We travelled 22.1 kilometres along the Balangoda – Kalthota road to the Kuragala and Hituwangala rocks. Unfortunately we reached the site at about noon and it was scorching hot. Parking our vehicle at the bottom of the mountain we trekked to the burning summit.
It was an interesting path. A well laidstone staircase after a time gave way to a confused muddle of boulders . At one point the path split through a narrow corridor of rock hardly enough for one’s body.
The Kuragala and Hituwangala rocks stand next to each other. A small mosque is constructed under the Hituwangala rock. On the steep face of this rock are several interesting inscriptions. On the summit of the Kuragala rock are the ruins of a Buddhist dagoba.
There are a few documented caves in the area with inscriptions. An interesting cave can be reached by descending over the side of the cliff from the Kuragala rock
The cave has been recorded by Government Agent of Ratnapura, R.B. Hellings in 1910. as follows; “The ledge: you scramble over the side of the cliff a few yards to the mouth of the cave. Entering this you find on the right a gallery too low to explore and the left is a narrow chimney rather like a shaft inside the great pyramid, down which you crawl until you emerge upon the Porch of Penitence (Ledge). This is a lofty loophole or ledge window in the side of the precipices, overhung by an immense boulder and opening on the sky and the plane below. It is a dizzy spot.
The window sill or platform is barely six foot by four foot. And the drop must be a sheer 500 feet. Lamp niches have been cut in the walls in very perilous positions, and there are as in Hituwangala, inscriptions and palm prints on the stone”.
The “ledge” mentioned is believed to be where the Saint Seyd-Us-Sheik Muhiyadeen Abdul Qadir Jailany popularly known as Ghauzal Azam prayed and meditated. The platform overlooks the Kaltota plains extending to the southern sea coast which is said to be visible on a clear day. In ‘Romantic Ceylon’ R.H. Bassett referring to the same “ledge” says that here seated beneath a huge mass that towers fifty feet above on the edge of a 600 foot precipice, a hermit can find solitude indeed and food for contemplation in the unbroken ocean of trees spread out below him. Entering from a small hole in the rock at the back, an atmosphere of complete detachment pervades the occupant of the tiny ledge. Earthly considerations lose their importance before the uncomplicated immensity of the colossal landscape and the fatality of the sheer abyss.
The “gallery on the right” mentioned by Hellings is a cave that is said to extend to about 200 feet. M.L.M. Aboosally writes in his book Dafther Jailany of a light inside that appears from a crevice as being no miracle but the sun light filtering in from below since this cave is at the top of the Balangoda Plateau and overlooking the Kalthota Plains about 500 feet below.
Inside the cave it was unusually cool with a refreshing wind blowing on our hot and tired bodies. We sat there quite a while discussing the stories told of this place before we began the descent to the Hituwangala rock.
Map of Kuragala buddhist monastery
Travel Directions to Kuragala archeological reserve