Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa

mapCrew : 5

Transportation : Car

Duration : Two Days

 

When I was invited to a road trip to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa by one of my friends, I had my doubts whether will it be interesting as I have visited those places many times in my childhood.  But when he told me that two foreigners along with another Sri Lankan friend will join, I couldn’t resist. I’ve always wanted to travel Sri Lanka (at least a part of it) with foreigners and see it through their eyes, experience the difficulties they face. Therefore, I gladly confirmed my participation.

My friend came all the way from Kurunegala by his car and picked me up from Kandy around 8.30 am. We went straight to Dambulla and had some short eats for breakfast. Then left to Sigiriya. Other three participants were on a two week long trip, which started on the previous week and we joined them at the place they spend the last night at Sigiriya. We had a cup of tea while they checked out. Then headed to Anuradhapura. We talked about their travel experiences in Sri Lanka on the previous couple of Days and they were really friendly.

It was about 11am when we reached Anuradhapura town. We all were hungry and decided to look for a good place to eat. Once we stopped the car and got out, we realized how hot it was. We quickly went in to the nearest restaurant and luckily we had a tasty Brunch and appreciable service there. Around 11.30am we got back in to the car and started driving through the complex road network, in search of the Anuradhapura Old (puja) Town.

Being three out of us five are locals, it was hard to find the ticketing office for foreigners. We saw “Isurumuniya” name board and parked the car. Though I have visited Anuradhapura few times in my childhood, I haven’t been to Isurumuniya before. So I was excited as much as our two German friends! It was early May and we felt like sun have came closer by few light years. As it was a temple, we had to remove our shoes and hats. The floor was burning hot so we darted to a shady corner inside the premises. There wasn’t much to see in the left side so we went in to the “Vihara geya”. There are some paintings in the ceiling. We saw two famous stone carvings called “Man and the horse head” and “Elephants playing in the water”. There are few explanations about the “Man and the horse head” carving, but the famous idea is a soldier resting with his horse. The elephants were carved in the bottom of the rock, just above the water. So it seems the elephants are playing in the pond.
.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3744.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3730

DSCF3739

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3751

DSCF3748.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………
It was too hot to walk outside. One of us was holding a shawl over the head to cover the unbearable heat. One of the guards screamed saying that it is not allowed inside the premises. Knowing the teachings of lord Buddha, we decided  it is not worth to spend our time explaining it to him and went to a shade near the entrance. There we met a local elderly female who quickly became friendly and expressed her worries about not providing a reasonable service for foreigners for the money they charge to visit Anuradhapura Puja Town. We came back to the car park and went to the “Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi”, a sapling of the Bo tree which gave shade to Lord Buddha for Enlightening. There were many fences with gold plating around the “Bodhi” and a stone outer wall. Normally it is not allowed to go inside those fences, so we walked around the the “Weli Maluwa” observing the pilgrims worshiping the sacred tree. Surprisingly it was much cooler under the “Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi” and we spent some time there before going back. With the not being able to bear the rays of mighty sun, we decided to go back to our accommodation (A Circuit Bungalow of my friend’s Company) and come back in the afternoon. After a shower we went straight to a nap, woke up around 3pm for our evening session. But the sky was gloomy and we hurried to cover all the places before a heavy shower.

On the way back we located the tourist information center in google maps and contacted the telephone number. The three of us Sri Lankan were embarrassed as a lady answered the call and explained that it is not an information center, but her house.  There was no direction alongside of the road about the tourist ticketing counter either. So we followed google maps for the tourist information center. Unfortunately the rain started and we were forced to go back to our accommodation by the half flooded roads and lightening. So it was time for us to re-plan the itinerary. As our German friends needed to visit the remaining places in Anuradhapura, we thought it is best to cover Anuradhapura in the next day morning quickly as possible and then visit Polonnaruwa via Aukana in the evening. We had an early dinner and went to sleep as soon as we could.
.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3759DSCF3765…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

We woke up in the morning and had our breakfast from the place we stayed. Food was tasty but we quickly finished it to start our visit. As we inquired from the Circuit keeper, he directed us to the Jethawanaramaya Museum where we could purchase All-in-One Anuradhapura Ticket for our German friends. We quickly covered the museum and went to the mighty Jethawanaramaya by the vehicle (You also can walk there, but the distance is considerably high and we were in a hurry, so we used the car).  It was amazing to imagine how things were at those old times while walking around them.

