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|Year and Month||April, 2015|
|Number of Days||Two|
|Crew||2 (Me and my better half)|
|Accommodation||Back Of Beyond Pidurangala|
|Activities||Archaeology / History / Scenery / Photography|
|Route||D1: Chilaw -> Wariyapola -> Kurunegala -> Ridigama -> Ibbagamuwa ->Arankele -> Madahapola -> Melsiripura -> Dambulla -> Sigiriya
D2: Pidurangala -> Kimbissa -> Kandalama -> Dambulla -> Panapitiya -> A6 -> Melsiripura -> Madahapola -> Kumbukgete -> Wariyapola -> Chilaw
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Related Resources||Historical places in Ibbagamuwa|
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Sinhala New Year is a special time of the year and we decided to spend the holiday in a relaxing way but as usual we ended up loitering around. Early morning we reached Kurunegala and headed towards Ridi viharaya which is one of the most famous sites in this region because of its archaeology value.
Ridi Viharaya lies about 20 kilometers away from the ancient kingdom of Kurunegala in a small village called Ridi Gama. This temple is said to be built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BC as a memorial to the place where he found a silver (ridi) ore mine which was used to finance the building of the gigantic Ruwanweli Seya . The great chronicle Mahavamsa describes the discovery of this mine by a trader
There is lot to see and one needs to spend sufficient time to explore the premises. Unfortunately photographing the masterpieces in the caved image house requires special permission.
From Ridigama we took off towards Ibbagamuwa and from there we took the Kumbukgete road. On our way we had to take another left hand turn to reach historically important Arankele hermitage.
The ancient monastery of Arankele which is acclaimed to be the premier Forest Hemitage of Sri Lanka was constructed in the past for the use of Bhikkhus engaged in meditation. It is located in the Ganewatta Divisional Secretariat Division of the Kurunegala District.
There are two schools of thought regarding the origin of its name. One such thought is the combination of the word “aran” derived from Arahat and “kele” being forest hermitage where the Arahants took shelter. The other being the adaptation of the two words “Arama” meaning monastery and “kele” meaning forest to form the word Arankele which had further evolved to sound Arankele.
This Bhikkhu monastery which is in a natural habitat has mountain slopes and plataues dotted with hundreds of buildings such as padhanagharas, Jantagharas (hot water bathing houses), Bodhigharas (parapet encrcling Bo trees), ponds, promenades, caves etc. Of the buildings in the sacred area, the presence of a Jantaghara for the aged and the sick Bhikkhus is of special significance. In the Jantaghara, places are set aside for hot baths, saunas and medicinal baths. In this building the hearths used for boiling water and grinding stones for the making of medicinal pastes from herbs are found as well.
The Cankamanaghara found in the complex is a sheltered promenade. Sanitary utilities comprising of the triade-urinals, toilets and wash rooms are located in the vicinity of the building. In addition to ponds brimming with water, long promenades, residences for the monks, buildings, Bodhigharas, Padhanagharas for the use of monks engaged in meditation are well placed in the monastic complex.
For both of us the walk along this ancient hermitage was so relaxing. There were only voices of birds to be heard and it was so peaceful.
From Arankele we took off towards Sigiriya which was our last attraction of the day. Though I have been to this rock fortress as a kid many times, I was willing to climb up it again to capture the exquisiteness with my lens. Ah yes things seems to have changed a lot like the car park is about 1Km from the entrance. Not like those days it’s very crowded these days and to get a clear shot you have to be patient. Both of us did manage to climb up and return back within 1 ½ hours before departing towards BOB Pidurangala.
Sigiriya refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters (660 ft) high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the king’s death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century
Our accommodation for the day was at BOB Pidurangala which is located close to Pidurangala temple and at the base of the rock. It was such a lovely place and we did enjoy our stay at this marvelous place within the forest. If you are bird lover there are plenty of birds around to satisfy your hunger. Since Yohan also was there that day, we did manage to have a long chat before ending this lovely but tiring day.
