We continued eastward to Tissamaharama (known as Tissa), a small town with a large white dagoba beside an artificial lake. Our hotel’s address was Tissa but Ravi turned north towards Kataragama some twenty kilometres away. Our itinerary for the day included the Kataragama shrine but it was late and Ravi had said earlier that it would be better to go there in the morning. When we were within five kilometres of Kataragama I began to wonder.
The Buddha never claimed to be a god or a prophet and Buddhism, despite its cosmology and belief in re-incarnation, is essentially a philosophy more than a religion. Many Buddhists, though, apparently feel the need for a god or gods. Kataragama is a Hindu god; Puja, the making of an offering, usually of food, is a Hindu practice. Ravi, however, is clear in his own mind that he is a Buddhist. And the shrine we were going to visit? Well, that has something for everyone - there is even a mosque.
At the last stall Ravi stopped to buy flowers and deposit shoes.
|Kiri Vihara, Kataragama|
|Monk with his mouth and ears covered, Kataragama|
|Something holy on a red carpet, Katagarama|
|A school party at the Kataragama shrine wearing the universal all-white school uniform.|
Dresses with ties? Yes, that is the rule.
|Retracing our steps past the flower sellers Kataragama|
Lunch over, we waited in the car park for the jeep that was to take us to the Yala National Park. The wedding celebrations were continuing outside and the men were dancing, not all looking entirely sober, while the women sat in a circle tutting at them – or so it looked to me.
We saw mammals; buffalo, deer and wild pigs - one bounded across the road right in front of us -….
Monitor lizards, only slightly smaller than the mongooses, were also plentiful.
|Peacock, Yala National Park|
|Small green bee-eater, Yala National Park|
We spent the whole afternoon wandering round looking for certain animals and usually finding something else. At the first hint of dusk most of the jeeps bolted for the exit, but our driver set off in the opposite direction. I had not realised we were so near the coast until we arrived at an isolated bay.
|We reach a clearing by the coast, Yala National Park|
|At the coast, Yala National Park|
|Malabar pied hornbill|
Photographed by Thimundi, sourced from Wikipedia
We returned to the hotel in Tissa where we had eaten lunch and paid off the jeep driver. Ravi thought we should eat there, but we demurred and once he had picked up his laundry - so that was why he was so keen to go there - we drove to a restaurant a little way up the road towards Kataragama. I had devilled fish which made a change while Lynne had a rather un-Sri Lankan French onion soup, then we made our way back to our hotel and our life of solitary splendour.
Part 8: The Horton Plains, Nuwara Eliya and a Cup of Tea
Part 9: Through Bandarawela and on to Ella
Part 10: Ella, Little Adam's Peak and the Demodara Bridge
Part 11: The Sinharaja Rainforest
Part 12: Kataragama and the Yala National Park
Part 13: Through Hambantota to Mirissa
Part 14: Galle, Fish and a Fort
Part 15: Colombo, National Day and a Full Moon