Temples Of The Past


So I’m hanging off the side of the Lion Rock in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, looking at the fast-fading frescoes of concubines painted to amuse King Kassapa I (AD 477 – 495), one of seven World Heritage Sites in the country – you could see the photos but I don’t want to bore you with holiday snaps – and I’m thinking I’m being adventurous when…

…I overhear an old English guy behind me, armed only with his guide, his disinfectant handwash and a preconceived terror of foreigners, say to another old English guy, ‘That’s funny, my great-grandparents can trace their lineage to Harpenden as well’ before going on to describe the amount of snow he had to remove from his Rangerover, and I want to apologize for my entire race to the guide who is standing patiently by, waiting for the old coot to finish before he continues his history of this astonishing, achingly beautiful fortress.

The rural countryside of Sri Lanka is both poorer and lovelier than I’d expected. I’m staying in an eco-lodge in forestland filled with elephants, monkeys, bats, crocodiles and a slow-flying golden beetle that looks as if it might drill right through anything it lands on.

The monsoons have flooded the lakes so that only the tops of the trees stick above them. The hotel is an architectural wonder, severe and strange, one kilometre long but just one room wide, hewn from the rocks at its back. I’m leaving here for emptier parts, where wi-fi might be weird. Less travalogue, more blog after this break, I promise…

7 comments on “Temples Of The Past”

  1. Porl says:

    Im soooooooooooooooooooooooo jealous!
    It snowed again here today!

  2. Steve says:

    I remember visiting Sri Lanka shortly after the tsunami and was overwhelmed by the tenacity and generosity of the people. Sigiriya was stunning. Hope you stayed in the kandalama hotel! If you go to Kandy make sure to visit Madame Helga…

  3. Helen Martin says:

    We’re getting rain – of the dismal, wintery kind. Jealous hardly even touches it. Come on, give with the holiday snaps. It’s not like we’ll ever see Sri Lanka. Will you see the coast where the Tsunami hit?
    HOW do people get up onto that monolith?

  4. Alan Morgan says:

    ‘That’s funny, my great-grandparents can trace their lineage to Harpenden as well’

    Astonishing, I was saying the very same thing the other day in Ceylon. There was some damn Johnny Bohemia in sparkly trousers there too. So I shot him with my service revolver.

  5. Martha says:

    Please, please, please post photos. Those of us snowbound in Europe crave warmer, greener visions.

  6. BangBang!! says:

    I agree – photos would be great. They won’t bore us at all!!

  7. Steve says:

    Well I can trace my lineage back to…er, my grandparents on my father’s side. Small mountain town 70 kilometers from Rome called Gorga. It’s at least a thousand years old and makes me feel the same way (I’ve been there). Excuse me, I have to go climb on the old coot bus now.

    Don’t shoot!

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