The island nation of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of Sri Lanka’s World Heritage Sites: the Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple.
The underground Buddhist temples of Dambulla have been sites of religious pilgrimage for more than two thousand years:
Located in central Sri Lanka, the Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple is a living Buddhist site that is focused on a series of five cave shrines. Inhabited by forest-dwelling Buddhist monks since the 3rd century BCE, these natural caves have been transformed continuously throughout the historical period into one of the largest and most outstanding Buddhist complexes in the Southern and South Eastern Asian region, showcasing innovative approaches to interior layout and decoration. In keeping with a longstanding tradition associated with living Buddhist ritual practices and continuous royal patronage, the cave shrines underwent several renovation and refurbishing programmes before assuming their present interior forms in the 18th century. The vast internal spaces of the cave shrines are not compartmentalized, but are spatially differentiated by a deliberate and subtle arrangement of polychrome sculpture of exceptional craftsmanship and decorated with brilliant compositions of mural paintings. This spatial hierarchy and purposive interior layout devoid of physical divisions lead the devotees systematically through the spaces from one ritual function to the next. The site is remarkable in the Buddhist world for its association with the continuous tradition of living Buddhist ritual practices and pilgrimage for more than two millennia. (World Heritage Centre #561)
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected for recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been recognized in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list of World Heritage Sites online at the World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites, available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures will you be exploring in your homeschool this Hercules Term? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 752–859; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇱🇰
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool States & Countries posts featuring historical and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌎 🌍 🌏