Next day after saying goodbye to Yohan and his family we took off towards Inamaluwa. Just before reaching the main road there was a board directing towards Pothana ancient cave temple. At this site a skeleton of a monk was recovered while excavations were carried out. There were many drip ledge caves and after getting permission from the monk we did explore them.
From Potana we came back to Kimbissa junction and from there we took the Kandalama road. At the edge of the tank there was a road to the left saying Kaludiya pokuna archaeology site and that was our next attraction of the day. It was a lovely 3km drive towards the archeology site. This is a lovely location and one should not miss out on this. We were amazed with the surrounding forest and the restored site adds up to the scenery. There is a forest path from this site which divides. If you take the right path you could reach the cave with the inscription and kaludiya pokuna. The left one would take you to two more caves
Kaludiya Pokuna in Kandalama is not to be confused with its name-sake in Mihinthale . It dates back to the period, 853 – 857 A.D., during the reign of King Sena the 2nd. The sacred precincts of this ancient site served as a meditating center for the Buddhist monks who resided there. The archaeological site at Kaludiya Pokuna has a few ruins including a stupa, and it is very obvious to the visitor, that this ancient site screams of neglect. Like at Pidurangala , there are numerous meditating centers or kutis used by the monks to meditate, but totally neglected and left to rot.
There are also two pokunas or ponds from which the name Kaludiya Pokuna has been derived. One is completely dry and overgrown with weeds, while the other looks more like a huge muddy stagnant puddle of water, and a haven for mosquitoes.. I also found two ancient rock inscriptions – one was hardly legible as letters were almost washed away by the ravages of rain, but the second was mercifully protected by the overhanging rock.This ancient rock inscription in medieval Sinhala found at Kaludiya Pokuna, dates back to the period between 853 – 857 A.D. during the eighth year of the reign of King Sena II. It states, that during that period, the temple at Kaudiya Pokuna was called Dakinigiri Viharaya and that a person by the name of Dhalatha donated 23 gold coins to obtain food for the monks living at the Dakinigiri Viharaya.
From here we took off on A9 and at Panapitiya we took a road to the right which took us towards Menikdena. On our way to Menikdena we noted another temple on the right hand side of the road bordering a lake and we managed to drop in for few minutes. It’s a well-developed caved hermitage named Gallenawatta hermitage (Pannampitiya)
After visiting that temple we took off further west and had to take another left hand turn to reach Menikdena. It was a really nice archeology site with many herbal floras with name boards.
Menikdena Archeological reserve lies on the Dambulla – Kandy road few kilometres away from the Dambulla town. The reserve lies between the beautiful Menikdena tank and the Nikula or Menikdena Hill range reaching a 875m height. Menikdena archaeological reserve covers an area of 2 hectares (5 acres) and the Arboretum covers about 14 hectares (35 acres) of forest land.
The history of Menikdena Monastery dates back to the time of King Kittisiri Megha (555-573 AD) but some archeologists believe this monastery dates back as far as 3rd to 4th century AD. From the beginning, it served as a home to recluse arahants from this time and was known as Budugama.
Records also indicate that Menikdena was used as a military base by King Vijayabahu I (1110 – 1111 AD) during his campaign against the Cholas and that it also served the same purpose during the campaign of King Parakramabahu I against King Gajabahu II (1132 – 1153 AD). A large camp site could be seen on top of the Nikula – Bibile hill above the Atha Bandi Weva tank. Legend has it that the name ‘Atha-Bandi’ came into usage with the Royal Elephant of King Vijayabahu I having been rested there.
From here we went back towards A6 and went in search of Ibbankatuwa ancient burial site which is located towards the west of A6. And from here we took the road to Ibbankatuwa reservoir to enjoy some breath taking scenery before heading back to Melsiripura.
From Melsiripura we took the graveled B610 to reach Kumbukgete. From Kumbukgete we again took B478 to reach Hiripitiya. On our way we noted a board saying “Kombuwa” to the left and decided visit that temple too. Kombuwa temple was 2 km from the road and is located at a beautiful hill top. There are few drip ledge caves at this site. Unfortunately we couldn’t hang around much because the rain gods decided to intervene. From Kombuwa we headed back to Chilaw without stopping anywhere to be at home for new year rituals.