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Fa Hien is a cave in Sri Lanka, located in the south western part of the country, in the area of Kalutara. Fa Hien cave is an important archaeological site which has human skeletal remains from the late Pleistocene. The oldest fragments of the human bones are the skeletal remains of three children and two adults. They also show a secondary burial, when the dead bodies were exposed in the jungle and placed in graves after they decomposed and cleansed by the predators. The cave was named after a Buddhist monk FaxianÂ (Wade-Giles: Fa Hien). TheÂ Late PleistocenehumanÂ skeletalÂ remains discovered in the 1960s and 1980s, along which the first humanÂ burialsÂ in the cave were uncovered in 1968 by DrÂ Siran U. Deraniyagala. He was a part of the Sri Lankan government department of archaeology and returned with an assistant, W. H. Wijepala, in 1988. The main findings form the caves comprised ofÂ microliths, the remains of ancient fires, and the remains of plants and human beings. It was shown byÂ radiocarbon dating that the cave had been occipied from about 33,000 to 4,750 years ago, from the Late Pleistocene to the Middle Holocene. The human remains from the different levels were taken to the HumanÂ BiologyÂ LaboratoryÂ atÂ Cornell University, where they were studied by DrÂ Kenneth A. R. KennedyÂ and one of his graduate students,Â Joanne L. Zahorsky. The oldest fragments of human bone came from a young child, two older children, a juvenile, and two adults, and showed evidence of being secondary burials: that is, after death, the bodies were exposed, and afterÂ decompositionÂ and the predations ofÂ scavengers, the bones were placed in graves. The later remains included those of a young child, about 6,850 years old, and a young woman, nearly about 5,400 years old. These discoveries are important toÂ archaeologistsÂ andÂ palaeontologistsÂ because the earliest of the people buried in the Cave lived at the same time asÂ EuropeanÂ Cro-Magnon manÂ and otherÂ hominidsÂ of the LateÂ PleistoceneÂ around the world. Studies of the teeth found in the cave indicate that the population ofÂ Sri LankaÂ ground nuts, seeds, and grains in stoneÂ quernsÂ in the preparation of food, and that they continued to live asÂ hunter-gatherers until about the eighth century BC.Â This shows that Sri LankaÂ has yielded the earliest known microliths, which didn't appear inÂ EuropeÂ until the Early Holocene.
It is located approximately forty kilometers away from Colombo in the city of Kalutara, the third largest city in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. Named after the sparkling "Kalu Ganga" river, Kalutara has a rich history as it once was an important spice trading centre in the region. Today, it is one of the more popular cities of the country, and is home to several beautiful features and magnificent attractions. One of the city's most famous and legendary attractions is the Kalutara Temple, one of Sri Lanka's most holiest and most beautiful temples. Home to the only hollow stupa in the world, this temple boasts of a rich history, beautiful structures, marvellous monuments, and an unparalleled spiritual ambience. The beauty and tranquillity of this magnificent, grand temple attracts not only Buddhists, but also members of other religious communities as well as tourists. The temple is located south of the Kalutara Bridge and overlooks the river. It is a must-see attraction for any tourist, as it imparts an experience which represents the spiritual as well as cultural lifestyle of the folk of Sri Lanka. Being built on the site of an ancient Portuguese Fort, the temple was built in the1960's.Â Within the cool walls of the stupa of this temple are seventy four beautifulÂ muralsÂ that depict various jataka katha. The people who visit for the purpose of praying preform rituals and offerings of oil-lamps, flowers, and incense. Some even are seen pouring water to the roots of the sacred Bo Tree when doing their poojas. An interesting tradition is that almost every motorist who passes by the temple, stops, offers a few coins and prays for a safe journey. A visit to this site offers a spiritual and cultural experience amidst a peaceful atmosphere, by which you will surely be inspired.Â The visitors who intend to stay have options ofÂ Kalutara hotelsÂ that can make reservation with The Sands by Aitken SpenceÂ Hotels. This hospitality group has a number of luxuryÂ hotels, where Sri Lanka isÂ in the key locations around the country. There hotels are known to for their excellent service and the legendary Sri Lankan hospitality, theyÂ offerÂ tranquil accommodation and a range of luxury facilities and services which will make your stay in this tropical haven most comforting and memorable. Therefore this temple is surely one of the most attractive and magnificent places see when visiting Kalutara,
