24 December 2009

Season's Greetings

My brain's gone into a hibernation mode thanks to the monsoon season, so didn't get around to make a nice e-greeting poster to put up here. Instead I'll be posting a couple of old pics (taken 2 months back) that I couldn't post due to.. um.. being too lazy? o__O

Anyway enjoy the pics... ^__^

* ctrl+click to expand the images. (<-- I think you already know this phrase by heart)
See that tiny white speck next to the silhouette of the giant coconut tree?
It's the crescent moon!
PS: mind you, the coconut tree isn't giant at all.. but it just makes the moon look so tiny, doesn't it? ^__^

And these tiny black dots are none other than a bunch of bats.. chatting in their ultrasonic voices and scouring the area to feast on frogs, insects, fish, fruits and flowers. Geez.. these guys are so small but they do eat a lot. O__O


Have a

Merry and Blessed Christmas

and a

Very Happy and Prosperous New Year

wrapped in a bundle of

happiness, food, love, food, peace, food, success, food,...
(feel free to add the rest of your choices here)!


PS: if you thought I've added too many food references there, nope, that was no typo. Cause one of my very good pals from my comp class noted this phrase in my autograph some years back, which goes like..

"Never say NO to Food!"

And since then I sincerely try my best to practice that saying as far as possible.. but I'm still picky is what my mom says despite all my efforts. -__-

So anyway.. from 2010 onwards don't forget to practice that golden rule plus.. don't waste your food. ^__^


PPS: I forgot to mention, the pics were taken around sunset or a lil late I think. And those colors aren't tweaked with Photoshop at all. I only cropped the pics a lil. Though I can't recall if I tweaked the cam's white balance before taking the pics. Anyway I really like those colors. ^__^

19 December 2009

Random captures

The last 1.5 weeks were the most hectic days I've had for a while as I was babysitting my lil nephew (he's now 8.5 yrs old) cause my sis had to undergo a sudden surgery (a minor one though).

Taking care of him was a lil bit (= very x 100 times) exhausting.. but the only thing that stressed me out totally and left me out of breath (and out of voice too sometimes) was his daily random quizzing on Naruto. Well.. he's a genuine Naruto otaku (otaku = diehard fan). -__- What I fear the most is, his dream of becoming a scientist one day might seriously get replaced by the dream of becoming Naruto.. for real. O__O

Last time (some months ago) when I tried working while he was with mom.. every 5 mts or so he'd appear next to me or shout from wherever he is and ask.. 'puncha (aunt) when are you finishing?', 'puncha you should've finished your work by now, right?', 'puncha how much more to go?', 'punchaaaaa... you're working too slooooow...!' o__O

Well.. I gave up all hopes of working and gave him my comp. Had to resume my work hours later when he fell fast asleep. So taking that golden lesson to account.. this time I asked for leave from the company.. well in advance. lol

Coming back to the topic.. here's a bunch of pics I've captured in the past and recent ones too from our Colombo trip (as we went to drop my nephew).

* As usual ctrl+click to expand the pics... ^__^

Took these bunch the last time when we went to Maligawa.

Serene and stunning Kandy Lake.
*how many monkeys can you spot in the pic?*

Glimmering like a giant mirror.
*skirting around the lake is the 'Walakulu bemma' (cloud-like-drift wall).

The solitary islet.
*it sits in the middle of Kandy Lake*

Next bunch were taken while passing Kadugannawa on our way to Colombo. This area has rocky hills packed with giant rocks, winding roads, sheer precipices.. all wrapped in breathtaking scenery.

Glaring lens flare of the rising sun.

Rolling blue hills.
*the almost rectangular top-hat like hill towards right side is the Bible Rock*

Life on the edge.
*right beneath this pinkish grocery/ house is the dizzying precipice*
*the tilt may remind you of leaning tower of Pissa, but this is no replica. it just turned out that way since our cab was flying at supersonic speed* -__-


The next set was taken en route to my sis' place.. in a suburb of Colombo.

Dusty roads and smoky clouds.

