A Two Day Trip With No Destination (හිස හැරුණු අතේ දින 2ක්)

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Year and MonthJuly, 2018
Number of Days2
Crew2 ( both 40+)
Accommodationrest house / lodge / Anything available
ActivitiesWildlife, nature, heritage, Photography
RouteDay 1 Colombo->Kegalle – Rambukkana – Mawathagama – Matale – Riverston -> Hettipola – Wasgamuwa – Habarana through Bakamuna 
Day 2 Habarana – Namalpura – Mahadivulwewa – Mananakattiya – Hamillawa – Thiriyaya through Gomarankadawala – Kokilai Fishing point – 
Back to Colombo through Padaviya – Kebithigollewa – Anurahapura – Wariyapola
Tips, Notes and Special remarks-The trip was planned to have a no plan other than make use of B roads as much as possible. 
-Most B roads are good but make sure your tires are in good condition. 
-It is very important to talk to the priest or a significant person at ancient remote temples and declare your intentions before exploring these sites. This is due the proliferation of treasure hunters who would steal and destroy any artifact of historical significant of these temples. Most of the statues of these ancient temples have been destroyed by treasure hunters at one time or another in search of artifacts buried in them.
-Acknowledgements and references Sigiriya & Beyond Various Posts by Lakdasun, amazinglanka.com Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara by Kusumsiri 

The trip was scheduled with one of my friends from university and usual we planned to have no plan other than the duration this time would be just 2 days. 

By the end of the 2 days, we had visited 14 places and travelled 900 kilometers 

  1. Makulana Rajamaha Viharaya 
  2. A limestone kiln in Yatawatta area
  3. Deevilla Ambalama 
  4. Kawatayamuna Rajamaha Viharaya 
  5. Bambarakiri Ella 
  6. Riverstone Telcom Tower 
  7. Pitawala Pathana Mini Worlds End 
  8. Wasgamuwa National Park
  9. Namalpura Sri Vishuddharama Tampita Viharaya (Madawala Tampita Viharaya) 
  10. Mahadivulwewa Ancient Tampita Viharaya
  11. Manankattiya Sri Sudarshanarama Tampita Rajamaha Viharaya 
  12. Pahalagama Archeology Site 
  13. Thiriyaya Girihandu Seya 
  14. Kokilai Fishing Point / Bird Sanctuary

Day 1

We met on a Thursday at 4 AM at Bamabalapitiya and came to Thunmulla junction and stopped. It was time to make the first decision. Which way should we turn ? After bit of deliberation we decided to drive towards Kandy and decide any diversions on the way. 

On the way we decided to go to Knuckles side and to avoid primary roads turned towards Rambukkana from Kegalle and took the Mawathagama road. Passing Mawathagama, we saw the Makulana Raja Maha Viharaya and its stupa on a massive rock standing against the morning sky. The time was around 7 am now and it was time for our first stop. 

According to a board displayed at the temple, two merchants Tapassu Balluka after bringing the hair relics of Buddha to the country, part of it was given to a friend called “Kanaka”. This part of of the hair relics has been enshrined at this stupa with the sponsorship of the regional king Bimba. “Makuta” is hair in Pali language and converted to Makula in Sinhala. “Ana” is jungle in old Sinhalese thus the jungle area where the Makula was enshrined was been called Makulana. 

Little did we know that we will be visiting the original temple built by Tapassu Balluka enshrining the hair relic at Thiriyaya the very next day. 

We probably spent about 30-40  minutes exploring the temple and talking to the chief incumbent priests at the temple. 

Then we took off towards narrow but beautiful roads of Kegalle towards Matale. Getting closer to Matale we passed few limestone kilns along the road and decided to stop at place. 

Having a chat with the workers we realised this was quite a operation. At the toad level all we could see were people dropping limestone rocks to a smoking  pit. The pit was covered by a coconut leaf thatched roof.  Getting closer we realised this was just the tip of the iceberg. The kiln continues down the mountain slope invisible to the road. 

Layers of limestone rocks and wood are continuously loaded in to the pit. This operation continues throughout the year and fire is extinguished only for few days during the Sinhala and Hindu New Year in April. After few days of burning the burned powder falls off at the bottom of the kiln which is at the slopes.   

