Saturday, December 28, 2013

The ancient burial site of Ibbankatuwa, Dambulla, Sri Lanka.

'Ibbankatuwa  is also somewhere you will find it interesting to visit during your  visit to Dambulla. This site is situated close to the Dambulla town on Dambulla – Kurunegala main road.
Archaeologically the ground dates back to around 750 BC to 400 BC. Here,several tombs can be seen covered with stone slabs and another interesting fact is those tombs had contained personal items such as clay pots, necklaces etc. Some items had contained Gem Stones which are seen in India giving some hints about the links with the India. Archeologists present several arguments on this site as the people lived in this area has had trade with a foreign country as beads, glass and terra-cotta were discovered.'
The road from Avissawella to Ibbankatuwa:- 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sights at the Kandalama tank bund, Sri Lanka.

Water lily flower.

The highway over the Kandalama tank bund and the distant hills.

The 'Kandalama Hotel' complex across the tank at the foot of the hills.

A lone fisherman in an outrigger canoe on the Kandalama tank.
Peace and tranquility is what you get here. The hours will slip by as the wind caresses your body and you dream at this site.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cave temples at Dambulla, Sri Lanka.

The entrance to one of the cave temples.

A corridor outside the cave temple.

Statues of Lord Buddha inside the cave temple.

Note the paintings on the roof of the cave.

'The ensemble of Dambulla is an outstanding example of the religious art and expression of Sri Lanka and South and South-East Asia. The excavated shrine-caves, their painted surfaces and statuary are unique in scale and degree of preservation. The monastery includes significant masterpieces of 18th century art, in the Sri Lankan school of Kandy.
The rock of Dambulla is the centre of a Buddhist cave-temple complex established in the 3rd century BC and occupied continuously until today. Its location has marked a transportation node between the Eastern and Western Dry Zones and between the Dry Zones and the central mountains throughout the history of Sri Lanka. The cave-temple complex is established on an inselberg or erosional remnant of importance in the study of the island's geological history. The site also includes evidence of human occupation going back to the prehistoric period, including the megalithic cemetery at Ibbankatuwa.
The site has been in continuous use for over 22 centuries, when it was occupied by a Buddhist monastic establishment, following the arrival of Buddhism on the island. Remains of 80 rock-shelter residences established at that time on the site have been identified. Most probably in the 1st century BC, the uppermost group of shelters on Dambulla's south face was transformed into shrines. These transformations continued and were intensified between the 5th and 13th centuries: cave-temples were extended into the sheltering rock, and brick walls constructed to screen the caves. By the end of the 12th century, with the introduction by King Nissanka Malla of sculpture to the caves on the upper terrace, echoing the rock carving that had preceded it, the caves assumed their present general forms and layout.
The next major phase of development took place in the 18th century when, following a long-standing tradition, the upper terrace was restored and refurbished. All the painted surfaces within the caves were painted or overpainted in a style characteristic of the Kandy school of the late 18th century. At that time, the modest Buddhist figures in the caves were repainted, maintaining original details and iconography; the fronting screen walls were rebuilt and roofed to form an outer veranda. Throughout the 19th century, following the loss of royal patronage in 1815, periodic repainting of sculptures and deteriorating surfaces continued. In 1915, thanks to the efforts of a local donor, cave No 5 was entirely repainted. In the 1930s, the veranda was rebuilt incorporating a mixture of European and Asian detailing, and the complex's entrance porch was reconstructed in a conjectural 18th century style.
This cultural landscape is an extraordinary and unique complex: the cave-temple, rock paintings in five caves and 157 statues of various sizes. Dambulla bears witness in its richly layered composite nature to the use of the entire site for close to four millennia. The larger site incorporates a set of individual units reflecting all phases of site development from the megalithic period to the present day, including a monastic chapter house, bo-tree temple, dagoba and the earliest known village revealed by archaeological research in Sri Lanka. Those are located within a site of considerable natural beauty and power.
Particular care has been taken in developing approaches to conservation which are in tune with the site's qualities, and the capacities of available conservators. One of the site's distinguishing characteristics is the regular renewal of decorated surfaces over time; conservation measures devoted to stripping back layers of later painting on wall surfaces or sculpture to reveal earlier images, would be ignoring the worth of the ongoing tradition which has regularly ensured complete repainting of surfaces.
As well, the physical nature of the cave setting, with its latent moisture and migrating salts problems, has prompted much of the painting 'repair' that has taken place. Equally, limited tests, during conservation efforts, suggest that little earlier work survives, most later overpainting having prompted reinstatement of new base surfaces and obliteration of the old. The Jeevan Naide family, charged with care of the wall paintings since early in the 18th century BC, is still employed, working with ola leaf manuscripts which provide a clear idea of the complex layout and associated painting techniques. Technical missions to the site in 1990 and 1991, working with local apprentices and the Jeevan Naide family, brought science and tradition together in treatment of the site.'

Click on web-link below to see some still photographs taken by me on a trip there in October 2013:-

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We wish you a Merry Christmas, 2013.

Kanthaka Chaithya, Mihinthale, Sri Lanka.

One of the stone stairways.

The 'Wahalkade'

The  pathway around the 'Chaithya'.

The canopy of leaves.

'However, an article ”Kanthaka Ceitiya of Mihintale” (Artscope, Daily News, Wednesday
December 10, 2003) written by Prasad Abu Bakr requires careful study. The article says:
“On arriving at the summit of the site of the ceitiya (which has to be done by climbing around 80 steps) on to the right there still is a partly ruined ‘wahalkada,’ the only one still in good shape out of which were made to flank the four sides of the ceitiya. It has besides sculptured floral designs, traditional motifs and animal carvings a sort of an offering made to the Indian Deity Lord Ganesh (see circle bottom left hand corner, main picture on top).”
Prasad Abu Bakr while anxiously mentioning “the Indian Deity Lord Ganesh,” failed to
mention about the lion and bull found in the main picture and the carvings of elephant
found in the wahalkada of the ceitiya. On the other hand, Prasad Abu Bakr has exposed his
failure to realize that Lord Buddha was also an Indian! This is further exposed in his text
where he has said:
“There are speculations which say that King Lanjatissa who died while the work of the mantling was in progress paved way for his wife who was an Indian Princes to carry on with the task of completing her husband’s work, so that it is believed that it is in this manner that the slight Indian Influence was set about in this otherwise earliest examples of great Siňhala sculpture and its excellence.”
The beautiful photographs of Kańtaka Cetiya of Mihintale (Mahintamalai ?) and the text
could have been used to make the readers analyze scientifically the connection between
Lord Buddha and Lord Ganēsh; Lord Buddha and Lion, Bull and elephant and Buddhism and
Hinduism. Like what the accepted scholars of Laňkā and India have been writing in their
books and the articles, the journalist here has misled the readers into a mere speculation
and un-Buddhistic hatred! Prasad Abu Bakr for his small material and other profits may have tried to show himself as a person interested in Siňhala Buddhism. But, he had betrayed the citizens of Laňkā and India! The people of the Indian continent must see no such so-called journalists survive as journalists in the future.
What Tirumūlar had said also agrees with the symbols found marked on the Laňkan Brāhmī
inscriptions, Laňkan Tamil inscriptions, South Indian Tamil Brāhmī inscriptions, South Indian
Tamil inscriptions, Kushāna coins, Sātavāhana coins, etc.'
© A.S.Uthayakumār B.Sc. (Mech. Eng.)

Symbolization of Buddhism -