The Tear drop of India! Sri Lankan Trails -

A brief journey through the country with most mythological relevance with India!

The Tear drop of India! Sri Lankan Trails -

The tear drop of India! 
One of the smallest islands closest to our country with deep roots to our mythological epics! Isn't this is what we all recognize the country SRILANKA as?! Ravan's Lanka... 
But, what if I said, there is so much more to know and experience in this beautiful country than what we even heard of! 

As an architect, it's an involuntary reaction to most of us to look for and be in the quest to discover more than what is being offered on the plate! And me being an avid traveler and an architectural geek, 
It took about a month, just to plan a really good Itinerary with all the budgets taken care of. I was set to go for this trip with my parents for the new year's Eve of 2020!  Honestly, my parents were much interested in the ram setu route map as most of the elderly people prefer. And my road map was far more different from just being a leisure trip, but a full-fledged architectural one. Eventually, we figured a way out and made a plan for 8nights and 9 days! Quite long... Tbh, it was still less. So by now, you must be curious, what's there so much to offer in such a small island?! 
Here we go! 

Day 1 (29th dec,2019) - Colombo - Sambodhi vihara


Our entire trip was curated specially by my father and me to include everything possible suiting our interests and thereby, with the help of a travel agency, we got hold of a good travel partner(a licensed tourist driver) who drove us down the entire country with utmost professionalism and interest! 
The day we landed, we took a road tour of the beautiful city of Colombo. 
We first stopped at the sambodhi chaitya stupa, a huge bell-shaped stupa with a preaching hall, located on the harbor road. It has the distinction of standing on two massive diagonally interlocking arches, allowing the shrine to be seen from the sea. 

The entire structure is 261 feet (80 meters) tall. The interlocking arches rise up to a height of 107 feet (33 meters), on which stands the main platform, which is itself a one-story building. On top of this stands the stupa, with a circumference of 158 feet (48 meters). There is an access tower that runs alongside the main structure reaching 11 stories high and with 258 steps, the tower is connected to the platform below the stupa via a metal walkway.

Once inside, you’ll find yourself beneath the huge dome of the stupa. In the center of the circular floor sits a shrine with four recessed Buddha statues. Along the walls of the dome are a series of 31 murals created by the Venerable Mapalagama Wipulasara Maha Thera (1925-2000), a Theravada Buddhist monk and acclaimed Sri Lankan artist. These murals depict scenes from the life of the Buddha and Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka.

Upon the walls above the murals are four statues at the cardinal points. These figures are the guardian gods of the island and protectors of Buddhism: Virata, chief of the South; Virupashta, chief of the West; Vaishravana, chief of the North; and Dutharashta, chief of the East. (info source: Atlas Obscura)

Later, we visited the maritime museum just beside the stupa, the old fort road, a native 200yrs old shiva temple, a church, and the Galle face beach! Towards the end of the day, We were awestruck to see how well the entire city is planned and well maintained with clean and well-constructed roads! Not to forget, the ARCHITECTURE! To my astonishment, every twist and turn through the roads, surprised me with the mix of architecture with huge skyscrapers, well-conserved old colonial structures refurbished into present-day use, beautiful houses, cafes, streetscaping and I could go on naming. it was an eye candy city tour! Hence, called it a day with a bottle of wine! ;)

 Day 2 (30th Dec,2019)- Enroute Brief gardens, Lunuganga estate, restored and adaptive reuse of Galle fort & halt at the Bentota beach resort! 

This luscious masterpiece created by landscape designer Bevis Bawa inspired the work of his brother, a famous Sri Lankan architect. 

Plants spill down the sides of the house, blanketing it in a layer of lush greenery. Stems sprout from sculpted pots, while elsewhere pink flowers erupt into a dazzling, colorful display. It’s an enchanting place, one where its creator’s personality and love for the landscape come alive.

Brief Garden is the masterpiece of Bevis Bawa, brother of the famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Bevis, the elder Bawa brother, began crafting this luscious landscape roughly 20 years before Geoffrey commenced work on his world-famous Lunuganga Estate.