Foraging in a somewhat (= seriously) stinky canal.
*see the birdies? these are pelicans*

Enduring the pungent odor.. for a bill-full.
*more pelicans. we also saw numerous fishing boats anchored on either sides too*
*pics turned out fuzzy here cause our almost airborne cab was taking a bumpy roller coaster ride*

The perfect blue of a cloudless sky.
*yep, I know.. these trees aren't tilted or fuzzy at all. You see.. these couple of coconut (or king coconut) trees are my sis' neighbors.*

Apple Green vs Ruddy Orange
*we saw dozens of roadside stalls selling these orange colored bags. They are called baby oranges, small in size with tomato like shapes.. turned out to be juicy and delicious.

Cutting through the pitch black night.
*see the tiny droplet streaks covering the windscreen? We got caught in a torrential downpour on our return trip. It was scary especially while passing Kadugannawa where we had to keep praying until we passed it, as the road became all hazy* -__-

And now it's time for the grand finale...

The warped twilight zone
*this is my favorite pic of all but it is also a very eerie pic I must say. If you look at it closely it appears as if I've used the smudge tool in Photoshop and created a hazy pattern on the clouds, right? But I didn't!
*This is how exactly the sky looked at that time and the odd ruddy tones are thanks to a tinted shutter of the cab*

Somehow this last pic reminds me of those sci-fi stories where the space becomes warped and then a glowing tube of light takes people between different times or dimensions.

Anyhow I had an earful from my mom for twisting and turning 360 degrees and more to take snaps while we were still moving at that breakneck speed. I ended up with backaches, bone aches, headaches and joint aches and what not until next morning. lol

03 December 2009

Pinnacle of reverence wrapped in traditional artistry

I was planning to share these photos some time back but somehow or other it was procrastinated until now. Anyhow here's some of the photos I captured at Sri Dalada Maligawa, very well known throughout the world as The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. It is the temple that enshrines the sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. It is also the very temple that hosts the biggest and the most spectacular pageant of Lanka - The Esala Perehara which draws millions of crowds to Kandy, every year.

For more info please refer the above link. So here are some of the places that caught my cam's eyes.

I do apologize in advance for the poor quality in some of them, as even though it was cloudy that day, the sun was still glaring and so I ended up with lots of silhouettes than expected. I tried my best to tweak the brightness and contrast though.

PS: The pics were taken on different days.

*And as usual ctrl+click to zoom in the pics.

Statue of lil Madduma Bandara, Lanka's child hero who sacrificed his life in the name of our motherland.

Statues of Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha, who brought the sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha as a gift from India.

Maligawa as seen from a distant. The golden cap dazzling above the roofs is the gilded canopy sheltering the repository of the sacred Tooth Relic. The flags flanking the paved walkway are called Buddhist flags.

There is a nice green turf on either sides of this paved walkway. While the elders take a break lying down on the well trimmed grass, the kids would run about and play cheerfully. During the perhera (pageant) season the turf is full of elephants and tuskers nibbling the juicy Kitul (fishtail palm) leaves.. closely watched by their mahouts.

This was taken few meters from Maligawa (tweaked the white balance of my cam and this is what I got)

The Octagon or 'Pattirippuwa', is a prominent landmark of Maligawa. Currently it is used as a library housing a good collection of Buddhist scriptures in ola leaves.

There are two types of walls you will see in the premises, while a similar parapet wall is built around the Kandy Lake, sited in the vicinity. One of these walls are called the 'Walakulu Bemma' or Cloud-like-drift Wall, and the other is called the 'Diyareli Bemma' or the Wave-like-swells Wall.

From its shape I think the one at the bottom is the cloud-like-drift parapet while the one at the top is the wave-like-swells parapet.

The main entrance to the premises is a lofty gateway flanked with fine relief carvings of tuskers, led by a stone stairway and a moonstone. This is a newly built gateway or rather a renovated one, as the old one was severely damaged during the terrorist attacks, some years back.

The new shrine hall inside Maligawa temple complex has scores of statues gifted from various countries. The hall itself is a work of craftsmanship, overflowing with traditional Lankan artistry in every nook and corner.

