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|Year and Month||December, 2010 (From 17th to 20th )|
|Number of Days||3 days|
|Crew||5 adults (4 males and 1 female)|
|Accommodation||Hangloose Rest – Arugambay ( 1 AC Cabana )|
|Activities||Visiting places of interest, wildlife|
|Weather||Unexpected fine weather – No rains|
|Route||Colombo -> Ratnapura -> Pelmadulla -> Udawalawe -> Thanamalwila -> Wellawaya -> Buttala -> Moneragala -> Siyambalanduwa -> Pothuvil -> Arugambay.
Return on the same route.
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
SPECIAL THANKS – Priyanjan and other Lakdasun colleagues who provided valuable information and guidance, Manager of Pothuvil Peoples Bank who found the place to stay, Owner of Hangloose who took extra care, Dr. Deepal’s family who provided two meals with real affectioin, Our Trekker at Kumana who went an extra step to show us everything possible.
|Related Resources||Trip Planing Thread: Trip to Pothuvil and downwards
Related Discussion: Exploring the east and east coast of Sri Lanka – Routes, Attractions and Tips
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Day 01 – 17.12.2010 (Friday)
We started after dinner, from Maharagama around 10.00 pm and reached Udawalawa Dam by 2.00 am. The barrier was closed. However after checking our credentials, they allowed us to pass through with a warning about the bad road condition. Closing the Dam at 10.00 pm seems to be a formality now.
The road condition from Udawalawa to Thanamalwila was really bad. It was under construction and it took nearly 2 hours to pass that stretch.
Our 5th member was to join us at Okkampitiya. We reached Buttala by early morning and reached his home for breakfast.
Okkampitiya is a fine rural area. Our 5th member is the first student who got selected to medical collage from the local school. We enjoyed a typical warm reception and a treatment unique to a true farmer’s family.
Day 02 – 18.12.2010 (Saturday)
Dematamal Viharaya is just walking distance from the house.
So after breakfast, we visited Dematamal Viharaya.
The brief battle between two brothers, Prince Dutugemunu and Tissa was fought in the vicinity of this Vihara. Tissa was thrown off from the back of elephant Kandula. He ran away and hid in the temple under a bed of a monk.
GALABADDA ANCIENT POND
After visiting this historical place, we proceeded towards Monaragala. Passing Monaragala town and reaching 262 KM post, we found Galabadda Ancient Pond. It is just 1 kilometer from the main road to right hand side under the shade of a hillock.
We were lucky to see feeding water sprouts as it is rainy season. This is believed to be used by a queen and her companions
After the Pond, we visited a ruin of a palace, just before 263 Km post, again to the right hand side and bordering the main road. It is believed to be the residence of the queen who used the Pond.
Our next stop was Tharulengala Forest Hermitage, commonly known as Hulan Nuge. Passing 297 Km post, one has to turn left, proceed another 1.5 km and take the second left turn to reach this beautiful place. It is the Sri Lanka’s most ancient hermitage (BC 3rd Centuary).
The first cave contains a damaged Buddha Statute. On the rock wall, there are some Veddah drawings. When you climb up from that point towards a newly constructed Dabaga, you may see red directional arrows painted on the rocks and trees leading to the wilderness. Following these arrows for a distance of 1 Km is not in vain. It directs you to the biggest cave in the Region.
After Hulan Nuge, when proceed another 5 kilometers, you reach Lahugala National Park. We did not go into the park.
Passing the main entrance, you will see new STF camp to your left hand side. You can walk along the fence of the camp to the mash (Lahugala Wewa). The mash is rich with a grass called Beru which is a delicacy for elephants. You can always see one or two elephants feeding on Beru.
MAGUL MAHA VIHARAYA
Magul Maha Viharaya is only few kilometers from Lahugala towards Pothuwil.
It is believed to be the place where King Kavantissa entered into the matrimonial bond with Viharamaha Devi. Later a complex of temples was built on the site. It was subsequently renovated by the queen of 5th Parakramabahu (she too was known as Viharamaha Deni).
The complex is a fine construction with surrounding stone walls and four entrances. There is a unique Sandakada Pahana, where elephants are carved with mahouts.
