The volume of cave paintings at Dunhuang, China versus Dambulla, Sri Lanka is without parallel, but the beauty, reverence and auspicious feng shui definitely are. Created by monks and artists around 100 BC, Dambulla Cave Temple contains hundreds of captivating murals and statues depicting Sri Lankan kings, Hindu Gods, the Buddha and his many acolytes. Carved into a colossal rock over 500 feet in height, the stunning visuals leave a transcendent impression on one’s heart and imagination.
Throughout my second day in Anuradhapura, I explore more temples and stupas and acquire firsthand knowledge of Sri Lankan history. For instance, I learn that a fig from the same Bodhi tree where Siddhartha Gautama reached enlightenment beneath was planted here in 288 BC, eventually becoming the oldest planted tree on record. Since it was heavily-surrounded by colorful flags and a golden fence, I was unable to snap a photo that gave its ancient beauty any justice.
In addition, I learned why some statues near the Jetavanaramaya stupa had European-styled sideburns painted on their austere faces. Occupying Sri Lanka from 1815 to 1948, British officials mandated that various statues integrate a British likeness to them, the two below being altered in 1936.
Feasting on a Sri Lankan dinner, I wonder what other sacred statues around the world have been altered with European noses and big, bushy sideburns.
This week I’m posting photos from my travels through Sri Lanka, the island with many names: Ceylon, Teardrop of India, Resplendent Isle, Island of Dharma and my personal favorite—the Pearl of the Orient.
At present, its capital is Colombo. Its official languages are Sinhala and Tamil. And it’s medley of faiths include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. The first leg of my journey starts in Colombo, where I explore the streets, visit the national museum and watch the awe-inspiring sunset.
For the most part, international airports are associated with duty-free shopping and passengers rushing to their boarding gates. But sometimes, they can be associated with cultural identity and awe-inspiring beauty. Take this airport in Mumbai, India, decorated with historical relics and intricate mandalas. One stroll around its enchanting terminal could make you miss your flight.
Recently I traveled along what was once the Silk Road. Of course what remains doesn’t reflect the grandeur of ancient times, but with a little help from Google, a compass and friendly locals, I was able to locate a few gems (big ones!). Traveling from east to west, they are Maijishan, Mati Temple and the Mogao Grottoes.
Maijishan @ Tianshui, China
Mati Temple @ Zhangye, China
Mogao Grottoes @ Dunhuang, China
Gotta share my favorite kinda art: Quirk Art!
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