Polonnaruwa – Sri Lanka

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country once more under a local leader (wikipedia).

The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site.

This is a very impressive site, better visited on bike as it is quite a long way from one side to the other. The archaeological remains and the temples here are quite impressive and frankly they make a greater impression than Anuradhapura.


The above is a pretty poor picture, but it reflect what is the most impressive in Polonnaruwa: partially standing buildings of more than one levels like than one which give a better impression of what the city could have been.

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Polonnaruwa – Sri Lanka

Sigiriya – Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka. The area gets its name from the massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high which was once the center of the royal capital built by King Kasyapa (Wikipedia)


Long exposure on tripod with Hasselblad and ND 8 filter


Long exposure on tripod with D700 and ND 8 filter+Polarizer

Once on top the view is amazing; the ruins themselves and not extraordinary, it’s a good idea to pass by the museum at the entrance of the site to get an idea of what to find and how archaeologist think it was before going up.
On mid climb one can find some very nice paintings as the one below.

Climbing up the rock is quite a good exercise, the walk is steep and mostly done through 900 steps carved in rock on on metal ladders.

Sigiriya – Sri Lanka

Mihintale – Sri Lanka

Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of where Buddhism started in Sri Lanka.
It is now a pilgrimage site, and the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures.

The old monk keeping the image room of the dagoba on top of Mihintale hill

On top of the hill is a large Dagoba that can be seen from afar. A the back is the image room with its statue of reclining Buddha. This old monk invited us to have a look, leave our appreciation on the visitors look and offering. One opportunity to take the Hassie out of the bag.

The Daboba and prayer flags

The Rock opposite

Opposite le Dagoba is another rock which top one can climb, the surrounding landscape is breath taking, with a lot of water expanses that were man made if I remember well. You can also see old brick Dabogas under the vegetation.

The Buddha statue

A large statue of the Buddha can also be found on one side of the hill.

The Daboga at half height

This smaller Daboga can be found at half the height or the hill. At its back is a monastery.

Japanese Pilgrim

On our way down we met a group of Japanese Pilgrims chanting their way up the peak to spend the night at the monastery (so were we told). Apparently they come once a year for this.

Mihintale – Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka

Jetavana Dagoba

We spent our second day in Sri Lanka in Anuradhapura. This is a region of archaeological remains and Buddhists temples situated at the 2/3rds of the country height. Roughly 250 km from Colombo and 5 good hours driving from the airport due to the roadworks. It is not yet what used to be called the “north” during the civil war.

Thuparama Dagoba

There are many sites of interest around the region and according to our guide you can spend a couple of days cycling around visiting different dagobas and palace or monastery ruins.

Thuparama Dagoba

Other particular interest are the Sri Maha Bodhi, a Bodhi planted 300 years BC; the massive Jetavana Dagoba, The Samadhi Buddha Image, the nice cave temple called Isurumuniya Rajamaha Viharaya.

Lankaramaya Dagoba

“Dagoba” is the local word for Stupa, a religious building made to contain relics or remains (you cannot enter them). What is typical of Sri lanka are the stone pillars thatare surrounding the stupa. They were mean to support a long gone wooden roof.

Around the Sri Maha Bodhi

We stayed at Ulagalla resort a in between Anuradhapura and Kandi.

Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – one post of many to come

Tea Plantation workers - Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka
Tea Plantation workers – Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka

So here I am back from Sri Lanka! We did a big tour in only 10 days and that was far too much. The country is big (bigger than Singapore for sure), and there are so many interesting things to see. We mostly visited the archaeological remains and Buddhist monuments from the center, the tea plantations, the beautiful Fort Galle in the south before a quick tour of Colombo.

I took far too many pictures, and too much gear as usual. For those who did not read my travel pots before, I brought the usual travel kit : a Nikon D700 DSRL, a 50mmF1.8D, a 17-35F2.8D, a 80-200F2.8D and a Hasselblad 500CM with the 80mmF2.8, plus tripod, plus small accessories and of course my son’s coolpix 7100.

I disappointed myself on the Hasselblad this time, I only managed to take 3 rolls, including 3 or 4 ruined pictures, but that’s life. We did a lot of driving and did not have much time to wander around in villages and towns. I could not resist to post these two which are the best of the first B&W roll.

Tea Plantation workers - Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka
Tea Plantation workers – Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka

These Hindu women picking up tea leave in a plantation close to Nuwara Eliya. They are refered by our Cingalese driver as “Indian Tamils” by opposition to the Local Tamils. They are people who came from India (or so did their ancestors) to work in the plantations, I understood that they are not migrant workers as they tend to settle down. (well that’s what was told).

Sri Lanka – one post of many to come