Bevis created the garden by spending decades transforming the rubber plantation he inherited into the verdant jungle-Esque gem it is today. He began cultivating the space in the late 1920s while serving in the army and continued up until he died at age 89 in 1992.

It has an intimate atmosphere, making you feel as though you’ve left the town behind and stepped into your own secluded slice of the jungle. Narrow paths wind through tropical plants, revealing a pool, patio, & the staircase. Archways cloaked in greenery lead to hidden statues like carved faces and a stoic horse tucked among the flora. 

The house, too, is worth a peek. The art within it and the garden reflect Bevis’ personality and life. Homoerotic sculptures dot the space, The beautiful open bathroom with a stunning sculpture, murals depicting Sri Lankan life adorns one of the walls,  leaf engraved pathways, a naked man sculpture against a glass bottle wall, the moon archway, and so much more!

And Later, to not miss a single opportunity having met the present owner of the estate, Mr.Doolandesilva, I initiated a conversation with a brief interview on his personal journey with this place and Bevis! Eventually, i got introduced to his, Mr.Dandesilva who resides in Colombo and is a very well established landscape architect of Srilanka today!! 

After this wonderful visit, the craving to visit the next destination gew even more. Then we grabbed some quick bites on snacks on the road and headed to the -

Lunuganga Estate country house designed and built by The pioneer of tropical modern architecture in Srilanka and spreading his wonderful insights and knowledge on the same grounds to the entire world by Mr.Geoffery Bawa!

The estate had been used as a cinnamon estate during the Dutch era and then a rubber plantation under the British. In 1948, the small house in the estate was given on rent to the local tax collector. In 1949 newly qualified lawyer Geoffrey Bawa bought it from its owner intending to convert the estate bungalow into a weekend house and create a tropical version of a European renaissance garden. The 6.1 ha (15 acres) property is located on the banks of the Dedduwa Lake, in Bentota. Bawa named the estate Lunuganga, which in Sinhala means Salt River. Recognizing his lack of architectural knowledge Bawa returned to England to study architecture. After qualifying as an architect he returning to Ceylon in 1958 and joined the architectural practice of Edwards, Reid and Beggs.

He was in the process of developing, adding, and articulating different rooms with various purposes along the contours of the land which we can now see from the outside like a museum. The house and gardens contain many works from artists such as Donald friend and Laki senanayaki as well as artifacts from Asia and Europe. 

It was one of the most beautiful experiences I could have ever had for myself and my parents too discovered a new dimension to look at!

Feeling overwhelmed with both the places, we experienced some calmness at the Galle beach for a while to enjoy the sunset and then headed to the Magnificent restored and reused Galle fort for the night tour! Already our feet were sore and to our wildest surprise, the Galle fort was no small! and it indeed was a self-built  small town with a grid network of streets and alleys, with fully functioning markets, delightful cafes, nightlife, houses, all on the streets! We couldn't stop but kept walking through each aisle and totally grasped all the beauty we could and had our first meal of the day (dinner time) in proper Srilankan style at one of the cafes there! We then treated ourselves with the yummiest gelato vegan ice creams and called it a day full of hustle, surprises, and headed to the Bentota beach resort! It was one of the most heartwarming experiences I have had to feed my brain with passion, knowledge and beauty!

DAY 3 (31st Dec 2019) - Bentota beach resort, en route Colombo, Seema Malaka, Geoffery Bawa's house.11, The gallery cafe, Jami ul alfar mosque, Halt at Red cinnamon Hotel for the new year's eve!

By now, every inch of our body was sore! Still, we managed to wake up to the sunrise and stepped out of the suite room at the resort and were spellbound to how lucky could one get! The breathtaking view with a huge swimming pool and then the view of the beach!! It was just too good to believe! we walked to the beach, participated with the fishermen in their daily routine of catching fishes at the shore! With the golden sun glimmering on our faces, sinking our soul against the beach waves, we felt contended! After spending a good time there, we headed to the breakfast counter and stuffed our faces into the delicious food and left back to Colombo to celebrate the new year's eve! 

