Trincomalee , location 3.

20140224-DSC_0158

If you somehow happen to think that this is just another placid lake in Srilanka, you are wrong. This is the Lake Placid of Srilanka.. (haha,, a very corny line, but I just couldn’t resist it)

Well, folks, this is actually the Lake Placid in Trincomalee known as Muthalakkulam (means “crocodile lake”) . I can’t recollect the exact story behind this but a short google search should take you there. I am feeling a little lazy to put in the link.

Someone actually left a few crocs in this lake and now it is infested with the reptiles.

20140224-DSC_0163

When we saw this guy while passing by, we were like, “Oh my! Shouldn’t we warn him or something?”, but it so happened,  the old fisherman was a regular there and knows the schedule of the crocodiles . Apparently, they go across the lake in the mornings and come back in the evenings.

20140224-DSC_0175

This was our ride in Trinco for the half day that we spent there .
20140224-DSC_0180

This is Mr Santhosh (aka Aashavan), who was our guide and driver for the journey. He was explaining the lifestyle of the crocodiles. Apparently, if you come to this place in the night, you can see elephants too.

20140224-DSC_0181

20140224-DSC_0182

As you can see, it is not a place filled with people and so I had to contend with a few shots of the scenery and of the wood collectors.
20140224-DSC_0188

20140224-DSC_0196

I shall disappear for a few days as my work is getting hectic. See you soon!

 

When life throws such faces as you cannot forget- Trincomalee , location 2

Either I must keep apologising for my regularly irregular absences from here, or I should leave from here altogether. Dear friends, I have gotten into training for a postgraduate degree in Pediatrics in my alma mater (Christian Medical College, Vellore) at which my life is going to be shaped in the next three years (for the rest of my life too). Coming back to the blog post at hand, sometimes, life throws faces at you which you cannot forget. I am not talking about “The Afghan girl” type impact but, you know, somehow ordinary people who leave an indelible impression on us. Here is one that of a child and his father, both fisherfolk, from the harbour area of Trincomalee.


20140224-DSC_0075

20140224-DSC_0074

20140224-DSC_0093

Where pictures do not tell the entire story- Trincomalee. Location 1.

Sometimes travelling makes you feel silly. Fascinated by the descriptions and photos, you pack your bags, take a long trip and arrive at a destination just to find out that it was almost like your neighborhood. Just kidding. No two travellers visit the same place.  (more…)

The Seema Malaka temple, Colombo

The Seema Malaka temple is a small, almost understated but serene temple in the heart of Colombo. It is very easy to access from the Fort station and it is a charming place. Do give it a try in your next visit and read more about it here.

20140223-DSC_0978

DSC04209

DSC04211Here are the men and women who happened to visit the temple with me.

A group of ladies, for prayers and photo opportunities. 

20140223-DSC_0961

A young couple, supporting each other.

20140223-DSC_0964

Another pair, not so young, for the tourist’s souvenir.

20140223-DSC_0971

The caretaker of the temple,

20140223-DSC_0973

who collects the coins from the Buddha in the front 

20140223-DSC_0946

and deposits it inside.

20140223-DSC_0954And finally, my favourite image from the visit.

An elderly devout lady, whose faith tops her frailities.

20140223-DSC_0980


Who all do you meet at the Pettah market, one fine sunny evening?

You guys have been stuck at the Botanical Gardens for a pretty long time. I was travelling around North India ilast week and hence was unable to put up new posts. Let me take you through a stroll in the Pettah market in Colombo.

Travel tip: Just walk east from the Colombo Fort railway station and slip by into one of the lanes, and voila, there you have the Pettah market. That easy :)


20140222-DSC_0882

Old man on the road.

20140222-DSC_0886

Monk on the road to nirvana.

20140222-DSC_0888

The hep.

20140222-DSC_0899

The one who is perfecting his smile.

20140222-DSC_0904

A regular family.

20140222-DSC_0906

Slightly pissed off family.

20140222-DSC_0909

A weary lady.

20140222-DSC_0913An annoyed vegetable vendor.

20140222-DSC_0916A preoccupied vendor.

20140222-DSC_0930“Don’t bother”vendor.

 

The pose strikes again

20140221-DSC_0849

The poses are universal, so too are the “horns”.

