Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tanthirimale / Madhu Church / Arunadhapura

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Day 76 - The road trip started right at 6:30 am when we left with our familiar driver. Nazer took the front seat and kept the driver engaged during today and will tomorrow as well. Jay and I sat in one seat and his two sisters in the other. We had a lot of luggage packed in the back.

Watching Sri Lanka from the window of an A/C vehicle is a mix of the expected and unusual. I've been here so many times over so many decades that I know a lot of what to expect. However, things change as we do too. A new visitor might be amazed by the vegetation and watching the relatively quick changes in the landscape. Undoubtedly, first-timers would spend a lot of time comparing villages and houses to ones with which they're familiar. Intently watching to see wildlife such as a peacock or, on this trip, even an elephant makes one keep one's eyes peeled. I'm still amazed by how domestic dogs manage to sleep at the edge, or sometimes in the middle of a road without being mashed. Well, actually a fair number do walk with limps. The short distances in kilometers are lengthened by how full each scene is.


TANTHIRIMALE

The first eight pictures were in a sacred place of rolling rock hills. It is said to be historical because this was one of the places where Sanghamitta and her assistants rested when they were bringing a cutting of the Bodhi Tree from India. So the tree at this location is especially important. The reclining Buddha carved into a cliff is around a thousand years old. Another, hundreds of years older, bears the physical scars from the Sri Lankan civil war conflict in the form of gunshot marks. The scenery is interesting because of the small ponds where water collects in the low-lying rock. The area itself is unique and older. We walked a trail to see four-thousand-year-old cave paintings too.

We returned to the van and headed to another famous location.

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)

Going to Tanthirimale (Unedited)


MADHU CHURCH

It turned out perfectly. We couldn't find any restaurants in which to eat lunch along the road but heard there was a canteen right at the Madhu Church. There was. We ate our lunch there but because the location is pretty desolate, only a few others were visiting the grounds. The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is a Catholic church with over 400 years of history. If you have an interest you may see some background information on Wikipedia. Pope Francis delivered a prayer at the church on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015.

At Madhu Church

At Madhu Church

Madhu Church

Madhu Church


THE SACRED CITY OF ANURADHAPURA

The church was quite far from the city of Anuradhapura. We had a lot of time to drive and talk. Jay had looked online and picked out a few hotels to check. We used Google Maps to drive directly to the Crown Grande Hotel. It didn't prove to be as posh as it sounds. However, because we found rooms early enough, we were able to wash up, rest, and then head out again.

This city is famous for being one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. In fact, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is somewhere between 2500 and 3000 years old. However, it is still a vibrant place today. Our hotel was in the new town, but we drove to the still sacred center, a UNSECO designated world heritage site. So many devotees were visiting on a weekday evening! I imagine the heat would be a bit unbearable at midday.

The enormous Ruwanwelisaya dagaba (sometimes called a stupa) was built a few hundred years before Christ. This groundbreaking architectural form created by the ancient Sinhalese, to this day, contains relics of the Buddha. It is over 330 ft tall, meaning about as high as a 30-storey building. This was a calm but busy religious place tonight.

Anuradhapura Night Visit (Unedited)

Anuradhapura Night Visit (Unedited)

Anuradhapura Night Visit (Unedited)

Anuradhapura Night Visit (Unedited)

The plan is to get up at about seven o'clock tomorrow to head to one last location on this trip. Coordinating people in three different hotel rooms may delay that departure.


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