Sri Lanka in black and white

Sri Lanka: A different viewpoint in black and white

Sri Lanka: A different viewpoint in black and white

Sri Lanka: A different viewpoint in black and white

The entire country of Sri Lanka is a vivid tapestry of amazing color, patterns and visual elements that are best portrayed in full color. But… I love challenges and knew that it would be a fun experience to present the country only in black and white and finding all the exciting imagery, design and elements that present a more exotic milieu sans color.

The varied textures, landscape, cuisine and people are all exciting to capture and are full of intrigue –  I’m more fascinated with portraying Sri Lanka in this format covering its Colonial past, religious icons and temples, Unesco World Heritage sites and even its striking coastlines and tropical environment.

I delve head on into this photo journey that hopefully portrays Sri Lanka in all its stunning glory solely in black and white. Here are the results:

 Sigiriya – the Lion Rock

At the foot of the Lion Rock, Sigiriya

At the foot of the Lion Rock, Sigiriya

 

The fortress and palace ruins at Sigiriya are referred by locals as the eight wonder of the world with its impressive natural landscape and archaeological history and importance.  Sigiriya translated into the Lion Rock has the distinctive features of a lion with giant claws where the stairs lead you uphill to see the amazing views and ruins of this once pleasure palace of a doomed king and afterwards the fortress/palace was converted into a monastery until up to the 14th century.

Even though most of the ruins of the palace are now just the foundations of this once magnificent pleasure palace, the sheer magnificence of the mountain and landscape and panoramic views are worth visiting one of Sri Lanka’s most important Unesco World Heritage Sites.

 

The fortress and palace at Sigiriya

The fortress and palace at Sigiriya

 

 

 Polonnaruwa

The ancient capital of Polonnaruwa in Central Sri Lanka

The ancient capital of Polonnaruwa in Central Sri Lanka

 

In the North central region called the Golden Triangle of archaeological sites at Sri Lanka, is the 2nd ancient capital, Polonnaruwa. Containing a vast collection of temples, palaces and religious landmarks, the site remains as one of the best planned ancient site in the country. The area around the capital is vast with many partial ruins to almost intact statuary and pilgrimage artifacts of historic and religious value. I am drawn to all these amazing structures with their exotic motifs and relief carvings alluding to many references of a holy site and the ego of kings that have built these expansive treasures for us to explore and imagine life in this ancient capital.

 

 

 

Gal Viharaya, the rock temple of the Buddha at Polonnaruwa

Gal Viharaya, the rock temple of the Buddha at Polonnaruwa

 

 

The carved out Buddhas of Gal Viharaya, also known as the rock temple are filled with aromatic scents and candles, sweetly perfumed tropical flowers and the devout who come to visit the three giant Buddhas to find inspiration and have their prayers answered. Or maybe they just come to visit these holy relics to meditate and find peace and quiet from the busy world outside and enjoy the company of friends and family for a fun outing visiting the ancient ruins.

 

 

 

The stone buddhas, Gal Viharaya

The stone buddhas, Gal Viharaya

 

 

The stunning carved Buddhas stand out from their granite reliefs and almost present a 3 dimensional relief and craftsmanship that proves how advanced and talented the artisans were from this ancient capital. I sit in a yoga pose and admire all the amazing details of these huge statues and then my eyes wander to all the beautiful people who have come here to lay some flowers and pay their respect and homage to their deity and instantly feel a connection with the people and relics that they have come to visit.

 

 

 

Buddhas and ruins at Polonnaruwa

Buddhas and ruins at Polonnaruwa

 

In another ruined temple called  Polonnaruwa Vatadage , sits four stone carved Buddhas looking out from the temple to the outside as if to greet all those that come to this holy place and spend a few minutes in front to meditate and become silent if only for a moment.  It is believed to be the site where a tooth relic of the Buddha is held, which deems this temple of great significance to this holy shrine. Unlike other typical large scale stupas in Sri Lanka, a vatadage is circular in formation and are built around small stupas for their protection and adorned with elaborate carvings in stone or brick.

Walking around the interior and facing the Buddhas barefoot, I contemplate and imagine what this place was like in its full glory. I walk around these relics and admire the huge scale and yet approachable and human characteristics of each Buddha figure. Hopefully I’m thinking within that short timeframe of my visit, I may find inspiration or solace and connect with the spiritual energy of this place of refuge. And I do feel that connection immediately!

