SEE A RECLINING BUDDHA
You know… Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand
Of the 32 million tourists that blanket Thailand each year, most pass through the capital. This is a city of hustle and flow, and even at its most sacred sites, such as the city’s Wat Pho temple – home to its famed 46m-long reclining Buddha – the only one taking it easy is 24-carat gold and lying on a plinth.
But what about… Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka
For a more sedate introduction to Buddhism’s wonders, Sri Lanka’s Dambulla Cave Temple is truly unique. Carved into a granite rock face, it actually stretches five grottoes and was once thought to have been the hideout of deposed king. So it goes: when he took his throne back in 85 BC, he gave the caves to the monks that had sheltered him, who then turned them into a series of temples.
It’s a steep walk to get there (riddled with curious macaques) and not best done in the heat of midday, especially as you have to remove your shoes at the top and hot-foot it over the sunny parts. But inside, its five cool caves are daubed in a kaleidoscope of intricate murals, with perhaps the centrepiece of its 157 statues being the 14m-long reclining Buddha, hewn from the cave wall itself.