It was around 10 AM now and we drove towards Matale and on the way I suddenly saw the Deevilla Ambalama passing by and quickly stopped. We got down took few snaps of the building to the amusement of a bunch of 3 wheel drivers wondering what was special about this building. Unfortunately most of the residents who live close to such site do not understand the value or the historical significance of such sites. 

Time was 8.40 AM when we left the Ambalama and close to Matale we saw a board towards Kawatayamuna Rajamaha Viharaya. Since this was popular name we took a small diversion and went in search of the temple. 

Unfortunately nothing of historical value remains of this rajamaha viharaya and seems more popular for its devala. The only interesting feature of this temple is the depiction of various scenes of hell built across a hall.

After a quick visit through the temple, we had a good breakfast buffet at a place just before the Matale town. 

Then we took the Rattota Road. Passing Rattota we saw the directions to the Bambarakiri Ella and stopped there. Time was 10.30 AM when we reached Bambarakiri Ella.

We spent almost 30 minutes at the waterfall and left toward Riverston. We reached the bottom of the telco tower around 11.40 AM. The wind at this point was so strong it even took a great effort to open and close the vehicle door. 

The climb to to top is gentle and filled with mist. But the wind was strong on the last bend to the top both of us were almost getting blown away. After walking halfway on this wind passage we took a call to turned back since if the blowing increased further when we walked back it would be too risky. Number of people who came after us too turned back at this passage. 

The total length of the trail is 2 km and the elevation increase is about 150 meters along the route. 

Our next destination was Pitawala Pathana plains just few kilometers away. The trail is clearly marked on the plains from the ticketing office and the total distance is about 750 meters to its mini worlds end. The windy situation of the Riverston was present at this area too. Strong winds were blowing across the plains but did not post any danger on the plains. 

At the two edge of the rocks (mini worlds end points) the wind increased drastically keeping us from getting on to the rock at the edge. 

We left Pitawala Pathana around 1.45 and made a stop at a Roti Kade near a bridge which was being constructed. There we accidently found a lovely black pool up the river which Ashan G later identified as a popular bathing place on the Thelgamu Oya. 

After this stop we didn’t have an idea where to go so after deliberating whether to travel towards Batticaloa or Trincomalee  over a plain tea and a pol roti with Lunu Miris we decided go to Wasgamuwa and figure out the next steps. So we drove towards Wasgamuwa National Park .

We had our lunch on the way from a small shop and continued towards Wasamuwa NP. We reached to park around 3.45 PM

Unfortunately there weren’t many animals but we did manage to see two bull elephants testing their strength at a edge of a water tank. 

We came out of the NP around 6 AM and decided to end the day at Dambulla. So we turned back and drove towards Illukkumbura and reached Dambulla through Bakamuna. Since it was around 7 PM, we decided to go up to Habarana for the night. On the way we checked few placed to stay on Google and found a nice place advertised for Rs 4500 on bookings.com. We called them on the way and said they have rooms available. So we went there found rooms and environment exceptionally well maintained so negotiated the price to Rs 3000 and made our stop for the night. 

Day 2 

My friend wanted to go upto Kokilai Fishing Point and on the night before so I mapped our route to see some of the Tampita Viharaya I had in mind to visit which would also avoid the common Habarana – Trincomalee road. 

We took off around 7 AM  and drove towards Ritigala and turned right from Palugaswewa leading to Namalpura. Our plan was to have breakfast somewhere on the way. 

This area consists of a cluster of 4 Tampita Vihara which mostly remain unknown and are are rarely visited by outside parties. Namalpura Sri Vishuddharama Tampita Viharaya (aka Madawala Tampita Viharaya) lies 11 km down this road and this would be our first stop for the day. 

This is a small rectangular Tampita Viharaya built on 16 granite pillars and well maintained. The pillar stumps are about 3 feet high uneven as though they were scavenged from various ruined buildings. This is the only Tampita Viharaya in the area conserved by the Department of Archaeology. 

From Namalpura we took 4 kms of gravel roads twisting turning through chenas, jungles and elephant fences to reach our next destination, Mahadivulwewa Ancient Tampita Viharaya temple which is remote village off the beaten path rarely visited by outsiders. 

