Monday, May 28, 2012

The fresh prince of bell stupas



(Yeah, I know - but it was either that or an even worse Star Wars pun based on these bell-shaped shrines being called 'dagobas' in Sinhalese).

The difficult-to-pun Anuradhapura was my third major stop in Sri Lanka, and the point at which this country finally became good. Wandering around in the overgrown ruins of the citadel was my favourite experience in this country, but the dagobas were pretty nice too - mainly for being absurdly gigantic on occasion. These were among the biggest structures in the ancient world, and not all of them have been annoyingly renovated and made to look nice.

Walking around on these vast stone plateaus took me back to the Egyptian pyramids, and I had a similar feeling of awe about the achievements of early human civilisation, long before the founding of Rome or Athens.

Or aliens did it, whichever.


Ruwanwelisaya




This place is pretty special - if it just looks like an oversized bell, look at the work that went into it.

Apparently, there's enough stone in this thing to build 25,000 homes. But then where would we keep the dismembered Buddha's body part that doesn't even exist? Exactly. Now stop complaining and crawl back to your burrow.



Langurs for size comparison



Punier stupa.
Cat for size comparison



It took until about 270 degrees before I realised all these photos were going to look the same



Then I got distracted anyway


Jetavanaramaya



Older, larger and more falling apart than Ruwanwelisaya, this one was my best



Elephant-sized door at relic house



But how were the elephants supposed to get up the steps? You haven't thought it through



Dog for size comparison


Thuparamaya



Bell on bell action



Whoops, some interactive scenery (human being) slipped in there



The plot going on in this guard stone is so intricate, it's like an episode of Breaking Bad


Misc bells and splodges



My driver claimed that this innocuous lump of stone off the dirt track is the oldest dagoba in existence, though the internet doesn't seem to agree. I don't know who to believe



Some incomplete thing



Sela Cetiya. I wonder if a bird's ever flown into this, thinking it's just more sky?



Isurumuniya (Rock Temple). You had to pay extra for this, and I didn't feel like it.
So enjoy the naughty over-the-wall photo, there'll be more stuff next time


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