 

 

Temple ruins at  Polonnaruwa

Temple ruins at Polonnaruwa

 

 

 The colonial city of Galle

Colonial city of Galle, Sri Lanka

Colonial city of Galle, Sri Lanka

 

Along the southwestern coastline of Sri Lanka sits the old and still functioning colonial city of Galle. The city exudes all of that colonial past with a mixture of different architecture and design influences from the many rulers of this wall city and fortress starting with the Portuguese and then the Dutch and more recently, the English who came to expand on the spice trade and other precious minerals and materials from this exotic land.  You will find a culture and people of mixed religion, heritage and traditions all in this compact city. In fact you can easily spot many religious temples and churches spaced relatively close to each other. There’s no animosity between the Catholics, Buddhists, Muslim, Hindu or many other denominations in the city, everyone lives cohesive with each other. It seems like this one spot if not all of Sri Lanka exemplifies all the wonderful essence of true acceptance of beliefs and religious freedoms within a small country. How wonderful and refreshing to see that this is a true model of acceptance and the one of the many positive characteristics of this colonial city.

 

 

The many  religious architecture at Galle

The many religious architecture at Galle

 

 

Do you love outdoor markets? Well this one on the bay front of Galle is pretty cut and dry. Fishing boats dock up to the beach and impromptu covered tents are set up by the boats to protect the days catch and business is brisk for the freshest seafood caught the night before and through the early morning. You can tell the busy stalls typically either have the freshest catch or maybe the cheapest offerings for the day depending on how late in the day you arrive. In any case, it is such a wonderful place to take photos and absorb the daily life and commerce in this fish market.

 

Fish market at Galle, Sri Lanka

Fish market at Galle, Sri Lanka

 

 

An above city view of the ramparts and historic fort area of Galle with the newer city beyond. It is really a contrast of old and new, along with the tourist areas and commerce sections beyond. You can actually walk around the ramparts of the fort with stunning views to little coves and scenic vistas to the rugged coastlines.

 

A panoramic view of Galle from above

A panoramic view of Galle from above

 

 

 

 The golden temple of Dambulla

The golden temple of Dambulla, or the cave temple

The golden temple of Dambulla, or the cave temple

 

 

While passing through the Golden Triangle, our group had a brief stop to visit the golden temple of Dambulla, which in this instance does not show the actual colors of its name in the photographs. But believe me, it is not necessary because the temple on its own presents its own exotic and spiritual presence from the many textures, patterns and sculptural figures that adorn the various stupas and temple grounds. The large golden face below with its large teeth seems both comical and frightening at the same time and unfortunately, I  didn’t have time to explore the interior caves of these temple grounds. I will just have to come and visit Sri Lanka another time to get to see the wonders of the temple murals and the Buddha statues in the caves.

 

Golden face entry at Dambulla

Golden face entry at Dambulla

 

 

 Fish market at Negombo

The fish market at Negombo, Sri Lanka

The fish market at Negombo, Sri Lanka

 

Of all the markets I visited in Sri Lanka, I was delighted to visit and smell the fresh and odoriferous sea food at the Negombo market. This is truly a local market where the fresh catch of the day is displayed with as much visual panache and loud barking to the entice a crowd of today’s fresh catch. It was truly eye-opening and I loved every moment capturing some amazing images including the cow and coconuts below.

 

 

Cows and crows at Negombo fish market

Cows and crows at Negombo fish market

 

The large Buddhist temple in Negombo is very ornate and yet dilapidated and in need of much restoration and I’m sure the local monks here would appreciate every donation for their cause . They followed me around to hopefully freshen up their donation coffers before I left the temple grounds.

 

 

The oldest buddhist temple in Negombo

The oldest buddhist temple in Negombo

 

 

Sri Lanka is a country filled with so many beaches and varied coastlines. I love the late afternoon to early evening timeframe when I find most of the beaches deserted and have these amazing sunset views until the twilight timeframe. It really is a moment to treasure when you have this scene almost to yourself to enjoy.

 

The coastal waters in Beruwala, Sri Lanka

The coastal waters in Beruwala, Sri Lanka

 

 

 The People, traditions and culture of Sri Lanka

Ornate traditional Sri Lankan ceremonial garments

Ornate traditional Sri Lankan ceremonial garments

 

 

I’m so fascinated by the traditional costumes, dances and traditions of Sri Lankan performances and rites. They are seeped in such mysterious and exotic rituals and heritage.  It speaks to a proud culture and ancient people who still hold their values and traditions of ancient beliefs to still be intact and important to their daily life.