Bodhinagala Aranya Senasanaya can be reached by traveling about three miles from Ingiriya town and then take the left turn from bodhinagalaa road. After traveling about one and half miles you will reach the forest. The Dombagaskanda Forest Reservation where this place is situated was named in 1955. This beautiful place is on a claim and natural environment. In South East of this beautiful forest area, flows the Kalu River and that slope area is rich in herbal plants and southern wet zone plants inheritable to this area. There are about twenty to twenty five monks meditating in the caves situated here and there in this Aranya Senasana. The meditative monks come out from the caves only when they eat and then they go back to the caves in the forest. This area is very calm and high in security. Many foreigners and local visitors come to visit this Aranya Senasana. It is situated surrounding a Buddhist temple; this tropical rain forest is rich in fauna and flora and is a good birding venue in the western province, close toÂ Colombo. There are close to one hundred and fifty species of birds recorded including several endemics such as Legge's Flowerpecker, Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Spot-winged Thrush and the endangered Green-billed Coucal. Some of the other birds recorded here include Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Large Cuckooshrike and Indian Blue Robin. Some of the reptiles recorded here are Earless Lizard and Humped-nosed Lizard. You can also see a wide variety of butterflies which includes Yamfly, Malayan, Tawny Rajah and Cingalese Bushbrown. You could also find many fish species such as Giant Danio, Smooth-breasted Snakehead, Horadandiya and the rare Jonklaas's Loach. For visitors going along to a temple is free and meditation teaching is also free. The Buddhist belief is that religion should be free, open and truthful. It is a custom, if you go to a temple, to take a small offering such as flowers or food. If you talk to a master for long periods, you may wish to leave a small donation. For some activities such as public talks, meditation courses, retreats; a charge is made, because the expenses involved in organizing them can be substantial. The teaching is not supposed to be denied to people who lack financial accumulation. Hence the temple and the forest both are very attractive sites next to each other for the tourists and Buddhists visiting the area.
The Nachichimale temple is a famous Vipassana meditation center, with map coordinates 6Â°46'26"N andÂ 80Â°12'20"E. This makes it easier for us to find the temple on the map when we are travelling around in Sri Lanka. The nearby cities around the Nachichimale temple are Homagama, Kalutara and Panadura, which make the locating the temple easier to find for tourists. A water stream passing by the side of the aranya creates a calm cool environment that is ideal for meditation. The meditation helps prevent stress from getting into the system and works in releasing accumulated stress in the system. On the physical level meditation helps in lowering high blood pressure, lowers the levels of blood lactate and reduces anxiety attacks. It also decreases any tension related pain, such as tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems. Moreover it increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior, improves the immune system and increases the energy level, as you gain inner source of energy. On the mental level it decreases anxiety, improves emotional stability, increases creativity, increases happiness, and develops your intuition as you gain clarity and peace in mind. All of your problems become smaller as your mind is sharpened from gaining focus through relaxation. This amazing balance of a sharp mind and expanded consciousness brings perfection to your inner soul. Meditation is like a seed, when you cultivate a seed with love, the more it blossoms. Similarly, the sapling of consciousness is within you and temples like these help you in the process of attaining the strong power that is within you. The most popular bathing spot in the temple is along the water stream, called Pareithota. The stream is very popular for its fresh water and natural pool like existence for the tourists. The water stream is a beautiful site for the people to enjoy that gives them a calm feeling inside as they watch the ripples and wave motion in the water. This temple is a lovely place for people to relax and grow internally by the help of meditation. The experience of visiting this temple is very memorable for people as it offers them a chance to indulge in their inner self and experience the power they hold in their souls. So it is highly advisable that you visit this temple when you are taking a tour of Sri Lanka.
