Four hours drive north of Colombo, on a not so unusually hot and windy July morning, the Gamage family have finally reached their destination – Anuradhapura; one of the ancient capital cities of Sri Lanka and now a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s said that the city was established around a cutting from the ‘Tree of Enlightenment’, or Buddha’s fig tree, around the 3rd Century BC. It’s a popular spot for both practicing Buddhist and tourists alike.
The Gamage family are on their annual pilgrimage to one of Anuradhapura’s most notable stupas, Ruwanwelisaya.
Stupas are unique Buddhist structures designed as massive hemispherical domes, topped with a spire. These unusual buildings are frequently visited by devotees for prayer and meditation as it is said they contain either Buddhist relics or esteemed religious artefacts.
There are around 17 eminent stupas in Sri Lanka as well as an abundance of Buddhist temples and shrines. No wonder, as statistically, over 70% of Sri Lanka’s population are Buddhist – and with over 21.4million people, that’s a lot of enthusiasts!