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|Year and Month||July, 2012|
|Number of Days||One Day|
|Activities||Scenery and Archeology|
|Route||Obbegoda -> 254Km post of Monaragala – Potuvil road -> Obbegoda|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
I have been living around Moneragala for few months and it seems I’m surrounded by heritage and nature. There is a place called Mayuragiri Raja Maha viharaya 2Km’s close to my quarters which I thought I have visited in 2009 but after seen NG’s post I understood that I have visited the Mayuragiri hermitage but not the temple. So on a peaceful day I decided to walk towards this temple. To reach this temple which is situated at the base of the scenic Monara-gala, one needs to climb up 750m from the starting point which is located between 254 & 255Km post of Monaragala-Potuvil road.
Actually I visited this place few weeks back and explored the whole cave complex as possible. This time my visit was focused purely on climbing up the “Balum Gala” which is known as the Monaragala rock.
From the main road it is a steep ascend trough the forest patch of Maragalakanda forest reserve. Just before reaching the temple premises you will find some steps carved on the rock and there will be a pre Brahmin inscription on it (there are 6 more inscriptions found in the premises). After you reach the premises you will find the “awasa geya” which has a site map, which is a really helpful guide for anyone. After meeting the head priest and getting permission, we were given the keys to the two caved image houses.
First one was called “Mayuragiri cave” which is the largest cave in the premises. It is huge and resembles the cave of Dambulla and has many paintings and statues (with years it has been repeatedly destroyed by treasure hunters). The most fascinating finding was the huge Egyptian like painting on the roof before entering the cave. There were few more caves in the vicinity too (all together there are 70 odd caves).
We returned back to the “awasa geya” and proceeded on the opposite direction and guess what we found. There were remnants of a “dalada mandiraya”. It is said that the tooth relic was hidden 75 years in this temple premises and adjoining the “maligawa” there were some monoliths of the “Natha Devalaya”. After passing the “maligawa” we preceded until we reached “Amaragiri viharaya” which was destroyed by treasure hunters too. There is a 5Km tunnel which begins near this cave which will take you to Viharamulla temple as said by the head priest and locals. After passing this cave you will reach to a site where you can see two sthupas and if you explore further you can find a “gal Anda” in a cave.
From the sthups located on the right hand side it is about 1.5Km to the “balum gala”. On this second visit my main objective was the summit point of this rock. Unfortunately I lost the main trail from the beginning; however I proceeded uphill along some water streams and ended up at the base of the gigantic rock. The climb was not that much difficult because there was not much of undergrowth and also the surrounding forest been icy cold following recent showers.
From here on wards it was purely trekking for a place to climb up, so eventually I was moving around the rock until I came across a forest patch which dissects the rock in to two parts. At this point I dropped one of my shoes so I had to go bare foot thereafter. I proceeded up through the forest patch and climbed along the rock and reached the summit of the smaller rock out of the two and enjoyed the flat surface and the scenery. I really wanted to get to the “balum gala’ which was the larger rock out of the two and few feet taller. So I called the priest of the temple and inquired about the path.
After enjoying the view from the small rock I descended back to the forest patch and started to trek around the huge rock until I reached a point where I could climb up. As described by the priest there were ancient steps carved on the rock and from there onwards it was a 20 feet 4WD climb until the summit. The summit once had an “Akash chitya” but now only few rocks are visible and the “Nidan gala” of the “sthupa” has transformed in to a mini pond.
The view from the summit is extremely rewarding. One can simply spot the town, General Hospital, Buttala area, Wellawaya, Namunukula and Poonagala hills, mountains of Bibile, Lunugala, Wadingala peak of Gal Oya, medagama, Buddama etc.The view towards the sea is obscured by the Maragalakanda & Athgala Mountains which are the tallest in the region. I had to start my descent quickly because it started to drizzle and I also had to find my lost shoe so despite taking the correct path I had to take my initial path to recover my lost shoe. It took me approximately 4 hours to end my journey at the temple premises where I had a wash and walked back to my quarters exhausted but feeling proud and happy of conquering Scenic Monaragala..