January 2, 2013

The Small Miracle : Sri Lanka - Dambulla

Continuation from here ...

We spent the night at Night Station Hotel. It's already 7pm when we arrived there. The area was almost dark but I saw a railway track just before we turned a corner reaching the hotel. Hmm.. it must be noisy if trains kept on passing tonight, I thought.

While waiting for our rooms to be ready, we were ushered to the dining hall and served welcome drinks. The hotel was very quiet. My eyes wandered around the hall. It looked clean but I felt like the hotel hadn't had visitors for quite some time.

We then took the stairs to our room. Since there were five of us, we took two rooms; one double room and one triple room. To be fair, we did the lat tali lat tali tam plom for the rooms separation. hahahaha... So childish. Even the hotel staff and Rammuni laughed at us. Well.. that's what I liked when travelling with the Chickpeas. We can do stupid things with each other. :D 

I slept well that night. Perhaps I was too tired from the travelling. But during breakfast Mas told us she heard things. Errmmm.... Thank God we were only there for one night.

Colombo doesn't have that many attractions so we're heading to Dambulla this morning. From the map, the distance is about 150km. Not that far, right? I thought the journey would only take around 2 hours. 3 hours at most. BUT! We were on the road for almost 6 freaking hours (plus pit stops)! T__T

There's no highway connecting one town to another in Sri Lanka so it was jalan kampung all the way.

We had pit stop at one local cafe called Pineapple Cafe.  

It's cheap, and it served the freshest and thickest pineapple juice I've ever drunk.

Rammuni then stopped us at nearby shops selling cashew nuts. He said Sri Lankan cashew nuts are among the best in the world. I tried the normal and salted ones, they were good. But as much as I wanted to buy them, they're a little expensive to our budget. Upon hearing the price (I forgot to take note of it), we sheepishly walked out of the shop. haha..

raw cashew nuts

Not long after, we had another stop. This time, at the petrol station.

Price for Auto Diesel like above is Rs115.20 per litre. Almost the same price as our premium petrol RON97. 

We arrived at our hotel, Nice Place Hotel, around 2pm. Pheww... it was so tiring and uncomfortable sitting sleeping in the van for 6 hours!

Refreshed ourselves, had lunch and we wasted no time by going to Dambulla's main attraction, a cave temple situated on a hill, under a rock. The Golden Temple of Dambulla, or locally known as Dambulla Cave Temple, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site I visited this year!

While purchasing the entrance tickets, Rammuni told us of the local customs and law when visiting cultural, religious and historical sites. One of them is that visitors should remove hats, caps, shoes and slippers when entering buildings and sites with religious monuments. Unfortunately, scarves is included. Yup, if you wear a tudung you have to take it off to enter the cave.

But gila ke nak take off your tudung just to visit Buddha statues?! Since Mas and Jam didn't want to enter the caves, we were undecided for a while. But I didn't come this far for nothing so I decided to go on. Lisa and Farah followed suit.

But fret not.. even if you can't or don't want to enter the cave, you still can hike up the hill and take pictures outside the temple complex. So Mas and Jam hiked with us till the top of the hill.

You can choose to climb the stairs or take the alternative sloping path. We chose the latter and saved the stairs for the trip downhill. The hike took us about 15 minutes to reach the top. Both routes weren't that steep but still.. I can say it's a good post-lunch work out.

going up the hill

view of the surrounding area from the hill

the rock on the hill

The temple has a long history dating back to the 1st century BC. The entire temple site is stretched over five caves under a vast overhanging rock.

After we finished touring the caves, Mas did asked me what was inside.

"Buddha la ape lagi." 


In all, there are 153 images of Buddha, along with many wonderful paintings and ornate frescoes.

The first cave, Cave of the Divine King, was quite small. It is dominated by this 14m reclining Buddha statue.

The second cave was the largest out of all five caves. Known as Cave of the Great Kings, it has statues of past Kings of Sri Lanka in addition to the Buddhas.

paintings on the rock ceilings

King Nissanka Malla who rules the country from 1187 to 1196

a dagoba in the middle of the cave

The other three caves contains more and more Buddhas in various sizes and postures.

We could take pictures freely inside all the caves. Rammuni just told us not to turn our back to the Buddha statues cos it's disrespectful to them.

I didn't spend much time inside the caves cos I've been to countless wats in Bangkok and had seen too many Buddha statues this year.

Dambulla Rock Inscription

Since Mas and Jam didn't go in, they helped to look after our shoes. Else, we had to pay Rs25 per pair of shoes for the shoes caretaker service.

boyband pose

the Golden Buddha statue, said to be the largest Buddha statue in the world with Dharmachakkra posture

statues of monks lined up for their daily meal

Dambulla Cave Temple is open daily.
The ticket counter opens from 7.30 am to 6 pm
Entrance fee is Rs1500.

Rammuni then brought us to the beautiful Kandalama Lake. 

We just took a few pictures and hopped back in the van as it was getting darker. There's no roadside lamp so it was quite dangerous cos Rammuni said sometimes elephants would cross the road to go to the lake. Hmm.... not sure if it's true but better be safe than sorry.

The lake was actually very near to our hotel, just around 5 minutes drive. Since the town was dead by night time, we just had dinner at the hotel and called it a day.

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