The magnificent ceiling of the new shrine hall. You can see 2 rows of golden tuskers projecting from the corbel brackets (at the top of the pillars). And right below these brackets are the beautiful paintings depicting the Buddha's life and Jataka Tales and significant moments of Maligawa.

Each painting at this hall has a description affixed below inscribed in both Sinhalese and English.

This is the lower floor, right below the 'Wedahitina Mahala' or 'Uda Mahala' (the chamber where the sacred Tooth Relic is enshrined). Right around this hall are wooden pillars finely crafted and painted in vibrant motifs. And to contrast its earthly tones there is a stunning golden railing encircling the hall.

The building in the rear is the new shrine hall.

Maligawa has several entrances, and this is what you see when you pass through the middle entrance and come through the 'Ambarawa', a tunnel packed with murals. This is also the frontal view of the above hall (with wooden pillars).

A striking embroidery drapes from its doorway, portraying the Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha. Right above this drapery is a 'Makara Thorana', another important architectural element of our religious architecture.

These guys (= a flock of ducks and geese) were fringing few meters of the bund of the Kandy Lake. Passersby (big and small) would pause for a moment and stare at them with a grin or a smile cause the sight itself was very interesting. Even though these guys hardly did anything amusing than doing a bit of grooming or walking their wobbly walk and gaping (not really) into the empty waters until they spot a fish or two.

Some of them were totally white like swans while some were black and white like cows. There was a bunch of cormorants too nearby, wading in the water and busily feasting on fish while the geese and ducks stared enviously. Wish I had time to capture everyone but unfortunately we had to hurry, and this was captured on our return trip, and so I missed the lot.

This scenery was captured on another day, opposite from Maligawa across the lake. This is how the temple complex appears from a distance to this side of Kandy. The whitewashed building perched on the lake is 'Bisokotuwa', an enclosure for the queens to bathe, furnished with a sluice gate.

And the milky white frill extending next to it is the 'Walakulu Bemma' or the Cloud-like-drift Wall that covers a portion of the Lake round.

20 September 2009

The sea of rock ~ Tantirimale

Tantirimale is a place I remember since my schooling days. Nope, never been there before the trip we had on 1st of August 2009. It's just that there was this documentary show about it on TV those days, with a very beautiful theme song. Cause my mom was so fond of it, she asked me and sis to note it down. It was played a few times on TV and I used to remember it by heart too.. for a long time.

Sadly now I can recall just a few words of this song along with the tune.. and have no memory of the scenery I saw on TV. So until I set foot in Tantirimale, I didn't know what the place would be like. Though.. I have already heard about it dozens of times from mom. Still.. it was a completely different world I stepped into.. when we finally got there.

If I briefly put it.. it was a sea of rock.. wrapped in a green coat!

You can read about the Tantirimale temple here. *sorry that I've been posting about nothing but temples since lately but can't help it, since I collected all these pics from our last pilgrimage* ^__^

Today I will only add captions.. cause pictures speak a zillion words. Also the pics will be in medium size this time for your convenience. If you wish to see their original size, simply control + click on the images.

Off we go on a virtual tour in Tantirimale!

The shrine.. near the entrance

Stupa.. in the distance

Stupa.. hidden behind a boulder

Rocky outcrop.. sprawling towards the horizon

Bell tower.. touching the heavens

Bodhi leaves.. fluttering in the winds

Golden railing.. festooned with flags

Sitting Buddha statue... giving life to the rockyscape

Reclining Buddha statue.. redefining the skyline

Stupa.. against the cloudy sky

Pilgrims climbing.. one step at a time


I've posted some of the other pics of Tantirimale in my previous posts. So now I've officially covered the whole trip that we had on 1st of August. *and it took me over 1.5 months to simply finish posting this bunch of pics!* =D

07 September 2009

Works of Art, Works of Wonders - Anuradhapura

In my last post I covered one of the two places we visited in Anuradhapura. Today I'll be posting about the imposing Stupa (chedi) in Anuradhapura, the Ruwanweliseya. It is a much venerated Stupa for Buddhists, rich in history and an amazing architecture. It is also one of the three great stupas in Anuradhapura which can be spotted from great distances.

