A traveller's appeal ...
Belu Belu Boho dana
Gee liya lu heyin,
This is one of about 685 poems scribbled as 'kurutu gee' that remain
intact on the Mirror Wall of Sigiriya up to this date. A creation of an
unknown traveller dating back anywhere between the sixth and thirteenth
Centuries AD, this to me is the single most expressive exposition of the
grandeur of this holistic heritage site of ours, by a dreamer of a
traveller. While its English translation will not do its creator's
simplistic intent, poetic licence and depth of imagination justice, I
will nevertheless make an attempt to present it to you with an excuse
for my inadequacies and with grateful gratitude to the likes of late
Prof. Senarath Paranavithana.
I am Budal...
Came on my own
to see Sigiriya
Since many others
wrote verses of
I chose not to.
Today what we witness is not only the grandeur of what is cited as
the eighth wonder of the world at Sigiriya. The artistry of simplicity
that runs like the blood on the veins of the great heritage of our
nation is to acquire a modern interpretation and information centre at
The Sigiriya Museum File photo
On behalf of all travellers and tourists of Sri Lanka and from shores
beyond, we must thank our friends in Japan for providing us this very
modern and impressive facility. Yet, we must remember that there are
some things around us that are simply unexplainable through
interpretation and must be experienced and absorbed by oneself and only
by oneself ....
That I believe is the message that was left to us by the ancient
traveller Budal, who refused unlike others before him to externalize his
experience. He chose instead to internalize it in a most profound way.
Given the nature of the modern traveller for whom, travel is more
than a pursuit of exploration of places and sites, an interpretation
centre will serve mealy as a supplement and an externality. For the
tourist on the other hand, such a centre will provide a good pad to base
ones understanding of the why, the when and the context in which leaders
and the people of ancient Sri Lanka pursued their artistic endeavours as
part of their lifestyle activities.
No amount of tastefully provided interpretation and information can
substitute the experience that is Sigiriya.
What Budal and his contemporary compatriots have left behind for us
is this realization of the difference between travel and tourism and
that of creating external expositions as against internalized
This traveller's earnest appeal is for us never to forget this
difference as we approach them both.
The writer is former Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism, writer and social
activist for sustainable development on the occasion of the opening of
the new Sigiriya Museum and interpretation centre.