Calido beach is a very popular beach not only among the local residents but also among tourists and is clearly visible when you cross the Kula Ganga, the black river in the Galle road or parallel rail way track in Kalutara, Sri Lanka. The Black river gets a nighty degree turn closer to Kalutara Bodhiya and runs few kilometers along the beach before reaching the sea. Calido Beach is a thin piece of land, which runs in between Kalu Ganga and the sea. The Kalutara urban council maintains the Calido beach area to protect its natural beauty. Many locals and tourists never forget to step into this magnificent beach area, mainly the devotees come to visit the 'Kalutara Bodhiya', a famous Buddhist temple. In 2005, this area was destroyed because of Tsunami which took lives of thousands of people who were at the beach and in the Black river. Currently there is nothing remaining except the beach which also has sandy area where football is played. The beach was declared as a tourist zone in the last year by the government and the management was given to one of the local leading Casino operating centers in Colombo. The Government focuses on developing Kalutara district including the scenic Calido beach in to a tourist destination.Â Accordingly Kalutara is also be made into a fully accommodated religious city while establishing a holiday resort and other facilities that is required for tourists. Deputy Minister of Ports and Aviation Rohitha Abeygunawardena stated that the development work including construction of holiday resorts and Cafeteria's in the area will be completed by 2011. A special boat service was said to commence from Kalu Ganga up to Caldio beach facilitating those who visit the Kalutara Bodhiya to view the beauty of the coast. In 2011, a proposal was put forward to have a nude beach in Kalutara and Stardust Casino, which was approved and it made Calido beach the first nude beach in Kalutara. Some argue that the location of the nude beach is highly irrelevant since the location is surrounded by many holy places along with schools in the area and criticize the government's approval of the proposal. However the beach has still become a popular site where locals and tourist visit when they want to enjoy the view of the beach, on their way to other attractions in the city.
One and half kilometer ahead from Platota junction we reach the Richmond Park Estate, where the Richmond Castle is situated. It was said to be one of the biggest mansions in Sri Lanka. The Richmond Castle is a superbÂ hybridÂ of Indian and British architecture that was copied from the plans of an Indian Maharaja's palace designed by a London architect. Richmond Castle in Kalutara is a two-storied building with fifteen rooms. All the rooms are naturally air-conditioned with it having ninety-nine door frames, thirty eight windows and one roof covering the entire mansion. The whole building is characterized by elaborate carvings. There was a dancing hall with a stage as an added feature. There were tiny holes at the floor of dancing room, to provide a continuous flow of cool air from the bank of Kulu River.Â Italian and Scottish glass windows and mirrors, and shiploads of timber from Burma, were imported to build this superb construction and is complete with a stable, workers' quarters, guard rooms, dancing floor and all requirements for a luxury life. Richmond Castle has a fascinating history; it was built in 1896 and is considered to be one of the most spectacular architectural works of the period. It was built for a regional governor turned philanthropist with an impossibly long name, Padikara-Mudaliyar Rajawasala Appuhamilage Don Arthur de Silva Wijesinghe Siriwardena (1888-1949).This castle reveals a fascinating story of a millionaire whose life turned from a strange fairy tale into surmounting despair. Since the Mudaliyar was a lover of nature, he had decorated the garden with blooming plants and marble statues. Even today some of the statues still stand in the Garden. Folklore said the Mudliyar was childless and not happy with his marriage. At the end of his marriage when he was too lost, he devised his dream castle to the Public Trustee for the welfare of the children of the country. He breathed his last in 1947 alone, in a room at the Queen's Hotel in Kandy. Once a palace, emanating unending sounds of joy and happiness, hundreds of parties attracting aristocrats, noblemen, and the upper echelon but became an old-fashioned ghostly palace, lying in isolation amidst the forest. Richmond Castle has now been converted into a Montessori school for underprivileged children, and is also a popular tourist attraction. Many of the people visit the Richmond's Castle and are mesmerized by its beautiful architecture and beauty.