Schoolchildren on an educational trip to The Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Kandy.

Sometimes, roles are reversed

20140221-DSC_0839and the student has to help the teacher for a bit.

From The Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Kandy.

 

A forlorn look,

20140221-DSC_0834a moment of lost love, perhaps?

From The Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Kandy.

 

Sigiriya journey

The famed Lion rock or the Demon Rock as immortalized in the “Fountains of Paradise” by Arthur C Clarke, was nowhere to be seen when we alighted from our vehicle. There were only a few shanties glinting in the bright equatorial sunlight and a few shops selling hats to counter the ever-increasing sun. Old men cycled to and fro among the huts, children were playing and a young kitten was soaking in the sun with its mother. There was a lopsided sign, warning us of “Chorous may provoke wasps”.

20140219-DSC_0272

20140219-DSC_0271We saw a path meandering through a wooded grove and few paddy fields on either side.

20140219-DSC_0282Few signs warned of elephants roaming in the place after 6 pm. After about ten minutes we came to a clearing and there it was, looming fiercely put of the horizon, the lair of King Kassapa I.

20140219-DSC_0299

It was as if somebody had punched out a tube of rock from the surrounding mountains and placed it in the verdant green landscape. No rock was seen in the nearby surrounding, except for the Pidurangala in the distance and the mountains in the horizon miles away. Was it ancient/alien technology or was it the legendary piece of rock that fell from the mountain Hanuman had carried aeons ago? I could only wonder.

20140219-DSC_0303Yours truly, in a state of wonderment, enchantment and thinking of possible embarrassment if unable to make it to the top.

Entering the ancient architectural marvel (UNESCO World Heritage site and purported as an Eighth wonder of the world) would require braving lines of tourists, hot sun, an arduous climb and as we painfully realized, a 30 USD hole in your wallet too. However, we could only say that it was worth the money and the money we had given was being put to good use, maintaining the entire premises pollution free and clean.

After the compulsory touristy salutes to the rock (I mean photo sessions), the climb was under way. The walk was about half a kilometer through the pleasure gardens, currently having only well manicured lawns, dried water channels and a few marigolds on the banks of one of the water tanks. The steps in the front were mighty small, fitting only about half of my size 10 feet. As mentioned in the Fountains of Paradise, were they purposely built that way to keep the enemy from charging in or the people at that time were small footed? Again, I could only wonder.

DSC03949

On those above-mentioned stairs.

The steep steps went on for quite sometime, taking our breaths away (we were not in the best of shapes), winding this side and that, ending in a viewing platform about 50m from the landscape.We could see the tops of trees and the tops of the expectant climbing tourists below us. There were quite a few monkeys, accustomed with their hairless cousins of varied shapes and colours, prancing around there. One crafty simian made off with a biscuit packet from the side pocket of my bag, only to be pursued by his perennially hungry friends and family. Judging by the speed of the crafty one, it didn’t seem in the least as friendly.

20140219-DSC_0312

The next step was a horizontal platform leading to the spiral stairs, which led to the frescoes. Vertigo ridden tourists were keeping their faces straight ahead and were admiring the rock ledges above. The sense of wonder never left me as the structure would have taken years of people hanging in midair to access and build. They only let in batches of people at a time and check their tickets meanwhile and many a horizontally challenged tourist was seen sitting under the workmen’s benches under the stairs. There was some construction work going on there too.

20140219-DSC_0309 20140219-DSC_0319

We ascended the iron spiral and wondered at the tourists carrying babies in their bassinets. Under a long rock ledge, apsaras of various colors and facies blessed the ancient king with heavenly blossoms. All of them were uncovered from the waist up (the figures were complete only till mid thigh level) and were abundantly endowed.

20140219-DSC_0331 20140219-DSC_0333 Moving on, we could see the next parallel platform below the staircase that was walled off. Along it, an even older and unwalled rickety platform was hanging onto the rock face. Warily, we went there, thanking the department of Archaeology, which made the entire exercise a breeze. Wonder wafted in as a fresh gust of wind, while thinking of the exercise of the painting on the walls.

20140219-DSC_0324

The next section was named the Mirror wall, as the rock was highly polished and covered with frescoes, once upon a time.The megalomaniac king was supposed to admire himself on the reflections. But wind, water and the sun had polished them into oblivion long ago and what we could see was a really smooth section of a rock ledge that had a walled platform and wide steps to rise into the next part- the Lion’s paw terrace.