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3788DSCF3807.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3803DSCF3789.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3816DSCF3821.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3781DSCF3785.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

Then we went to the Ruwanweli Seya, The Pagoda made by king Dutugemunu. Folklore reveals that even The king himself contributed the construction by bringing up bricks. In the final stages of the construction, Younger brother Saddhathissa takes over the project as King Dutugemunu falls sick. At the deathbed King Dutugemunu requests to see the completed pagoda. As there was not enough time to complete it before the great king dies, Prince Saddhathissa covers the uncompleted parts of the pagoda by white linen and take the king there. It is said that the king believed the construction was over, Worshiped the pagoda just before his last breath. At the time we visited there was a “Kap-ruk Pooja”, an offering of linen to the pagoda and it was getting crowded as it was two days before Wesak holidays. Between Ruwanweli seya and Sri Maha Bodiya (which we visited the day before) there is another special location called Lowamahapaya. Though now there are only ground level stone pillars left, It is said that there were a nine story building with a Bronze colored roof (hence the name, Lowa-Maha-Prasadaya) which remained the tallest building of the country except the pagodas Ruwanweli seya, Abhayagiriya and Jethawanaramaya between 155BC and 993AD. This building was destroyed by the attacks during the reign of King Saddhathissa and he had reconstructed it with seven stories.

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3826DSCF3825.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3824.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

Our next stop was the Abhayagiriya Complex, which was used as a college to Bikkhus (Buddhist Monks) in the Anuradhapura era. Therefore, the ruins are spread around a vast area. Credit of Abhayagiri Pagoda construction goes to the youngest son of King Saddhathissa, king Walagamba ( 103 BC, 89-77 BC). As soon as he came to the throne there was an Indian Invasion which he couldn’t withstand, he retreated. At that time there was a Jain Shrine in this place and it is said the priest named “Giri” insulted the King “Here the great black Sinhalese King is retreating”. It took another 14 year for King Walagamba to defeat the invaders, but when he did He built this giant Stupa on the location of that Jain Shrine and named the Pagoda by combining the King’s name (Abhaya) and the Jain Priest’s name (Giri).

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3852DSCF3875.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3870DSCF3863.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………18954683_1291030520996076_4042287208708979807_o.………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………

After that we went to the “Samadhi Statue” of Lord Buddha. It was wonderful to see how the craftsmen have finished the live-like stone statue. It is believed there were four statues like this around a Bodhiya (Bo Tree), but the tree and other three statues are destroyed.  Then we stopped at “Thuparamaya” which is considered as the first Pagoda constructed after introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. This was constructed by King Devanampiyathissa, enshrining the color bone of Lord Buddha. As the name reveals Thupa (Pagoda) + Aramaya (Where monks reside), there are ruins scattered around the pagoda which are suspected to be the roof for monks. With Thuparamaya, we finished our Anuradhapura tour and started our journey to Polonnaruwa via Awukana.

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3883DSCF3887.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3888.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3839.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3842DSCF3832

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3843DSCF3835.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3845.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

It was around 12 pm when we reached “Awukana” after a long ride on countryside roads. The name “Awukana” means “Under the harsh sun rays”. The Standing Statue of Lord Buddha was constructed during the reign of King Dhathusena, Father of King Kashyapa (who resided in Sigiriya). Recently a roof over the masterpiece of skillful Sri Lankan craftsmanship has been constructed, but as our German friend highlighted it obstructs the grand view. It will be better if the roof height can be increased, but don’t know about the feasibility. They charge 1000LKR from foreigners just to see the statue. Sadly it would have been better if they could do some value addition to the visit at least like a Ticket with the Image of Awukana Statue with related information for the price foreigners have to pay. We brought some biscuits from a nearby shop, so we can wait until we reach Polonnaruwa for Lunch (A very late Lunch) . On the way back we slowed down a bit to capture the breathtaking view over the waters of “Kala wewa” which was also constructed and treasured by the King Dhathusena.

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3932DSCF3928.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3924.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

It was around 3.30 pm when we reached Polonnaruwa. One of our friends had recommended a place to have the lunch, so we tracked the location. Google maps directed us along a narrow road off the main Road (A11) in between light green paddy fields. When we arrived the place, all we could see was a garden adjacent to a house and a young man working with some banana trees. We were worried that this must be a wrong place, but gladly the he confirmed that it is “Jaga Food”. We got a warm welcome and he ushered us to the restaurant i the back of the garden. It was an open area next to a pond with visitors’ comments all over on the ceiling. Though it was very late for lunch, they had their Lunch Buffet open. It was one of the tastiest rice and curry buffets i have been and they had Curd & Trickle, Papaya and Sri Lankan Pan cakes (A yellowish pan cake wrapped around a lump of pol pani – a coconut and trickle mix). Our hungry tummies as well as the souls were filled with their delicious food and hospitality. Our German friends took a minute to made a comment on their ceiling and we hurried to Polonnaruwa town after thanking Jaga and his wife.

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSC_7590DSC_7574.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSC_7578DSC_7584

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………
It was easy to find the Pollonnaruwa ticketing place at the Archeological museum as Jaga gave us the directions. Pollonnaruwa ruins were fairly located near to each other and we could access them by a vehicle (must-walk distance is very low). First we took a right turn as we entered the from the gate to visit ruins of the palace called “Vaijayanthi Prasadaya” of King Parakramabahu the first (1153-1186 BC). The main building is said be of seven stories and consisted of 1000 chambers but there is only signs of three stories and 55 chambers at present. South Indian invader called “Maaga” had set fire to this palace to destroy and you still can see burn marks on the brick wall. There were numerous remains of the royal palace scattered around and we were amazed to see that the drainage network of that time is still in good condition. We walked along the ancient paved pathway to visit the “Kumara Pokuna” (The royal bathing Place). It is said that this was constructed by King Parakramabahu, in his garden called “Nandana Uyana” which was below the level of palace. A nearby canal was used to bring water and poured into via two sprouts made like “Dragons”.

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3940DSCF3939.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3949DSCF3983.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

DSCF3974DSCF3979.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………

Then we moved to the next ruins cluster, which is to the left from the main entrance. “Thivanka Pilimageya” is an image house as the name implies which was constructed by King Parakramabahu (1153-1186 AD). “Thivanka” means bent in three places,and the Buddha statue in here is bent from the Shoulder, Hip and the Knee (This pose is common in the guard stones). The Buddha statue is  believed to be about 8m in height but now it is less as the part above the head has been destroyed. Interior wall of this building is decorated with Polonnaruwa era paintings of “Jathaka Katha” and Incidents from the life of Lord Buddha while the exterior walls are decorated with various stone statues. It was so dark inside the building at that time, so i couldn’t take a good picture of the statue and paintings inside.
.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………

DSCF4037.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………

“Watadageya” is in front of Thivanka Pilimageya and it is a Round (Wata) Stupa (Da) House (Geya).  There are few “watadageya” s in Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa Watadageya is considered the best remaining of it’s kind. Madirigiriya and Thuparamaya (both in Anuradhapura) are other best examples. This is believed to be constructed by King Parakramabahu to safe keeping of the Tooth Relic or a work of King Nishshankamalla to hold the “Pathraya” (Alms Bowl) of Lord Buddha. A stone fence with very detailed designs and columns covers the inner brick wall which encloses the Stupa and Buddha Statues.

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………DSCF4016

.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………DSCF4019DSCF4020.…………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………DSCF4021.…………………………………………………………………………………DSCF4048………………..……………………………DSCF4018.………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………

Then there is “Atadageya”next to it, which once hold the sacred Tooth relic. This said to be a two story building constructed by King Vijayabahu the First. There is another more closed sturcture called “Hetadageya” adjacent to “Atadageya”. There is a Stone Door frame with very deatailed carvings and the stone walls have inscriptions. Walls are believed to be decorated with frescoes and carvings. This building too had multi stories and the remaining section of stair case is still in good condition. Finally we visited “Sathmahal Prasadaya” at the same site. As the name Sath (seven) Mahal (Story) Prasadaya (Building) implies there are seven stories to this building (Which are still can be seen). This is said to be a Square shaped Stupa, which is very rare in Sri Lanka.
.………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………DSCF4010DSCF4014.………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………

