The ancient city of Anuradhapura
Monday 3 Jan 11 - Monday 3 Jan 11
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Bit of a rest day today after a long day yesterday. While some of the docs went to Anuradhapura Hospital in the morning, the rest of us took it easy. In fact, our room took it very, very easily, with my roommates not waking until midday!
We went for an early afternoon swim and then showered and dressed before our afternoon visit to the sacred ancient city for which Anuradhapura is famous. It was, in fact, Sri Lanka’s capital from around 500 B.C. until the 10th century A.D., and the magnificent buildings show how big the city must once have been.
Our guide, Eddie, was full of information, but unfortunately his strong accent made him difficult to understand at times. A bit of an eccentric character, he had a few gems that he repeated throughout our tour:
“History is mystery.”
“There is nothing new under the sun.”
“I was born in England.” When he was asked where is England, he replied, “Ceylon!”
“My name Eddie, is short for Naughty Eddie.”
He also required assistance when descending stairs due to wonky knees, which meant that I was required to hold his arm to provide support when we went down the many flights of stairs throughout the complex.
The most impressive building in the ruins, by far, was the first we visited, the Jetavanaramaya Dagoba (a type of domes temple), built in the fourth century and apparently comprising more than 93 million bricks.
We passed the ‘twin pools’, now green thanks to high levels of algae, and also a number of shops and salesman selling various trinkets. There were plenty of Buddha statues, the one pictured below particularly special, I believe, due to its supremely neutral expression.
We heard all about the sacred bodi tree that dates back to the first few centuries AD, complete with surrounding temple and monkeys. And our final stop was at a large white temple, built in the first century AD if I remember correctly, but restored as recently as the 1930s, hence its relative white colour and general good health.
I’d heard so much about the Anuradhapuran relics that it would have been difficult for anything to live up to them, so while it was a great day, I suppose it was inevitable that I would come away just a touch disappointed. This was my fault as much as anything, and I suppose one of the things that go hand in hand with travel.
We got back to the hotel in time for a short rest before dinner.