 

 

Sitting on ruins at Pollonarua, Sri Lanka

Sitting on ruins at Pollonarua, Sri Lanka

 

A lion detail at Polonnaruwa

Stone carving to an ancient temple in Sri Lanka

Stone carving to an ancient temple in Sri Lanka

 

 

This is just a small glimpse to the ancient and exotic world of Sri Lanka featured in black and white visiting different regions around the country. I hope that you enjoyed the tour of Sri Lanka, and if you did, please do share this post with any of the social media buttons around the post, thank you.

I visited Sri Lanka for TBCAsia, hosted by Cinnamon Hotels. Thanks also to Sri Lankan Airlines for flying me there from London and CVisit Sri Lanka for taking me through all the stunning Unesco World Heritage sites in the Golden Triangle and around the country. All opinions and thoughts, as always, are my own.

 

 

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20 Responses to Sri Lanka in black and white

  1. Jesh StG March 1, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    Your black and white photos are amazing! Love that enormous tree you captured!

  2. Marisol@TravelingSolemates February 25, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    Hi Noel, I’ve seen a lot of photos of Sigiriya – but yours hit the heart. They’re so soulful, so elegant. The street photography of the market is also so heart warming. Thanks for taking me to this place I’m longing to visit

  3. Amila February 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    wow!love to see all these captures.Never thought that Sri Lanka can be this much beautiful in B&W captures…
    Hope you had a nice time there…

  4. Rachel February 12, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    Amazing how black and white photos can have such a big impact!

  5. Yohan Ratnavadivel February 8, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

    Thank you Noel! You have made our country reborn in clear Black & White beauty ,and your descriptions add more beauty we appreciate all. Thanks indeed again!!!!

  6. Charley W February 2, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    Beautiful photos Noel! They’re taking me back to my trip in September. It’s such a beautiful place, inside and out, and you’ve done a brilliant job of capturing that.

  7. NE California -Jesh StG February 1, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    Thanks for the tour! That huge rock in the 3rd pic is amazing! I have a good friend who is from there originally, but her family visits regularly – family life seems close there.

  8. Paul (@luxury__travel) January 31, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    I always enjoy seeing the impact that B&W has. It’s all too often underestimated and these shots demonstrate that. The first and the fish market ones are my favourite 🙂

  9. Kathryn Burrington January 31, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    Some wonderful images here that work so well in black and white. Particularly love the rooftops in Gallle and the one above it. It looks like the tree is about to come to life and stretch out its limbs like an octopus. Well it does to me anyway 😉

  10. alison abbott January 31, 2015 at 5:20 am #

    Amazing how much it changes when you view the photos in black and white. All those shadows and textures come to life and your experience is completely different. Beautiful captures, I especially like the temples in Galle.

  11. Rahman @ Iran Travel Blog January 30, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    Your photos are full of life although they’re all in black and white and I think it’s because you’ve incorporated people in them as well. Buildings are great, but they indicate history and art. When people are part of the photos, you give identity to the buildings. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  12. anna parker January 30, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    I always mean to do what you suggest, but forget – I sometimes alter afterwards, but it is harder to get the shot correct if you don’t see it in B&W through the view finder! It’s amazing just how much texture and depth can still be seen – so many shades of grey I guess! Great pictures!

  13. Gran Canaria Local January 29, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    A brave experiment, Noel. And you’ve totally pulled it off. Love the Lion Rock photo in particular.

  14. Renuka January 29, 2015 at 1:31 am #

    Amazing! I love the challenge. And you have inspired me to do the same with my Rajasthan pictures (you know it’s also known for its colors)!

  15. Carol aka Traveller January 28, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    We visited Sri Lanka last year and saw most of what you saw. It’s a beautiful country but I never even thought of photographing it black and white. It puts a completely different aspect on it.

  16. Kerwin January 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    Noel,
    The Black and White perspective is very nice. It’s like I’m seeing Sri Lanka all over again.
    Well done.

  17. Wandering Carol January 28, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    You’ve done Sri Lanka justice. This are simply stunning and so evocative of Place.

    • Noel January 28, 2015 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks Carol, I loved traveling around the country, it was an amazing experience and photographing the various attractions were just a great experience.

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