In Quest of Ehelapola’s Exploits…
Ehelapola Maha Adikaram too had the prowess like the ancient kings who ruled in Rajarata, Maya and Ruhunu Rata, to harness streams to divert the waters to feed the large tracts of rice fields, stretching in this part of Sabaragamuwa.
The channel below abutting the main road to Ratnapura taking its irrigation waters from this Kekunadola anicut (lying close to the main road to Ratnapura, near the road junction to Kalawana) and the Commercial Company by the roadside. to feed rice fields of Batugedera, by the road side about 2 miles away from the Ratnapura town, is said to be the channel constructed by Ehelapola. That Ehelapola channel has been lost in obscurity after the construction of the Kekunadola anicut during the British times.
Remains of Ehelapola Wella?
From the information I got from a few patriarchs of Batugedera, they told me that the channel built by Ehelapola has been now completely erased off, the present channel originates from the Kekunadola anicut built by the British rulers of the time. I also was fortunate enough on my trips around Batugedera to meet a vital informant, namely Mr. R. P. Nandasena, a former member of the Urban Council, Ratnapura, representing the Batugedera seat in the 1980’s. He took me along a lane (off the main road), called Ehelapola Mawatha, to show me some vestiges of the Ehelapola Vella-known through out the Batugedera. Along this Ehelapola Mawatha, we changed our course, through which we had to hack our way, through a web of entwining creepers. He stopped at a certain spot, when he pointed to a mound of earth that was broken here and there. Then he finally confirmed in joy, saying “meka thama Ehelapola Vella” (meaning this is a part of the bund of Ehelapola vella). Here we stumbled upon a decrepit small bund the vella – paved with cobbled stones, breached here and there. At one point, this vella-bund, in this ruinous state stretched to about 300 feet, exposing its stones, and broken pieces of rock, still clinging on to this crumbling vella. This relic of the bund ‘ vella, Mr. Nandasena confirmed was the only known remains of the vella bund built by Ehelapola Dissawe. That’s why this very lane is also named as the Ehelapola Mawatha as it leads to this Ehelapola vella. [h]
So at long last, the lid of this Ehelapola Wella which was still unknown, was removed revealing some tangible vestiges of this Ehelapola Wella . When I later, inquired from the Archaeological officials about this find, they too confirmed it to be the Wella built by Ehelapola Dissawe. It is worthwhile, if the Department of Archaeological officials further probed into this very spot where the supposed remains of this so-called Ehelapola Wella and explore more of its reliability, if it is so this little portion of the Wella remains may be declared as a Protected Monument under the Archaeological regulations.
Next Ehelapola Weva
Next coming to the tank called Ehelapola Wewa which is believed to have been built by Ehelapola Dissawe, atop a mountain, is another part of the chronicle of this part of Sabaragamuwa ‘ reminiscent of Ehelapola Dissawe being a tank builder himself. The local villagers around there, said there had been a spring that never went dry, even in the dryest weather, atop this very mountain overlooking the main highway off Batugedara…..
Across this spring, Ehelapola had built a tank, still aptly known as Ehelapola Wewa. From this tank, old folks said that Ehelapola excavated a channel taking down its waters from this tank, he had built to feed the rice fields below around Batugedara area. It is part of this vella ‘ bund ‘ we had spotted off this Ehelapola Mawatha, as described earlier here. Thereafter, this very channel seems to have fallen into disuse. The irrigation channel coming down from the Kekunadola anicut runs paralled to some extent to the old channel built by Ehelapola below the rice fields of the high way close to Batugedera.
This Ehelapola Wewabuilt on this top, during the British times, where two contiguous tanks were built, as reservoirs for the pipe-borne water supply to the Ratnapura townships, which is still in existence to this day. The old tank, Ehelapola Weva, built by Ehelapola still remains as a repostory tank, feeding those two tanks, built later and that the the old tank village folk, still call it as Ehelapola Wewa. While the area where the two water tanks were built thereon the top of this mountain is called Thahanam Kelle prohibited forest.
Ehelapola’s More Momorabilia
Many are the tales that have been spun about Ehelapola’s exploits and his hidden treasures around Batugedera. As Ehelapola was conspiring to kill Sri Wickremarajasinha, King of Kandy, it is said that Ehelapola took a regalia – a sort of imitation crown studded with gems and a sword. These treasures were said to have been concealed in a paddyfield at a place still called Mahawela (off Batugedera). Incidentally mention has to be made that Ehelapola’s sword is being displayed at the Sabaragamuwa National Museum, (Ratnapura), with a writing attached to it, it to be so.
The Island, May 08, 2004
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Map of Ehelapola Wewa
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Driving Directions to Ehelapola Wewa
Route from Colombo to Ehelapola Wewa
|Though : Awissawella|
distance : 95 km
Travel time :2.5-3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map