One more picture from Polonnaruva: these are the remains of the council chamber of the ancient city. Much of the rise of the power of this kingdom in medieval Sri Lanka was due to the building of extensive and massive irrigation systems by the state at the time.
Overall, what’s been the most eye opening for me about these places is that in my history classes, we only learned about this time period as the “Dark Ages” and only considered the western perspective of the world. But it’s been an interesting perspective to see another example elsewhere in the world where there was an incredibly successful civilization flourishing at the same time, especially one that built very complex infrastructure and had advanced city planning. It’s been a wonderful experience being able to walk along the roads and remains of these ancient cities. #HistoryWithAbhimat
Among Polonnaruva’s roles in medieval Sri Lanka, it defended and safeguarded the Buddha’s Tooth Relic, whose current home we got to see earlier this week in Kandy. As I’ve learned this week, the sacred tooth relic is reputed to be a tooth from Gautama Buddha, and has been very central to Sri Lankan history. This particular temple is the Hatadage, built around 1187 in Polonnaruva to house and protect the tooth relic. #HistoryWithAbhimat
These are the ruins of the ancient city in Polonarruva. In the 11th and 12th centuries, it served as the capital city of Sri Lanka, and the ruins of the city show incredibly expansive and complex city and building planning. These specifically are the ruins of a royal palace, with two of the 7 original stories still somewhat intact. #HistoryWithAbhimat
From the ruins of the palace on the top of Sigiriya Rock.
While it was great to be able to see the remains, I felt that the completely open access to all the ruins was damaging to the archaeological remains 😔 #HistoryWithAbhimat
Climbing up Sigiriya rock!
Peeking out on the bottom left is the “Mirror Wall”. During Kashyapa’s time it was kept very finely polished and reflected the frescoes on the opposite wall. Since then it was covered by ancient graffiti inscriptions from travelers who came to visit the site. My favorite ancient graffiti I’ve read about so far translates to: “I am Budal. Came with hundreds of people tо see Sigiriya. Since аll the others wrote poems, I did not!” #HistoryWithAbhimat
Sigiriya started as Buddhist monasteries in the third century BCE. It was later taken and used as the capital under King Kashyapa around the year 477 CE, when he established his fortified palace on top of the massive rock. Alongside the rock, a complex city and gardens were established as well, and these archaeological remains are one of the best preserved remains of ancient city planning. After Kashyapa died in battle, the city was converted back to a Buddhist monastery.
(Fun fact: reading about history is a fun way to spend jet-lagged insomnia.) #HistoryWithAbhimat
This is one corner of the Maha Raja Viharaya (Temple of the Great King), the largest cave at the Dambulla Cave Temple. It’s filled with several statues, and the entire cave is covered in colorful paintings. #HistoryWithAbhimat
These are the Dambulla Cave Temples, built starting in the first century BCE into the natural caves in the mountain. The caves inside contain hundreds of Buddhist statues and paintings! #HistoryWithAbhimat