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.
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Special Feature — The Devil’s Staircase: Travels on the Kalupahana-Ohiya Road

To call the route connecting Kalupahana to Ohiya a road is quite generous. What it is, is an adventure. Whether you are tough enough to walk its length or mad enough to drive it, this is a journey every adventurer should take.”

Sometimes the Devil’s Staircase feels like the edge of Heaven.
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Special Feature — Mysteries in the Jungle: the Batatotalena Cave Temple

Current belief is that Batatotalena is the Divaguhawa of legend, though the argument on its authenticity goes on.

The characteristic triangular shape of an arch cave can be clearly seen at the mouth of Batatotalena.
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Why Can’t I Just be Happy with My DSLR?



It’s been a full decade now since Canon dipped its toe into the mirrorless camera business, but they’ve only really cracked on with it since launching the full frame EOS R in 2018; which seems a lifetime ago. Since then, Canon’s brought out seven more R camera bodies, and almost thirty new lenses for them, and announced the discontinuing of two entire camera systems in favour of this new one. But it wasn’t until they launched their first two pro-level R bodies (the R5 and R6) in 2020, that people really began to take notice. But a COVID-caused slowing down of manufacture and supply, followed immediately by economic collapse in Sri Lanka, meant camera imports were severely restricted. Testing out the new babies were just a dream, until a few weeks ago.

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The Writer

When I remember my father, this is the image of him that is most clear in my mind’s eye; of him, hunched over his desk, his typewriter, a notepad, or random scraps of paper that he carefully cut out of previously used sheets, saving the unused spaces that he would later fill with his small neat writing. He would write at all hours; late into the night, preparing Sunday sermons; and at dawn, making notes from his endless examination of Bible commentaries. And he would write everywhere, constantly jotting down reminders to himself about things only he knew. Even after his typewriter was replaced by a computer, his only concession to the digital world was that he condescended to dictate his handwritten notes to my mother, who would type them into the ether. I took this picture almost ten years ago, on Christmas Day, after lunch. I don’t know what he was writing, but the pose is unmistakeable. Though my father never wrote a book in his life, he seemed to never stop writing; even after retirement. It was as if he knew that it was soon to be taken away. When illness deprived him of the ability to read and write, I took it upon myself to organise his desk and store away many of his books and papers, and I found his study packed with his penmanship. There were notes for Bible study groups, random mini-reviews and recommendations of books he had read, an eulogy to some unknown friend. And scores of letters to my mother, sent from all over the world during his many travels; tight lines crammed onto flimsy aerogrammes, postmarked from Switzerland and Ecuador, America and India, England and Cyprus. Many of these too had been written whenever he had a moment to spare, in airports and on trains. Writing seemed to fill the crevices of my father’s world. He now leaves a crack in mine no writing can seem to fill.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/640 • ISO200 •

Special Feature — Retracing My Black July

A version of this post first ran in July 2008, on my blog, The Blacklight Arrow, under the title, ‘Black Thoughts’, and was later reproduced on Groundviews as ‘My Name is Cedric, do You Remember Me?’; part of a Black July anthology. With my intention to move some of my online writing to this site, I thought I would retrace my journey on that first day of the July 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom, from my school in Borella to my grand uncle’s home on Temple Road, Maradana, and on to my own home on St John’s Way, in Mutwal. So I walked and taxied across Colombo today, trying to find some of the places I had described thirteen years ago, and compare them to the images in my head from thirty-eight years ago. I took a few photos too.

Wesley College, Colombo, where generations of Blackers have graduated by the skin of their teeth, and yours truly, in June 1982, a year before Black July.

July usually passes me by without too much notice, beyond the vague worry that there might be a Tiger attack on Colombo, and a few flashbacks to that weekend in 1983. But this time it’s been a bit different. I’ve found myself reliving that day a lot more this year. It isn’t the fact that this is the 25th anniversary of the carnage which most people see as the starting point of our war, though that has been the focus of a lot of attention. What did it was a phone call a couple of weeks ago.

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Special Feature — Coast to Coast

Everything in Sri Lanka is either sweet or spicy. Often both. Our people; our tea.”

I approached the east coast of Sri Lanka like a foreign invader, scanning her green coast across a narrow expanse of azure water that separated my rubber dinghy from the pale beach. Bodies turned to shiny black obsidian by the scorching sun and the cool sea ignored me as we cut our outboard and cruised in; too intent on splashing their friends or diving off each other’s shoulders into the gentle waves. A few, interrupted their day at the beach to look past me to the sailing yacht I had just left, anchored offshore, rocking peacefully. I was no invader, but after thirty years of war, I felt like a foreigner.

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Scarred Nature

Giant Bamboo, Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com
Graffiti etched into their soft bark, a thicket of giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus) in the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, close to the old Sri Lankan hill capital of Kandy. Shot on assignment for the New York Times‘ piece, “An Island Nation that is Best Savored Slowly” by Lucas Peterson, which ran on 30th January 2019, in the Frugal Traveler column.


2016 was my first full year doing any sort of professional photography, and it was an amazing year, shooting mostly for Serendib, the inflight mag of SriLankan Airlines, but also occasionally for Explore Sri Lanka, the country’s premier travel mag. I had three cover features, a chance to spend the night at sea on a sailing yacht, search for crocodiles in the marshes of the Bentara River, climb Ritigala, and eat the rice that fed the kings of Lanka over 2,000 years ago. For those of you not following my blog that closely, this what it looked like:

Serendib Cover Shot by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com
‘Climbing the Walls’ — cover feature on the Galle Fort — Serendib January 2016.
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