An Amazing Hindu Temple, and other sights in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
In the morning, we had a leisurely two hour breakfast by the lake.
We had not intended to have a two hour breakfast, but service is sometimes slow at our understaffed boutique hotel.
But because the breakfast was delicious and gourmet, we did not mind waiting.
It is such a scenic spot, and it was lovely dining while being surrounded by the wildlife In the lake.
After breakfast we drove over to the seaside town of Trincomalee, on the northeastern shores of Sri Lanka.
The drive was beautiful, as we passed by verdant rice fields and natural wildlife reserves.
Along the way, we came to a town with many roadside stalls selling Buffalo milk curd (yogurt) in unglazed clay pots.
These clay pots are not refrigerated, and yet they can keep the curd fresh, even outdoors in the hot sun, for about two weeks.
We stopped to try it.
It was served drizzled with coconut honey or Jaggery made from Toddy Palm and coconuts.
It was creamy and delicious, with a firm consistency like soft-serve ice cream.
Our first stop in Trincomalee was one of the most amazing Hindu temples I have ever seen.
It is called Sri Pathra Kali Aman.
The outside was decorated with elaborate sculptures of deities and mystical animals, but it was the temple interior that took my breath away.
The rendition of Hindu folklore stories in the form of psychedelic sculptures was breathtaking.
Everywhere I looked, my mouth dropped with admiration for their creativity.
The whole building could have won tons of attention and awards if it were displayed as an extravagant art installation at the Venice Art Biennale.
Just as we arrived, a ceremony started, as a drummer and a horn player announced the beginning of the midday service.
In the inner shrine, Hindu priests made offerings and blessings to the Goddess Kali.
A few people sat on the floor of the temple and chanted, while outside several women cooked coconut milk rice.
Outside, a few other women were sitting on the ground, preparing a vegetable curry meal.
They were so friendly and simply delighted by the interest we showed in what they were doing.
Unlike in many other parts of the world, here many Hindu people we have met take it as a compliment that we take their photos.
They view it as if we find them interesting and exotic.
Many times they even come to us and pose in front of us saying:
“You Take! Take!”
“Take what?” I ask.
“Picture, you take my picture,” is the inevitable answer, always delivered with a warm smile.
There is another Hindu temple in Trincomalee, located inside Fort Fredrick on top of the cliffs, where the ocean waves break onto the rocks below.
It is called Koneswaram Kovil.
The area of the fort is full of deer roaming around and being adored by the many pilgrims who come to see this temple.
The pilgrims walk to the temple on a pedestrian road that is lined with shops selling hats, sweets, fresh juice, souvenirs, photos of Hindu deities in 3D holograms, toys for kids, wood carvings, baskets, flip flops, beads, jewelry and much more.
We had to leave our shoes by the entrance and walk a long way to the top of the cliffs where the temple is located.
Baskets made of wood sticks and silk ties hung from trees, as blessings and prayers offered by the people.
Inside the temple, I saw a few young men, each carrying a whole coconut and circling around the inner shrine a few times.
Then they went just outside the temple door, and they smashed their coconuts, one at a time, on a black rock until juice and coconut pieces were splattered everywhere.
A group of young women came to ask me to take selfies with them.
I posed for many photos and individual selfies with each girl.
A man came to me and said,
“Bless the Lord!
You know that you are God?
I am small and you are big.
You understand what I am saying?
I am small and you are big.
You understand what I am saying?”
“Yes, I understand your words, but I do not agree.
I am big and you are big too.
We are both gods,” I said.
“No, you refuse to accept your divinity.
You ARE BIG, and I am small!,”
he said, and with a huff, went to talk to Jules.
“Sir, good day to you, Bless the Lord!
Do you know that you can be really bright?
You will shine bright like a light?,”
He asked Jules, who was struggling with his malfunctioning camera.
“Yes, I am bright now, said Jules.
“No sir, you do not understand.
Not as a human, but as a god, you have a light.
As a human, you do not shine bright,
But as a god, you are bright.
You understand what I am saying?”
Jules quickly realizing that unless we want to argue esoteric philosophy in broken English for an hour, he must agree, said:
“Yes, I completely understand and I agree.”
“Good!” said the man, and continued on his walk.
Nearby, we visited a small Buddhist temple with a large white Buddha statue standing on the rocks overlooking the shores where the fishermen kept their boats.
The name of the temple, Girihandu Seya, roughly translates to “Stupa on top of the rock.”
The small temple is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest Buddhist temples, created while the Buddha was alive. It is said to commemorate the place where the Buddha arrived in Sri Lanka, when he came on one of his three visits.
The beaches were wide, the seas were rough, and fishermen kept their boats on the shore.
A few shops along the beach offered boating, diving and water sports.
There were also many down-market room rentals along the shore of the town.
The better hotels are out of town, on the northern shores.
Next to the fresh fish market, there are many shops selling a variety of dried fish.
Dried fish is eaten as a salty condiment and is added to curry meals, or cooked in soups and curries.
Across the street from those shops, fishermen were drying their catch of small fish on burlap sacks set out by the road.
There are very old, natural Hot springs tubs that were used by the Buddhist monks living here, nearly two thousands years ago.
The hot springs flow into small stone baths, and people come to bathe here.
They do not allow the use of soap or shampoo, nor do they allow nudity.
Women in their saris and men in their sarongs, pour buckets of hot water on their heads.
Kids do run around in their underwear.
There are lots of Toddy tree groves in Trincomalee.
The fruit from the Toddy tree is used for making desserts; they eat the white flower and fruit, and they also make alcohol which they call Toddy Arak.
The city of Trincomalee, like many other cities in Sri Lanka, is not geared for leisure and comfort.
People have very little disposable income, and so cafes in which people sit with their lap tops and a cappuccino, are non existent outside of Colombo.
The sidewalks are broken bits of pavement, and the shops that line the roads are auto repair shops, car tire shops, motorcycle garages and shops, a few used electronic shops and mobile phone shops, snack kiosks, cigarette and lottery shops, cheap clothing, kitchenware, and fabric stores, and other similar utilitarian offerings.
I found on Google a restaurant that offered more relaxed seating.
Even though the food was not fabulous, it was a relaxing break from the busy temples and shrines, although I have to admit that their Banana Roti drizzled with honey, was very yummy.
I really enjoyed our day in Trincomalee.
The temples were wild and stunning and it was nice to take a break from seeing ancient ruins.
With love and light,