Nalanda Gedige

Map
Crew : 5

Transportation : Car

Duration : 1-2 Hours

It was a sunny Saturday and I were driving on A9 from Habarana to Kandy with my Family. On the way around Naula, I remembered that one of my friends had posted a photo of Nalanda Gedige, which is located somewhere nearer. All in the car agreed to take a break and visit Nalanda Gedige. So my brother turned on GPS in his mobile and guided to the destination.

The by road was in good condition and it is easy to find the place even without GPS. There is a fairly large area under the shade of trees for vehicle park. There was a security hut and an information center, but couldn’t find anyone to inquire about the entrance ticket. After a few minutes of search we found a notice that this attraction has No Entrance Fee!
😀
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So we walked under a stone gate frame to enter a long shady path with carved boulder borders. There is a sign post at the end of the path. The original location of this structure was somewhere else and they had to relocate it due to the construction of Bowathenna reservoir under Mahaweli Development Project.
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This was build between 8-10 AC with “Pallawa” architectural features. It believed that the original location of Nalanda Gedige is the Geographically central point of Sri Lanka.
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There are three main parts, A pagoda (Dagaba), A bo Tree and a Kovil like structure as a Viharageya which is named as “Gedi ge”. It is a stone made building with a half cylindrical stone roof surrounded by a covered hall with stone pillars supporting a(should be wooden) roof. Only one staircase of entrance with “Korawakgal” for railings and plain “Sandakada pahana”.
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I were amazed by the creativity and skillfulness of the craftsmen as well as the people who relocated such a complicated structure. There were three statues and a guard stone inside Gedige, One statue of a god and Two statues of lord Buddha where one was missing the upper part. We spent another half an hour admiring the surrounding and started our journey back to Kandy.

Knuckles – Five peaks

Map 1Crew : 13 (A guide, villager and a friendly boy joined the crew additionally)

Transportation : Cars (Kandy – Hagalla Estate Bungalow), Three Wheeler [Tuk Tuk] (Hagalla Estate to Knuckles Nature Trail head), Hiking (Knuckles five peaks) followed the same route back

Duration : One Day

(Please note that the path marked on the map is not a GPS track but only a graphical representation)

There was about a month of silence after the last trip we went. So when a suggestion came up for visiting Knuckles Forest reserve for the “Five peaks Hike” I had nothing holding me back and confirmed my participation. It was a long weekend and we arranged the hike on a Saturday, so that we have a day for resting before going back to work. Most of the participants were around from kandy but 4 out of 13 came all the way from colombo the day before and spent the night at the Superintendent’s Bungalow of Hagalle Estate. Our plan was to departure from Kandy around 5.30 am but was delayed from one hour. We used personal vehicles to reach Hagalle estate but bendy unfamiliar road took some time than we expected. We had to travel around 35 km from Wattegama and the surrounding was somewhat familier after our hike to Thunhisgala .

As the Knuckles five peaks trail head is few kilometers away from Hagalle Estate, we had arranged four three wheelers to go there. It was around 10.00 am when we started the bumpy three wheeler (Tuk Tuk) ride and there were few places we had to get off from tuk tuks (just because our weight was too much for them to pull!)  😀

After many getting offs and getting back ins we reached the trail head around 10.30 am. We distributed the water bottles we brought among ourselves and each had more than 3 liters of water. At the trail head, there is a monument which villagers use to hang few leaves of a tree and pray for blessings of a god for the journey ahead. The view from the trail head was amazing and we could see our destination from there. Our guide took few minutes to tell us the “Rawana” related stories about the region before starting the climb.

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The smaller mountains adjacent to Famous Knuckles fve peaks are called “Bada Dandu Kandu” (meaning bamboo mountains) and are the mountains mentioned in tales of king “Rawana” as he said. There is no one who have visited there in the known past and highly populated with sambar and deer as he told. It was somewhat covered in mist at that moment and the stories we heard made us want to go there, the ice cold mountains hiding unexplored mysteries.