Voila! Back to Colombo. Not to settle though...We penned a  short Geoffery Bawa architectural tour by our selves to visit one by one!

We first visited Seema Malaka - A Buddhist temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The temple is mainly used for meditation and rest, rather than for worship. Situated in the Beira Lake, the temple was originally constructed in the late 19th century The original structure slowly sank into the water in the 1970s. In 1976, Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa was brought in to redesign and construct the temple, which stands today. It is a very famous temple in Colombo standing like a floating mass in the river with a very contrasting neighborhood architecture! from the temple front, we can see the skyrocketing building making the Srilankan skyline! with the construction of the inclined residential and commercial skyscraper Altair and a few hotels around! 

House no.11 - Geoffery Bawa's own house in Colombo! What a beauty! The ideology of tropical modern architecture with a beautiful play of light and shadow within! A small break out space built around an existing tree, The ionic stairway rail design, his very own style of the seamless staircase design, use of antique, European furniture which ar enow the place holders to see when we visit, Mosaic flooring, changing heights, every bit of it had something great to take away for architectural geeks like me! And to always remember his arch/half moonstone pedestal at the entrance door! It's one of his USP's that are still remembered and designed by the architects for entranceways following his ideologies! 

The gallery cafe - Situated in the Paradise Road, The Gallery Cafe is popular as a fashionable cafe and gallery, but it was used as the office of Bawa before! The reason of the delicate scale of the architecture must attribute to its origin. Even if it was renovated into an office, it is a good example of the residence designed by Bawa and that in the tropical zone.

In this site, three courtyards are arranged and realize the skillful combination of indoor, semi-outdoor, and outdoor.

When entering the big gatehouse facing the main street, it is the first and primitive courtyard doubling as a carriage. The gatehouse and trees block the bustle of a town and are filled with quietness.

After entering a small door and passing the narrow corridor in the dining room wing, the second courtyard appears. It is composed of the slender pond in the center, a corridor with a tile roof surrounding the pond, and a light court opened in the sky. Various private rooms, which get in and out of the courtyard, surround those. Though a slender corridor and a pond are only inserted, the complexity that indoors, semi-outdoors and outdoors produce brings a vivid air.

Trees with creepers hang like cluster knots against a high wall that stands between the neighboring house and the cafe to screen the space. This courtyard blocked from outside sight has a calm atmosphere. It has an air of another living room with a large void, lighting by natural light and air-conditioning by natural air. All the internal spaces are now converted into the cafe seating areas and the room beside the courtyard and the pond is used for the gallery shop selling quite a lot of antiques native to Srilanka with even some architectural books by Bawa! 

Jami Ul Alfar Mosque - the Red mosque 

is one of the architectural wonders of the world. Situated in the bustling Pettah district, one of the oldest parts of the city of Colombo, its tall minarets are seen from almost every street, towering over the hustle and bustle of the busy neighborhood streets. It is said that the Red Mosque has been a landmark for sailors approaching the port of Colombo ever since it was built in 1908, and upon looking at it you can easily imagine that being true. The mosque’s distinct red-and-white pattern, whether swirling or spiraling or alternating, is quite mesmerizing. The domes are built in the shape of pomegranate (unlike the traditional onion shape), and the colorful brick patterns are meant to convey the same image. The architecture is a mix of  Indo-Saracenic structures, that draws elements from native Indo-Islamic and Indian architecture, and combines it with the Gothic revival and Neo-classical styles. Originally it had the capacity for 1,500 worshippers although at the time only around 500 were attending prayers. It was a wonderful place to visit.

And guess what!! it's time for the new year's eve! Celebrating At the Cinnamon Red hotel with sky full stars and glimmering fireworks bidding a wonderful goodbye to 2019 and welcoming 2020 hoping for it to be the most beautiful travel year! well, i guess we were jinxed!  :p

Day 4 (Jan 1st, 2020) - Ella 9 Arch bridge, stay at Ramboda falls hotel, Matale province, Nuwara Eliya

wishing everyone a Happy new year, and hoping for the best to come our way, we headed to Ella! It is a long journey from Colombo to Ella with a road distance of about 200km with lots of bends. So, we planned to do only a single destination and head to the hotel at Nuwara Eliya.

