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Howard Banwell | profile | all galleries >> Sri Lanka >> Negombo to Dambulla tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Faces of Sri Lanka | Negombo to Dambulla | Polonnaruwa | Anuradhapura and Mihintale | Sigiriya | Kandy | Tea Country | South Coast - Yala and Tangalle | Galle

Negombo to Dambulla

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Heading inland from Negombo, not far from Colombo airport, the countryside is amazingly green verdant rice paddy and coconut groves are interspersed with banana, mango and papaya trees, vegetable plots, waterholes, small lakes, tanks (reservoirs), and slow-flowing rivers. Lining the roads are villages, schools, Buddhist and Hindu temples, churches and mosques, while the fields are dotted with cows, water buffalo and huge quantities of birds especially egret, ibis, spoonbill and, perching on the ubiquitous telephone wires, the beautiful white-breasted kingfisher.

At Yapahuwa not much remains of the thirteenth century citadel built on a 100m-high granite rock to repel invaders from South India. King Bhuvanekabahu kept Sri Lanka's sacred tooth relic (of the Buddha) here and used it as a capital until an invader captured the relic in 1284 and took it to India (it was recovered four years later). Yapahuwa's most distinctive feature is the almost intact stairway that rises steeply up the lower slopes, and one of the ornamental lions here is pictured on the ten rupee note. Near the entrance to the site is an exquisite cave temple, decorated with surprisingly vibrant thirteenth century frescos and some fine wood, stone and bronze Buddhas.

Further inland is Dambulla, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site of five spectacular rock temples some 125m above the plain on a rocky protrusion, and containing hundreds of Buddha images, ceiling paintings and murals. Although there has been a Buddhist monastic settlement here since the third century BC, the walls and ceilings have probably been over-painted many times, and only fragments remain from the fifth and seventh centuries. Most surfaces were repainted in the eighteenth century in the style of the Kandyan School. The sculptures represent one of the most important collections of Sri Lankan art and many of them date from the fifth to eighth centuries. Close to Dambulla is the Kandalama Hotel. Designed by Sri Lanka's most famous architect, Geoffrey Bawa, and opened in 1993, the hotel was planned to blend in with the surrounding landscape at which it succeeds brilliantly.
Negombo beach
Negombo beach
King Coconuts for sale
King Coconuts for sale
Hindu temple near Chilaw
Hindu temple near Chilaw
School time
School time
Coconut fibre processing
Coconut fibre processing
Coconut fibre processing
Coconut fibre processing
Schoolgirls near Maho
Schoolgirls near Maho
Trishaws waiting at level crossing, Maho
Trishaws waiting at level crossing, Maho
Maho kids
Maho kids
Maho kids
Maho kids
Train crossing at Maho
Train crossing at Maho
Staircase at Yapahuwa
Staircase at Yapahuwa
Staircase at Yapahuwa
Staircase at Yapahuwa
Ornamental lion
Ornamental lion
Top entrance to staircase
Top entrance to staircase
Cave temple Buddha images
Cave temple Buddha images
Cave temple image
Cave temple image
Cave temple image
Cave temple image
Cave temple modern images
Cave temple modern images
Cave temple modern Buddha image
Cave temple modern Buddha image
Modern 30m Buddha at Golden Temple, Dambulla
Modern 30m Buddha at Golden Temple, Dambulla
Young monks
Young monks
View from Dambulla
View from Dambulla
View from Dambulla
View from Dambulla
Reclining Buddha
Reclining Buddha
Sitting Buddha
Sitting Buddha
Buddha images and dagoba
Buddha images and dagoba
Eighteenth century frescoes
Eighteenth century frescoes
Eighteenth century frescoes
Eighteenth century frescoes
Temple of the Great King
Temple of the Great King
Novice monk
Novice monk
Novice monk
Novice monk
Exterior and drip ledges
Exterior and drip ledges
Temple monkey
Temple monkey
Sunrise at Kandalama Tank
Sunrise at Kandalama Tank
Sunrise at Kandalama Hotel
Sunrise at Kandalama Hotel
Sunrise at Kandalama Hotel
Sunrise at Kandalama Hotel
Unusual ford at Kandalama Tank
Unusual ford at Kandalama Tank