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|Year and Month||June, 2014 (21st)|
|Number of Days||One Day Trip|
|Crew||3 Plus One Guide|
|Accommodation||Sumana Pushparamaya, 071, Kiriwanagama|
|Route||Pettah -> Bandarawela -> Welimada -> Kiriwanagama|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
** Special Thanks to ** Mr. Aruna Sylva (email@example.com), NG, viraj
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
After our expedition at Karandagolla cave (Nil Diya Pokuna), we’ve become more and more interested in exploring caves. It is amazing to see so much of caves in the central of Sri Lanka, creating a notion that they are connected to each other.
Few weeks back, I saw a clip of the cave on Sirasa news, which looked like Nil Diya Pokuna. Worried about the excessive exposure it could get, I sat in front of the TV, waiting for the story. Thank god! It’s not Nil Diya Pokuna but Sthreepura. Immediately, I called my partner in crime. (You can watch the short clip here )
Some believe that the cave was built by Ravana, and used as a route seetha eliya. Others believe that it was built by King Walagamba / Manabharana.
We decided to select some of the crew from previous caving, but all of them were busy. It was the same situation for few lakdasun members we contacted. Two more guys dropped at the last day so the crew was limited to three.
Myself, Sachintha, and Nirmal left Pettah around 11pm in Colombo-Badulla bus (Superline Travels – 0777382186) and arrived Bandrawela around 4am.
To our confusion, people were telling different times of bus departure to Welimada. Most of them said that it will come at 5.30am. But the bus we got in came around 4.40am and left by 5.10am. Therefore, stay at Bandarawela town. We came around 6.10am to Welimada and was lucky enough to spot a bus, directly going to Kiriwanagma. We left around 6.30am and by 7.20am, we were at Kiriwanagama. It seems that there are only two buses operating. Most of the time, it is the same bus traveling both ways. If you miss the 6.30am bus, you will have to wait about 2 hours for it to return.
Alternatively, you can go to Loonuwatta, and proceed to Kiriwanagama. You can get an idea from below map about the route. Sthreepura is close to Manawela Ella.
The bus stops right in front of Sumana Pushparamaya. We were in two minds whether to visit the monk or go straight uphill, in search of the cave. Everyone voted to have a brief visit to the temple. The monk is extremely generous. Offered us breakfast and also took trouble in finding a villager to guide us to the cave. He told about the foreign couple & a dog who went in during the time of English where they lost track & only the dog was able to survive & come out from Maturata. There was a film crew from India who badly wanted to explore the cave. He had taken them in. Unfortunately, he had to turn back after few meters as his foot was cut by a broken glass.
After resting for about an hour, we started the trail towards the cave.
Nirmal was extremely slow and myself and Sachintha were concerned whether we made the right decision by inviting him. It took almost an hour to get to the cave entrance. Distance from the temple to the cave is unknown. I’m guessing it’s between 2-4 kms.
By 9.40am, we managed to find the cave entrance. There are actually three openings. Only one seems to be attainable.
Entrance #2 is a narrow crevice. It is too risky to attend as there’s hardly any room for movements when descending. We thought we’d give it a try, after exploring via entrance #1. But forgot all about it after coming back to the surface.
Entry to the entrance #3 is buried with sand. This is the biggest entry to the cave.
As soon as we got in, we tied up the thread to the tree trunk. This is very important. There are many routes inside and the thread will help you to find the way.
Once you are inside, there is a tunnel on the left side which goes upwards, and one on the right side. We went on few meters from the tunnel on the left side but it seems to be buried. We felt that it could lead to entrance#2 or #3.
We came back to the junction and went on the tunnel on the right side. There is hardly any space for you to stand and walk. We were half bent, most of the time. The tunnel is slippery at certain places. There were plenty of cockroaches, but they were unaware of our presence. We also found twines used by explorers who came before us.
When you go further, there’s another junction with routes towards left and right. We chose right. On the way, there were broken glasses and plastic bottles. We couldn’t believe how people could get so irresponsible.
Smell of the bat poop was getting worse, and probably a bat colony is nearby. We lit the lighter to check the oxygen level. The flame was low, but nothing serious. After having a 2-1 win with the vote, we moved in further.
A few meters ahead, we met the house keepers 😀 . There were thousands of bats hanging on the roof. Passing them was a challenge. Sachintha was directing the head lamp at them and moving it sideways. The bats responded and moved away. We moved further into the tunnel.
At certain places, there were inches of bat poop on the floor, with thousands of cockroaches on the walls, giving us a tough time.
I had to cover my mouth and nose with a cloth as the smell was getting worse. We moved slowly with the intention of finding an exit point. It felt like we moved a great distance. Breathing was difficult. Now we are closer to the 2nd bat colony. We checked the lighter and it wasn’t lighting at all. We lit a match as we didn’t want to give up. It got lit, so we started to move forward again, though it’s a risky move. It was impossible to move further after the 2nd bat colony. The tunnel got narrower and now we could feel the lack of oxygen. I was coughing heavily.
Immediately, we turned back. I was stopping time to time as due to the difficulty in breathing, but Sachintha was in a hurry as he pushed us and literally ran away.
Now we are back at the junction. The air was getting better so we decided to take a break. There were fallen bricks, which seemed to be man-made. After spending about 10-15 minutes, we took right (the left side tunnel we didn’t take on our way). There was a porcupine quill, but it was black and reddish-orange, contrary to the common black and white. We were excited to see a porcupine, but wasn’t successful. We managed to see only porcupine poop. Again, we saw vandalism done by people. Someone had marked his name on the wall with paint or chalk.
When going few meters in this route, you will come to another junction. Sachintha took the left and I took the right, where Nirmal and the villager (Sumathi) decided to stay. You need to crawl when exploring these two tunnels. After a while, I could see the light of Sachintha’s headlamp. So there’s a high chance of the two tunnels merging. But we couldn’t move further as they were getting too narrow.
With nothing left to do, we headed back to the junction and moved towards the surface. It took about 3 hours for the whole journey. Exact distance is unknown, but we felt the main route is between 200m-500m.