Kudiramalai Point : Thambapanni (කුදිරමලේ තුඩුව)

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Kuradamalai (Kudiramale in Sinhala) is a historically significant point by the sea, an ancient seaport on the western coast in the Wilpattu National Park.

R.L. Brohier describes Kudiramalai as ‘No section of Ceylon’s coastal scenery presents a more dreary or desolate aspect’ than the sweep of the shore which extends to the right and left of this headland. A low cliff varying in elevation is here and there washed on to by the incoming tide, and here and there divided from the water’s edge by a narrow beach. A low scrubby forest rising from the edge of the cliff dominates the landscape and spreads itself miles inland with unfailing and wearisome persistence. The greater portion of the desolate waste stands proclaimed as a sanctuary for game.’

The geological origins of Kudiramalai are shrouded in mystery, but the general belief is that it is the site of an ancient meteor strike. The reason behind this belief has been the unique red soil and burnt rocks in the area. The soil contains high levels of iron and other minerals, that give it a unique reddish hue.

Traveling to Kudiramale is quite an experience. Either you could enter from the main Wilpattu National Park Main Entrance and make sure Kudiramale is on the itinerary. This is quite a long drive from this entrance. Alternatively, you could take Eluvankulama – Mannar road and divert to Kudiramale.

Although you don’t need a ticket to travel on the main Eluvankulama – Mannar road, to turn off and enter the jungle road to Kudiramale, you would need to have an entrance ticket from the park office at Eluvankulama Low Water Crossing.

Walking further on the cliff, you could see the ruins of a cement structure which is beyond recognition. Some believe these as the ruins of a huge figure of a horse that had given the region its name.

According to tradition, It had stood 35 feet tall, its front legs raised in the air and its rider clinging to the reins. A lantern that hung from the statue was believed to have guided ships into the port.

Colorful History of Kudiramale

Kudiramale is the place where Prince Vijaya landed on this island in 543 BCE and met the local princess Kuveni of the Yaksha tribe. Historic texts called this location Tambapanni (copper-colored sand).

Kudiramale had been a prosperous town in the ancient past, a center of pearl trade. The land is covered with brickbats and an enormous amount of fragments of pottery. According to Brohier, these fragments belong to a period no later than 50 BCE. Therefore it’s clear that Kudiramale was a flourishing town trading pearls long before the birth of Christ.

Kudiramale meaning “Horse Mountain” was the port where the Romans encountered Sri Lanka for the first time during the reign of Emperor Claudius (CE 41-54). They called Kudiramale port the Hippuros port. Pliny the Elder narrates a vivid account of this encounter in his Natural History, “A freedman of Annius Plocamus, who had bought from the Treasury the tax farm of the Red Sea, was sailing round Arabia. There he was carried along by winds from the north past Carrnania and, on the fifteenth day, made harbor at Hippuros in that island; and in consequence of the kind hospitality of the king he learned the local language thoroughly over a period of six months, and afterwards, in reply to his questions, described the Romans and Caesar…..” (Weerakkody, 1987)

According to legend, this area was ruled by a queen called Alliarasini (Allirani) and her palace was on the island of Karathivu which went underwater in the last century. During this time the Gulf of Kalpitiya had no opening to the Northward, but communicated with the sea by a channel, running in the line of the present Chilaw Canal and Queen Alliarasini (Allirani) used to travel over land from Kudiramalai to Akkaraipattu. Then a great flood came, buried her palace under the waves, and, bursting through a neck of land converted the lake into a gulf which form it still retains (Brodie, 1882).

References

  • Brohier, R. l (1929) ‘Notes on an Ancient Habitation Near Kudiramalai’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch, XXXI(82 Parts I., II., III., and IV), pp. 388397–397.
  • Brodie, A.O. (1882) ‘Statistical Account of the District of Chilaw and Puttalam, Northwestern Province.’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch, II(II (1853)), pp. 32–58.
  • Weerakkody, D.P.M. (1987) ‘Sri Lanka and the Roman Empire’, Modern Ceylon Studies, 2(1 & 2), pp. 21–32.

Also See

Map of  Kudiramalai Point (Thambapanni)

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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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

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Travel Directions to Kudiramalai Point (Thambapanni)

Route from Colombo to Kudiramalai Point (Thambapanni)
Though : Negombo – Puttlam
Distance :200 km
Travel time : 4 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map

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