Special Feature — THE FORGOTTEN TEMPLE: Dakkinagiriya & the Other Kaludiya Pokuna

A thousand-year-old ‘mountain monastery’, lost in the Kaludiya Pokuna Forest, east of Dambulla; forgotten by the tour guides, and seemingly by time itself. For the visitor seeking something literally off the beaten track, the Dakkinagiri Viharaya is an intriguing but serene detour away from the well-trodden sites of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle.”

The stupa of the 9th century Dakkinagiri Viharaya, with Erawalgala behind it.
Continue reading “Special Feature — THE FORGOTTEN TEMPLE: Dakkinagiriya & the Other Kaludiya Pokuna”

Holy Smoke

A Wolfendhal Street shopkeeper lights a bowl of incense; a daily ritual at the opening of business. The smoke will then be carried through the premises, with the dual purpose of showing devotion to the local deities and driving out out any pests (natural or supernatural) that might have sneaked in during the night. Hulftsdorp, Colombo. October 2022.

• 35mm • f/2.8 • 1/1600 • ISO100 • R6, with RF35/1.8 courtesy Canon/Metropolitan

Continue reading “Holy Smoke”

Someone’s at the Door #2

The Aluth Maligawa Entrance, Temple of the Tooth, Kandy. Sri Lanka, October 2018. Shermaine Willis and Anuradha Perera, for Ashraff Associates and The Radh, Kandy.

• 24mm • f/8 • 1/2000 • ISO800 • 5DMkIV & EF24-105/4L 

Almost Christmas

A teenage choir awaits their cue to take part in a Christmas carol service at the Anglican Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour. Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo. December 2018.

• 24mm • f/4 • 1/1000 • ISO400 • 5DMkIV & EF24-105/4L 

Gods and Other Things

In a small shrine on the edge of the jungle below Ritigala, the Hindu god, Ganesh, shared space with something I couldn’t identify. But the crude outline, in white paint on a dark stone, showed it had a skull for a head, sharp teeth, long hair, and claws. This was in January 2016, on the first of a number of visits I made to Ritigala, during which I wrote two articles for Explore Sri Lanka. I took a lot of photos here (and missed a crucial one), but I never submitted this picture, and I doubt the magazine would have published it. Standing above the northern plains, Ritigala, and its jungle, has its own unique climate; with its two-thousand five-hundred-year-old ruins, it certainly has its own atmosphere.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/30 • ISO100 • 600D & EF-S18-200/3.5-5.6 •

Coke of the Masses

Colpetty Junction, Colombo. October 2022.

• 24mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO12800 •

Hewisi Pooja, Temple of the Tooth, Kandy #4

thammettama drummer plays during a musical ceremony on the lower floor of the temple’s main shrine. The twin thammettama are traditional Sri Lankan drums, played with curved sticks called kadippuwa, in Sinhalese. Hewisi is a form of religious music once reserved for use by Kandyan royal decree. Today, hewisi is still used almost exclusively in Buddhist ceremonies, and is seen as an offering in itself. Shot on assignment for The New York Times in December 2018.

• 105mm • f/4 • 1/30 • ISO1000 •

Christ Church, Mutwal

Consecrated in 1854, the Gal Palliya (‘stone church’ in Sinhalese, for its distinctive dark granite) was the Anglican Church’s first cathedral in Ceylon, and was the seat of the Bishop of Colombo for 116 years until, in 1970, that seat moved to the newly built Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour, in Cinnamon Gardens. The grounds of Christ Church, now slowly being squeezed by the ever-widening Aluthmawatha that divides it from the Colombo Port, once held the first humble classrooms of what would become St Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia. Shot in April 2021.

• 16mm • f/8 • 1/160 • ISO100 • 5DMkIV & EF 16-35/2.8L courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.

Hulftsdorp Architecture

Old and new, functional and fantastic; all crammed together on Messenger Street. Colombo, September 2020.

• 15mm • f/5.6 • 1/4000 • ISO400 • M6MkII & EF-M 15-45mm/3.5-6.3 courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.

Pleas to the Uncaring

Prayer flags flutter below the bo tree (Ficus religiosa) of the 18th century Padeniya Buddhist temple. Sri Lanka, May 2022.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/640 • ISO100 •