The incessant rains had taken a toll on me and I decided to take a day trip out of Kandy heading to Sigiriya and Dambulla. Sigiriya is in all the guidebooks as a must see place. It is a rock….a really big rock located north of Kandy and next to Dambulla.
The rock from a geological point of view is known as a magma plug from a long extinct volcano that has eroded away leaving a giant rock plateau rising 1,200 feet from the floor of the valley. The top of the was built with temples and possibly a palace for King Kassapa (AD 477-495) who had murdered his father and moved his court here from Anuradhapura.
Surrounding the base of the stone are the remains of water gardens and temples. A museum explaining the site and offering insights into the history and culture is an excellent introduction. I did NOT make the 1 ½ hour climb up the rock. It is a hard climb and requires a good deal of stamina. Not to mention being slightly nuts.
After our visit to Sigiriya we traveled down to Dambulla for lunch at a resort designed by the architect Geoffrey Bawa. Kandalama is an award winning resort. The 152 room hotel with its infinity pool overlooking Kandalama Wewa (large lake) emerges from the forest like a lost city. Covered in vines the hotel blends into the natural environment. Lunch was delicious and the scenery was stunning. Due to extended rains the lake had expanded beyond its normal boundaries and offered a beautiful watery vista.
We left Kandalama to move down the road to visit the Royal Rock Temple in Dambulla. This is where the breakup occurred. Buddha and I are splitsville. He keeps hanging out in these out of the way places requiring long tedious and exhausting climbs to visit him. We had a good thing going in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos where he was a first floor kind of guy. However, everything started to go wrong in Nepal and Sri Lanka where one needs to carry an oxygen tank to make a temple call.
The cave temples are 525 feet above the valley. One has to climb steps and slopping rock face to reach his Dambulla abode. By the time I arrived I was ready for a heat stroke.
OK, aside from the odious climb his digs here in the Royal Rock were all that and more. A series of five highly decorated caves filled with standing, reclining and seated Buddha’s… it was truly lovely! Once I could be assured that I was not having a heart attack I also enjoyed the view from the plateau.
Before one makes the trip up the stairs it is necessary to go through the grounds of the Golden Temple. This modern temple completed in 2000 using Japanese donations puts the capitol K in Kitsch. On top of a 30 foot cube covered in plastic lotus blossoms sits a 30 meter high gold Buddha. As delightful as the cave temples are the Golden Temple tends to make one decidedly bilious.
So there you have it…I have made my last climb to visit Buddha…breaking up is so hard to do.