The Nine Arch Bridge, also called the Bridge in the Sky, is a viaduct bridge in Ella on the Demodara loop, is one of the very well known tourist attractions for its architectural beauty standing tall as one of the most spoken works of engineering marvel built during colonial times!  it spans 91 meters at a height of 24m. The beautiful nine arches make it a very picturesque spot especially as it is located in a dense jungle and agricultural setting. Behind the railway, a forest is booming, and below, tea leaves are being cultivated. This bridge connects the two railway stations between Ella and Damodara! the best time to visit this location is either during the sunrise to capture the golden hour rays reflecting on your faces! or when a train passes by! there is a schedule which one can enquire and indeed it's train journey experiences is one such lifetime experiences!   it is very hard to even find a space to stand due to its timings and is always filled by localities. maybe try it till you make it! ;)

Day 5 (Jan 2nd, 2020) - Ramboda falls hotel - Nuwara eliya, Ramboda falls, Ashoka vatika - sita trails, kandy

Do you know the feeling of waking up to the sound of waterfalls? This hotel partially belongs to the forest department and is built right opposite to the falls and has a built-in trial going down almost to the foot of the waterfalls.

Ramboda Falls is 109 m (358 ft) high and 11th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka and 729th highest waterfall in the world. It is situated in Pussellawa area, on the A5 highway at Ramboda Pass. It is formed by Panna Oya which is a tributary of Kothmale Oya. The altitude of the falls is 945 m (3,100 ft) above sea level. Every step leading downwards towards the falls filled us with immense joy and heavenly experience! so we called it the stairway to heaven! My mom couldn't contain her happiness and we did not take our sight away from the falls even for a minute! And she exclaimed it was a near to experience like when we visited the Niagara falls! or even better, because, we could sit and stare at it for how many ever hours we wanted! We felt the most amazing feelings and as though it was natural healing to all of us! I indeed made a painting of my experience and posted a timelapse of it on my youtube channel and the link is shared below! It's been six months to this trip but Can still not forget this experience in particular!  This place is essentially not so much spoken off as most of them get to see it from the viewpoints which are far away! but, this experience like had, can only be achieved by staying at this hotel! Definitely make a halt there!  

Alas! what more to ask for from this trip? Well, we had to still leave and move ahead to the partly covered ram-sita trails too. In Nuwara Eliya, There is Ashoka Vatika, a garden famously known in our Ramayan mythology as the place where Sita devi was captivated under the large Ashoka tree by Ravana in his province!  It was said to us by the priest that Almost 1200yrs ago the sita amman kovil was built here by the people in the memory line of the walks of lord Rama and sita! 

Later, part of the day, we visited a tea estate and left to Kandy!it is a large city in central Sri Lanka. It's set on a plateau surrounded by mountains. The city's heart is scenic Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake), which is popular for strolling. Kandy is famed for sacred Buddhist sites, including the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) shrine. It is one of the cleanest hill stations I have ever seen in my life! This place has a major influence of Buddhism and so is reflected in every part of it! We visited a couple of Buddhist stupas, gemstones museum and the tooth relic ( It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha) ! Of course, Kandy is also famous for its amazing gemstones naturally available and totally handcrafted into jewelry!   We could not spend a lot of time here as this place deserved as we had to head to the most-awaited hotel destination which is a very well-noted architectural marvel!

Now, our journey was heading towards the archeological cultural & historical triangle of Srilanka that encompasses World Heritages sites of Kandy, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa.

Day 6 (Jan 3rd,2020) -  Kandalama heritance hotel - dambulla, Sigiriya rock, night stay at miridiya lake resort - anuradhapura

From the minute we entered the Kandalama heritance province for the nigth halt on day 5 after Kandy, I was holding my breath tight to explore every nook and corner of this architectural marvel designed by Geoffery Bawa! It does cost a bomb to stay at this 5-star hotel. Yet, save every penny to make a stay here! this uniquely designed hotel provides 3 impressive pools (of which one is an infinity pool looking over Dambulla reservoir) and exotic activities like bird watching. it is a 20-minute drive from UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the 2,000-year-old cave temple at Dambulla and the Sigiriya rock fortress.

