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Day 694

Day two: Buddha and elephants

In the morning we wandered around the remains of Polonnaruwa: a skeleton of bricks outlining where mansions once stood and temples brought worshippers.

But still the Buddha was beautiful and serene, lying dead on his side, a smile on his lips. And there he was in the lotus position, enlightened, and caught in stone for more than a thousand centuries gone. The stoupa had been restored, offerings were still made and the moonstone steps still invited you into the circles of wisdom and peace within.

From there we went to the Minneriya National Park to see the elephants. It was glorious and had us all standing on the jeep’s seats looking out of the roof as the car bumped along the dirt tracks. This was the largest collection of wild elephants in the world, and they were quite tame. They were used to the gathering of jeeps that circled their every move. Whole families moved together, a tiny one week old elephant at the centre of the pack. We were bewitched by these huge, kindly looking creatures. They winnowed the grass as they swirled it around with their trunks. We spent almost three hours there chasing after these giants.

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