After our first successful Facetime conversation with Ashe in which we introduced our fellow travellers-Jerry and Ted from Des Moines, Joyce and Mike from Denver and Jordan from Phoenix-we set off this morning for Dambulla caves.
Truly an ancient city, Dambulla had inhabitants as early as the third century BC and today is best known for the most extensive array of cave temples in Sri Lanka. Dambulla Cave Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although there are 80 caves in the area, we visited only the five main caves found beneath a vast stone outcropping. Elaborate murals adorn the walls, some honoring the Buddha’s life, others featuring the Hindu pantheon—all gazing down upon a phalanx of marvelous statues: 153 Buddhist, three of Sri Lankan kings, and four of non-Buddhist deities.
Access to the caves requires a steep stair climb alongside other tourists, devoted pilgrims and Buddhist monks. Easy when compared with the day before at Sirgirlya.
Lunch was a delicious array of traditional curries all prepared from the fresh local produce using Sri Lankan native vegetables and spices which we had seen in the enormous wholesale market yesterday. Prepared and served by a village family in their home, it was a delightful setting on terrace overlooking a forrest of jackfruit trees in which giant squirrels leapt between high branches as if for our entertainment.
We then were off to Kandy.