Few minutes after we entered the “Knuckles Nature Trail”, there was a stream of crystal clear water. Our guide took us in a small detour to visit the Knuckles Falls. It was smaller in height and width but created a magnificent scene with the filtered rays of sun. We decided not to spend much time there as we were already late and came back to the track after few minutes. The climb was steep at most parts of the trail and it made me the first one to exhaust among the crew. I took many water/chocolate breaks to avoid cramping and the guide offered me to carry my backpack.

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It took more than 2 hours for us to reach the first peak. There were few natural resting places with great views.On the way up we saw “Dumbara An Katussa or Leaf nose Lizard (Ceratophora tennentii)”. As most of us were exhausted we took a quick break for a snack. Our guide suggested that we should wait until the 2nd peak for lunch, so we continued the climb.

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We were exhausted by the time we stopped for lunch. Few of us were high on “Jeewani” and I used more than 2 l of water! We ate bread with “Seeni sambol” and Strawberry Jam. “Cream Cracker”biscuits, Cheese and Marsh-mellows filled the remaining volume of our tummies.  We sent only about 30 minutes there and start trekking for the 3rd peak. The climb from there was comparatively easy and we reached the end around 3 pm.

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We spent some time there pointing our eyes to the “Bata Dandu Kandu” with the hoping a glimpse of a Sambar, but we didn’t. Our descend was quicker and reached the bottom around 5.30 pm. Our guide wanted to show us at least one sambar, so he guided us to a (not so frequently used) foot path covered with head high bushes. The sun went down quickly taking our last hopes for seeing a Sambar away. We continued the walk in the dark foot path praying, not to meet snakes! After many Kilometers of walking, we reached to a motor-able road and hired three tuk tuks. It was around 8 pm when we reached back to the  Superintendent’s bungalow and had a warm cup of tea. We came to Kandy around 11 pm with the aching legs and bruised hands, but with the satisfaction of a great hike.

Photo credits: Amila Dananjaya De Silva, Chamitha Rathnayake, P S Harshendra, Cabe Abeyrathna

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Sembuwaththe Lake

Another view

Crew : 4

Transportation : Bus (about 5km Walk from Elkaduwa to Sembuwatte)

Duration : One day

Sembuwatte Lake is in the border of the Campbell’s lane forest reserve. The road to the lake lies through the tea estate which is belong to the Elkaduwa plantations.

There is a 15kms ride from Kandy to Wattegama. The road towards Elkaduwa starts almost in the Wattegama town and there is about 12.5kms to Elkaduwa from Wattegama. There is a good bus service from Kandy to Wattegama as well as from Wattegama to Elkaduwa. Also trains are available from Kandy to Wattegama. We left Kandy around 8am and fortunate to be at time for the 9.15 bus to Elkaduwa from Wattegama.

The walk starts from the final bus stop of the route, there is a concrete and gravel road towards the Elkaduwa tea factory which is somewhat good condition. If you are traveling by a private vehicle it is possible to go near to the Sembuwatte lake. We started the 5km walk around 10.30am and the  scenic view of the knuckles mountain range made us to slow down for taking snaps all around. After few kilometers walk we reached to the tea factory which belongs to the Elkaduwa plantations. The visitors should take a ticket to travel further, ticket was about 100 rupees (Can’t remember the exact amount 😛 )
We was able to reach Sembuwatte lake around 11.45am. The lake is surrounded by the tea plantation and some turpentine trees. The Management has taken an appreciable effort to make the lake clean and eye catching. The swimming pool which continuously overflowed by the ice cool water springs draws more attention of the visitors. Well maintained huts and cooking facilities are also provided. (But we survived eating biscuits and short eats all day long 😀 ). A drizzle covered with a thick mist couldn’t stop us from walking around the lake.

Golden trees....

On the way

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A dragonflyOn the way

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On the way

Artistic!

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The pool

Mirror lake

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GiantsWell maitained

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Water rushing downHindu Kovil

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Turpentine growth

Tea estate

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Submerged

First view

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Cute little puppy

Narrow path

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Road we passed

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On the way

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Tea factory

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On the way

Wayfarer's collegues

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