Mihintale, Sri Lanka

03 Mar

Mihintale, Sri Lanka

Mornings are quaint here in Sri Lanka and If you wake up early you see the forest coming to life. Egrets are flying in flocks, one meter iguanas cross the road and the spirited monkeys abound ready to steel some fruit or food.
The night before I asked the tuk-tuk driver to make arrangements for a car for the next two days. The prices that he gave me were outrageously high, around $100/day and only when I told him that at the airport were advertising cars for $50/day he went back to check again. I almost gave up because it looked that nothing worked out and I went to bed with the idea that nothing can be arranged but in the morning after a quick stroll I found him in front of the gate. The price went down a bit but not much and we went to talk with the car owner.  In the end we made an arrangement with his friend who had a van rentable for 8000 SR for only day. The price was still high but the offer was very good because we chose to go to Mihintale, latter to Aukana and last to Pollonaruwa, all three being on different directions, and to stop me for the night in Sigirya. On ThornTree I saw many questions about the car rental being too expensive in Sri Lanka, but after I negotiated with them for a while I realized that if you are not dealing with a reputed agency, the locals have their own idea of the deal being worth while and would not go for anything less that their rate.
Mihintale is the cradle of the Sinhalese Buddhism. The legend says that the great Indian king Ashoka sent his son Mahinda to Lanka to spread Buddhism. Lanka was a logical destination, because in the Indian tradition Lanka was always present in the legends,Hanuman, the money general came here in his search of Sita, Rama’s wife held in custody by the monster Ravana, the northern strait separating the the island and India being just the step the monkey had to do to jump over. In the Buddhist tradition Buddha also was supposed to visit the island several times. So Mahinda came and met the king of Lanka, in 247 BC here in Mihintale and passed the Buddhist knowledge and with it Lanka became Buddhist.
In the early hours of the morning, the place is bathed in a pleasant light helping the throngs of pilgrims coming to visit to bring offers to the place. The location is magnificent, the views from its premonitory being spectacular, one being from the cave were Mahinda was supposed to meditate, or at least had a great time with the views.
Mihintale has the classical inventory of such a religious place, the Bodhi tree, maybe from the same Bodhi tree from Bodhgaya, the Samadhi Budddha, the footprint of Buddha, two dagobas, the way the stupas are called here, the meditation caves and, a little unusual a hospital with quite of modern instrumentation, one being a stone cut in the human shape for ayurvedic bath, a tradition still alive in Sri Lanka.
Climbing down the steps from the sacred area I was in the middle of eating an ice cream when with a perfect leap the ice cream was stolen by a monkey that barely touched me. I felt just a touch of hair and everything was gone.

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Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Blog, Sri Lanka


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