DSC03961

An exhausted but exhilarated me, at the Mirror wall. Photo courtesy: Mr Aadarsh Chunkath

Needless to say, my words will not deliver to you the magnificence of the structure standing witness to the hordes of tourists who marvel at it daily. A gigantic lion, like the Sphinx stands guard to a vertical face of rock, about hundred feet high, which led to the great palace of the megalomaniac king. Only the paws and knees are visible, but even those are to strike terror into you as the claws are almost as big as a grown man. Weak hearted enemies would have cowed at the sight of its jaws and ran backwards to their doom.

DSC03970 DSC03972

Photos courtesy: Mr Aadarsh Chunkath

However, we traipsed into the steps and another steep iron stairs built into the haven of the king. On our way up, we could see the footholds carved into the rock that was the way people used to climb it in the previous generations.

DSC04016

Photo courtesy: Mr Aadarsh Chunkath

Vertigo-rending climb over, the foundations of the ancient palace was visible and we quickly clambered up to the top with scarcely caring for the view behind us. After the initial euphoria of the climb died down, the eyes took in as endless expanse of green dotted by a Buddha statue in the distance and the temple complex of Dambulla at the horizon. A ring of mountains was seen on one horizon and many lakes – natural and artificial, also dotted the lands.

People all around us were in various stages of exhaustion and exhilaration – many stopping to catch their breath, few jumping for joy and many were attempting ‘ selfies’ including a father-daughter pair, who were having a particularly difficult time getting it right till few other tourists helped them with a proper portrait. Many video panoramas were also being shot. In general, the mood was sunny and exhaustion-derived joy.  Never even in his wildest dreams would King Kassapa I would have wondered that his fortress in the sky would be invaded of hordes of tourists who would leave with memories of exhaustion and innumerable digital imprints of themselves.

Not to forget the main thing that we came to visit, the fortress in the sky, let me take you along to what actually remained of the palace complex. It was in two or three terraced levels, including a big artificial pool of water at the lowest level. The boundary walls are in sync with the edges of the 200-meter drop to certain death. So leaving the boundaries be, we went around the ruins and enjoyed the heady winds which brought many dark clouds from nowhere, reducing the heat and glare and making the lighting very pleasing and conducive to photography.

DSC03983

20140219-DSC_0361 20140219-DSC_0375
20140219-DSC_0383

20140219-DSC_0378

 

The gardens as seen from the top.

After the initial calm, a slightly fiercer and consistent wind started blowing with few drops of rain falling from a partly cloudy sky. Skirts were billowing, hats were flying and people were starting to get slightly jumpy. It was an almost magical feeling, and I shot couple of these ladies entranced in the magic.

20140219-DSC_0388

In a few moments, all the people, save a few adventurous (and amorous) couples were left at the top. We lingered around for a few moments to enjoy the setting and slowly started our way down, thinking and wondering about what human determination could do, now and two thousand years ago. Suffice to say , I had a few moments of piloerection (goosebumps, as all you laymen would call it).

The initial part of the trail down was the iron stairs to the Lion’s paw terrace, more vertigo inducing than the climb up.

DSC04011

DSC04014Well, the remaining part consisted of few jumps and unstable bursts of running on an inclined plane and we all made it to the foot of the rock in one piece. So there, that’s it and we are back to the bottom and another climb up would cost us foreigners 30 USD. We were hungry and slightly tired to think of such things then.

Our immediate thoughts went to satisfying the needs of our growling gut but we had to move to Pidurangala rock next. So then, the next story will come next week. I am guessing it will be rather short as Pidurangala , though it was a tough climb (considering it was our immediate stop after Sigiriya), it was hardly as picturesque or descriptive, or expensive, for that matter. Stay tuned. Do read “The Fountains of Paradise” in the meantime what greater mortals have described the gargantuan monolith as. As one who has conquered its summit, I’ll say that the book gives the real deal. Adios.

 

After the tumble, comes the fall

 

20140221-DSC_081620140221-DSC_0817 20140221-DSC_0828 20140221-DSC_0830 and the smile too..

From The Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Kandy .

%d bloggers like this: