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|Year and Month||2016 July 07th, 08th and 09th|
|Number of Days||Three days|
|Crew||3-Nirosh, Kasun and myself|
|Accommodation||7th and 8th nights at Health Camp at Lin Thuna-Yala|
|Transport||Bus and Walking|
|Activities||Helping Devotees, Photography and Walking|
|Weather||Sunny and Hot|
|Route||Day 01-Colombo->Panama (by bus)-> Lin Thuna (by Jeep)
Day 03-Lin Thuna->Katharagama (by walking)
Katharagama->Colombo (by bus)
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||Walking in first few days and middle days of Pada Yathra have different experiences:
|Related Resources|| 1. Trip report: Updates of first three days of Pada Yathra…2015
2. Trip report: An Endless walk with pilgrims
This was my third experience of Pada Yathra (පාද යාත්රා) and I wanted to do it in different manner. I met a group of people with kind hearts and having genuine ideas to help devotees at Pada Yathra in my second visit. We were the first group who reached Katharagama in 2015 Pada Yathra and this group of people at volunteer medical camp were friendly with us. I decided with my friend Nirosh to help this medical camp in 2016 Pada Yathra.
The idea of this volunteer medical camp is from Dr.A.Lathaharan and Mr.Sugath was the back bone of the work. This was the third year of the medical camp and it happened since beginning of the Pada Yathra till last day.
There is a medical camp conducted by MOH office Panama and Navy medical units at Kuda Kabiliththa (කුඩා කැබිලිත්ත) beyond Kumbukkan Oya (කුඹුක්කන් ඔය). But there is no medical help for devotees till they reach Warahana and this is the most difficult stretch of Pada Yathra due to it’s dryness. Therefore having a medical camp at Lin Thuna (ලිo තුන) (seems the middle point of this stretch) is a good idea.
It was really difficult to get permission from wild life authority to establish a volunteer medical camp at middle of Yala in first time. But the service they have done was really appreciated by the government in second time and gave the permission easily to conduct it in third time.
It is not an easy task to conduct a volunteer medical camp inside a forest reserve for 15 days. It is a real challenge to gather money, human resources and other resources. Dr. Lathaharan and Sugath have faced this challenge this time and got help from their friends.
I decided to join with the medical camp for 3days in middle of the Pada Yathra and later it cut down to two days due to busy schedule. We planned to walk to Katharagama from Lin Thuna (ලිo තුන) in 3rd day and it was another challenge to finish 28km in one day.
Kasun and I got overnight Colombo-Panama (පානම) bus from Pettah on 6th night and Nirosh joined with us from Thanamalwila. Next day morning we reached Panama. After having breakfast and refreshing from Panama we got into our official transport from Panama to Kumbukkan Oya.
Now onwards I would like to divide this journey into three steps:
1. Panama to Lin Thuna by vehicles
2. Two days at Medical camp
3. Walking from Lin Thuna to Katharagama in third day
Panama to Lin Thuna by vehicles
We were collected by an official vehicle from Panama and reached Kuda Kabiliththa Dewalaya in two hours time. On our way we stopped at Okanda (ඔකද) for a while and it was the time of Pooja at Dewalaya. The bank of Kumbukkan Oya was full of devotees. Then we crossed Kumbukkan Oya at dedicated place where water level was considerably low compared to first few days of Pada Yathra. We had to wait for few hours till we get our next transportation to Lin Thuna. We bathed at Kumbukkan oya and slept under the shades of trees. Sugath came to accompany us and we reached Medical camp at Lin Thuna in late afternoon.
Two days at medical camp
Two days at medical camp was an amazing experience in my life. It was not limited to treating patients. We have prepared an herbal tea and given to all devotees passing Lin Thuna. I can still remember the first taste of this herbal tea in 2015. Devotees loved it and some asked for 4/5 cups per time. It was a challenge to treat patients with limited resources and language barrier. We conducted the medical camp since dawn till 10pm. Night was reserved for bathing in nearby lagoon and roam around.
Walking from Lin Thuna to Katharagama in one day
It was a challenge to do this stretch (28km) in one day but we accepted it. We started the journey by 5.30am and said good bye to Dr. Lathaharan and team. Devotees also started the journey as early as possible to avoid the heat comes in afternoon. But almost all of them stay overnight at Menik Ganga but we wanted to finish it by a day.
There was a massive Dansala at Yalewela (යලේවෙල), conducted by Kandy Diyawadana Nilame and his team. We reached Menik Ganga around 11am and had a dip to refresh us. It was pleasure to meet the team of St. Johns ambulance service also conducting a health camp. We restarted journey by around 1.30pm and noticed a huge settlement of devotees at Warahana (වරහන). After passing Warahana we were only three devotees walking towards Katharagama. It was around 5-5.30pm when we reached Katagamuwa entrance and we were asked to stay at Katagamuwa entrance by crops because of wild elephants roaming in the road. But we didn’t want to stay there.
We shouted “Haro Hara” -හරෝ හරා to escape from wild elephants at Katagamuwa and Katharagama reserves. We were invited by army jeep to drop at Katharagama before last three or four kilometers. It ended up my third experience of Katharagama Pada Yathra.
කතරගම දෙවියන්ගේ පිහිටයි