Brief architecture - Bawa was interested in developing a spatial and visual sequence of entry that culminated in the revelation of the distant view of the monument of Sigiriya only after entry to the hotel lobby. One of the most beautiful features of the hotel's design is the large, cave-like porte cochère abutting the western side of the cliff around which the hotel wraps. Guests enter the hotel under this huge slanted canopy that angles down towards the entrance to a compressed, enclosed walkway. The visitor winds through the confined tunnel-like passage, complete with a wall lined by boulders, suddenly discovering the liberating expansiveness of the open-air lobby and its panoramic view northward over the Kandalama Tank. Bawa thoughtfully choreographed this process of arrival in order to prolong and dramatize the threshold between the tree-shielded entrance drive and the spectacular views that the hotel lobby skillfully frames. The east wing extends by about 100m giving a look of the far of Sigiriya rock! they consist of 4 floors of guest rooms above, ground floor and 2 floors as the basement that goes as per the topography alongside the boulders, partially hidden, but still giving the view of the beautiful forest and landscape around! The detailing of the architecture itself remains plainly yet harmoniously articulated in neutral tones and natural materials, including white concrete walls, grey painted concrete columns, and wood or iron railings and millwork. The loss of Geoffrey Bawa is not the loss of his ideas. Expressed through his many buildings, these ideas embrace both the natural and the man-made through thoughtful intervention into the beautiful landscape of his native country. His was an architecture that embraced the modern, especially through space, but was grounded in the traditions of Sri Lanka, creating a unique synthesis that future architects can learn from.

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring every corner of the hotel and took a dip in the infinity pool and saw the late sunrise! Then headed to the delicious and sumptuous breakfast enjoying the enchanting view!

Around 12p.m we headed to the Sigiriya rock fortress! Well, who doesn't know this place when we think of Srilanka! The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high with about 1200 steps to climb! Quite a tiresome trek!

History - According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kashyapa (477 – 495 AD) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock, he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure — Sīnhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the king's death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. It is one of the best-preserved examples of ancient urban planning. 

Some features - The caves of the rock have some of the infamous Ajanta paintings, A mirror wall - Originally this wall was so highly polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Made of brick masonry and covered in highly polished white plaster, lions paws, ruins of the fortress at the top with a central citadel and east and west axis palace ruins with water bodies, the garden complex at the foot of the rock! Sigiriya is considered to be one of the most important urban planning sites of the first millennium, and the site plan is considered very elaborate and imaginative. The plan combined concepts of symmetry and asymmetry to intentionally interlock the man-made geometrical and natural forms of the surroundings. On the west side of the rock lies a park for the royals, laid out on a symmetrical plan; the park contains water-retaining structures, including sophisticated surface/subsurface hydraulic systems, some of which are working today. The south contains a man-made reservoir; these were extensively used from the previous capital of the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Five gates were placed at entrances. The more elaborate western gate is thought to have been reserved for the royals and from the hilltop, we can see the piduranga rock which is usually a great place to trek for the sunset! 

By now, the trip got really tiring! yet, the excitement kept growing to see the heritage sites at Anuradhapura for the next day! We stayed at Miridiya lake resort for the night. This hotel sits beside a lake Nuwara Wewa and is the largest of the three man-made reservoirs in Anuradhapura. It covers about 12 sq.km. and the hotel provides a viewpoint with a small garden to sit by the banks of the lake and feel the calmness! 

Day 7 (Jan 4th,2020) - Heritage sites(stupas) at Anuradhapura province, Head to thailaimannar, Thirukeeteswaram temple, Mannar fort, stay at hotel agape!

In the complex of Anuradhapura world heritage sites, own vehicles need to be parked at the visitor's bay and arrange for a tuk-tuk or take tickets with a license to drive within!

