Day four started out with a bike ride through the villages of Giritale. It was supposed to be a three hour bike ride finishing up with a lunch with a local. Our bike guides showed up with a truck full of bikes. We choose two bikes for us and two for the guides and got under way. The whole way of the bike ride, we were followed by the truck with the bike. We started out going along the river on our bikes and passed families washing their clothes in the river. We also saw what our guide’s told us were chameleons. We saw lots of King Fishers which were very popular in Sri Lanka.
We went through lots of small villages, then came to a small house where they showed us a coconut demonstration. They showed us how to open a coconut, shred a coconut and make coconut cream. At this point Andrew, who I was travelling with got sick, so we had to cut this bike trip short – but if we had been able to continue we would have been able to have a lunch. We decided to head back to the hotel, to see if some rest would perk Andrew up.
Unfortunately, Andrew was not feeling up to the challenge of going out in the afternoon, so I was on my own. I set out with our guide to see the temple complexes of Polonnaruwa, also known as Dalada Maluva. The temple complexes consisted of the castles for the Kings, the stupa and monk residences and the village. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site.
The first castle that we saw was amazing, It was called the Royal Palace. It was originally 7 stories tall. The first two stories were made of stone. The five stories above were made of wood. When the King that lived in the Royal Palace was over thrown, the new king burnt the palace down and built his new palace across the street. It was awesome walking through these remains of past castles. There were almost no other tourists, as it was very hot in the 2pm sun.
The castle complex across the street was more intact and more ornate, however it was only two stories tall. The throne room (above) was still pretty intact. You can see the keystone that held the throne. The columns were all engraved with flowers and goddesses. Amazingly they were still in really good condition. Beside the throne room, we saw a one meter long land monitor lizard.
The complex had been surrounded by a wall so that it could be defended. Weirdly the princesses bathing pool was outside the wall. The bathing pool had a dressing room beside it. After the palace we went towards the more religious temples. Our guide let me walk to the stupa on my own, as he went to park the car.
At first it was really awesome that I could take my time and go through the temples at my speed. The first temple I went through was the women’s temple. It was smaller then the other temples. The doors were built shorter to force you to bow as you go into the temple. It was called the women’s temple since it had a phallic symbol inside it that, that worshippers would bring coconut milk to wash the statue with in hopes of becoming pregnant. (see to the right)
The next temple was one of the few temples that had a stone roof still intact. It was neat to feel how it was actually cooler inside this massive brick structure. At this point a lot of the vendors started noticing me, and would start bugging me to buy their stuff. They did not hear me when I said no I was not interested and were very aggressive. This had not happened earlier in the trip, so I wondered if this was because I was a girl, or if it was just the site. Soon after our guide met up with me.
Above you can see, Polonnaruwa Vatadage, a circular stone shrine to hold the tooth relic of the Buddha. It was really pretty, And would have been a massive structure, probably with a wood roof. Honestly I could just wander this temple complex all day, every temple here had another new and cool story. Like the seven story all brick hindu temple. Or the longest written tablet in Sri Lanka. Or a seven story hindu hut. All of these things were at this site.
One of the things I was really looking forward to was seeing the reclining budda carved out of the side of a rock face. I think this was the biggest let down of this site. Everything else here was so cool. I think I thought the Budda statue would be bigger to tell you the truth. It was a lot smaller then pictures showed it to be. But it is still impressive that it has survived all this time in the elements.
After the reclining buddy we headed back to the Hotel. It was about 4 pm, so I gathered my book and swim suit and headed out to the pool to do some swimming and reading before dark. This time the monkeys from the forest decided to come up onto the pool deck. They were trying to find food to eat from the tourists. They were pretty entertain to watch. At 6, we watched the sunset. But tonight I was alone for my expensive buffet dinner. So I ate quickly and then left the buffet.
The rest of the night was spent watching animal planet.