Batik and Buddhas
Another busy day! We departed our hotel in the morning for a full day of culture. First stop – a Batik Workshop. Here we got the opportunity to watch the local ladies making beautiful batik art. Batik is where patterns and illustrations are drawn onto fabric with hot wax, then the fabric is dipped in a dye. The waxed part of the material is resistant to the dye, leaving a beautiful design once the wax has been washed off. This process can be repeated to create more intricate and colourful patterns. We ended up purchasing a pretty purple elephant batik artwork to hang up in our house. I think I would like to give batik a whirl one day!
Immediately after our brief but interesting visit to the batik workshop, we headed straight for Dambulla to see the famous Dambulla Cave Temples – another of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. The temples at Dambulla are astonishing and impressive – the Golden Buddha that sits atop the Golden Temple is especially awe-inspiring. It made me feel very small.
We didn’t go into the Golden Temple, but just stopped to admire it and all the colourful flowers surrounding it, as well as the monk statues in their orange robes to the side of the big Buddha.
We then made our pilgrimage to the Cave Temples, which much like Sigiriya (although not quite as tiring) was up a bit of a steep climb. And much like Sigiriya also, there are monkeys outside and views to be admired.
I’ll be honest with you, I can’t remember a great deal about the facts here so I won’t go into too much detail and just let the photos do the talking. But what I do know is that the Dambulla Cave Temples are made up of five different caves, all containing images and sculptures of Buddha. Like many temples, shoes must be removed before entering and also shoulders and legs should be covered. I would recommend packing a pair of socks to walk around in as the ground outside is very hot!
The caves here are said to date back to the first century BC and it is the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. There are five caves in total, each containing one or more Buddha statues. Unfortunately, I don’t know which cave was which but they were still beautiful all the same.
After our temple tour, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that was hosting a wedding! I felt a bit guilty about crashing a wedding but the bride and groom were very gracious and were happy to let us take a couple of photographs of them in their beautiful wedding clothes. I don’t think I would have enjoyed seeing 8 sweaty tourists rocking up at my wedding uninvited, but they didn’t seem to mind.
Once we’d eaten a quick lunch, we were taken to a spice garden where we learnt about all the different spices and plants they grow in Sri Lanka and how they use them. We were given a tour of the gardens and we also each received a neck and shoulder massage which was a very odd experience and not at all relaxing, I’m awkward at the best of times without being on the receiving end of a spontaneous group massage in the middle of some spice jungle! Naturally at the end of our visit we were taken to a gift shop where we did purchase a couple of cinnamon-based items.
At the end of the day we were taken to our third hotel of the tour, ready to rest for another big day of sight seeing ahead!
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