When we arrived at the temple, the resident monk was out and there was a small school next to the temple. First we went to the school and inquired about the chief monk and found he has gone out. Then we met the principal of the school and informed our intentions to explore the Tampita Viharaya who willingly accompanied us.

This Tampita Viharaya is built on 15 granite pillars. The pillar stumps are about 3 feet high. The exterior of the temple has not changed but the interior of the Tampita Viharaya has been completely rebuilt about 50 year ago. \

It was8.30 AM when we left this site and stopped at the adjoining Mahadivulwewa Reservoir. This is a large Reservoir covered in Lotus flowers and surrounded by elephant fences. 

Our next target was Manankattiya Tampita Viharaya. This Tampita Viharaya was not identified in in any list or publications but I had accidently stumbled upon it on a facebook page some time ago. After some research on satellite views  I had located the temple on google map and was not 100% sure of the location. 

This was another 13 km of gravel roads jungles and elephant fences with no sign of any civilization in between. Now we were getting hungry but had nothing to eat. Then out of nowhere a Choon Paan truck appeared from the middle of the jungle with no village for kilometers on both sides. 

We immediately hailed the miracle three wheeler and bought our breakfast of Buns, Kimbula Banis and Jam Paans. 

We reached our destination around 9.40 am. Found the Tampita Viharaya at Manankattiya Sri Sudarshanarama Rajamaha Viharaya in somewhat dilapidated state but not harmed by ad hoc restoration efforts. 

The temple lies close the Manankattiya Wewa and is in a peaceful location surrounded by some simple houses. We spoke to the head priest and went in to see the Tampita Viharaya. 

The temple has a fairly large Bana Maduwa which has the date 1952 carved on a wooden rafter. Although the history of this temple is not known, scattered granite pillars on the temple premises indicate that this temple is much older than the Kandyan period. 

We left the temple and and made a quick stop at the bund of the beautiful Manankattiya Wewa un spoilt by human activity. 

Our next plan was to find the Divulwewa Samadhi statues which were almost identical to the Samadhi statue at Anuradhapura. 

The location I had identified as this archaeological site was found to be wrong and the villagers didn’t know of such a site in the vicinity. With mobile data signals being almost non existent to do any research we gave up the idea and left the area with the next destination being the Thiriyaya Girihandu Seya

Later after coming home I did some research on the Divulwewa site and found it to be few kilometers towards Hamillewa from the site I had identified. For anybody interested in the location, this has been update here

We drove past Hamillewa, Mahadivulwewa and Gomarankadawala and came across an cleared archaeology site right by the road. The typical ‘kalu’ board just identified it as the Pahalagama Archaeological Site. Too tempted not to pass it we stopped there where we met with few labourers who maintain this site. This site consisted of a Stupa, Bodhigara and a Image House which has been cleared and conserved. Although no historical document had been found here the existence of Sri Pathul Gal indicated to a early Anuradhapura period. 

It was 12.20 when we left this site and arrived at the  Girihandu Seya around 12.45. We climbed and enjoyed the view for about ½ hour but it was blazing hot at the top. 

After gorging ourselves with some fresh mangos at the car park of the site, We left to Kokilai Point which is a lagoon, a protected bird sanctuary and a fishing harbour which lies about 18 km towards Mulathivu from the Girihandu Seya. 

We arrived at the Kokilai fishing point at 2.30 PM. There weren’t much birds this time probably due to our timing. Last year I visited this site in the morning and the sky was filled with various types of birds and eagles. With no luck with birds we tried to get a ride on a fishing boat around the lagoon but the fisherman were getting ready to go on their evening fishing rounds thus could not find a boat.  So we drove to the very edge of the lagoon where there was the Karawala Wadiya. 

Since the lagoon lies just after Pulmude town, the beach is mostly black mixed with mineral deposits in the area. Here my friend insisted on having a sea bath and at the end of it, it was time to return home 

We left Kokilai at 2.30 PM  to return home. We took the route of Padaviya – Kebithigollewa – Anuradhapura – Wariyapola and Narammala and reached colombo around 11 PM ending an eventful two days. 

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