It was a 5.00 am start and if you ask me I am no fan of 5.00 am starts. Five in the morning is for being sound asleep but it was not to be because we had plan to catch up the sunrise at Kudumbigala Monastery in Eastern Sri Lanka. We were far away from the monastery when the sunrise happened and yet it was a beautiful place to be!
The Kudumbigala Monastery is close to Kumana National Park in Ampara. We were staying at Arugam Bay so it was about one hour drive to Kudumbigala Monastery.
Our first stop was an elephant stop! We spotted a wild elephant right from the bus. So the driver parked the bus and we got out of the door to catch a few pictures. Two of my group members were not content with the far away view. They started walking towards the elephant! It was their lucky day, the elephant decided to walk away rather than charge. They were called back before they decided to chase it further in the jungle!
After the eventful pit stop, we halted where the group was splitting into two. Some of the group members decided to head to the Kumana National Park directly. A few of us tried to change our mind, I was in that group, but we were told the vehicle arrangements were such that last minute changes were not possible!
So off we went to the foot of the Kudumbigala Monastery to start our hike. By now, even though it was still early in the morning, the sun felt strong.
Mid way we spotted a cave, with decorated doors. From what I gather on the internet the Monastery Complex is old, the caves as old as before common era. In the modern times, the whole Eastern Region of Sri Lanka has passed through difficulties during the unrest. Thankfully times are changing now.
The hike was a short one. Some of the hike is on stone and it is steep. There are steel fences on those stretches. While going I was sure there was no need for the fences. While coming down I was thankful they were there.
Dileep Mudadeniya, the big shot of marketing from the Cinnamon Hotels always maintained that the views from the top were fabulous. He was absolutely right. Just for the views from the top, the 5.00 am start was worth it. The first picture of the post gives you some idea of the views!
We took a lot of time to move from the top. By now the sun was getting hot, I was in the group which went straight to the bottom to our waiting vehicles. Others were taking a lot of time. I didn’t realize it but there was another complex which they went to see.
I was happy to sit in the vehicle, click bee eaters and watch a large group of locals who were on a pilgrimage to the region. It felt like home, buses full of people, cooking on open fire, someone was fetching water from the hand pump, others grating coconut for the meal!
Gradually the group got together again and we headed to the Kumana National Park, but it is a separate tale!
PS. I was part of select bunch of global bloggers who were invited to attend Cinnamon TBC Asia 2016.