Lankan stupas mostly follow a predefined shape which would most likely be one of the following 6 shapes.

The primary shapes of Stupas in Lanka
1. Ghantakara (bell)
2. Ghatakara (pot)
3. Bubbulakara (bubble)
4. Dhanyakara (paddy-heap)
5. Padmakara (lotus)
6. Amalakakara (Indian gooseberry / nelli)


Ruwanweli Stupa

Firstly let's see some stats.

Built in: 2nd century BC (161 - 137 BC)
Built by: King Dutu Gemunu *completed by his brother King Saddhatissa*
Shape: Bubble
Height: 92 m
Circumference: 292 m
Diameter: 90.8 m


From the figures you can imagine its imposing dimensions, which you will see more clearly with these photos I captured during our pilgrimage last time.

* Click on the images to expand them

pic 1 - 3: Ruwanweli Stupa as seen from a distance, through a canopy of festoon bulbs

pic 1: A korawakgala (type of thick handrail), this one is made of brick and white washed, I think. You could also see a row of elephant relief neatly overlapping, behind the korawakgala.
pic 2: The overlapping elephant relief of 1st pic in a different angle. It is called the 'Eth pawura' (wall of elephants), which is the surrounding wall of Stupa.. and it's embellished with elephant sculptures. You can gauge their size from this pic, as there is a devotee walking past them in the right side corner.

*The ruddy tones in the pics, as usual, came up cause I had tweaked the settings.

pic 1: The hefty base of the Stupa, made of 3 level base (basal rings) going around the circumference
pic 2: 'Sala pathala maluwa' (stone laid compound), is the closest ground to the stupa. The surface is very smooth almost like a tiled floor.
pic 3: Some of the relics excavated at the premises were lined up along the wall. They looked like square stone elephants from a distance.

When we walked close to the Stupa, it was impossible to see its pinnacle, cause of its bubble shape. *took this photo after moving a good distance away from the stupa*

The top portion above the dome has a structure composed of a square, cylinder, spire and finally the crystal at the pinnacle. The crystal ('kotha') is something used since the ancient times, and it might have been used as a lightning-conductor as much as an embellishment.

Pic 1 and 2: When we first arrived, a group of devotees were already engaged in a certain ritual. You can see a big band wrapped around the circumference of the dome, isn't it? This is a lengthy robe made of the 5 colors found in a Buddhist flag.

What these pilgrims were doing is called 'kapruka puja', where a lengthy civara (monk's robe, usually in ruddy orange color) is wrapped around the dome as an offering to the temple.

pic 1: The huge structure set before the dome is known as 'Vahalkada', and there are four of them around the stupa.
pic 2: The base of vahalkada. Doesn't these square elephants at the bottom strip look a bit familiar?
pic 3: Top portion of the vahalkada

pic 1: A devotee paying homage to the small shrine at the foot of vahalkada
pic 2: close up of the sitting Buddha statue enshrined here.

pic 1: Portion of the reclining Buddha statue enshrined at the big shrine hall next to the Stupa.
pic 2: Life size statue of King Dutu Gemunu mounted on his royal war tusker named 'Kandula'.
pic 3: Life size statue of King Elara mounted on his war tusker named 'Mahapabbata'

*tusker is an elephant bearing tusks, while war tuskers (or elephants) were especially trained for battles.

There was a historic war between these 2 kings, it wasn't just a fight for the throne, but a fight to unite our land as one nation. Elara, even though he was an invader, was acclaimed as a great leader who enforced and practiced justice.. to the point of punishing his own son for a crime he committed. *wish our current politicians could take him as an example*

The 2nd and 3rd pics look a lil fuzzy, and I wonder if it was due to the tense ambiance I felt inside the shrine hall! You know.. after seeing 2 of the greatest kings of our history in battle-mode. Ironically.. they were flanking the reclining Buddha statue. And I wonder why they were sculpted that way.


* Disclaimer: Referred the dimensions and some of the facts from Wikipedia, pdn.ac.lk (pdf), Lakehouse (pdf), Wikipedia-2
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