A little before reaching the Hiripitiya town another sign board pointed to the len-viharaya on the rock. At the bottom of the rock was the temple. The tea shop in the premises had just opened for the day.
The little boy who helped his mother to run the shop, told us that he was schooling at the Pirivena nearby, while his mother served us with a steaming hot cup of ginger tea. We helped ourselves to the bunch of plantains hanging from the eaves. A few plastic toys were displayed for sale and I couldn’t resist buying a green parrot on wheels for my little daughter back home.
The gate to the top of the rock was yet not opened. Another group of people from Ginigathhena had come to make a vow at the Devalaya which was also at the top of the rock. A tiny shriveled up old woman smiled at me and said, “Our village folk come here once a year. Many miracles happen here .
We collect money to hire the van and we share the cooking expenses. For breakfast we had seeni sambol and bread and we cooked and packeted our lunch. We woke up at 3 am to begin the trip today, so that we are here early. Today the kapu-mahaththaya is late. Otherwise by now we could have commenced the ceremonies.”
The little ones in the group were restless. The youngest member in the group was an infant of 5 months who slept peacefully at its mothers breasts. The oldest could have been well into their eighties.
At last the gate was opened with the arrival of the kapu-mahaththaya. And we all trudged up the rock cut steps – we went towards the len-viharaya and they towards the devalaya carrying their offerings.
At the entrance to the len viharaya was a beautiful rock pool.
The elongated len-viharaya was situated on the sheer face of the rock with a wide ledge in front. Unfortunately the doors to the shrine room where closed. Inside, we were told included one of the largest reclining Buddha images.
The wide rocky ledge included the bodhi tree – dressed lime green with its seasonal new leaves, and a pillared and tiled, open hall, built quite recently for the convenience of the pilgrims.
On top of the len viharaya, higher up on the rocky face in an oblong niche was an unusual cluster of carvings.
The locals believe that this site was one of the caves where king Walagamba had hidden from his enemies and subsequently built a shrine room in thanks giving.
We were told that two sites in the same area claimed of the same name – Kabella-lena, and this site at Wellagala was one of them.
Other names : Kebella Lena – Keballa Lena – Kebelle Lena – Keballa Lena