|Copyright Notice: Please obtain permission from the author before duplicating, re-publishing or adapting content of a trip report|
|Be a responsible traveler! Watch this video before you hit the road! Download Video: MP4|3gp|
|Do you like to contribute a Trip Report? learn how to or download template and start straight away!|
|Year and Month||June, 2013|
|Number of Days||One|
|Crew||Two (Me and my better half)|
|Transport||Public transport / trishaw|
|Activities||Archaeology / trekking|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
** SPECIAL THANKS TO ** Lahiru
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
It was a while since we walked around, so both of us decided to visit Dambadeniya and return back before dawn. Though Dambadeniya was not far from Chilaw we had to take 5 buses to reach there ;-D . Our main target was a famous rock called “Waduwa ketu gala” which has an interesting folklore. I never thought this could be climbed until one of our fellow Lakdasun members climbed it. So Lahiru was the one who gave me all the information I wanted before attempting this steep climb.
As I could recall the story of “waduwa ketu gala” is: “While Polonnaruwa was under the threat of been invaded by south Indians, the king feared that they would take over the tooth relic in to their control and he would lose his kingdom. So the king prisoned the main craftsman who did the Tooth relic chamber on top of a rock at Dambadeniya in fear of the consequences that could occur if he was captured by the enemy. On top of this dome shape rock a prison was built and on one side royal guards were placed so no one could enter or exit. Daily the wife of this prisoner brought him meals and those were sent uphill with the aid of a rope. Somehow she was able to smuggle his toolkit which he used to carve rocks. On the opposite side where there is a sheer drop he started carving deep steps one by one for many months hoping to elope someday. About 7 feet away from the ground he was all ready to escape and his wife stacked a pile of hay at the base where he jumped on to and ran away so the king and the soldiers could never find him again.” This story per-se was enough to motivate us and we walked few hundred meters from Dambadeniya town to reach few houses where we had to go through to get to the base of the rock..
Locals were not so pleased to see a young couple trying to venture on a scary adventure and they must have thought that we were here to commit suicide or something, so I explained my intentions and introduced ourselves in full detail to get them to smile a bit otherwise 119 squad would have come and taken us in to custody. Ha ha ha… I was not willing to go through that sought of a Drama 😛 . After creeping through few bushes we came to the base to note that the first step was at a higher level(7 feet). Fortunately they have pulled an iron cable from the summit to the bottom so with the aid of it and my bent knee my partner got on to the first step and later I climbed along the rock with the aid of the same cable. It was a relief to get to the first step and from there onwards it was not much difficult at all. But if the cable was not there all the way, this would have been a deadly attempt. The climb was along an 80 degree sheer drop at some places but both of us never feared the drop or the steepness. Finally we reached the top and sat for a while enjoying the breath taking scenery towards Dambadeniya rock and the town. On all sides it was coconut tree tops for miles and miles and been a breezy day it was a pleasant stay on top of the rock. There was a small forest patch and also remains of the ancient prison cell I guess. After hanging around for an hour or so we started to descend back which was bit of a challenge specially getting down from the last step because there was no hay stack for us 😀
From here we proceeded towards Damabadeniya rock to have a good look around the fortress castle of Dambadeniya. The fleet of steps which took us uphill had a narrow gap where barely one soldier could pass at once; this was a point where the enemy could be attacked easily if they attempted to climb up. At the top there are many ruins including the ruins of the palace, “mada maluwa” and many more. Out of these the ponds were the ones I really liked! It was an awesome feeling to see Waduwa ketu gala from the summit which we conquered few hours back! These days’ excavations have initiated and they had found some ancient tiles when we were there.
Indian invasions in the early 13th century briefly dislodged Polonnaruwa as the royal capital and brought the royal palaces to a century-long hiatus in the north-west of the island. Vijayabahu III (1232-36) fought these invaders and retreated to build his palace on the summit of Dambadeniya, which was solidly fortified and secured by a moat, marsh and sturdy ramparts. His son, Parakramabahu II, later became king and ruled until 1270, successfully winning a momentous battle against the Indian King Kalinga who wanted to wrest control of the tooth relic. It was during Parakramabahu’s time that Dambadeniya, 30km south-west of Kurunegala, reached the height of its glory, and where the tooth relic was safeguarded.
Though excavations have not been extensive at Dambadeniya, the visitor can see remains of the palace, the temple of the tooth and six ponds (perhaps bathing pools), and climb the the rock to get excellent views. The Vijayasundaramaya, a restored 18th century temple a little walk from the main palace complex, contains Buddha images and wall paintings.
Saying good bye to the fortress we walked about 2Km’s towards Wijayasundararamaya temple where once the tooth relic was kept for worship when Dambadeniya kingdom was the central hub of Sri Lanka. Here to excavation process had begun and the excavators said the boundary of the temple extends many acres but unfortunately the nearby residents who have settled at a later period are now occupying that land. I really loved the Sthupa covered with a roof and the old Tooth relic hall which is now the image house. There is also a museum with some statues and a knowledgeable person to explain things. Both of us were more than happy with what we achieved for the day so we returned back to home sweet home by four buses.
As we walked into its modern precincts, a board indicated that here was included the ancient Dalada maligawa . The two storied quaint Vihara mandiraya set in the middle of a cluster of modern buildings is believed to have been the old Dalada maligawa. The wooden up stair part of the building can be ascended by a steep precariously slanting stairway and you will be treated to a modest shrine room.
An ancient stairway, the eastern boundary wall, some caves, several ponds, clay ringed wells have been found at the summit of the hill adjacent to the temple. But access to these are difficult.
Sadly little remains of the ancient buildings of the Dambadeniya period. This is said to be because most of the work during this period was of brick. But a few stone images, carvings have been found and are exhibited in the temple precincts.
It was Vijeya Bahu III who first made Dambadeniya his capital. The Kalinga king Magha was ruling at Polonnaruwa then. However Dambadeniya’s golden age dawned with the accession to the throne of Parakramabahu II the eldest son of Vijeya Bahu III.. The learned Parakrama buhu II titled Panditha Parakramabahu is said to have been one of the greatest scholars to have ruled ancient Sri Lanka. The great epic Kavisilumina was his main work.
His rule witnessed a renaissance in art, literature, education and extended even to religious, political and economic regeneration.
King Parakramabahu II also regained Polonnaruwa and successfully defeated the challenge of a fresh invader Chandrabahu son of the first ruler in Jaffna.. And thus except for the extreme north Sri Lanka was once again unified under one king.
Parakramabahu II ruled in Dambadeniya although he was crowned in Polonnaruwa.
Temples which were ravaged in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa by the invaders were restored. The tooth relic which was hidden in Kotmalai was brought to Dambadeniya and housed in a specially constructed three storied temple.
As such even though few monuments remain to testify to Dambadeniya’s past it is said that there are enough literary works like the Pujavaliya, the Dambadeniya Sirita that tell of the grandeur of the Dambadeniya period.
Thanks for reading!