A few weeks ago I went on a little tour to see some sights near Tangalle, the town where I'm living. This was courtesy of Teacher Indu and her family, a kind "thank you" for the computer-training lessons I've been giving her.
The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the visit to Mulkirigala Rock Monastery. It comprises caves on three levels, carved into a 200 metre-high lump of rock. Actually, they're not so much caves as low, shuttered-off recesses, each containing reclining Buddhas, statutes, wall paintings and other works of art. I liked the fact that it wasn't clinically pristine or all protected behind glass, and on a fairly human scale. Some of the Buddhas were, in fact, quite small. I couldn't quite understand why there would be a police station half-way up the rock but there it was! It was also nice that the route to the top was tree-lined and peaceful.
Near Dickwella we visited what is claimed to be the tallest seated Buddha on the island. It's 50 metres high and backed by a concrete building with stairs to the top. It's a bit of a monstrosity, to be honest, and devoid of architectural or historical merit but still, it's worth a visit for its sheer size and curiosity value. In the basement are scenes and paintings depicting life in Hell, with bodies shown being mutilated, sawn in half or impaled on stakes by fiendish, grinning devils. A surprising number of wrong-doers were white-skinned!
And finally, we stopped at the Blow Hole near Kudawella. The sea was calm so it wasn't blowing too much, but apparently you can get plumes of sea water up to 25 metres high on a rough day!