Robin's Adventures

Sri Lanka
The Pearl of the Indian Ocean


Most people in Hiriwadunna Village are farmers. Some of the crops that we saw were winged beans, bananas, and guavas.

A Simple Lifestyle

A local farmer and his wife prepared lunch for us. We saw her fully equipped kitchen and then she showed us how she made rice flour. A device called a vangediya was used to pound the rice so it could be ground into flour. She also demonstrated how she first winnowed the rice to separate the grain from the chaff.

Palm leaves were deftly and beautifully woven to make roofing material that is said to be sturdy and waterproof, even during a monsoon. We also saw a spoon that was made from a coconut shell.

By then it was time for lunch which consisted of traditional Sri Lankan dishes. That translates as a variety of stuff cooked in coconut milk and curry powder. The meal was served in baskets made from woven palm leaves and lined with a large lotus leaf.

Peaceful Boat Ride

When it was time to go, we took a boat back up the river instead of walking back the way we had come. We boarded a catamaran, which consisted of a pair of canoes with slats of wood between them holding the canoes together, and we headed up the river on a peaceful boat ride.

Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa was the medieval capital of Sri Lanka. The city was established in the 11th century, reached its golden age in the 12th century and declined in the 13th century.

We wandered through the ruins of the royal palace of King Parakramabahu. This building was once seven floors tall and contained about 50 rooms.

Home Decor at Polonnaruwa

Our guide showed us a room in the royal palace that had been used as a bathroom. There is a long slit in the floor that contained plumbing pipes and there are two raised rectangles in the floor that show where your feet should be placed when you squat over the plumbing. Must have been very modern in its day.

Next, we saw the king's audience hall. There were elaborately carved stairways with lion statues at the top and intricately carved moonstones at the bottom. The moonstone, or sandakada pahana, is a carved stone with a semi-circular shape that is placed at the bottom of a staircase. The carvings have significance in Buddhist beliefs.

The Toque Macaque monkeys (Macaca sinica) were out and about throughout the ruins of the ancient city. Some of them kindly posed for photos.

More Polonnaruwa Ruins

The ruins of Nissanka Latha Mandapaya consist of stone columns on a raised platform. This was believed to be a covered pavilion used by the king to listen to Buddhist chanting.

The ruin that looks like a layered pyramid, Sathmahal Prasada, is thought to be an ancient stupa or tomb. There is also a long brick ruin, called the Thuparama, which used to house a large Buddha statue.

Circular House of the Relic

The Vatadge is a circular building that was believed to hold the relic of Buddha's tooth. The building has four sets of beautifully carved stone steps and each has an impressive Buddha statue at the top.

The stairs, the moonstones, and the guard stones located on either side of the stairways, are very elaborately carved and in excellent condition. In the center of the building are two raised platforms and a stupa that was believed to hold the relic is in the center of the top platform.

Rock Temple of Buddha

The Rock Temple of Buddha, or Gal Vihara, consists of four statues of Buddha that were carved into the face of a large granite rock during the 12th century.

The seated Buddha is 15 feet tall. The small seated Buddha in the alcove is just under five feet tall. The standing Buddha is almost 23 feet tall. The reclining Buddha is just over 46 feet tall. The scale and the detail of these carvings is very impressive for 12th century stone masons with no power tools.

Wildlife at the Temple

We enjoyed watching the antics of the Toque Macaque monkeys (Macaca sinica) at the Rock Temple. In addition, there were lots of Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) fishing along the edge of the large pond at the site.

Walking Down the Road

On our way back to the hotel this evening, we noticed some interesting traffic on the road... check it out.