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|Year and Month||August, 2009|
|Number of Days||3 days (two nights)|
|Crew||Two families. Three females and five males, age 14 to 58 yrs|
|Accommodation||Mahaweli Authority holiday bungalow at Kalawewa|
|Activities||Relaxing holiday, Visiting ancient historical sites|
|Route||Gampaha -> Ambepussa -> Alawwa -> Polgahawela -> Kurunegala -> Galewela -> Kalawewa and back on the same route|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
This trip was done some time back in 2009, but still I cherish the memorable experience of this fantastic place. The other reason which prompted me to write this report is to clear the erroneous doubts among the members of this forum about the ‘bookings getting cancelled’.
You can reserve this place in advance but they accept money and confirm your reservation only two weeks before the arrival date. Once you pay, your booking is confirmed and there is very rare chance of getting it cancelled.
We started from Gampaha and came to Galewela through Kurunegala/Dambulla road and turned left at Galewela junction and drove another 20 Km to reach this magnificent place.
This is an extremely isolated place, surrounded by huge Kala wewa and blessed with the cool and continuous breeze throughout the day. I have stayed in many government circuit bungalows but I have no hesitation in ranking this place as one of the best. This place is very well maintained. Rooms, bathrooms and the garden are kept spotless. There are five A/C rooms with attached bathrooms, with H/C water. Meals are provided at a very nominal rate. Entire house is Rs 7500/= for one day. If you wish you can book even one room for Rs 1500/=. You can reserve this place from Mahaweli Authority Head office at Colombo. Tele 0112687491-5. Call Miss. Suba on 4th floor. I spoke to her recently and she said ‘Bookings getting cancelled’ is a false rumor. She is handling this subject for the past one year and there wasn’t a single cancellation so far.
This bungalow was built for a British Governor and then it was renovated for Queen Elizabath who came to Sri Lanka in 1981. Originally, it was a three roomed bungalow and in 2001 the VIP lounge with another two rooms were built in same premises.
This magnificent tank Kalawewa which is the best engineered irrigation scheme of the ancient world and having a circumference of 40 miles, was built by king Dathusena who ruled the country from 455 AD to 473 AD. He built 18 irrigation tanks and also the Yoda Ela (Jaya ganga), a canal which carry water from Kalawewa to Tisawewa.
King Dathusena’s son Kassapa (who built Seegirya) rebelled against his father and jailed him to grab the throne. Kassapa believed that his father had vast amount of hidden treasures and threatened him to show them. Then Dathusena had taken Kassapa to Kalawewa and showed the water in it and said ‘This is the only treasure I earned so far’. Kassapa got annoyed with this and killed his father by plastering him to the bund of Kalawewa.
According to some inscriptions seen around the bunglow, Kalawewa had been renovated twice in A.D.1887 and A.D.1939, during the period of D.S.Senanayaka as Minister of Agriculture.
This is an excellent bathing place and you can walk more than 200 meters deep into the Kalawewa safely. The cool dip in kalawewa went on for more than three hours.
After getting soaked for more than three hours we had a late lunch around 3 pm. Then we had a walk around Kalawewa and noticed most parts of the kalawewa were dried off, as there was no rain for few months
In the evening we went to Anuradhapura and it was an one hour(60 KM) drive from this place through Kekirawa. As it was late in the evening we visited very few places. When we came back to the bungalow it was around 9.00 pm. Then we all sat down outside the bungalow for a sing song which kept all of us alive until the dinner is ready.
Next day we visited Avukana statue which is only ten minutes drive from this place. This colossal standing Budda statue with a height of 46 feet is located at the west of Kalawewa and carved out of a single rock, is another wonderful work of king Dathusena. This statue was carved in such a way that early rays of the rising sun hit the top of the statue and it looks though the statue was eating the first rays of the rising sun. Hence it was named ‘Avukana’ as ‘Avu’ means ‘awwa’ (Sun rays) and ‘Kana’ means eating. Therefore the best time of the day to view this statue is dawn. This statue is a magnificent creation of the master sculptor named ‘Barana’. But some folklore says the sculptor is unknown. The robe worn tightly with neat pleats and clearly outlining the shape of the body was gracefully carved from a rough coarse rock. This merely explains the excellence of the Sri Lankan craftsmanship. This is one of the best handcrafts of ancient Sri Lankan artists.
While we were at Avukana statue, all of a sudden an unexpected flock of white storks invaded the place and intensified the serenity of the statue.
From Avukana we headed towards ‘Resvehera’ (also call Sesuruwa) through Galnewa, a less known historic rock temple, which is about 20 KM away from this place. First part of the road from Galnewa was narrow but fine with huge trees and faddy fields on both sides of the road. Last few kilo meters were gravel and dusty, but can manage even with a law clearance vehicle.
This temple which is situated in a sanctuary in North Western province with an extent of 1468 acres, was built during the reign of King Devanam Piyatissa in 237 BC. Ancient rock inscriptions found in this place prove that there were 99 rock caves and 365 buddhist monks had lived in it.
There are two Budda statues, one was standing and the other reclining. The standing statue with a height of 42 feet is similar to that of Avukana but does not have the same finish. The workmanship looks inferior and it appears that it was left in an unfinished state of sculpturing for some unknown reason. The reclining statue with a length of 39 feet is found inside a cave. This is the only reclining Budda statue in a rock temple where pilgrims could walk right round it.
The Bo tree which is a sapling that was brought from Jaya Siri Maha Bodi is spreading its branches around and standing majestically in front of the shrine cave. This Bo tree is protected by a three meter tall 4 layers of tightly packed stones.
Rev. Vajiratissa Thero, is supporting the poor villagers of the area and requests pilgrims to help with donations especially for school children with books, pencils etc.
Next day on our way back we stepped into Vijithapura Raja Maha Viharaya another historic place which is just fifteen minutes drive from this circuit bungalow towards Kekirawa.
The final battle between King Dutugemunu and king Elara had taken place here. Vijithapura was a highly fortified stronghold of king Elara.
King Dutugemunu who was ascended to the throne after the death of his father king Kawantissa (King of Ruhuna) had arrived with his army from down south. On the way they have captured number of forts and cities that were under King Elara. Finally they attacked this stronghold Vijithapura with the help of his ten champions (ten giant warriors) and the royal elephant Kandula and became the king of Anuradhapura, bringing the entire country under his rule.
Although there is no much historic evidence, the temple is littered with old ruins. The most interesting out of these is the ‘Kadu Ge Gala’ (කඩු ගෑ ගල), a granite stone used by Dutugemunu’s soldiers to sharpen their swords. This stone shows that it had been used heavily.
From Vijithapura we drove back home on the same route
Thank You for reading this report.