Mulkirigala Caves boast a remarkable temple and monastery carved out of a large rock formation. Situated in the Hambantota district in the south of the island, this temple is a Raja Maha Viharaya denoting its royal beginnings and patronage thereafter. The south coast of Sri Lanka offers beautiful beaches, places of worship, wildlife sanctuaries but off the beaten track, where village life progresses at slower pace, you will find my favourite attraction – the Mulkirigala Temple.
The perfect short trip
I set out in the morning from the Tangalle town with my able Tuk Tuk driver Tharaka to be greeted at the destination by a smiling face selling Lotus flowers. Dressed respectfully in jeans and longs sleeved white shirt I was ready. It was not a hard climb but the steep steps and the mandatory lack of footwear had me breathless at times but encouraged by the three year old before me who refused to be carried by her mother, I persevered and it was well worth it. The rock can make things quite hot so an early morning or late afternoon trip is recommend and the whole experience took about two hours making it an ideal short trip from my stay in Tangalle.
The temple was first constructed in the 3rd century BC by King Saddhatissa and thereafter received the attention of all major successive kings. The temple consists of five levels with the steps winding through it and each level holds a compound with intricate carvings and paintings and sometimes a Bo Tree. It was nice to pause and ponder at each level as I admired the colours and the work of the painters and sculptors of the days gone by.
This is still not a well-known tourist destination and you will mostly meet locals on pilgrimage or family trips, though it is not uncommon to have the sanctuary of the temple all to yourself. When I climbed to the top and came to the foot of the white Stupa all was serene. There were whispers of the monk chanting next to me and some ladies in prayer up head. The views certainly helped and so did the calming smell of incense. This is begging to sound like a melancholy poem I know, but the Stupa was quiet, bare, and raw and coupled with the knowledge of its history made it one of my most memorable excursions.
Harshi Hewage is the Marketing Manager at Manor House Concepts.If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.