• Asirini Parakramawansha

A Splash of Something Mystical

Put your eye to the lens. Can you see the swirling hues of aquamarine and splashes of teal? Reach out with me and feel the salty breeze as we enter this new world. The Sri Lankan sun shines kindly on an outcrop of rocky coastline and the sea crinkles its glistening eyes in a welcoming smile. Hummanaya looks perfect... too perfect. And that's when you hear it. A low ominous rumble. It shakes you to your bones, sending the nearby birds flapping into the indifferent horizon as the very earth seems to jump and rattle. Tidal waves of wind hit you as you sense the approach of something titanic. Something with enough god-like power to blow apart the entire coastline in an instant. Something that, strangely enough, happens here every few minutes.

What could possibly have the power to spray all this sea water up to 30m into the air?

Wakanda has nothing on this

WHOOSH! Hummanaya is renowned for its breathtaking water display and sound. The name 'Hummanaya' even means Howling sound that can be heard from far away. This blowhole has impressed visitors for centuries but its origin seems to still be as murky as the depths beneath its rocky beginning. What could this incredible display of the elements be? Perhaps it's a man-made fountain? For all we know, this could be part of a former water garden like those found in Sigiria. After all, ancient Sri Lankan civilisations are renowned for their advanced architecture and plumbing systems. Apparently, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean housed a plane in medieval times and even found ways to ferry elephants to Nepal! So, it wouldn't be particularly surprising if they somehow puzzled out hydraulics as well. Or maybe, the ancient caste of stone carvers shaped these boulders into the perfect waterspouts for the entertainment of long gone monarchs? If this really is a remnant of some long gone city, then that would be the greatest archaeological find of the century! But where would these people have gone?.... MAYBE THEY WERE TAKEN BY ALIENS! Although, no ancient civilisations have been near Hummanaya (yet) there are always more ways to twist the lens.

Life of the coastline

Archaic cultures have brought us many more things than cool tech and conspiracy theories. One of Ceylon's most prominent century-old fingerprints is its lore. Growing up, I was regaled by the country's incredible folk stories about fantastical creatures. From ravenous, devilish beasts that would lure men and monkeys to their ponds for a quick afternoon snack or more gentle, beautiful beings akin to the naiads of Greek myths. If you look just beyond all the misleading spray, you might see them. A wild, roaring yaksha or a dancing devata. Whatever this spirit is, they seem to be quite temperamental and more than a little bit furious. Perhaps the crowds of sightseers are vexing them? Maybe this could be a malevolent being, luring innocents to its home so that it can snatch them up with its clawed, scalding fingers? Or this could be a playful spirit that's trying to josh with its many visitors? Although, when you watch the movements of the water, you can imagine that this could be a seaside dancer. But considering the blow hole's frequent wheeze, perhaps this is simply a cranky old spirit who's just annoyed by its personal tourist mob? Which do you see?

Hummanaya Blowhole depicted as a Kandyan dancer
Lady of the Blowhole - an illustration of my view through the kaleidoscope (painted by yours truly)

Poseidon the sculptor

The most popular theory is that the blow hole is powered by carefully carved sea caves lying beneath the celebrity spout. But where could these caves have come from? Could it have been the spirits from before? Or even the kings and their craftsmen of old? Strangely, this natural wonder was magicked into existence by a much greater force. Recent studies into this phenomenon have discovered that it was actually the same waves that smash against the rocks below us that sculpted the blow hole. Thousands of years of erosion chiselled the colossal boulders into perfect sea caves that remain unexplored to this day. I can just imagine them below us. Sparkling with crystals and phosphorescent veins of rock that pulse in the sunless land beneath the boulders. Could anything live down there? Maybe there could be bats, or glow worms- or even mermaids! But they would find it very hard to stay there with the blowhole. It's not that Hummanaya would be a bad roomie, but every few minutes when the pressure of the water becomes too much for the caves, it shoots up into the surface. It's this jet that we marvel at from our perch in the sun.


Do you hear that?....

Although, I do admit that this time the logical explanation is pretty cool too, I've always seen this blowhole as a beautiful, untameable spirit. Here and there, as I twist the lens, I can't help but speculate about what could really lie in those caves or what ancient being could have actually carved them to begin with. As we draw away from the coast and the sea spray begins to dissipate, try taking one last look through the lens. You never know what new dimensions you can dive into, when you dare to discover the world through a kaleidoscope...

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