Today, we climbed a rock….but boy, was it impressive!! It is a granite peak, 370 metres tall which has been used and built around and on for well over 2000 years. BC….monks used the many caves around the base and constructed many areas amongst the huge rocks for worship and living. 470AD….. Construction of water and rock gardens, terraces, a palace and the fortification the king needed to stay safe as well as further monastic additions. Much of this construction is on the side or up on the top of this rock. Millions of bricks and slabs of limestone used for steps and paving still maintain some of the original structures though a lot is only suggested by the base left. To enter the fortified summit, you would walk up some steps which separate gigantic, carved paws of a lion carved from the solid rock. Very impressive! Half way up, on rock overhangs there were the remains of many well endowed women (500 originally) on frescoes. Opposite them, built around the rock on a ledge, is a long structure known as the Mirror Wall, which was created to reflect these frescoes but which contains grafitti from between the 4th and 14th century. Obviously, there were lots of steps going up, up and more up to get to all these ruins.
The afternoon saw us participating in some traditional daily activities….a bullock cart ride, riding a boat to collect lotus flowers, de-husking rice, making roti on an open fire in a traditional kitchen, making sambal using rocks, scraping the flesh from coconuts and weaving coconut fronds for matting. We also had a ride on an elephant.
One really interesting ‘quirk’ locally, is that lots farmers in this area need to protect their crops from wild elephants due to the national parks being so close. Driving around, lots of ‘tree houses’ can be seen and this is what farmers sleep in overnight so that they can frighten the elephants off with crackers and other loud noisy things if the elephants come into their fields.