Then we drove to the Pollonnaruwa Gal Vihara complex car park under the gloomy dark sky. It started to drizzle as we walked towrds Gal viharaya but as it was our last stop, we didn’t care to wait till it stops. The distance we had to walk is less than 500m. There are four Granite Statues of Lord Buddha in all three poses. One large statue in seated pose adjacent to a smaller similar statue inside a “Kuti” (room) called “Vidyadara Guhawa”. A standing statue and a reclining statue. The place said to be called “Uththararamaya” andconsidered to be a work of King Parakramabahu the First. Recently a roof has been constructed over these figures in order to protect them. We couldn’t spend much time there due to the rain and we came back to the parking lot and started to drive back home. We reached Kandy around 9pm and our foreign friends stayed with the plans to visit Kandy on coming days.

.………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………DSCF4051DSCF4057

.………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………DSCF4052

 .………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………

 

Kadadora Temple

MapCrew : 10

Transportation : Cars

Duration : Half a day (another half day may be needed to visit the “Mahaweli Maha Seya”, ruins of “Kadadora” entarnce and ambalama)

One weekend, one of my friends told me that he and his relatives are visiting a pirivena (School for monks) in Kothmale area to offer Thripitaka (The Buddhist Holy Book which consist of three sub sections;”Sutra pitaka”, “Vinaya pitaka”, “Abhidarma pitaka”). I wanted to join to the journey as I hadn’t been there to Kothmale before.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_4389…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Name of the shrine is “Gunarathana Piriwena” and it is located in Harangala area. We used Kandy – Nawalapitiya Road (AB13) and turned to Nawalapitiya – Harangala Road (B506) from Nawalapitiya Town and traveled 13 kms to reach there. The road conditions from Nawalapitiya to the location was not good and it took around 30 mins to travel that 13 kms. But later we heard the road from Ulapane to Harangala (B431) through kothmale Dam is in better conditions, so we used it to travel back home (this is the route shown in the map above). We though of having our lunch on the way, but we were already in Nawalapitiya – Harangala Road before realizing that there are no place to buy lunch there. So we bought a packet of biscuits and “Gnana Katha” (A bun shaped hard cake decorated with sugar) and had it on the way.

The road was along Kothmale reservoir which gave us a stunning ,a movie like view though the water level of the reservoir was very low with the delayed monsoon rains. we arrived to the Pirivena around 2pm and offered the Tripitaka to the Chief incumbent and several other monks after observing pansil. The shrine looked old but the environment was very calm and relaxing. The locals had arranged us some tea along with Dodol , Rulang , Cashews and Bananas.
😀
It was the best Dodol I have ever had!

As the planned activity was over, we thought of visiting the ruins of a submerged temple in Kothmale reservoir which are now surfaced due to the low water levels. We traveled through the Kothmale Dam and reached Kothmale reservoir observation point, parked our vehicles there and started walking downward. Though the banks of the reservoir is named as a forest reserve and normally do not allow public to travel, the authorities have allowed people to go down there and visit the ruins as this is a very rare incident. We had to walk through a jungle for about one kilometer and a steep river bank.

I had seen few photographs of previous travelers who were the few days back, but the environment was totally different that day. A local travel show had telecast a documentary filmed on this location, which increased the number of visitors so someone built a fence using sticks and used red flags to mark the boundaries which the visitors can enter without damaging the ruins. In the point of preserving the ruins, it is a good idea but it was very hard to capture the ruins without disturbance from the red flags.

We spent a good half an hour admiring the quality of building which still standing up even after spending around 30 years submerged. It was sad to see the marks which seemed to have occurred in an attempt to dig the statues for treasures.

Here are some facts about this area and the temple which i found very interesting,

This area has a very important place in history books as the great king Dutugamunu’s (161BC – 131BC) life tale is based on Kothmale. Before that era, the King Panduwasadeva (504BC – 474BC) is said to held a dance by the Yak (devil) tribes in this area which was referred “Malaya Rata” at that time.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Tunsinhala1
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

King Kawanthissa ruled the “Ruhuna” kingdom while there were two other kingdoms named “Pihiti” and “Maya”. It is said that there were only four entrances from “Ruhunu” kingdom to “Maya” Kingdom; Kadadora, Watadora, Niyangandora and Galdora. Only remaining ruins of four entrances, “Kadadora” which is also known as “Dehadukadulla” is in Kothmale area, but unfortunately we couldn’t visit that in this journey. It is said that prince “Gamunu” hid his royal sward in a tree near “Kadadora” before entering Kothmale, where now only remains a stone staircase towards Kotagapitiya starting from a (stone) entrance which has been restored. Ruins of an “Ambalama” (a hut like structure  – resting place for travelers), which is beleived to be built by the prince “Gamunu” is also along the path to Kotagapitiya.

The house of “Uru pelesse Gama Mahage” of the village Kotagapitiya in Kothmale is believed to be the place where the young prince Gamunu hide after sending female jewellery to his father, as a symbol of his weakness not to starting a war with the enemy King “Elara”. Then the prefix  “Dushta” (Wiked) is added upon his name “Gamunu” and shortened to be “Dutu Gamunu” afterwards. The folklore says that the prince was discovered by the Royal elephant “Kandula” after the death of king “Kawanthissa”, realizing the villagers that the boy who lived among them by the name “Guptha”, actually is the royal son. Tales say that the farmer and his family begged for their lives thinking the “King to be” may slaughter them as they used him as a helper, but instead the prince married “Ran Menika”, the daughter of the farmer who became the Queen mother of prince “Saliya” afterwards.

Folklore reveals that the Queen mother “Vihara maha Devi” arranged secret meetings in a Raja Maha Viharaya (Temple) in Kadadora area to update the Prince about war preparations with “Velusumana”, one of his ten giants. It is said that the Chief incumbent Thero of this viharaya knew the true identity of the prince. This temple is believed to be the “Kadadora Priya Bimbarama Raja Maha Viharaya” which was in Kothmale.

In 19th Century, SriLanka carried out a huge multi purpose development, 35 year – master plan called “Mahaweli project”, based on the river “Mahaweli” and allied 6 river basins. Main objectives were increasing Agricultural production with water utilization, Hydro power generation, Settlement of landless people, Flood control and providing employment opportunities. Some of the land owners in affected areas of Dam construction were resettled in near by places where some others and landless poor were resettled in identified places, called “Mahaweli Region  – A” to “H”. In 1977 a new prime minister (J.R. Jayawardena) was elected and decided to accelerate the project under a separate Ministry called “Mahaweli Development” Under Minister Gamini Dissanayake.

Priliminary studies for the Kothmale project was carried in 1961, again during 1964-1968 with foreign assistance and another feasibility study during 1973 – 1976 with Indian assistance, but the project never took off. Considering all proposals from previous studies the Kothmale project was started in 1979 under the “Accelerated Mahaweli Development Project” (AMDP) with the newly established “Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka”. Kothamale reservoir was created by constructing a Dam (2100 feet above Mean Sea Level) between “Thispane” and “Kadadora” hills; obstructing “Kothmala Oya”, one of the main tributaries of Mahaweli river. The Kothmale reservoir spreads across 2270 ha land with 174 million cubic meters of full capacity which powers the turbines of 206MW first ever Underground Hydro Electricity Plant in SriLanka from 1985 onward.

It is said that more than 14 tea estates and 50 villages of 3050 families (more than 15000 people) were affected by the increased water level due to Dam construction. Around 1750 families were agreed to resettle in “Mahaweli Region – H” while the other 1300 families, who requested lands near to their original habitats; were settled in the 2600 acre land acquired from Tispane and Rothscild estates.

It is said that many (Couldn’t find the exact number) ancient Temples (including Kadadora Priya Bimbaramaya, Morape Bodhimalakaramaya, Morape Subhadraramaya, Hadunuwewa Medagoda Gangaramaya, Othalawe Bodhirukaramaya, Nawangama Abhinawaramaya, Tispane Sri Subhadraramaya) and Devala  (including Morape Devalaya, Hadunuwewa Medagoda Paththini Devalaya) has been identified will be below the reservoir water level. The authorities decided to build a bubble shaped pagoda with 289 feet height, named “Mahaweli Maha Seya” in the right bank of the reservoir to compensate to the submerged temples which now overlook the Kothmale valley from 4150 feet above Mean Sea Level.

