Sri Lanka 3rd day - Sigiriya Rock & Kaudulla safari - Tue 10 Jan 2017


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Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Sigiriya
January 10th 2017
Published: March 1st 2017
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Today we had to get up very early so we set an alarm. However, we were awoken by the sound of chanting. It was the full moon and a Buddhist holiday and the council was broadcasting the morning prayers at full volume. Then there was the sound of a mechanical “Fur Elise” which went on for a good hour! This we discovered was the tuk-tuk driver who delivers the bread! Basil came for us at 7:00 am to go to Sigiriya Rock.



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We drove past Lake Kandalama which, again, is a reservoir. It is one of the main tanks for the irrigation of the area. The roads were no more than country lanes and everywhere was green and lush. The houses are single storey and the shops and businesses are also houses along the road. Again we passed people and dogs walking in the middle of the road. We saw the children coming out of their homes in their sparkling white uniforms waiting to catch the local bus or a tuk-tuk or just walk to school.



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We arrived at Sigiriya Rock and went to a car park that was marked “foreigners only”. Sigiriya Rock Fortress was built as a palace in the sky. There are 1,200 steps to the top. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 - 495 CE) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes after moving the monastery which was originally here. These frescoes were restored by the Italian restorer Luciano Maranzi in 1978. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock King Kasyapa built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion The original gateway meant walking through the mouth of the lion hence the name Sigiriya: Si = lion, giriya = throat. All that remains of the lion today are its paws. The palace was abandoned after the king’s death and reverted back to a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.



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I stayed at the bottom, Don and Basil climbed to the lion’s paws and Caroline climbed right to the top. At the top Caroline got the best view of looking out over the Katidalama mountain range. At the bottom is a museum displaying photographs of what I missed by not climbing. This whole area was a prehistoric settlement and archaeological evidence has been found to show that iron production was prevalent in the 9th century BCE. There is a moat running round the outside of the rock. The moat is 20 feet across and 20 feet deep. It took 2000 people to build it. The whole project was just amazing considering that they had no modern equipment.



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Then I went into a cafe and had a cup of tea and then sat and waited for the others, being chatted up by tuk-tuk drivers who wanted to take me on a tour around the rock. Perhaps here is a good time to tell you about how to drink tea! Firstly you put in the milk - hot milk(!) then the tea, but more about this on the day we visited a tea plantation!



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Going back to the hotel for breakfast we saw an eagle hawk and a hornbill and walking across the road was a large iguana.



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After a short rest we were off again. This time to the Kaudulla National Park to see the elephants. This is in the locale of Habarana which means paraphernalia. Two sons of a king quarrelled and the royal paraphernalia fell on the floor. It was there that the town was established. In Habarana we picked up a safari jeep and rode to the national park. After a drive into the park the jeep stopped to look at the peacocks. The male wasn’t in the mood for displaying his feathers. Then following many other jeeps we saw the elephants walking down to the water to drink. They were so lovely - especially the baby which was just a couple of days old. We also saw a child being nursed. He then tried to take the food from his mother’s mouth and she gently rebuffed him with her trunk. There was also a single elephant that wandered off by itself back into the bush. These elephants were smaller than the ones we saw in South Africa last year. They are a slightly different shape and a different colour - as well as having smaller ears than their friends the African elephants.



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After a couple of hours in the park we started back to the entrance. En route we watched thousands of cormorants setting off on their long journey migration. The patterns they made were truly wonderful. We were intrigued by the stragglers who appeared from nowhere to take up their position in the formation. It was a sight to behold.





Then finally it was time for a loo stop, and the long ride back to the jeep place to collect our van and back to the hotel. After dinner it was round 2 of the Boggle competition and Caroline pulled further into the lead 😞

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