Inside the complex, there is a stone structure which is known as Magul Poruwa of the Royal Couple.
Passing 309 KM. post, we saw Kota Vehera (Ruined Dagaba on a hill ) to our left. However we did not visit the place as the walk and climb seemed to be time consuming.
MUHUDU MAHA VIHARAYA
We passed Pothuvil Town, proceeded nearly 1 Km towards Aruhagambay and turned left to reach Muhudu Maha Viharaya, which is virtually on the beach.
It is believed that Viharamaha Devi, who was sacrificed to the Ocean by her father to calm down the tsunami, drifted to this place. King Kawantissa bathed her with 7 milk pots, jeweled to suit for a queen, taken her to the site of Magul Maha Vehara and married her. Later he built both Viharas and offered to Maha Sanga.
Ruined Pilima Geya is remaining on the site. Inside it, there is a Buddha statute. Two other statues facing it are believed to be of Kawantissa and Viharamaha Devi. However the High Priest of the temple agreed with us about the possibility of 2 Bodhisathwa statues.
According to the High Priest, the area is scattered with buried ruins. Recently when they opened up the ground on the sandy beach for a construction, some ruins were exposed. Non Buddhists in the area do not allow the temple to go for any expansions.
Between the temple and the sea, there is a nice desert like landscape with sand dunes and spiky plants. It is extremely attractive in the evening
SASTHRAWELA MANINAAGA PABBATHA VIHARAYA
Some 11 Km. from Pothuvil towards Panama and another half Km. to left, we reached to Maninaaga Pabbatha Raja Maha Viharaya. It has a cave complex and ruins of buildings and Dagabas scattered over a large area. A guide is needed to see all places. A security person volunteered to go with us and did a great job.
From the top of the rock, we enjoyed a panoramic view of ocean.
Day 03 – 19.12.2010 (Sunday)
The jeep hired by us came to the hotel by 4.30 and we started immediately after. There is a small hotel at Panama Town which opens very early in the morning. They provide a good breakfast for early park visitors.
A friendly officer provided us a very good trekker and we were inside the Park by 6.00 am.
I had been to Kumana in early seventies and it has changed lot since then due to the war. However the situation is getting improved now.
We enjoyed the part trip tremendously. A rogue elephant charged the jeep just in front of us teaching a lesson to them how to respect the owners of the land!!!
While on a rock at Sinhanaada Lena, we saw an elephant at touching distance.
Deers were in big herds. Birds were everywhere.
It was like a dream.
We came out of the park by 2.00 pm.
We came out of the Park and turned to right hand side to reach Okanda Devalaya, which is located near the beach.
The name itself was a problem so we sought assistance of the Hindu Priest for an explanation. He could not talk Sinhala, but realizing our interest, found an educated Tamil gentleman who could help us.
According to him, God Katharagama (Skanda Kumara) came from India with his servants in two huge canoes and landed at this beach. He went to Katharagama through Yala, met Valli Amma, taken her back to Okanda, got married and spent a fun filled stretch of a time (Honeymoon) before going back. Okanda means playful and happy, so the place became Okanda.
Paada Yatra starts from this Devalaya to honour the trip of God Katharagama through Yala.
The two canoes used by them turned into stone and presently known as Ran Oru Gala.
The Priest was so happy about our interest and the way we behaved. He immediately did a special Pooja for our crowd.
We drove two kilometers from Kumana and turned right to reach Kudumbigala Temple Complex..
The only Sthupa in the shape of Dharma Chakra Sthupa in Baranesa Isipathanaramaya is located here.
A sheer climb will take you to a Belum Gala, a unique location with a telescopic view of surrounding jungle.
Day 04 – 20.12.2010 (Monday)
Every trip has a bad feature. IT ENDS. This is our final day.
So we enjoyed a bath at famous Arugambay surfing beach. Sea was bit rough.
Coming back, we turned left at Siyambalanduwa towards Amparai, proceeded 4 miles and turned left to reach Muthukandiya reservoir.
While driving along Udawalawe we were shocked to see 11 begging elephants waiting near the fence. Earlier it was only one. One day this will lead to a disaster.
END OF OUR TRIP