Jetavanaramaya stupa - It is one of the most ancient structures of this island and is located in the world heritage city of Anuradhapura!! 

It is 122m high originally when it was constructed by the King Mahasena of Anuradhapura kingdom! It was then the tallest stupa in the world and the 3rd tallest nonpyramid building in the world then. It was built around 273 -301 A.D initiated by him and completed by his son!! It is believed it took about 15 years to build this work brilliant workforce with an abundance knowledge in structural stability! 

This stupa belongs to sagalika sect. It is still the largest in terms of an area covering about 5.6 hectares... 
The dome is Totally built-in burnt clay bricks with earth fill and its foundation is 8.5m deep standing over bedrock! It was covered in lime plaster having a variety of mixture of seashells, eggshells, resin, pebbles, etc, which is almost chipped off now !! 

In 11th century after the destruction of Anuradhapura kingdom, the entire heritage sites with other monuments was in partial ruins and covered in thick forest. Later in 12th century, it was rebuilt by another king and it's height was brought down from its original site and stands at a height  71m today!

Ruwanwelisiya stupa - Whitewashed Ruwanweliseya stupa is one of the most distinct sights in Anuradhapura. It is historically important to the world. It is the most worshipful stupa in Sri Lanka. Other names of this sacred place are “Mahaseya”, “Rathnamali stupa”, “Swarnamali Stupa” and “Maha Stupa”.

King Dutugemunu of Sri Lanka created Ruwanweliseya stupa. Dutugemunu is a famous ancient king who united Sri Lanka once in her history. Further, he took many actions to protect Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Constructing Ruwanweliseya stupa is one of the best. Ruwanweliseya stupa is created in 140 B.C. However, it became a ruined structure during history. This great place found again in the 19th century. The stupa again retreated to it’s same size and shape in 1940. Buddhists believe that sacred relics of Lord Buddha housed here. Moreover, Ruwanweliseya stupa is 103m high and has a circumstance of 290m.  This is the largest Lord Buddha’s Sacred Relic store of the world. Buddhist people also believe that all of the Lord Buddha’s Sacred Relics get together to Ruwanweliseya at the end of the world. Then make a figure of Buddha on the top of the stupa and attend to Nibbana.

Jaya sri maha bodhi - is a sacred fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is said to be the southern branch from the historical Sri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. It is situated close to the maha stupa complex at about 200m distance. 

Ranmasu Uyana is a park in Sri Lanka containing the ancient Magul Uyana. It is situated close to Isurumuni Vihara and Tissa Wewa in the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It sits on approximately 40 acres, and is a noted example of Sri Lankan garden architecture of the pre-Christian era. 

Mirisaweti Stupa is a memorial building, a stupa, King Dutugamunu (161 BC to 137 BC) built the Mirisaveti Stupa after defeating King Elara. After placing the Buddha relics in the scepter, he had gone to Tissa Wewa for a bath leaving the scepter. After the bath, he returned to the place where the scepter was placed, and it is said that it could not be moved. The stupa was built in the place where the scepter stood. It is also said that he remembered that he partook a chilly curry without offering it to the sangha. In order to punish himself, he built the Mirisavetiya Dagaba. The extent of this land is about 50 acres (20 ha). Although the king Kasyapa I and Kasyapa V renovated this, from time to time it was dilapidated. We have seen it only from outside while passing by via a tuk-tuk. 

The Samadhi Buddha is a famous statue situated at Mahamevnāwa Park. The Buddha is depicted in the position of the Dhyana Mudra, the posture of meditation associated with his first Enlightenment. This statue is 7 feet 3 inches in height and carved from dolomite marble. 

The historic high court, monasteries of abhyagiri and lankarama, the giant ponds of Uttam pokuna and abhyagiri, the isurumuniya rock temple, and the palace of Vijaya are the other imposing structures in the complex to visit! 

This is quite an archeological tour one can visit finding so many ancient ruins and restored built forms in one place! Post lunch, we left to the Mannar island and on the way covered

Thirukeeteswaram temple - Lord shiva's ancient temple which was built around the 16th century and destroyed by Portuguese and it again resurfaces around the late 1800s and local Tamils, under the urging of Hindu reformer Arumuka Navalar, came together and built the present temple. It was closed at the time we visited for some renovation work.

