Buduruwagala - 'Rock of Buddhist Sculptures'

The winding dirt road passes endless rows of paddy fields and marshes, alongside which are sagging trees crowded by migrating birds pausing for rest. We reach a clearing, the end of the journey by car. A monk, emerging from a nearby building, explains that the path ahead must be done by foot. But, first, a small donation would be appreciated. 

The sound of the breeze blowing as we walk across the path, which divides the jungle on either side of us, can be heard through the trees, intermittently broken by the squawks of startled birds. A large monitor lizard slowly ambles along the path, but becomes alerted to the presence of intruders and dashes into the brush.

Suddenly, a large rock appears in front of us, rising like a wall. Seven magnificent sculptures carved directly onto the rock shine in the sun. At the center, standing tall, is Buddha and on either side of him stands three figures. Welcome to Wellawaya, Sri Lanka; to Buduruwagala, the 'Rock of Buddhist Sculptures'.

Carved into the 300 foot long and 70 foot high boulder is a 51-foot standing Buddha, possibly Dipankara, a past Buddha.

Shoes must be removed before climbing the low, rock-cut steps to the platform; a token of respect. Barefooted, we stand in front of seven towering Mahayana sculptures all carved directly into the rock. They are Buddha and his Bodhisattvas, beings who halted their enlightenment in order to help others.

Flanking either side of the Buddha are two trios of Bodhisattvas. On the right of Buddha: an unidentified Bodhisattva, and the Bodhisattvas Maitreya, the Future Buddha, and on the extreme right, Vajrapani, respectively. On the left of Buddha: Sudhanakumar, Avalokitesvara, the white painted figure, and his consort, Tara. The Sri Lankan archaeologist Paranavitana dated these carvings to the 9th century, although the lotus platform the Buddha stands upon was carved far later. Cracks at Buddha's feet indicate that they fell off and were perhaps later reattached when the lotus platform was constructed.

A candle-holder sits in front of the lotus platform; flower petals are strewn across the feet of the Buddha and in front of the lotus. People still journey to pray to Buddha and the Boddhisattvas. Many believe mustard seed oil is produced directly from within the rock and exudes from a hole near the feet of the Buddha.

The walk back to the car is different than before. Monkeys scamper around the rocks. Birds chirp aloud while trees rustle quietly. A feeling of calmness settles among us as we begin our drive back to Kelburne. We will have much to reflect and discuss at dinner-time.

Trekking through tea fields…

It was a beautiful day out: the sun was shining, but there was a slight breeze to keep the temperature comfortable. The perfect day for a walk.

I put on my walking shoes and headed out the door, camera in hand. I wandered through my cottage’s personal garden, taking in the sights of the brightly colored flowers and lush, green grass, and enjoying the chirping of the birds in the distance. I turned on to the estate’s cobbled road, and it was at this point that I decided to veer off the path and be adventurous by hiking through the tea bushes.

 Of course, I did not know if this was allowed but I figured as long as I didn’t step on anything or destroy the bushes, it would be okay. It was quite a hike. I had never realized that the terrain these bushes were planted on was actually quite steep, but  fortunately my sturdy shoes were supportive and gave me the feeling of balance.

As I climbed upwards, my path crossed with that one of the tea pluckers. There were a few of them out this morning, burlap sacks draped over their heads and lying against their backs, sticks in hand. Brightly clad, one tea plucker was slightly distanced from the others. I smiled and waved, she waved back, a bit perplexed as to what I was doing but obviously not bothered too much as she soon returned to work. I took a minute to watch her, envying how nimble her fingers were, picking out what looked like two leaves and a bud and throwing them in handfuls into her bag. I asked her to show me, I tried it, and I was so slow – at the rate I was going, I would probably only be able to make two cups of tea in three days.

I decided to continue on with my journey. I said thank you, waved good-bye, and as I departed slyly glanced down at her feet…barefoot! Not only strong and quick with her fingers, she could nimbly zig-zag between the tea bushes of the rocky terrain without faltering. Amazing.

I continued my climb, taking a break when I reached the road. I decided I would continue my steep journey up the side of the mountain, of course finding the most suitable and reasonable path to go up. Every now and then I would stop for a drink of water and turn around to see how much progress I had made, the breeze cooling me down as I caught my breath.

Finally, I made it to the top. I was proud of myself; although it looked like a relatively tame journey, I was out of breath.  Phew…but then my breath was taken away again by the fantastic view.  My own cottage looked so small, and the landscape sprawling below it was even more incredible. I sat there for awhile, contemplating nothing . . . no thoughts, no opinions, no chaos. Just basking in the peace and quiet, the glorious view . . . I truly was on top of the world. 

Sooner than I expected, it was time to make my way back to the cottage where I knew a delicious butter cake and cup of freshly brewed tea would be waiting for me. 

Welcome to Kelburne!

Fresh air. Quiet. Breathtaking beauty. Relaxation.

These are all thoughts that pass through your mind at some point during your stay on the Kelburne tea plantation in the Uva Valley. 

Nestled snugly within a tea estate are the three Kelburne Mountain View cottages: Aerie, Wildflower, and Rose. Their colonial architectural design remains, yet renovation has added the comforts and amenities of modern times.

In essence, you can feel as if you have stepped into the past . . . but while enjoying the comforts of luxurious soft furnishings and hot water.

The name of the game is relaxation. Whether you meditate daily, occasionally, or never, your stay at the Kelburne Mountain View cottages opens you up to the word ‘relax’, taking you away from the hustle and bustle, the sounds, and the stresses that constantly surround you in your daily life. Here, you listen to nature, to the weather, to your family and friends, and most importantly, to yourself.

But perhaps the best aspect, the most breathtaking part, is the view. The Kelburne cottages provide a unique view of Sri Lanka…overlooking five provinces, allowing  you to glimpse the flashes of the lighthouses at night, and on the clearest of days to see the ocean sparkling in the horizon. On a misty day, you live within the clouds as they settle on each cottage, enveloping you within their folds.

So….enjoy yourself and relax, because ultimately when you leave you feel fresh, reinvigorated, and wishing you had a stayed just bit longer. 

Kelburne Mountain View

                                                                               No visit to our beautiful island is complete without a trip to the province of Uva, known for its delicately flavored and aromatic tea. High in the mountains of Uva, breathe in fresh air, hear the sounds of nature around you, and at night see the twinkling stars so close that you can almost touch them.

Your visit to Uva will take you through golden-green fields of tea to Haputalé (Hapu-thalé) town and the historic Haputalé Pass, where Keppitipola held the British at bay (1817). From Haputalé access to archaeological sites, wildlife habitats, and the beach are within easy reach.

One mile from the town center are the Kelburne Mountain View Cottages, nestled in the midst of a tea estate. Perched at the edge of a cliff 5,000 feet above sea-level, the cottage overlook five provinces: the Eastern, the Southern, the Western, Sabaragamuwa, and the Uva. Old timers say that from Kelburne you can see forever.

Sitting on the terrace of our colonial-style cottages, you will marvel at the vista that spreads before you. The rolling hills and valleys below will make you feel as if you are soaring through the sky like a Kite gliding on the wind currents. The incredible view is only the beginning. Walk through tea fields while watching colorfully clad tea-pluckers, visit a tea factory, relax to the gentle sounds of dragonflies flitting across the garden of your personal cottage, and sip the freshest tea in all of Sri Lanka.

Come to where time stands still. Stay at Kelburne Mountain View.