James and I visited Anuradhapura, an ancient capital city in Sri Lanka. We walked alongside pilgrims who were visiting a circuit of ancient temples. In addition to this once being a capital city, it could be described as the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is close to where the first seeds of the philosophy were planted.
We were were struck by how quiet (and clean) these pilgrimage sites were. It also got me thinking about how much easier it is for people these days - the road infrastructure, the paved pathways, refreshments at every corner, lighting everywhere. This was markedly different from my last visit as a teenager. I can only imagine what it would have been like a 100 years ago.
The following morning, we headed to Mihintale. It is where Buddhist monk Mahinda (from India) and King Devanampiyatissa had an influential meeting that culminated in the spread of Buddhism across Sri Lanka.
Though I'm not one for religion, it is impressive how much devotion is embodied in this ancient site. My friend James and I walked through ancient courtyards, stupas, statues, and climbed a big rock that looks out across the region. Good fun!