Horana is a quite a busy town in the Kalutara district. It is also believed to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Raigam. Horana is believed to have been referred to as Hiranyamalaya in ancient texts. According to legend, the name Hiranjamalaya was given to Horana because it was the birthplace of King Hiranyaka, a powerful king who preceded Ravana.
Many legends associated with the Kingdom of Raigama are associated with Horana or Hiranyamalaya. One such place is Wanahami’s Cave. This cave is located in the Ellakanda Range above the town of Horana. It is believed that the history of this mountain range goes back to prehistoric times.
Raigama was the original kingdom of King Parakramabahu VI. At this time Kalinga kingdom in India was invaded by a Muslims force. The noble women there thought it was better to die than to be caught by the Muslims and some threw themselves into fires and committed suicide. Some fled the country. One such beautiful noble women who fled the country came to the island of Ceylon in the guise of a Brahmin. The Brahmin travelled to Hiranyamalaya on foot and was looking for a place to meditate when she came across this cave in the Ellakanda mountain range. The cave was located in a desolate area, as the locals believed that there were demonic spirits in the mountain. So this cave became a suitable abode for this princess thus began her life as a Brahmin in this cave. This Brahmin received ample less food and drink from the surrounding villagers and became known among the villagers as Wanahami.
King Parakramabahu VI, who ruled here, also heard about this new Brahmin called Wanahami. One day he came to this forest area in Hiranyamalaya in disguise wanting to find out about this person. Fearing the demons, the villagers did not come to the forest. Therefore, Wanahamy went for a bath and took off her clothes one by one. King Parakramabahu, who was hiding and watching this incident, saw a beautiful female figure emerging from his ascetic garments. Unbelieving the scene, he returned to the palace and ordered the kings officials to bring the ascetic, who lived in the Ellakanda range, to the palace.
The ascetic who came to the palace told the king all the details without hiding any information. King Parakramabahu took her to his castle and eventually married her. Her real name is said to be Horanawathi. Later, when the king moved to Kotte, he took her there too, but later she contracted a contagious hives (smallpox?). Since this was a contagious disease and the Horanawathi has to leave the palace. She chooses the Wilderness Cave in Ellekanda to be isolated again. King Parakramabahu reluctantly sends the queen to the cave with his entourage to spend her last days. But she dies only after living a long life being treated with drugs. After her death, the king had held a royal funeral for her.
According to another legend, this cave is also known as a cemetery cave used by the aboriginal Vedda people for cremation of the dead. There are dripledges to be seen in this cave. These are mostly depleted. Therefore, it is possible that this cave has been used by meditating Buddhist monks in the ancient times.
During the British rule, Ellakanda was converted into a rubber plantation. But the Wanahami Cave on the mountain still exists today. The people of the area still perform rituals by keeping several small Buddha statues here. Parts of the old walls can still be seen today. Even with the historical significance of this site and potential pre historic significance, the Department of Archeology has not yet given attention to this site.
- Si.wikipedia.org. 2021. හොරණ – විකිපීඩියා. [online] Available at: <https://si.wikipedia.org/wiki/හොරණ> [Accessed 20 June 2021].
- Fernando, A., 2021. තාපස වෙස් ගත් රූමතියක් සැඟව සිටි “වනහාමීගේ ගුහාව” සොයා ඇල්ලකන්ද තරණය කළෙමි | thecolombopost.net | 24×7 Online News Portal. [online] thecolombopost.net | 24×7 Online News Portal. Available at: <http://www.thecolombopost.net/entertainment/features/71555/> [Accessed 20 June 2021].
- Fernando, R., 2020. Lakdasun Trip Reports Archive » Exploring hidden Caves at Elle Kanda (වනහාමිගේ ගල්ගුහා). [online] Trips.lakdasun.org. Available at: <http://trips.lakdasun.org/exploring-hidden-caves-at-elle-kanda-වනහාමිගේ-ගල්ගුහා/ > [Accessed 20 June 2021].
Map of Horana Ellekanda Wanahami Cave
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Traveling Directions to Horana Ellekanda Wanahami Cave
|Route from Colombo up to Wanahami Cave|
|Though : Homagama – Bandaragama – Horana |
Distance : 49 km
Travel time : 1.30 hours + hike
Driving directions : see on google map