Ruins of Mannar fort - for the sunset. It was built by Portuguese in 1560. The fort fell to the Dutch in 1658, and they rebuilt the fort in 1696. In 1795 the British occupied the fort following the surrender by the Dutch. In 1795 the British occupied the fort following the surrender by the Dutch. It is a square-shaped fort with four bastions and is located next to the new bridge that connects the mainland with the Mannar Island. It is presently taken care of by the archeological dept. 

And now, it was indeed becoming our second last day of the trip coming to an end!

Day 8 (Jan 5th,2020) - From the hotel agape, we left to see the final important destination of our Srilankan trip with respect to the Ramayan trails, the thalaimannar island - the ram sethu bridge/ adam's bridge. 

We first visited the lighthouse of Mannar island and naval detachment province, urumale, which had an iron bridge that was constructed as a sea link to India during British time and eventually discontinued and is in ruins now!  From there we headed to the ram sethu bridge and to our long waiting came to an obstacle where we were not allowed to pass through the gateway to see the islands due to some national security issues at that time! So we could only stand and view across the beach that joined the tip of the adam's bridge! Maybe there had to be something important left for us to visit next time!

With slight a sigh, we collected ourselves for the best memories made so far and started our journey back to Colombo via chilaw and Negombo!

Munneswaram temple in chilaw,  an important regional Hindu temple complex in Sri Lanka. It has been in existence at least since 1000 CE although myths surrounding the temple associate it with the popular Indian epic Ramayana, and its legendary hero-king Rama. The temple complex is a collection of five temples, including a Buddhist temple. The central temple dedicated to Shiva is the most prestigious and biggest and is popular amongst Hindus. The other temples are dedicated to GaneshaAyyanayake, and Kali. The Kali temple is also popular with Buddhists, who frequent the complex. Post-19th century, most of the devotees of all temples in the complex belong to the majority Sinhala Buddhist ethnic group; the temples, excluding the Ayyanayake and the Buddhist temple, are administered by families belonging to the minority Hindu Tamils.

We finally returned to Colombo, went to the hotel, and then I paid a personal visit to one of the famous landscape architects of Sri Lanka today, Mr.dan de silva at the royal golf club Colombo, to whom I was introduced at brief gardens by his father!  We had a brief talk on various aspects of architecture and his journey with bewis and Geoffery Bawa and finally concluded on a good note to someday work collaboratively! It was probably one of the best-unexpected takeaways from my architectural journey! 

And with our last night's stay at the hotel global tower, we cherished all the memories made, souvenirs bought from all the places! We toasted a glass of wine and felt contended for all the great things we could get from our fun-filled trip with multiple layers with architectural, ram-sita trails, nature-filled, archeological journey, starting from Colombo to the south to Galle fort, back to Colombo, then to the hill stations of Nuwara Eliya, the cultural triangle, the north to Mannar near Jaffna with a very much countryside look which was much different from rest of the towns of Sri Lanka,  and finally back to Colombo!

Day 9th, (Jan 6th,2020) - Passing through the market, the parliament road, the presidents house, taking the last few glances of this wonderful island so small, so neat, so well maintained, an unimaginable amount of awareness about architecture in every town and village, the wonderful urban planning, the awareness to built and create with respect to nature! and so much more to offer that not even the 8 days could suffice!  What a ride! Here rests our crazy journey without missing an ounce of architecture! We bid a grand goodbye to this beautiful country and not to miss, our wonderful and extremely patient chauffeur (travel guide) Mr.Savin! can't thank enough! I hope you guys had a joyful ride with a lot of juxtapositioned choice of places! I hope i have offered a good read on the untouched parts and the architectural beauty and to the endless number of places to visit and cherish in this understated island which is majorly known just for the ram-sita and archeological journey! Thank you for reading! 

Ever since then, hoping to have beautiful wildlife and adventure-filled journey for the next visit! 

ayubovan Sri Lanka!