I have heard that this Pagoda has an inner chamber which feature some of the ruins of submerged temples where people can visit but the increasing darkness in the surrounding urged us to go back home before the giants(elephants) start their routine walks. So we headed back to our cars from the ruins of Kadadora Viharaya and came back to Kandy around 8.30 pm.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_4392…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
DSC_4400…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
DSC_4401…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
DSCF0308…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
DSCF0309…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

References:
Mahavanshaya
Sunday observer 2011, march, 13
http://mahaweli.gov.lk/en/complete.html
The Accelerated Mahaweli Development Programme By Ratna S. Cooke, 1982

 

 

 

Lankapatuna

Map

Crew : 4

Transportation : Van

Duration : Few Hours (Around one hour spent on the location)

 

 

We were on Trincomalee and was Traveling towards Seruwawila when we remembered that the Historical Place, Lankapatuna is nearby. The “Samudragiri Viharaya” is said was built on the exact place where prince “Dhantha” and princess “Hemamala” landed with the Sacred “Tooth Relic”, the left canine tooth of lord Buddha.

Legends say that Indian princess Hemamali hid the relic in her hair and the royal couple landed in Lankapatuna, Sri Lanka after disguising themselves as Brahmins. Ruins of historical importance are said to be scattered in the Land around The Samudragiri Viharaya.

Unfortunately most of the ruins were destroyed by the LTTE during war time and they have  used the Lankapatuna area as their (sea tiger) Navel Base and the Rock which the pagoda is situated to build their communication tower. Reports say that there were many operations to remove the mines and other booby traps from the surrounding area after the war.

We were near Verugal when we decided to visit Lankapatuna, so wee took the Gravel road from Verugal to western point of the Ullakalie Lagoon. The bridge linking two points of the Lagoon has been destroyed during the war, Now there is a boat service by a local as well as Sri Lanka Navy. We used a boat and it cost us only 200 rupees (Saw that the boat rider didn’t even charged from the school children who were going back to their homes after school by the boat) for both.  The boat ride was up and down trips short but fascinating as the golden rays reflected on calm lagoon water. The temple premises is maintained by the Sri Lankan Navy. There are some stone stairs towards the pagoda. The view from the bottom of the pagoda was amazing and we spent some time there enjoying the view, before we came back to the dock for our boat ride back to the van.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_3455DSC_3453

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_3461DSC_3458

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_3462…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_3465…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_3470…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_3480DSC_3478

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_3473…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_3482…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

Pahiyangala

UntitledCrew : 11

Transportation : Personal Vehicles (Road condition is good for any vehicle)

Duration : 3 Hours

 

We were already at Kukuleganga when we got to know that Pahiyangala is few kilometers away. So we thought why not to visit the place even though the time was limited. We started our journey from Kukuleganga around 4.30 pm and used two private vehicles to reach the place. The road was good and had nothing to complain about.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….DSC_2130DSC_2149………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….DSC_1738………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC_2132………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
There is a long stone stairway to the cave which starts after the Pahiyangala monastery. At the end of the stairs, there is a old looking “Vihara manditaya” which was build in the last century. It was earlier a small one and had been modified removing its roof and exdending to cover the statue of reclining Lord Buddha. The cave top covers the “Vihara mandiraya” from rain and sun. We Spent sometime there looking the wall paintings (Which were done recently) and took a quick visit to the small cave behind the statue of lord Buddha which was the home for couple hundred bats.

Then we went to the main Cave, which has been the shelter for ancient humans and Dr. Shiran Deraniyagala was the first to discover the burials in 1968 and there are few other Bones discovered later. The Carbon dating indicates that this has been buried within 4,750 to 33,000 years ago. There were few animal skulls discovered, displayed in a side of the cave. One can say there is not much to see in this place, but it is wonderful to see the natural shape and location of the cave and understand why ancient humans select that place. It is said that the famous traveler , Fa-Hsien Monk has been stayed here during his visit to Sri Lanka. The name of the place is also a evolution of the word Fa-Hsien –>Pahiyan

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSC_2138DSC_2139

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
There is a path to the top of the cave running through the bushes on left side of the cave, but sadly we couldn’t go up there as it was almost 6.30 pm then. They advised us not to go there because of wild boars and reptiles. We came back to our vehicles and headed back to the accommodation, watching the last rays of sun hiding between the leaves of giant trees around Pahiyangala.

