Bathalagoda Wewa Reservoir in Kurunegala – කුරුනෑගල බතලගොඩ වැව

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Bathalagoda Wewa that sustained ‘Parana Nuwara’

Bathalagoda Reservoir
Bathalagoda Reservoir
Photo courtesy of Dr. Ashan Geeganage

It was impossible to capture the vast loveliness that stretched all around us. The sunbeams, pale and yet waking lit the crack of the dawn. Nothing seemed to stir, except the cold wind that drifted lazily through the yawning palms.

It was around 5.30 in the morning. The grassy banks of the Bathalgoda Wewa showed no signs of life. The sheet of steel-blue almost gray water it fringed were as silent as death. The opalescent waters ringed by the misty mountains were rising and falling one after another.

We watched mesmerized the dawning of an exotic horizon of pink and silver. In the distance the sudden ‘Did-He-Do-It’ of a kirala (Red- wattle lapwing) shattered the fragility of the morning. Within minutes we saw the culprit flying towards us.

The power of those moments were profound. The meeting of a desolate loneliness, sensuous beauty, and spiritual depth. The transient light, transforming its vegetation its mountains and waters charged with the mysteries of their hidden life.

The first motor cycle burst into view bumping lightly along the road that spread snake like on the bund of the Bathalgoda Wewa . It was soon followed by a bicycle and yet another and another till suddenly the bund of the wewa was awake with the people it sustained For us it was time to leave to a further destination many kilometers away.

Interestingly, I found a historic note on the Bathalagoda Wewa and the ‘Parana Nuwara’ in the book ‘Ancient Ceylon’ by Hendry Parker. He says that the Bathalagoda Wewa or tank was built in pre Christian times for the water supply of an ancient city which for many centuries has been merely referred to as ‘Parana Nuwara’ since its original name was never known.

Parker talks of a worn out inscription in characters of the 10th century on a pillar found on the embankment, which indicates that it was then restored, or was in working order and a longer one on a large slab left there by Queen Kalyanawati (1202 – 1208 A.D.) the widow of king Nissanka Malla cut in the third year of her reign. Here it is written that the queen Kalyanawati had examined the sites of ‘the unknown sluices’, and had rebuilt one of them, besides causing three breaches to be filled up.

According to Parker who was involved the restoration of the  Bathalgoda Wewa in around 1890, its antiquity is proved by the dimensions of the bricks found at its southern sluice, its flood escape and a building which may have been a vihara close to the southern end of the embankment.

He says that the width and thickness of these bricks closely resemble those of the inner part of the Ruwanweli dagoba at Anuradhapura. Thus he believed that the reservoir was made when large bricks were in vogue in the second or early part of the first century BC.

Regarding the city known as ‘Parana Nuwara’ it is said that even in the 3rd century AD it had lost its original name, and had become simply ‘the ancient town’ or ‘Parana Nuwara’. It is presumed to have been on the bank of the Deduru-oya about a mile from the Bathalagoda Wewa. An inscription of this period cut over the entrance to a cave reads if translated as ‘Hail! the cave of Culuttha, a headman dwelling at the Ancient City.’

Locally the town is believed to have been the seat or capital of the great scholar king Kumara Dhatu-Sena (515 -524 AD) While some even believe that it is here that the incident occurred which led to the self –immolation on the funeral pyre of his friend the Sinhalese poet Kalidasa

Parker goes on to say that historically the place is first mentioned in the Mahawansa in about 1081 AD where it was included with others in a list of towns captured from the Solians by a general of King Wijeya-Bahu. (1065 -1120 AD). It was then called Badalat-tala. It was here that the ceremony of the investiture of Parakrama-Bahu with the sacred thread was held with great pomp and rejoicing.

Parker says that at one time it was a very important post for the protection of the frontier districts of the kingdom of ‘Kaelani’ or south western Lanka and perhaps of Ruhuna or southern Lanka. He also refers to a fort established here.

Many more are the stories told of these environs. Stories of General Sankha Senapati a man of great weight and valour a most powerful general who was stationed here by the king of south western Lanka, Prince Parakrama-Bahu , and his cousin king Gaja-Bahu.

Sadly there is not much history written about these sylvan surroundings.

Environs which may give clues to an ancient city buried deep in time which may have once harboured the pomp and pageantry of the Sinhalese royalty.

By Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror

Also See

Map of Bathalagoda Tank (Bathalagoda Wewa)

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Travel Directions to Bathalagoda Tank ( Bathalagoda Wewa)

Route from Colombo to Bathalagoda Tank

Route from Kuruwita to Bathalagoda Tank

Through : Ja-Ela – Minuwangoda – Giriulla – Narammala – Kurunegala
Distance : 112km
Travel time :3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Distance : 13 km
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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