Things are hotting up now in Sri Lanka after the awful rainy start. Cyclone Nilam seems to be moving off to central India and it’s been scorchingly hot up in Dambulla next to the very beautiful Kandalama lake. The promised magic show at the hotel with levitating woman (see left) never quite materialised but this was more than compensated for by seeing a very rare giant squirrel in a tree in the grounds of the hotel. It was a funny looking thing which had a prehistoric air about it and was a bit like a cross between a sloth, a squirrel and a tree loving badger. I think it must have been the inspiration for the Scrat the sabre toothed squirrel in the animated film Ice Age.
I would skip the magic show if I were you
Next, we were taken in our fine transit van to another ‘must see’ site which were the Dambulla caves. The caves were helpfully situated right at the top of another dizzying pinnacle and we climbed past a resident tribe of macque monkeys keen to relieve us of any unwanted edible items. We even saw them dive madly into a water pool and swim quite a distance underwater emerging to surprise their fellow primates. It’s more than I could manage.
The caves provided a complete Buddha overload. There were FIFTY SEVEN Buddhas residing in the natural caves making it a place of great holiness indeed. There were sleeping Buddhas, teaching Budhhas, Cobra Buddhas, Dragon Buddhas. You name it and there was pretty much a Buddha for it. You were allowed to take pictures of the Buddhas but not of yourself with them, particularly if you were a woman. One German women had dared to contravene this rule and had a picture of herself taken next to the Buddha. This caused great difficulties for the monks and a special priest had to come and disinfect everything after such heinous contamination.
Do they have X factor on?
At the foot of the caves was a Buddhist University, a strange sort of disneyesque giant golden Buddha and naturally a major outpost of the BBC. The Buddhist Broadcasting Company of course, what else were you thinking of?
A queue of strange plaster Buddists monks appeared to be waiting to get into heaven or it could have been the staff canteen – who knows?