadage, the oldest of the ruins of Polonnaruwa, is a secular temple that houses a relic of Buddha’s tooth, now preserved in Kandy. In addition to the Sri Lankans who come to pray, the Atadage, also called «Temple of the Tooth» is one of the favorite destinations of tourists. They are dazzled by the majestic religious buildings, notably the Quadrangle or Dalada Maluwa, a square where we can see the Vatadage, this well preserved sanctuary that has sheltered in the past the famous Buddha tooth. They are also impressed by the fabulous sacred relics and historical inscriptions that Instead a peaceful and serene atmosphere.

 

 

One of the majestic ruins at Polonnaruwa.

 

 

Water basins and green gardens decorate the temples of Polonnaruwa.

 

 

Anuradhapura

The Holy City

Once the capital of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura is the holy city of Sinhala Buddhism. It is renowned for its majestic ruins which are now among the world heritage of Unesco. Very large city, Anuradhapura attracts thousands of tourists every year. The latter enjoy a bicycle ride in the magnificent city to explore the archaeological sites; The temples, the ancient monasteries, as well as the fabulous royal gardens. They also admire the Sri MahaBodhi, a sacred secular tree and the magnificent sculptures of the remains of the Abhayagiriya.

 

 

The Jetavana monastery.

 

 

At the Mahavihara Temple

Being the oldest and most sacred temple in Anuradhapura, Mahavihara is home to one of the Buddha’s cavities, and serves as a model for the monumental reliquaries of Sinhala Buddhism. The visitor cannot restrain himself from the grandeur of this impressive edifice. An atmosphere of serenity reigns there and invites both pilgrims and tourists to meditation.

At the Jetavana Monastery

Jetavana, the largest monastery in the world, recalls the pyramid of Mykérinos and is one of the most important tourist sites in Anuradhapura. Its original architecture attracts tourists. It houses the Jetavanaramaya, a gigantic stupa, which was at the time of its construction the third ancient structure after the pyramids of Giza.

Isurumuniya,

The most beautiful place of Anuradhapura

Composed of a temple, a sculpture museum and a large rock on which are carved elephants, Isurumuniya is one of the most famous sites of Anuradhapura. Besides the wonderful panoramic view of the city, the site offers visitors a relaxing atmosphere. In the temple built in a rock, they discover magnificent sculptures of Buddhas, including a large, colorful, reclining Buddha. In the museum are exhibited beautiful canvases of painting, as well as statues of Buddhas.

 

 

External view of the temple of Isurumuniya.

 

 

At the Lankarama Dagoba temple

Lankarama Dagoba, a masterpiece of King Vattagamini Abaya, is a secular temple dating back to the first century BC. Its stone columns surrounding the central stupa are both surprising and majestic. As the temple is a little further from the city center, travelers and pilgrims come to visit it by bike.

 

 

View of the Lankarama Dagoba temple.