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Sri Lanka

TRAVELOGUE SRI LANKA

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

ANURADHAPURA

13.3. - 15.3. 2016, travel book part I.

 

Why to go to Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, center of religious, political and cultural power from 380 B.C to 8th century when Polonnaruwa became a capital city. Anuradhapura holds a lot of historical sights, archeological sites, ancient wells and enormous brick towers – dagobas. You can find one of the oldest trees in the world in Anuradhapura, sacred tree Sri Maha Bodhi which is grown and looked after for over two thousand years. Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

How to get to Anarudhapura

Because my journey to Sri Lanka was planned last minute, I had to buy my plane tickets in a rush. I tried to get cheaper flight so I chose one that was leaving from Dubai to Colombo next morning, which meant I had to stay on the airport overnight. At first, I was roaming around the shops, found smoking area where my backpack got wet last year from a decorative waterfall and where I met a group of travellers from my country that were coming back from New Zealand. Apparently, they all got sick when they arrived in local hot climate. 'Uff, thank God that never happened to me' I thought. What I didn't know was that Sri Lanka was the first place it would actually happen. After some time, I started to get bored on the airport, my gate wasn't even displayed on the monitor yet, so I wasn't sure where to lay my head for the night. There wasn't much space anywhere and all the good spots were taken already by sleeping travelers. In the end I got all nice and cozy in a chair and fell asleep for three hours. Luckily, I didn't sleep in and got on my plane on time.

I arrived to Colombo at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, waited my line for 'Visa on arrival' and handed in my ETA document together with already filled in immigration form and went to get my first rupees. I found a bus stop on the left of the airport exit so I hopped on a bus 187 and in the horrible heat and on completely empty road drove off to Colombo (110 Rs, 35km, 35 minutes). When I saw the non-existent traffic and center of Colombo, which was half empty, I realized that Sri Lanka is nothing like India. It's not overcrowded, it's quite peaceful and clean. When I arrived to Colombo I asked the driver on my way out where to find train station, I walked there and bought my tickets for morning train to Anuradhapura at till 17. I kind of gave up on the rest of the day and decided to get a tuk tuk ride straight to my homestay (400 Rs). Traditionally we couldn't find the right street, but we got there on our fifth attempt and I finally got to my room. I was staying in an out of way street, but the owner was very pleasant and recommended great Indian restaurant (Taprobane Home Stay, 25 USD via booking.com). My first meal in Sri Lanka was also the best meal I had there. I just wish I didn't see that mouse running under my feet... I came back to the house in total darkness and when I got to my bed there was a power outage in the whole city so I felt like I spent my first night in sauna.

Sri Lanka rickshaw

First Sri Lankan tuktuk

My morning train to Anuradhapura was leaving at 5:35 so I had to get up at half past four on my first morning in Sri Lanka. But I managed well and my host offered me a ride to the train station for 500 Rs and even prepared breakfast for me. There was no typical Indian chaos on the train station, just few homeless people sleeping in front of the building. I traveled in first class and enjoyed AC and the comfort provided. I watched the beautiful nature from a window, sun was slowly rising and revealing palms and banana trees. I could see children walking to school around rice fields and even spotted my first peacock in Sri Lanka. I had to smile on the way as my train hopped on the tracks like on a rollercoaster, apparently train tracks don't have to be straight in this country. I arrived to Anuradhapura at 9:20 (1000 Rs, 4 hours, 210km) and took a tuk tuk ride to my lodging.

 

Accomodation tip in Anuradhapura

As always, I went through reviews and found a winner – Sunshine Tourist Rest (via booking.com). Sunshine Tourist Rest is a new villa built in the midst of peaceful rice fields, further away from concrete center and the price of 18 USD included AC and WiFi.

 

My experience in Anuradhapura

As soon as I arrived and had a chat with the owner I rented his bike for 400 Rs and set out to explore ancient dagobas. I was really interested in them because I've never seen anything like it. Dagobas used to be the highest buildings in the world, these huge domes were over 100 meters high and it took over ten million bricks to build them. Knowing that the domes are not hollow, I couldn't stop but wonder, what else could have been built using these bricks.

Historical complex is quite extensive and it's quite impossible to get it done on foot, so bike is an ideal option. There is a fee at the entrance to the complex – every tourist has to pay 25 USD out of his pocket (3,550 Rs). For this price you get one ticket, no map and all the sign posts around the complex are in native language. To help me get around and not to get lost I recorded my route on Sportstracker. This little app showed me that at the end of my day in the horrible 40-degree heat and with all side routes, I covered 40 kilometers on bike.

I left my homestay and after 4 kilometers arrived at the first, over 2000 hundred years old dagoba, Ruwanwelisaya. Even though it used to be higher than today (55 meters), its bright white robustness amazed me. Whoever wants to get closer to sacred places like this has to take their shoes off, however socks are considered okay. Which teaches you an important lesson – always take a pair of socks, especially because not even locals can walk barefoot on the red-hot path.

Sri Lanka Dagoba Ruwanwelisaya

Dagoba Ruwanwelisaya

It is possible to walk from Ruwanwelisaya dagoba to Sri Maha Bodhi – sacred tree of Sri Lanka. This tree is one of the oldest in the world and local guards have been looking after it for over 2000 years. At first glance I wasn't sure which tree it was because I could see a lot of old trees in the area. In the end I figured out it was the one standing on a platform, covered in prayer flags with its huge old branches supported by golden pillars. There is a 200 Rs entrance fee.

Sri Maha Bodhi neighbors with ruins of Brazen palace which used to have nine wooden floors and a brass roof. However, all is left of it today are ruins of few pillars.

I went back to get my bike and set out to dagoba Jetavanarama. It's not plastered, so it doesn't shine with white like the rest of them but it was magically large. It used to be 120 meters high in the past but now it reaches only 70 meters.

Sri Lanka Dagoba Jetavanarama

Dagoba Jetavanarama

I was a bit unorganized and went back to white dagoba Mirisawetiya and then continued along the edge of a vast pond Basawkkulama, which was built in 4th century BC, to dagoba Thuparama which is the oldest dagoba in Sri Lanka. Even without useless sign posts I walked my way to faraway historical Twin ponds and to Abhayagiri dagoba. There is a pathway that leads to it through a park full of monkeys that are roaming around just like dogs in our parks. This dagoba was enormous yet again, 75 meters high.

Sri Lanka Twin ponds

Twin ponds

I was walking through a pleasant little forest in the late afternoon, past ruins of old Abhayagiri monastery, elephant pond, and saw a little dagoba Lankarama. I spent a bit of time looking for Citadel (inner city) and after a thoughtful minute I realized that there is almost nothing left of this old Citadel, so whatever I'm looking at must be it.

Sri Lanka Dagoba Abhayagiri

Dagoba Abhayagiri

When I realized that I've probably seen everything I could in the insane heat, I took my bike and returned to the city. In this concrete furnace I decided to find an ATM and some place to eat. When the fourth ATM I tried declined to donate millions of Sri Lanka's currency to me, I was glad to find a bank with an exchange bureau. I was just as successful with finding a place to eat so I had to forget my own rules and be grateful for street food chicken, which was a bit rare to my displeasure.

 

VISITED COUNTRIES

zeme 100

37

KM ON THE ROADS

km 100

48 560

DAYS ON THE ROADS

dny 100

397