Sunday Observer photographer, Thilak Perera takes a rare excursion to ancient Nuwara Gala through a picturesque Polle Badda, a veddah village in the Ampara District.
Nuwara Gala, once the kingdom of Saddatissa, brother of King Dutugemunu, still boasts of ruins of an old castle and a rock pool built on top of the mountain. It is believed that Saddhatissa who was hiding from his brother lived in Nuwara Gala until the death of King Dutugemunu.
A veddha community, originally from Dambana, reside in Polle Badda a hamlet in the Ampara district. Farming being their main income, the community is headed by vannila aththo ‘Goba’ who still continues to practise their rare rituals and customs.
Thilak captured these breathtaking landscapes and sceneries during his unique journey.
Sunday Observer, 30 April 2006
According the Ellawala Medhananda Thero, the ruins are of a great Buddhist monastery built by King Lanjatissa (119-109 BC), the son of King Saddhatissa.
A stone paved pathway with a width of nearly 20 feet leads to the top of the mountain and to a large drip ledged cave, which can comfortably house nearly 150 people. The cave has been partitioned with brick walls and had had a plastered and decorated interior but the walls and the inner plaster is in ruins today.
Further uphill is a pond, an eternal water source to the creatures of the wild today, but would have been initially built to cater hundreds of Arhat Monks, who whiled away in meditation. The ruins of monastery spread in and around Nuwaragala as witness to the prosperity of monastery during the first century BC. One of the most prominent among is the ruins is a statue house, which would have been built nearly three hundred years after the initial construction of the monastery.
According to some archeologists Nuwaragala could have been the Girinuwara, the famed city of Prince Giri Abaya, the partner of Princess Soma, the sister of King Kawanthissa. Sinhala historical chronicles Datuwansa records Prince Dutugamunu visiting the site with a Minister named Dava. A confrontation between the uncle and nephew broke up the kingdom and Prince Giri Abaya eventually left to Seru Nuwara abandoning his mountain fortress.
Today this mountain fortress turned monastery is in the homeland of a Vedda community, who lives in and around Pollebedda, few miles away from Nuwaragala, in a well-known vedda village immortalized in Dr. Spittel’s books.
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Map of the Ampara Nuwaragala Ruins
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Traveling Directions to Ampara Nuwaragala Ruins
|Route from Ampara to Nuwaragala Ruins|
|Though : Aranthalawa|
distance : 52 km
Travel time : 1 hours + 45 minutes hike
Driving directions : see on google map