Temple of the Water God

I believe that water is the closest thing to a god we have here on Earth.”

— Alex Z Moores Living in Water

The Randenigala Reservoir, surrounded by the jungles of the Rantembe Reserve. December 2018. If water is the one true god of our planet, then the reservoirs we’ve built over millennia must be its greatest temples.

• 24mm • f/8 • 1/1600 • ISO800 • 5DMkIII & 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 •

Restoring the Balance #2

A cleared hillside close to Haputale, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. September 2017. The island has lost huge areas of jungle and forest to the plantation and timber industries over the last two centuries. Many areas in the Central Highlands are now being removed of environmentally harmful pine trees that were introduced by paper manufacturers in the 1970s; replacing them with endemic trees in a government-initiated reforestation programme which will encourage the return of undergrowth.

• 110mm • f/8 • 1/200 • ISO400 • 600D & EF-S18-200/3.5-5.6 • circular polariser •

Tropical sub-montane forest in the mountains above Belihul Oya. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines, in September 2017.

• 40mm • f/4.5 • 1/60 • ISO400 • 600D & EF-S18-200/3.5-5.6 • circular polariser •

Mountain in the Jungle

Vegetable gardens, tea plantations, waterfalls, and jungle, climb layer upon layer, into the sky. Dedugala, on the way from Kegalle to Nawalapitiya, in May 2018, to shoot ‘Mountains in the Jungle’, which ran in the June issue of Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines.

• 18mm • f/8 • 1/50 • ISO100 • circular polariser • 600D & EF-S18-200/3.5-5.6

Still Villu

Wilpattu, Sri Lanka. May 2022.

• 80mm • f/5 • 1/250 • ISO100 •

Percy Bendi Wewa #2

‘The Percy-Built Reservoir’, Wilpattu National Park, named after former Wildlife Conservation Department warden, Percy de Alwis. Sri Lanka. May 2022.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/2000 • ISO400 •

Kumanavillu Wetlands

Kumana, Sri Lanka. May 2022.

• 50mm • f/2.8 • 1/1600 • ISO100 • Canon 5DMkIII & EF 50/1.4 courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.

Lost Glory

The third, and uppermost, flight of the spectacular 13th century Yapahuwa stairway, leading to the entrance of what was likely once the Temple of the Tooth. After repeated South Indian invasions, Lanka’s ancient northern capitals had been abandoned (Anuradhapura in 1017, and Polonnaruwa in 1237), until King Bhuvanekabahu I established Yapauwa in 1272, as the capital of the Dambadeniya Kingdom. On his death in 1287, however, the Dravidians invaded and captured the city and, with it, the Tooth Relic of the Buddha; considered one of Buddhism’s holiest icons, and synonymous with royal rule on the island. With that, Yapahuwa was largely abandoned as well, becoming a hermitage for monks and ascetics. Sri Lanka, May 2022.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/160 • ISO400 •

In the Light of Rama

Looking east from the top of 600m high Dolukanda, in the Kurunegala District; believed to be linked to the Ramayana epic, the rocky outcrop is thought to be one of the herbal mountains dropped by the monkey god, Hanuman. In the distance is the Kimbulawana Lake. Sri Lanka, May 2022.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/500 • ISO100 •