Where: Dikwella, near Matara, Sri Lanka
History: 250 year old temple site of the largest National statue, with carvings of cartoon strips depicting Buddha’s life
Go There For: Fantastic view inside a giant Buddha’s head
15 miles east of Matara is the town of Dikwella, where there is one of the most extraordinary Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The Wewurukannala Vihara temple is dominated by an image of a seated Buddha. It is 160ft high, the largest statue in all of Sri Lanka and dates back to the time of King Rajadhi (1782 – 1798). The temple has three parts, the oldest being about 250 years old; however this is of no particular interest.
The next part has life size models of demons and sinners shown in graphic detail. If you don’t follow the path to enlightenment this is what happens to you. Punishments include being drunken in boiling cauldrons, swan in half, disemboweled and so on. Finally there is the enormous seated Buddha that is as high as an eight storey building. To prove that that it really is as high as an eight story building, what should be right behind it but – yes, an eight story building! You can climb up inside and gaze right into the Buddha’s head.
The temple walls show you the path towards enlightenment by depicting hundreds of comic strip representations of events in the Buddha’s lives. Among one of the episodes is the Chulla Dhammapala Jataka. It tells the story of how King Maha Prathapa of Varanasi on entering the palace found the queen cuddling her seven month old child. After ignoring him the King was left insulted so ordered that the prince be executed and the body be thrown into the air. Several Jataka Stories are also amid the paintings, which where selected for Vesak stamps in 1991. One depicts The Kattahari Jataka showing Prince Kastavahana, son of King Brahmadatta resting with his entourage.
Historic Sites in Male, Maldives
In Male, among the city’s modest attractions is the National Museum, which houses untidy exhibits of the sultans’ belongings and a small piece of Thor Heyerdahl’s archaeological discoveries – many of the ancient stone carvings and figurines are featured in his book The Maldive Mystery. Near the museum is the pleasant Sultan Park, and the imposing white Islamic Centre & Grand Friday Mosque which dominates the city’s skyline. There are over 20 other mosques scattered around Malé, the oldest being the 400 year old Hukuru Miski, with some of the finest coral carvings on it, giving you an insight into the country’s unique history.
By Sally Delf