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|Year and Month||April, 2015|
|Number of Days||2 consecutive days|
|Activities||Archaeology / History / Scenery / Photography|
|Weather||Dry 1st day and a wet 2nd day|
|Route||D1: Monaragala -> Siyambalanduwa -> Damana -> Hingurana -> Monaragala
D2: Monaragala -> Damana -> Thottama -> Bakmitiyawa -> Hingurana -> Muwangala -> Ampara -> Inginiyagala -> Siyambalanduwa -> Monaragala
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Related Resources||Pacheena passa Uttara passa , Sinhala Buddhist heritage by Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero|
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
It has been some time since I headed towards Ampara and this year my plan was to try and visit many more unheard places around Digamadulla. Previously I had done some exploring in this region (Uhana, Inginiyagala, Lahugala) but there were few places around Damana which I missed. I did this trip on two consecutive days all alone and with the aid of Ellawala Medananda theros book.
On day one I mainly hanged around Damana. Unfortunately when I got to Damana it was already bit late than I expected
Malayadi Mountain / Illukpitiya RMV
This monastery complex runs back to king Kavanthissa’s period and to reach it one need to pass Damana town and the turn off towards Malayadi tank. There is a name board directing towards the temple (on the right hand side). The temple premises harbor scattered pillars and a pagoda. The nearby Malayadi Mountain has many caves which had paintings similar to Sigiriya. In one of these caves I found Vedda paintings on a plaster which is indeed a rare sighting. I did lose the path while I was exploring the mountain and found myself in a difficult situation for a while before reaching the village. After visiting the caves I headed towards Malayadi tank to have a glimpse of this gigantic beauty
Hingurana ancient temple
My next stop was at Higurana where I took the road towards the sugar factory. Passing the sugar factory the newly laid tar mac led me towards the ancient temple with caves. This place is now well modified. Even the main cave with the inscription was a lovely image house.
Niyaguna Mountain RMV
Passing Higurana and while proceeding towards Ampara one would come across an acute 90 degree bend. At that bend there is a board directing towards Niyaguna temple to the right. If you proceed on that road you would reach the temple where a young monk resides. It was close to 2.30pm when I reached the place and the young monk and his friend volunteered to show me around in that heat and I’m really glad that they helped me out. First we climbed along the ancient steps and reached the summit with the pagoda and from there we took a forest trail to the opposite rock with the pond and a cave. At the base of the rocky plateau there is a lake and opposite it is another cave. Finally after having a short break at the temple and ending a tiring walk I decided to head back. While on the way I did stop by at Alhena tank at Damana to spot some bird life too before ending the day.
On the second day I again took off towards Damana and from Damana I took the Pannalgama road to reach Bakmitiyawa. Pannalgama – Bakmitiyawa stretch falls through a forest patch and the road is in terrible condition. Bakmitiyawa is one of those villages which were heavily affected by terrorist attacks because it was isolated and surrounded by Komari forest. One could easily find many traditional villagers at this settlement and I got the opportunity to have a chat with them while tasting a hot tea. Though there were many archaeology sites around, I was told that I need to come on another day to spend some time in the village and explore those in the forest.
Main attraction was the Pagoda which is not properly restored. There were many ruins scattered around the temple premises and this place is believed to be done by King Kavanthissa.
Pannalgama tank & Ambalan oya tank
The Pannalgama road which leads from Damana ends at the tank bund and on the way it goes over the long Ambalan oya reservoir bund. Pannalgama tank may look small but it extends further in to the forest.
Ariyakara RMV – Thottama
On the way I did stop at Thottama School and took the gravel road in front of it which led me to a temple. The chief monk was ready to leave the temple so he gave me guidance by describing the path. There is a large rocky plateau close to the temple where remains of a pagoda could be found. The book says that carvings of “Bahirawaya”, horse & a Snake could be found. So I searched for those for a while before noting them on the rock surface. I was bit lucky because Archaeology guys had taken an imprint of these recently. This temple is believed to be done by King Maha naga
Kukulugala RMV – Manthottama
Passing Thottama and heading towards Manthottama I stopped at a “bo” tree and took the road to the left which took me to the temple (on the way I passed a school too). There are remains of a pagoda, Lake and few buildings in this temple premises.
From Thottama I came back to Higurana where I took the road via Muwangala to Ampara. At Muwangala I came across an archaeology board on the left hand side of the road and decided to pay a visit. This is a huge Pirivena and I found a helpful teenage monk who was willing to show me around. We walked along the ancient rocky steps and reached the top of the rock where the restored pagoda and many ruins could be found. After getting down we also paid a visit to few caves which were around before returning back to the temple to have my afternoon lunch.
After thanking the monk I took off towards Ampara where I came across Galmaduwa temple which was on the right hand side of the road. The chief monk was kind enough to mention the important landmarks in the temple like the pagoda and the cobra carving.
Ampara Japanese Peace pagoda
From Galmaduwa I reached Ampara where I did not forget to taste the Unique “Moru” (Curd with ice cream) drink before departing towards Inginiyagala. At the edge of Ampara tank lays a beautiful Pagoda which one should not miss if you visit Ampara.
Kota wehera –Paragahakele
Passing Kondawattawana tank I reached Kota wehera junction where there was an archaeology board towards the left. 1km along this road ancient temple of Kota wehera could be found. There is a pagoda on top of the hill plus some scattered ruins around.
Paragahakele caves with Vedaa paintings
Next stop was AC camp junction where I took a gravel road to the left (starting near a boutique). I had to get directions from locals because to reach these caves one needs to go through privet properties. There are about 3 to 4 caves with drip ledges and in one cave where a monk once meditated few vedda paintings could be seen.
Just before Ali oluwa tank there was a gravel road to the left which I took. After about 1km I noted Archaeology boundary pillars on the left hand side and decided to explore. I did find few caves which seem to be used until recently. It’s better to get guidance from locals to reach this place.
It was almost 5pm and it was time for me to return back to plan my next quest to the east in search of lost heritage around Digamadulla.