Sunday, August 13, 2017

In Search of the Past: Sri Lanka, Part 7: Trincomalee Harbor

To continue my novel research, we drive down from Sri Lanka's central highlands to Trincomalee Harbor, where the Americans and British had bases during WW2. No battleships or destroyers now, but a bevy of fishing vessels.

In the distance are the ancient ramparts of a Portuguese fort that later passed from the Dutch to the British. Fort Frederick is now in Sri Lankan hands. This building is my setting for British Naval Intelligence.

More of Fort Frederick's gracious colonial architecture.

In an odd juxtaposition, the fort road continues up the point to Koneswaram Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Location! Location! Location!

A fierce devotée of Shiva, Ravana is an important character in the South Asian epic, Ramayana. Below is Ravana's Cleft.

Love this railing.

Pilgrims come here to pray for blessings. Each little cradle represents a prayer for a child.

Worshippers can also throw down a coconut shell to ask for blessings. If it cracks, your prayer will be answered.

Nandi is gatekeeper of Kailasa, the sacred abode of Shiva. Nandi is also the guru of Shiva's eight disciples, one of whom, Patanjali, is author of the Yoga sutras.

Another view on our way out.

Our final days in Sri Lanka are spent in an architectural wonder, Kandalama Hotel, built in close harmony with the environment. Here is one of our friendly visitors.

Mom and kids.

The hotel is constructed right into the mountain.

The corridor at night.


Hotel creatures.

Next stop: SOUTH INDIA!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

In Search of the Past: Sri Lanka: Part 6: The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Having come to Sri Lanka for book research, I hope to set an important scene at Polonnaruwa, an ancient city-state of culture and power in the central upcountry area. About 1000 years ago, the visionary king set out to create an enduring civilization. To maintain a water supply, he built a great reservoir lake, now left to the wild elephants to enjoy.

His irrigation canals are still in use, too.

Otherwise, much of his development has fallen into ruins, which I begin to explore in search of a dramatic spot for a secret meeting. We tromp around the king's swimming pool.

His parliament.

His great Buddhas and temples.

His palace.

Then, just up from the lake, an eye-catching butterfly leads us to an intriguing site...

The old library. I can see my character creeping up from her lakeshore picnic into the shrubbery...

Viewing the clandestine rendezvous through crumbled openings.

While spying on my imaginary characters, the langur monkeys are spying on us, including this mother and child.

Next stop: In Search of the Past: Sri Lanka: Part 7: Trincomalee Harbor, Fort Fredrick, and the Koneswaram Shiva Temple

Monday, May 29, 2017

In Search of Sri Lanka: Part 5: Elephants!

After many springtime detours, it's back to Sri Lanka--a day I will never, ever forget. Having left their watering holes in upcountry Minneriya, the wild elephants have recently migrated to Kaudulla Natural Park. We board our jeep and follow. 

Passing small farms and settlements, we enter the park, driving through dusty jungle terrain...

Until we break into the open and I gasp. There! Up on the hill...My heart stops. "Elephants," I whisper tentatively, not believing it. 

And another. 

A family!

We continue through rolling hills on the shores of a large lake. They are everywhere now. Great herds and small groups, all peaceful and protected.

Even solitary fellows avoiding the crowd.

I want to cry. No, honestly, I do cry, heart-filled tears. Look at these playful little ones!

We continue driving, doing a rough count of each of the groupings.

By mid-afternoon, I estimate we've seen three hundred elephants. Probably more.

Blissed out, we return to Sigiriya River Side Homestay, where we enjoy tranquil surroundings and superlative home cooking.

Here is the rear of the small family compound.

 The river is down a little path...

Our host, Indika, encourages me to try a foot massage--courtesy of the nibbling fish. (If you're ticklish, you might want to forgo this pleasure.)

Our hostess, Hansi, a skilled gardener...

And cook. 

I wish I could share the wonders of the multi-course meals that came out of her kitchen!

Next stop: In Search of the Past: Part 6: The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa