There are just few trees which has been protected by the trees protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of 1937. One such tree is the Orubendisiyambalawa Tamarind Tree which lies between Elahara and Bakamuna near the Elahera Yoda Ela.
Orubendisiyambalawa which means the Tamarind tree which boats were tied gets its own name due to this tree. According to Mahawamsa, the Great Chronicle, King Washaba (65-109 AD) constructed the Elahera Yoda Ela Canal. This irrigation system includes a diversion structure constructed at Elahera across Amban Ganga (a tributary of Mahaweli Ganga), which starts from the foothills of Matale. This huge canal conveyed water from this point to Minnerlya, Giritale, and Kantale reservoirs. On this long way from Elahera to Kantale, it had irrigated small tanks like lhakulu Wewa, RotaWewa, Matalu Wewa, and Konduru Wewa. The first stretch of this canal from Elahera to Diyabeduma (where it is bifurcated to Minnerlya and Giritale) is 20.75 miles long. After 2.50 miles up the Nehinne Ela, it enters Giritale tank and the other branch, which falls into Talawatura Oya and it, enters Minneriya after 25 miles from Elahera.
As per the ancient tradition, the canal has been frequently used by king Mahasen (276-303), the great reservoir builder to travel from Polonnaruwa to Elahera and his Royal Barge used to be tied to this tree thus the tree became to known as Orubendisiyambalawa and later, the area too became to known by the same name.
Villagers believe that King Mahasen’s spirit dwells near the tree, and a small Devale has been built dedicated to him at the tree. They relate various mythical stories with conviction, woven around king Mahasen, deitified as ‘Minneri Deviyo’ or ‘Sath Rajjuru Bandara.’
The Orubendisiyambalawa Tamarind Tree was discovered in 1850 by three engineers who were tasked with with reporting on the ancient irrigation tanks and canals in the North Central Province although this tree was always known by the villagers. At the time of discovery, this tree was 26 feet and two inches in girth. 1960s it was about 29 feet in girth and 65 feet tall. The trunk growing straight up for about 24 feet, spreads into three main branches. The trunk of the main tree developed a hollow in the center, as it frequently happens in tamarind trees.
For many years, the tree has been in a neglected state. Today, the Siyambala tree is surrounded by an iron fence.
Sri Lanka’s first premier D.S.Senanayake had reconstructed the current Devale and given a temporary protection to the invaluable tree. The late Gamini Dissanayake had donated a ‘Dolosmahe Pahana’ to the devale, and helped construct a shrine room.
Travel Directions to Orubendisiyambalawa Tamarind Tree
Route from Colombo to Orubendisiyambalawa Tamarind Tree
|Through : Katunayake – Minuwangoda – Divulapitiya – Giriulla – Narammala – Wariyapola|
Distance : 190 km
Travel time : 4.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Map of Orubendisiyambalawa Tamarind Tree
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