Rankoth Viharaya, Panadura
Rankoth Viharaya is the most prominent Buddhist attraction in Panadura, situated seventeen miles away from Colombo. This temple was built on the top of a natural rock and can be viewed from the far distance. In the early days this place was known as the 'Galkanda Viharaya" and renamed as Rankoth Viharaya in 1890 after Pagoda was build. The name Rankoth means Golden Pinnacle and according to the belief the Rankoth Vihara Bo tree was older than the temple itself. Many people come to this place, to do the pooja and to recieve the blessing of this temple. The shrine room of the Rankoth vihara was decorated with large number of murals. These again depict many incidence of the life of the Load Buddha and the many Jathaka Stories, as do many of them present in other Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The old library building is located on the western side, where Buddha's relie, rare books and antiques are kept. On special occasions and Wesak Full moon days its doors are kept open and exhibited. Preaching hall bears its own unique features and appears to be Roman or Dutch architectural construction. It is a vast building that could accommodate thousands of people at a given time. It is used not only for "bana" preaching but to conduct many conferences that have religious and social value. Moreover the dwelling pace of the Bikkhu's has been built on 1830 A.D. It is a historical place, the top floor was used as an in camera study venue by Buddhist faction of the Panadura Controversy. Prior to great debate all necessary papers and references were also made here. In addition to all this, the temple conducts various social services; there is Sunday school and preschool providing Dhamma knowledge to children. The Prajapathi Gothami women's society organizes many social activities such as distributing school materials and essential goods to poor in the area. Newly formed Bodu Pubudu foundation, which consists of educated youth, has planned many long-term programs that would amnesty benefit the Buddhist community. The Buddhist laity of Panadura contributed immensely to the development and sustenance of this Viharaya. While the public contributed their mite, the affluent and the educated generously shouldered its developmental projects. Thus, it could be rightly said that the Panadura Rankoth Vihara amongst its many facets serves also as a symbol of the religiosity and devotion of the Panadura Buddhist population.
Kande Viharaya, Aluthgama
When you are travelling southwards from Colombo towards Galle, passing Beruwala you come across the "Kaluwamodara" bridge which is situated approximately fifty nine kilometers from Colombo. Turn left upon passing the bridge and travel approximately one kilometer towards "Kaalawila" to arrive at the Kande Viharaya. Travel time from Colombo is almost an hour. Kande Viharaya is located in Aluthgama, Kaluthra district. This temple got its name "Kande Viharaya" or the temple on the hill, because it is made at a top of a hill. The trees here add beauty to the environment, serenity to the hearts and minds of the pilgrims who visit the temple. Kande Viharaya Temple was established in year 1734 and became the regional Buddhist center. The Samadhi Buddha statue was constructed in the recent past and can be visible from a long distance. New Image House is located under this statue and depicts many Jathaka stories and incidents related to the life of Buddha, just like many other temples. This historical temple has enriched its importance with the presence of the Stupa, Bo Tree, Relic Chamber, Image House, Sri Vishnu Maha Devala and the four Maha Devalas including Kataragama Devale. Outside the vihara, the ancient Bo Tree, Sri Saranatissa Memorial Dhamma Hall and the Poya Seema meant for Vinaya Kamma are located. The bell shaped stupa found in the temple has been erected within an octagonal Shelter. At the base of the stupa there is a molding of flower petals and above it are the three basal terraces, then the dome and upon the dome the square enclosures with a Bo leaf engraving in each comer. Relic chamber here is supposed to be oldest building is the temple and the Bo tree has a history going back to more than 300 years. Sculptures for depicting the events relating to the bringing of the Branch of Sri Maha Bodhi to Sri Lanka are found inside the cells of the wall. It is an age old custom of devotees to pay homage to Buddha first and transfer merit to God Vishnu thereafter with the hope of receiving blessings. Also outside the temple there is the Seema Malaka where Vinaya Kamma is performed. The Buddha statue in this temple is the largest in Sri Lanka has been erected so as to depict the Weerasena posture on a lotus flower, making the location a very likely tourist attraction along with the Buddhists.