Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mihintale/Ambasthale Dagoba

My favorite thing we did in Sri Lanka was our visit to Mihintale and the Ambasthale Dagoba. And it's a side trip we almost didn't take!

Mihintale and the Ambasthale Dagoba are at the top of a prominent hill near Anuradhapura, and you reach them by climbing a lot of ancient stairs. (A dagoba/stupa is a Buddhist center of worship or meditation.)

We started our climb in the late afternoon, when the worst of the day's heat had passed. It was quiet and beautiful and we enjoyed walking among the fallen plumeria blossoms and trying to spot monkeys in the trees.

Speaking of: at one point, I gave Sterling a milk box to drink in the backpack. When he was (mostly) done with it, I held on to it as we climbed, keeping an eye out for a trash can. Instead, I got stalked by an aggressive monkey who very much wanted that milk box. I was determined to stand my ground, be a responsible tourist, and throw the box away in the trash, but there was no trash can anywhere and the monkey was getting increasingly brave. Finally, a passing Sri Lankan woman told me (in German!) that it would be safer to just give the monkey the milk box. So I did. And we all watched, fascinated, as it retreated up into a tree and tore open the milk box with its hands and teeth. Sometimes you wonder what your young children will remember about a certain vacation; I think my kids will remember THAT.

Closer to the dagoba, we had to take off our shoes and continue barefoot. I had never hiked barefoot before! The girls were entertained by the novelty of climbing up rocks in bare feet.

The view from the top was glorious. There was a nice breeze that cooled us down. This was especially nice for Jeremy and me because you have to wear long sleeves and pants to visit these religious sites.

We headed back down as the sun set, the end of a perfect visit. Thinking back, there was nothing about the dagoba/stupa structure itself that was amazing. What made this site my favorite was the effort required to reach it, and the rewarding views from the top in a peaceful, worshipful atmosphere. We had decided to go there almost on a whim, even though it was out of the way, and I'm so glad we did.


Julee said...

It looks so beautiful! I can only imagine the misery of hiking in jeans and long sleeves! I've been to Florida and the Midwest in the summer...not pleasant in jeans. Jeremy should have recorded the stealing of the milk box by the monkey. I will remember THAT about your trip too. So awesome!

Bridget said...

You know, I kept thinking that maybe Sri Lanka is a lot like Hawaii. Do you think so? The climate and surroundings, anyway.

Nancy said...

So amazing! I'm so glad you guys went—AND that you gave the monkey the milk box. Monkeys can be super aggressive!

My friend recently posted a video of her son on vacation in Indonesia nearly getting attacked by a monkey who decided it wanted his water bottle. She was filming and all of a sudden this monkey went all berserk in her 3-yr-old's face. Crazy sauce.

Kathy Haynie said...

I used to dress my kids in matching clothes on vacation - makes them so much easier to spot in a crowd and keep together. Love this post so much!

Bridget said...

Haha, yes, Kathy, that's exactly why I dressed them alike, too! It's much easier to keep track of them, and if one were to get separated from us, I'd just have to point to the other one and say "she looks like her." Glad you understand. :)

Crys said...

Monkeys are nuts...they look cute but then you see their mouth full of teeth and are like...never mind! Beautiful lookout. I like the idea of removing your shoes.

Liz Johnson said...

There is a serious spiritual metaphor in this. I love it.

Susanne said...

That looks like such a fantastic walk. I enjoyed your description of it and the pictures. I've not cared much for monkeys since an episode of The Amazing Race years ago when I saw how aggressive they were. I think that's where I saw them. I have this mental image anyway...maybe I read about them in books. Funny tale of of how the one wanted Sterling's drink!

When I heard you went to Sri Lanka, I couldn't help thinking of Twinny from TAR. :)


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