dennis s. hurddennis s. hurd

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Going to Kataragama!

Day 37 - It's a holy place for both Hindus and Buddhists and the site dates back to the time of the Veddah, or indigenous peoples, of the island.  The town is called Kataragama and I have visited there three or four times, the last time being on a family trip in 2012 when Jay's father was still alive.  The pilgrimage area is at the south and east of Sri Lanka and near a huge chunk of land set aside as a national safari-type park.   

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama
So, we loaded the rented van and driver along with a friend, Naseer.   We were on the road by 6:45 AM!

Sri Lanka is roughly 9% smaller than Ireland, but travel, given the short distances, used to seem arduous here.  Over the past fifteen years, a growing system of expressways has made getting places faster.   We opted to take the toll road and discovered it goes just about all the way to Kataragama now.  Of course, our diesel van didn't ride comfortably over 80 KPH, so some of the benefits were muted.  Just as Interstate driving differs from taking the old routes in the US, we experienced a different sort of ride travelling on the 4-lane divided highways.

Yet, we were able to alter our plans and go directly into town to check-in a bit after midday at a hotel that Jay had researched online, and that Google Maps brought us directly to.

We left most of our belongings in our rooms and were free to go exploring the area during the afternoon and evening.  First, we stopped to have a typical Sri Lankan lunch buffet at a small place along the road.  Six people ate a whole lot of rice and curry with fish and drinks for less than $8 in total.  Then we went directly to the Tissamahara Temple.  It is truly an ancient site dating back a few hundred years before Christ.  

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

After a bit of time and a stop for ice cream, we got back in the van to go to the town of Kirinda.  This is area was devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami soon to be 17 years ago.  I love the shoreline here although it seems different than the sandy southern beaches.  Of course, Sri Lanka has 1,340 kilometres of coastline from which to choose!  We stopped directly at another religious place.  Most ancient religious sites provide both a little hike and an amazing view.   This area is known for dry fish as the sun can get very hot!

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

It was a perfect afternoon.  We had gotten a bit of exercise in the warm sun and cooling breeze.  We went back to the hotel to shower and rest for an hour or so.  We then went out for dinner and to visit the main pilgrimage site.  We parked and walked several kilometers around the grounds.  From where we parked, the Buddhist dagoba was at the far end with the Hindu temple close by.  We even had the chance to see a mosque that exists on the site too.  It seems very crowded but these are school holidays and people were itching to travel after being locked in for months due to COVID. 

Jay's sister had taken down the number of a special service for delivery of an offering at the Hindu shrine.  It was like Uber Eats for the religiously-minded.   One orders and rather than hauling the heavy offering of fruits through the grounds, the package is promptly delivered to one's hands at the site.  Sellers and various vendors were present at the site too and we bought some sweets when leaving.  

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama   Going to Kataragama   Going to Kataragama

Going to Kataragama

The hotel was quiet and after such a tiring day, we slept well.
  Our Hotel in Kataragama


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