Monday, September 19, 2016

Travel Monday: Feeling joy at the ancient Girihadu Seya

I had Girihadu Seya on my to-do list for 2016, and I managed to make a visit there. Girihadu Seya is situated in the Thiriyaya region of the Trincomalee District. It is located atop a 212ft rock near the Yan Oya estuary, and you will need to climb at least 300 steps to reach the place. Girihadu Seya was apparently where Thappassu and Balluka (devotees of the Buddha), who traveled from India to Sri Lanka, apparently placed a lock of the Buddha's hair. It is said to be the first Stupa constructed in Sri Lanka.

This place is actually quite off the beaten track. You wouldn't visit unless you had heard about it or where in the north-eastern part of the island. Although it is not as well-known, I found it to be an amazing place form an energetic perspective. You've heard me talk about energies and the feel of places in some of my past blogs, and this was definitely one of the few places in Sri Lanka where I've felt this uniquely joyful feeling.

Girihadu Seya came onto my radar because of a friend's recent visit to the place. I had never heard of this place nor the history behind it.The pictures and their experience just really intrigued me. I was fortunate to have been traveling in the north of Sri Lanka and it wasn't exactly on the itinerary for the road trip, but then I saw the turn-off sign, and I thought "I'm really meant to visit this place".

When you arrive at the place, there is ample parking space and once you have parked your vehicle or have been dropped off, you walk past the buildings till you get to the ticket box. Tourists are charged a nominal fee, but pilgrims are able to enter free of charge.


After passing through the entrance you come to a large sign and then a large pond set below the large rock mount.


There weren't many visitors on the day I visited. It was already quite late in the afternoon and as I began to make the climb up there were a couple of tourists and their guide making their way down. My suggestion would be to either climb in the early morning or late afternoon as it would be far too hot at other times. The north of Sri Lanka is very hot so it's best to keep to cooler times. Water is also an issue in the north so carry bottled water to drink. There is a sink and tap near the top of the large rock mount to wash your face but I wouldn't recommend drinking this water.


The climb is manageable and actually not as tough as I expected. The only thing I found uncomfortable was the heat and humidity as I was climbing. The path up the mountain and the steps are well-maintained. I was actually surprised at how well maintained it was.

On the way up there is a sign indicating some ancient Brahmi script carved on the cave or rock face.


When you reach the top I'd be suprised if you're not a little drenched with perspiration. I certainly was, but I made use of the sink and tap to cool myself down a bit. From this vantage point you are up close and personal with a small ancient dagoba and you also have a bit of a panorama of the land and forests below. Most of which is protected as an archaeological reserve.


After taking this in, I climbed the rest of the way up. The first thing you see is the akasacetiya and vatadage. At a visual level it has many architectural and archaeological features worth noting - from the makara balustrades, carvings, moonstones, striking guardstones and more.


I had to take a few moments to just feel and experience the energy of the place.  There are only three other places in Sri Lanka that have given me as strong or similar rapturous feeling. I was literally feeling full body tingles while standing inside the vatadage looking at the akasacetiya. My mind was relatively spacious and light and tears started falling in a joyful way. I can't guarantee this will happen to you, but it certainly blew my socks off, figuratively of course. I think this photo may show something a little special...


There are other ruins scattered around the vatadage and you can walk around to investigate what these might have been.


After staying awhile to absorb the good energy, the climb down the large rock mount was relatively easeful. By that time it was little cooler, or at least the sun had dropped a little lower. I enjoyed taking in the wonderful greens as I mindfully made my way, step-by-step, down to the bottom.


At the ticket office, I spoke briefly to the monk. I wanted to make some kind of donation and they are apparently in need of funds for a building project. You can make donations towards tiles for the project and so I made an offering towards two tiles.


I even got to take them and offer them at a shrine... It was a lovely way to end the visit.


And of course, there were lots of monkeys sitting around waiting for bananas or some kind of edible food.



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