In the shade of its mighty branches, swept by the gentle breeze rustling the leaves, the tree under which the Great Teacher sought ultimate bliss from worldly burdens is soothingly beckoning the visitor to sit and meditate in the shadow of its balmy surroundings. As devotees throng the hallowed grounds in Anuradhapura this Vesak Poya Day, watch the surpassing serenity pervade the place and suffuse the very being. As the right branch of the original sacred Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, the Sacred Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura is held in veneration by all Buddhists in Sri Lanka and the word over.
The National Maritime Museum is set within the historic walls of the Galle Fort, a hub of Dutch supremacy in its heyday and naturally the cavernous warehouse that houses the museum was built by the Dutch around 1671. Sri Lanka’s rich history of seafaring and marine biodiversity is reserved a great place of importance. A collection of early wooden craft, including various designs and sizes of outrigger canoes to log rafts, provide an insight into the island’s early seafaring methods and fishing practices. A model of a trading ship used by the Dutch East India Trading Company or VOC, offers a glimpse of colonial times, together with a collection of ceramics and other shipboard items salvaged from wrecks around the port of Galle. The marine biodiversity display includes a skeleton of a Byrde’s whale suspended from the ceiling, along with numerous fibreglass models of dolphin, dugong, whales, stuffed turtles and sea birds.
Hunnasgiriya in the Central Province is a mountain belonging to the Knuckles Range, which apart from being a haven for regular adventure seeking, adrenaline busting mountain climbers, is an ecological paradise of streams, wildlife and abounding evidence of nature in every cranny. The stillness of the surrounding landscape is disturbed by the breaking wind and call of birds and beasts. Hunnasgiriya is 1,184 metres in height with a mixed vegetation dominating its different levels. The lower slopes are covered with tea gardens while on higher elevation, sub-montane forests are profuse with bamboo and wild strawberries. The summit is groomed with moss and ferns. The hill is inhabited by several endemic bird species as well as deer, monkeys and giant squirrels.
A strange bamboo clump is valued as a relic of antiquity. It is located not far from Colombo in Avissawella, where once had stood a beautiful garden at the centre of the Seethawaka kingdom of King Rajasinghe 1. In battle with the Kingdom of Kandy in a tussle for power, in 1593, the king having been defeated in battle, had retired to the garden in Pethangoda, where he had supposedly pricked himself against the rare variety of thorn bamboo. The king, it is said died on his way for treatment in a boat along the Kelani River. What’s interesting is the different versions of the story, varying from an alleged assassination plot by the king’s physician to a snake bite that was divine retribution to the king’s brutality of killing his father and abandoning Buddhism.
Visit Ratnapura, the land of gems in Sri Lanka to experience something more than looking for precious stones. Watch men giving their all, in hunting for a glistening rock from among the myriad of mud soaked pebbles that they bring to the fore. Gem mining is a regular exercise in Ratnapura, a livelihood for many and a fortune for a few merchants. So, take time to visit a prescribed sight, to watch the process of digging a pit to washing the gravel containing the gems. Who knows, one may witness a find of a lifetime, the highly valuable Blue Sapphire, the supreme stone of kings and queens. A short drive from the town will take the visitor to the mines for a very interesting and memorable experience.