Descending into the stunning mist-loaded Dumbara valley through the 18 hairpin bends, five miles and 2,000 feet on the eastern scarp of the hill country, has been acclaimed as one of the most striking drives.
Many writers have taken time to describe its magnificence and Gamini Punchihewa in his recent book, The Great Sandy River, claims that it is one of the most thrilling journeys.
Right after you hit the valley, the Gurulupotha rest house board will not fail to entice you. Here, you may enjoy a typical rest-house lunch.
But our hearts were set on something much more exciting. We were searching for the vague, un-mapped, un-described, Sita Kotuwa archaeological site and a limestone cave displaying some fine stalactite and stalagmite formations described in the Handbook for the Ceylon Traveller (Studio Times Publication).
All inquiries as to its location were met with hazy answers as to the supposed existence of some ruins. The one person we met, a lottery ticket seller, who professed some knowledge as to a few buried ruins in the jungle could not be persuaded even with a fair incentive, to show us the way. Postponing the search for the next morning we left for our night’s destination – Mahiyangana, taking time to stop on the way to admire the glorious Rannella waterfall from afar. Peering through our binoculars at the vast girth of falling water was rewarding and yet we could only imagine its majesty from closer.
Next morning, despite the heavy rains we were determined to fulfil our search. We did not want to postpone the adventure. So back we travelled to the Gurulupotha rest house whose new manager acquainted us with Loku Mahaththaya alias Bandara, a man of the area.
Loku Mahaththaya, who was a paddy cultivator in the area and whose children were schooling in Colombo, showed off his excellent knowledge of the environs while we followed him into the thick jungle. Trees made a tight-knit canopy over us, creating a dusk-like illusion. Thick and tall, curved and curled creepers flourished in competition, sometimes swinging in aerodynamic fashion. Individually they all had their own elegance and charm and together they stood in great strength and majesty, making us feel so tiny, petty and insignificant.
We slipped and slithered downhill, stepping on thick beds of dead soggy leaves, passing large rocky formations and gigantic root systems with the endless canopy of trees over us. Faint streaks of sunlight would dare to drift through the abundant leafy cover.
The long trek through rocks and roots
Suddenly almost out of nowhere it seemed, was a flight of narrow stone steps leading even more into the depths of the jungle, till we reached the ruins of the little known archaeological site of Sita Kotuwa.
The cleared ruins comprised the stone bases of two buildings. Two plain guard stones, well preserved, were also to be seen. The area around it also seemed to be scattered if not littered with stone slabs and pillars, mostly buried under the thick undergrowth of trees and soil.But where was the cave ?Bandara alias Loku Aiya at first could not recollect any such reference but on my mentioning ‘limestone cave’, he suddenly seemed to remember. Yes, a ‘hunu gal ge’ in the area. So once again we followed him even further downhill, the sound of a rushing stream beckoning us till we reached its spectacular sides. And then he showed us the place where he said there had once been a small ‘hunu gal ge’ but which was now under a watery grave. The curved den-like roof of the cave was still visible and distinguishable. To all appearances the rock was limestone.
The Studio Times Publication of the Handbook of the Ceylon Traveler refers to it as one of the less-known attractions. It is described thereafter to be a little known but a perfect miniature limestone cave – stalactites, stalagmites and all.
Well, we had achieved our day’s target. And now it was to climb back all that distance which we had slithered downwards. It was huffing and puffing and a different story altogether!
Map of Gurulupotha Sita Kotuwa (Seeta Kotuwa)
The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites
Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.
Travel Directions to Gurulupotha Sita Kotuwa (Seeta Kotuwa)
The path to the Sita Kotuwa starts at the Gurulupotha Rest House. There is no path to the site therefore make sure to talk to a local who can give directions.
Route from Colombo to Sita Kotuwa
Route from Kandy to Sita Kotuwa
|Though : Kandy – Digana – Gurulupotha|
distance :180 km
Travel time : 5 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
|Though : Digana – Gurulupotha|
distance :66 km
Travel time : 1.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map