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|Year and Month||22 Feb, 2014|
|Number of Days||1|
|Crew||Hasitha and Me|
|Activities||Archaeology, Photography, Hiking, etc…|
|Weather||Excellent (Too sunny)|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
It was one of those spur-of-the-moment journeys that Ashan and I went in search of a bunch of waterfalls in Kegalle on 26 Dec but that ended in disaster as the waterfalls were nearly dried out due to drought and so-called mini hydro power plants. The only consolation was the Galgediyana Falls which had some water and we ended up at Avissawella down and sad.
Then we decided to visit the Berandi Kovil and went onto see the Palace and Dutch Fort at Sithawaka and the tomb of King Rajasinghe as well. I guess Ashan’s working on that report and we saw this gigantic rock from Berandi Kovil which is called the “Gala Balana Kanda”. We both wanted to climb this but the time was not right and decided to come another day.
It was on Tue 18 Feb when Hari called out of blue moon and asked if I could join them for a waterfall hike on 22-23 Feb. It is one of my favorite ones but due to not being able to take leave, I had to give up that idea. Gala Balana Kanda had always lurked in my mind and I wondered “What about climbing that on 22?”. I just didn’t wanna do it alone and then came Hasitha into the pic. He’s been calling me numerous times showing his interest to join with us for a trip and this looked like the best opening for a new partnership.
So I called him and suggested my plan, he hadn’t been to Berandi Kovil, Sithawaka Palace and Tomb of King Rajasinghe. It was perfect coz I knew we’d have enough time to cover them yet again as they are all very close to the main roads and won’t take an hour to do all three. I was anyway so sad about not being able to join Hari and the gang for the hike.
Hasi picked me from Embuldeniya at 5.30am sharp and it was the first I met him (Lakdasun made us friends a long time ago but not met even once). We went along the high level road (the level is not so high nowadays) towards Avissawella talking about this and that. Gosh, this is supposed to be a Pic Journey, not another of my mile-long fairy tales. So I’ll get down to business.
1. Maniyangama RMV, Maniyangama
2. Yakahatuwagala, Avissawella-Panawala Road
3. Sithawaka Palace, Avissawella-Panawala Road
4. Tomb of King Rajasinghe, Thalduwa-Meewitigammana Road
5. Berandi Kovil, Thalduwa
6. Lenawara Cave Temple, Salawa
7. Collection of Panos
Take the Avissawella-Panawala road which runs closer to the Avissawella Court Complex for about 10km (From Avissawella Town). It’s on your left hand side with a notice board.
Note: According to the monk we spoke to, there had been two attempts at robbing the image house of this temple. Both the times those treasure hunters had damaged the arms of Buddha Statue and God Vishnu. At the last attempt, they had tied the monk and put a plaster across his mouth blocking the nose too. He’d nearly choked to death but fortunately one of the villagers had come in and rescued him. The villagers and monks are jittery and very suspicious of outsiders no matter who they are. The image house is kept under lock and key 24/7 and you might not even get to go in and have look let alone take pics. There’s an archaeological office nearby and you might have to get permission from them to take pics providing the monk is willing to show you.
There’s this concern about the paintings inside as they have done the wiring inside damaging lots of paintings. I wonder how come the archaeological department allowed something like that to happen. The roof is leaking and bat dung keeps falling down. They have to do something to preserve them and make sure those paintings are not destroyed by sheer carelessness.
It’s a very sad thing as so many genuine and keen travelers get affected by these kinda things. I know that we can’t put the blame on the temple or resident monks. At this rate, there will be a time when we won’t simply be able to go and see these historical places in the foreseeable future.
My aim at first was to climb the Gala Balana Kanda but we ended up doing the taller brother of his, Yakahatuwagala. It’s next to the Gala Balana Kanda with a tree covered tiny rocky summit. However the villagers claim the view from Yakahatuwagala is a lot better than the Gala Balana Kanda coz it’s blocked by the Yakahatuwagala.
The path to climb Gala Balana Kanda is before the Maniyangala temple (unfortunately we simply couldn’t get the right directions) and the Yakahatuwagala is passing the Maniyangama Temple for another 1km or so along Panawala Road.
There’s a junction with a couple of tuk-tuks parked (I can’t remember the name but you can’t miss it) and from there you have to turn to your left. As soon as you turn to this narrow road, there’s a bridge. It’s called the Viharakanda 124B Grama Niladhari Office. Along this road travel about 100m and take the right rock-paved road uphill (remember you can’t drive a low ground clearance vehicle) for another 600-800m till the road ends. From there just get the directions from the villagers.
Unfortunately Hasitha couldn’t come all the way up coz he’s pulled his muscle.
Note: We saw plenty of cut down trees making this is a heaven of loggers. The lady where we parked our vehicle claimed that all the springs now have died due to this illegal wood business. It looks the villagers are doing this illegal activity depriving themselves of pure drinking water. What a disaster for them not to understand the value of the forest and those springs.
We also heard from one of the people that this intense drought is mainly due to Nelu Flowers. He claimed that when the Nelu Flowers bloom (every 7 or so years) the drought is too intense coz the nature tries to kill those plants. Interesting theory that was.
There had been a communications tower on top, thus the built steps. But now it’s been removed due to lightning affecting the nearby villagers according to some folks.
This is on the Panawala Road about 1km from the Court Complex to your right coming from Avissawella. Keep an eye out for the Archaeological Notice.
Tomb of King Rajasinghe
Take the Thalduwa Road and turn to your left from the town along Meewitigamman Road (Amithirigala Road) for about 1.5km. The archaeological sign is on the left. Unfortunately some idiot has put up a notice board nearly covering the archaeological sign, so do keep a close eye out for it.
This is just passing the main bride at Thalduwa onto your right about 100m from the main road. The path is concrete paved and easily motorable. There is a car park too.
Just be warned the care taker there is very adamant and not allowing you to take pics. However, it was someone else when Ashan and I went to this place couple of months ago. That person was very good and let us take pics and even revealed some of the history but the current fella is only good at shouting you and waving the rule book at you.
Lenawara Cave Temple
When coming from Avissawella, you have to turn to your right at Salawa junction which is passing Kosgama (both Ihala and Pahala Kosgama) along Akarawita Road. Salawa Hospital is also located along this road. About 1-1.5km away the temple is bordering the main road.
As usual, this image house too is under lock and key and the main temple is across the road some distance away so not a soul at sight most of the time.
I simply forgot to take a lot of panoramas as I was pre-occupied with enjoying the scenery and shooting a short documentary from the top of Yakahatuwagala.