A Travellerspoint blog


A Visit to the Holy City

sunny 32 °C

We have a leisurely breakfast at Nadee's and pack up ready to leave. Conversation around the breakfast table is rather interesting as we interact with fellow travellers from around the world - a French surfer, a young woman from Macedonia travelling with her young son, a Finnish couple with a young daughter. Lots of European travellers here. Lots of travellers from Russia and China and Japan. We haven't met anyone from Canada or the USA. Nadee and the French surfer drive Mani into GALLE with all our luggage. Don, Kathy and Rob take the local bus. When we get to the station it takes us over half and hour of walking around, getting useful and contradictory hints from everyone as to where to catch our bus, and finally decide to catch the first bus that goes in our direction. It is an express bus which means there is a sound system aboard which plays loud Sri Lankan pop music but otherwise is no different than the rest of the buses and still stops everywhere to pick up anyone along the way. Three bus changes and 4 hours later we arrive in Kataragama about a 120 kilometer journey. We catch a tuc tuc to our destination.



The Gem River Eco Lodge is a beautifully laid out family run 4 room retreat situated on the edge of the sacred Gem River. Carla our host is Portugese, married to Muna a Sri Lankan gentleman who has an interest in design and has laid out a beautiful zen like sanctuary for us to enjoy.

Kataragama is the most holy site in Sri Lanka, a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Hindus, Moors ( Muslim) and Vedas from Sri Lanka, India and around the world. It was a sacred site visited by the Gods thousands of years ago. The town is a couple of blocks of shops selling foods flowers and packaged gifts to offer to the sacred temple. The temple area is a vast conglomeration of stupas, shrines, and processional streets flanked by little pooja shrines and vendor stalls. Rob and Don do a quick dip in the Gem River and then we catch two tuc tics that take us to the temple site to participate in the 6:30 evening pooja. Hundreds of locals do the same having arrived from all over Sri Lanka. We take off our shoes at the entrance, circle the main stupa, walk the processional streets, and watch the ceremonies and pagentry. Every so often a group of musicians and frenetic dancers move along the processional street and circle the main pooja shrines. By 8:00 pm the energy dissipates and we return to Gem River for a wonderful Sri Lankan dinner.


Posted by RDILL 17:56 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged kataragama

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