Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sri Lanka - Part 9 - Polonnaruwa

Polonnawaru is another large site with ruins scattered over several square km. We arrived with only an hour and a half of daylight left in the day.

We started our tour in the palace area. Before this royal palace was burned to the ground, it was seven storeys tall.
We then moved on to the Quadrangle area. This is Hatadage, a Buddha temple that supposed held a tooth of the Buddha as a relic. The Tooth Relic spent time in a number of different places in and out of Sri Lanka.
Next to the Hatadage is the Galpota, or Stone Book. It is an enormous version of a palm-leaf book the monks used in meditation and prayers.
The end of the Stone Book has a carving of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi -- further evidence of the past influence of Hinduism on Buddhism.
In a corner of the Quadrangle stands the Satmahal Prasad. Most likely this structure was a square stupa -- unusual in Sri Lanka where most stupas are round
Further to the north, is the Gal Vihara with a spectacular set of four Buddhas carved into a single granite wall. This one is the left-most Buddha.
The next Buddha is small and behind a protective plexiglas window -- impossible to photograph. The third Buddha on the wall is the standing Buddha.
The final carving is a large reclining Buddha.
Across the street is the Alahana Parivena complex of structures. This is the Kiri Vihara Dagoba. It is the best-preserved unrestored stupa at Polonnaruwa,
Behind the stupa is the remains of the impressive Lankatilaka temple.
The long narrow aisle and high walls gives it a cathedral-like feel.
The Buddha image at the end has lost its head, but not its impact.
This small fragment of painted image in a door archway indicates how richly decorated the temple was in its prime.
On the way back to our hotel, we were treated to a nice sunset over Minneriya Wewa.
The Large Grey Ghost. We encountered several elephants along the road after dark. They are remarkably difficult to see. Thanks to Gayle for this incredible shot at night with an iPhone6s.

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