Day 2 – In and around Anuradhapura
Ah. Day 2 started off with some nice hot tea, Kiri rice and Onion curry. In all fairness, with no disrespect to the host, it tasted rather weird and I could barely go through half a Kiri rice ‘block’.
Not to mention that we were under the false impression that the break fast and/or dinner was inclusive. However it was not ; dinner cost us almost 500 LKR and 375 LKR for the breakfast. We called up the auto driver from the previous day and he sent his brother ‘taranga’ has our tuk tuk driver for the day which happened to biggest and in some way , the most memorable mistake of our journey. He promised to take us around anuradhapura for 1.5 LKR and charge us an additional 4.5 LKR for the tickets. (We knew that entry tickets were expensive for international tourists). What we did not know what is that we would eventually be taken only to those places which did not require tickets at all. (More on that as progress through the day)
So anyway, first on our list was “Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi” tree.
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is a sacred fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. 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.
It was located hardly 10 mins from our place of stay but there were more than a thousand people present at the location including students and devotees. It was a festival celebration day. Not much to do here , just walk around the entire complex and engage yourself in a quick ‘puja’ and take blessing.
Next on the list were Ruwanwelisaya and Lovamahapaya; both of which are located hardly 15 mins walk away from the bodhi tree.
The Ruwanwelisaya is a stupa, a hemispherical structure containing relics, in Sri Lanka, considered sacred to many Buddhists all over the world. It was built by King Dutugemunu c. 140 B.C.The stupa is one of the world’s tallest monuments, standing at 103 m (338 ft) and with a circumference of 290 m (951 ft). Lovamahapaya is a building situated between Ruwanweliseya and Sri Mahabodiya in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is also known as the Brazen Palace or Lohaprasadaya because the roof was covered with bronze tiles.
Marvel at the architecture thousands of years old and spend some time taking it all in. All the three spots can be covered in 1.5 hours.
Next on the list “Isurumuniya”
The temple was built by King Devanampiya Tissa (307 BC to 267 BC) who ruled in the ancient Sri Lankan capital of Anuradhapura. There are four carvings of special interest in this Vihara. They are the Isurumuniya Lovers, Elephant Pond and The Royal Family.
The entry to Isurumuniya is 250 LKR which chaturanga took on our behalf.
Next on the list “Ranmasu Uyana”
Ranmasu Uyana is a park in Sri Lanka. It sits on approximately 40 acres (16 ha), and is a noted example of Sri Lankan garden architecture of the pre-Christian era.
Next up was Vessagiri ; an ancient Buddhist forest monastery. The Vessagiri monks lived in rock shelters that were constructed by quarrying from local materials
Meanwhile we realized that taranga had not purchased a single ticket except for Isurumuniya; we were being scammed !. We had paid taranga 3K already in the morning and decided to see if we can get of paying the remaining 3K. We still had another spot to cover though. First up was the Sri Sarananda Maha Pirivena which is just a place of worship. Its impressive though since the buddha statue is atleast 50 feet high.
So this was the end our anuradhapura journey. It was bitter sweet; the ruins were impressive but we were not happy that we ended up paying double. So anyhow, we picked up our luggage from the room, thanked our hosts at Sindhiya Guest house and moved to bus stop to catch the bus to dambulla.
Here shaheed confronted taranga and well..we ended up paying 3K extra since none of us were in the mood to get into a ‘srilankan fight’. To brighten up our mood, we visited the bakery near the bus stop which was a welcome relief from all the thugging. The bakery owner was a old lady in her sixties who interacted with us on her travels, her husband who had passed away and kids living in australia. We had the omlette bun, chicken hot dog, veg pastries and tea, and all super affordable for hardly 300 LKR. She even refused to take 50 LKR for the water bottle.
Boarded the AC bus to Dambula for 250 LKR per head and the journey takes about an hour.
Our home stay was in weywala which happen to be about 10 mins from dambula main bus stop. (FYI, this is the main stop to go a lot of places). So anyhow we boarded the bus and we were so engrossed in watching TV in the bus (Kong Movie) that we never realized that we had arrived at the destination. The conductor informed us to disembark and in the confusion, karthik took another person’s luggage and got down who chased us outside the bus. It was absolutely hilarious.
We caught up with our host at the bus stop who escorted us to the our stay; “Sanda guest house”. The hosts, husband and wife were both teachers and the entire house was built exclusively for renting out. So we basically we the entire house to ourselves thanking the airbnb gods. The welcome drinks elevated our mood further 🙂
Had some time before dinner, so finished our dinner and researched on entry tickets to dambula caves; we had no intentions to get thugged again. India vs Australia match too was ongoing, we probably ended up using entirety of hosts bandwidth on that night.
The restaurants in Sri lanka seem to shut down early; by 8 p.m it was already empty and most items were unavailable. Anyhow we managed to get our hands on some fried rice for 750 LKR which was not too tasty but was enough to fill us up for the night. Looking forward to our next day of exploration of dambula, we called it a day.