Wilpattu, The Land of Ponds..

It was a while we, University friends  went on a trip. So we decided it’s time. Our initial suggestion was Wilpattu, and it was seconded by all without any hesitation. Then we tried to reserve a wildlife department bungalow inside the national park, so that our transportation time will be minimized while we have full time viewing access to the National park. Then we heard the bad news, all wildlife department bungalows were booked one and half months early. There were few discussions to change the destination, but all were disappointed with the situation. One day a friend came with a good news, He was able to reserve few rooms in a nearby place to wilpattu through a contact. So the planning began. We thought of utilizing a full day to travel inside Wilpattu. So we have spare 12 hours on the day we are travelling from Kandy. One came up with the suggestion, Thonigala and we thought of spending the rest in Picturesque Kalpitiya Beach. We hired a Van and started our trip around 7 am since we had a lots of spare time. It was around 9 am when we stopped at Kurunegala to pick one of our friends and to have the breakfast. Around 11.30 we reached Thonigala, and we spent quite long time taking photographs and wandering around the Lake near Thonigala inscript. Then we travelled to puttalam and the large portions of breakfast kept us going around 2.30 pm without stopping for the lunch. We didn’t planned for a place to have the lunch since it is hard to predict exact time and location when there are many photographers in the group. 😀 We searched for a place nearby and finally “Foursquare” came for the help. It suggested about a hotel nearby, called “Palmyra Village Hotel”. We just went there because we were lack of options since it is too late for lunch. But the food was great (To the standards of a local boutique hotel) and we had Seafood Fried Rice, Which is their identity. It was a long lunch as we had a lot to talk and needed a break from sitting inside the van.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC_1085DSC_1084………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSC_1065DSCF8210

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC_1063

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8159……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8145DSCF8153

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8177DSCF8178

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8175DSCF8172

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8160DSCF8151

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8190DSCF8185

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8200DSCF8181

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8203DSCF8214

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8207DSCF8187

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8182DSC_1081

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSC_1078DSCF8210

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

It was around 3 pm when we reached to Kalpitiya beach, and we just jumped into our swimwear and walked to the sea. The sun was burning hot and that made harder for us to walk on the sand. We knew that Kalpitiya is one of the world famous Kite Surfing destinations but didn’t realized it is that much interesting until we saw it. The famous Kite Surfing Lagoon was just a Beach stripe away and the scenery of people riding Huge Kites, attracted us to the lagoon. It was an awesome feeling even just to watch them surfing and one item was added to the bucket list 😛 We came back to the beach and stayed dipped in the sea water to avoid the harsh rays of the burning sun until around 5.30 pm. We had to leave Kalpitiya at that time as we had to find a place to have our dinner and to buy some food to bring to our accommodation. It was around 7.30 pm when we reached back to Puththalam and brought some food to have on the safari jeep ride as well as to prepare breakfast and lunch for the next day. Most of us had a light dinner and hurried to our accommodation. We reached there around 9 pm and it was surprisingly closer to the Wilpattu National Park. It is Just in front of the Park Gate and was in very good condition. We thought of going to sleep early as we are supposed to wake up in the morning. Then we got an invitation from another group who was staying at the same place to join with them for a BBQ. As we had a light dinner and they seemed very nice people, we couldn’t decline the invitation. Most of them are from the same professions as ours and all are wild life enthusiasts. We stood awake talking with them until it was midnight and finally decided to sleep. Beds were comfortable and as fans worked full time to cool down the heated air to a bearable level, we had a 6 hour long sleep under the cover of mosquito nets.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8218DSCF8292

