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For the past decade, both when I lived in Sri Lanka and since traveling every month for work, I have driven home past the Kelaniya Temple a few times a week. The thing is that in the evening traffic after work I am never really too disposed to going sightseeing and also the temple complex is surrounded by trees that don’t allow you to see the size or breadth of the area.

Last week, whilst traveling back to the hotel for a late meeting and with 15 minutes to spare I decided for the first time ever to stop and look at the place that always has a crowd outside day or night.

As I had the F2A with me with an 24/2.8 and loaded with Acros Neopan 100 – I was not the best set up for either a night time shoot or prepared for the size of what I found hiding behind the trees.

As a brief history lesson – Sri Lankan Buddhists believe that the Buddha visited Sri Lanka only three times in his life and that the second of these times (during the 5th year of Buddha-hood) was to Kelaniya in order to quell a quarrel between two Nāga leaders of two warring factions: Chulodara (literally “the small-bellied one”) and Mahodara (literally “the big-bellied one”).

They were quarrelling over a jewel-encrusted throne. After the Buddha showed them the futility of their quarrel they converted to Buddhism and together offered the throne to the Buddha. It is believed that the Dagoba seen today was built with the throne as a relic inside.

So not actually knowing the importance of the temple before entering I was shocked to find such a massive complex behind the trees.

The photos I took were not many (as I only had 15 mins and a surprising large area to cover) and all had to have me using the floor or walls to steady the camera for what were guesstimate exposures of between 10 and 15 seconds.

The man in the above photo is well known to anyone who has been a tourist in Sri Lanka – as he is the one who follows you around and tries to start any sort of conversation with you, generally started with the question “where from?” before telling you he knows someone who once went to your country and perhaps you know them.

Posted by simon on September 19, 2011

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