Diary Entry

On our trip through Sri Lanka we have a longer stay on the beautiful beach of Mirissa. From here we take a day trip to Matara to visit the architectural remains from the Dutch colonial era and the impressive shrine of Parevi Duwa.

I look at the map to see what else is interesting in Matara. I notice a picture of a huge Buddha statue. It looks interesting and we decide to take a detour to the Weherahena Poorwarama Rajamaha Viharaya monastery (වෙහෙරහේන පූර්වාරාම රජමහා විහාරය).

The journey is longer than it looks on the map. When we get there, we are the only visitors.

Leon slept through the ride in the tuk tuk and woke up again just in time to visit the monastery. A little surprised, but awake.

The 180-year-old monastery is located on a hill with a beautiful view of rice fields. I expect to see the giant Buddha straight away, but no. Not a sign. We pay 500 rupees per person for a monk to guide us through the monastery. The man takes us into a vault full of colorful frescoes that show the sometimes nefarious life of Siddhartha Gautama before his awakening as a “Buddha.”

The images show lively celebrations and scenes from landscapes and cities in bright colors. As with a comic, it is easy to follow the progression of a story through the scenes depicted.

I could spend days looking at these beautiful pictures and discovering the stories behind them.

Like a labyrinth, corridors run in all directions. First we turn left with the monk who leads us, then right, up and down, with no discernible system.

We have long since lost our thread, we simply marvel at the colorful depictions on the walls and hope that there is no Minotaur waiting for us at the end of the labyrinth.

A shrine in the vault was donated by Thailand. I recognize the form of the Buddha. At another shrine we all receive a blessing while the monk ties a white cord with a knot around each of our arms.

Then the monk lets us run free and we explore the space that has now become free. We spread out like the bats that are hanging over our heads and have obviously moved in here permanently.

Is this Kama Sutra or religion?

The frescoes show images that one would expect to find in the Kama Sutra, but not in a religious place. I am amazed at the revealing depiction of scantily clad young ladies and couples making love.

Don’t the ascetic monks go crazy when they see the erotic images every day?

Stairs lead up several floors and through the open walls we can now see that we are standing at the back of the giant Buddha statue that I saw on the map.

We climb up as high as we can and look out over the vast landscape and the statue’s massive shoulders. We climb back down the steps and then stand like dwarves in front of this giant.

What a mighty Buddha

It’s slowly getting time to go back home. We wake up our tuk tuk driver James and grab the scooter to drive through the heavy traffic back to Mirissa.

We will soon leave the beautiful beach. Our next destination is Tissimaharama. There you can see a lake with huge fruit bats. But above all it is the starting point for our safari in Yala.

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