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8234DSCF8235

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8217DSCF8255

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8229DSCF8267

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8216DSCF8257

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8281 DSCF8276

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8264DSCF8252

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

As our friend and the accommodation caretaker promised, there was a safari jeep ready in front of the “Wilpattu Holiday Home” exactly ay 6.30 am. Caretaker and his wife had prepared Noodles for Breakfast and Kadala (Peas) from the things we provided them last night. We just had some snacks before starting the jeep safari and planned to have the breakfast near “Kumbuk Willu”. For some reason there wasn’t a Wildlife department guide/tracker available so we decided to continue the journey as we could use our experienced safari jeep driver as the guide since he was born and raised in the wilpattu area. There were three friends among us who usually take part in wildlife observation tours with the group “Haritha Diyatha” and it was a huge advantage for us as they had the knowledge about wildlife in wilpattu as well as they had required sources (Books and Leaflets) when we need to search about the animals we observed. One of those friends told us to focus on every single bird, insect and reptile we see as then we can make this trip worthwhile, even if we didn’t see any mammals. We all agreed that it is a good idea because we heard that no one has seen any leopard in past two days. Our driver had a hard time driving the jeep 1cm forward and 2 cms backward all the way along the journey to give us a better view of birds as 6 out of 9 of us had DSLRs or Bridge Cameras aiming out of the safari jeep. We reached “Kumbuk Willu” around 10.30 am and had our breakfast there. We saw a giant elephant enjoying some kind of grass on the water bed of “Kumbuk willu” few feets away from us only after finishing the breakfast. We observed few “wali kukulo” who were waiting to feed on any leftovers of the travelers meals. It was comparatively clean and free from polythene but still we saw few biscuit packets and lunch sheets here and there.

In the evening we went to see “Thambapanniya”, where the King “Vijaya” has first set his foot on this island as legends relate. The name “Thambapanni” means “Tin (Lead- plumbum) colored soil”. Actually the soil still looks a like and there we observed some kind of different soil/ rock formations, which we couldn’t explain from the little geology knowledge we had. We had our lunch nearby, and started the evening safari. We were lucky enough to see Few dozens of Bird species, Few Reptiles and mammals. That includes Deer, Wild Boar, Elephant, Water Buffalo, and a baby Sloth Bear at last 🙂

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8318DSCF8315

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8326

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8336DSCF8387

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8348DSCF8330

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8327DSCF8334

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8325

DSCF8329

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8397DSCF8386

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8374DSCF8363

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8360DSCF8370

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8525DSCF8531

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8308

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8393DSCF8524

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8515DSCF8520

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8422DSCF8419

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8412……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8479

DSCF8413

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8509DSCF8514

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8526……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8506DSCF8487

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8502DSCF8445

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8402

DSCF8499

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8456

DSCF8457

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8454DSCF8455

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSCF8400DSCF8410

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

DSCF8470

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Dutch Museum – Colombo (Pettah)

Map1Crew : 1

Transportation : Bus, Walk

Duration : 2 Hours

When i am searching the internet for places to visit near Colombo, one of the results showed me ” Colombo Dutch Museum” and i was curious. I haven’t been heard such thing existed in Colombo. Plus when i searched for the location, Google map pointed in the middle of the busiest site in Colombo, Pettah. I was too interested to visit, so i decided to go there in a Saturday morning. It was around 10.30 AM when i reached to petteh and it was easy to find the way among busy crowd with the help of Google maps. It was easy to identify the calm and spacious corridor of the museum in the middle of crowdy  and noisy “Prince Street”. There is a ticket counter at the entrance. Ticket Price is 20 rupees for a Srilankan adult, which is extremely cheap. There were some curators at the entrance (You can use there help if you want), But i preferred going through the Artifacts all by myself.Introduction to the era and general information was displayed at the very first room where we enter. The Maps before and after dutch rulers, Introduction to religious, cultural and governing structure changes are some of the attractions i saw in the first two rooms. There were many Wooden furniture with designs influenced by dutch culture and ornaments like chandeliers, jewelry boxes and Cutlery were displayed. The Garden of the building was preserved and the well on the side is a major attraction. It took around 1.5 hours for me to cover all the exhibits.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0765DSC_0762…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0771DSC_0772…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0769DSC_0768…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0763DSC_0831
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0761…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0824DSC_0799
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0813DSC_0812
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0816DSC_0798
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0811DSC_0807
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0796DSC_0795
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0794DSC_0790
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0819…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0782DSC_0766…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0775DSC_0778
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………DSC_0767…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………