We discovered quite accidentally that the largest rose quartz mountain in Asia was not far from where we were staying in Dambulla in Sri Lanka so we decided we couldn’t miss seeing this.
We parked the car and headed towards the shack marked ticket office where a man attached himself to us for ‘security’ (one way of getting money off foreigners) and we walked through the ironwood (Na) forest, which covers a very large area. In the forest clearing where there was a gold plated Thai-style Buddha statue we met the monk whose dream had called him there from Galle (in the south of the country) to find the rose quartz mountain.
Apparently he lived in a tree house for 2 years before finding it and it is reputed to be Asia’s largest rose quartz mountain.
It looks black from the effects of weather on it but you don’t have to chip very far to find the pink quartz underneath.
Chandana our driver, the self-appointed guide and I climbed to the top where there was a Buddha figure and a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. Our ‘guide’ chipped off a piece for me at the end of our walk.
Our guide then offered to show us another fantastic Budhha figure cut into the rock for which he wanted more money (we’d already given him extra for taking us to the end of the track). We finally agreed to this and drove on another few km to the Aukuna temple where we were charged 750 rps each to enter and take photos.
This statue was fantastic indeed but the morning was somewhat spoiled by the guide trying to beg still more money off us. Unfortunately this seemed to happen wherever we went.
In the early afternoon we drove to Habarana to meet up with our safari guide and then drove to the Hurulu eco centre where we went off-road in search of elephants. Originally we were supposed to go for a safari in the Minneriya or Kaudulla reserves but the recent heavy rains had rendered all the tracks impassable and this was the only reserve in the vicinity that had passable tracks. Even so, there was one tricky moment crossing a stream which required all our driver’s skills.
We saw a bull-necked stork in a tree and then several family groups of elephants with a couple of babies. We also saw brightly coloured finches? I saw a peacock, and 2 jackals ran across the track in front of us.
Each time a group of elephants was spotted all the jeeps in the vicinity converged on the group so that there were as many as 15 jeeps surrounding them at any one point. I dread to think what this must do to their digestion. We saw more elephants later in the afternoon. As we were driving along the main road back to base we passed one bull elephant right at the road side. I fumbled to remove my lens cap (which of course was already removed) and so missed being able to take a photo as he quickly disappeared into the jungle.