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|Year and Month||2015 July 7th,8th,9th and 10th|
|Number of Days||Three days|
|Crew||04- Werner, Amila, Nirosh and Myself|
|Accommodation||7th night at Okanda (ඔකද) Dewalaya premises
8th night at Uda Gajabawa Eliya (උඩගජබාව එලිය) at Yala National Park
9th night at Bank of Menik Ganga (මැණික් ගග )-Yala block 2
|Activities||Photography and Walking|
|Weather||Hot and sunny|
|Route||Day 01-Colombo->Panama (by bus)-> Okanda (by 3w)
Day 02-Okanda->Uda Gajabawa Eliya at Yala NP
Day 03- Uda Gajaba Eliya->Menik Ganga
Day 04-Menik Ganga->Katharagama->Colombo (by bus)
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
Some of pictures belong to Amila and Werner.
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
This was my second experience of Pada Yathra and I wanted to do it in first few days once Kumana gates opened. In my first visit of Pada Yathra we discussed to do it in the first day as environment of Yala and Kumana is fresh before devotees reach there. Unfortunately I missed other three members of initial Pada Yathra and I departure with new three who were actually new for this.
Amila, Werner and I got overnight Colombo-Panama (පානම) bus from Pettah on 6th night and reached Panama at 6am on 7th. We decided to visit Sashthrawela (ශාස්ත්රsවෙල) and Sand dunes at Panama first and we joined with Nirosh at late afternoon.
After packing our food stuff from Pothuwil (පොතුවිල්) town we headed towards Okanda. As there were no buses from Panama to Okanda we hired a three wheel to Okanda.
When we reach Okanda Dewalaya premises it was full of devotees. They were preparing for leaving tomorrow. We also joined with them and loitered around Okanda Dewalaya premises till night.
We decided to spend our night on top of the rock situated at Okanda. There were two small shrines. Three bathing wells also.
Dinner was fulfilled by a Dansala and we had a bath from a well. It was an unforgettable experience as the bucket I lent from a devotee was fallen into the well and we were struggling to get it out.
Sleeping on the rock is amazing due to continuous wind overnight.
After having early morning “Pooja” at Okanda Dewalaya most of the devotees left Dewalaya premises and entered Kumana. There were two Dansala on first day morning: We had Kiribath for breakfast and packed rice packets for our lunch. Though they have done a head count at the entrance they didn’t check bags for polythene.
We started our walking around 6am and walked with pilgrims. Most of the pilgrims stopped at Bagure-බාගුරේ (might be for lunch break or 1st day spend) but we went ahead and reached Kuda Kabiliththa Dewalaya around 12noon.
It was a surprise to walk 22kms in 6hours and we have completed what we planned to walk on first day.
Mile stones we passed on our way to Kuda Kabiliththa Dewalaya (කුඩා කැබලිත්ත දේවාලය) were, Paliha Damu Wala (පලිහ දැමූ වල), Giant Hearth-යෝධ ලිප, Bagure Lagoon, Andarakaala kalapuwa (අන්දරකාල කලපුව), Itikala kalapuwa (ඉටිකාල කලපුව),Yakkala kalapuwa (යාක්කාල කලපුව) and Kumana Willuwa (කුමන විල්ලුව).
On very first day of Pada Yathra, Kuda Kabiliththa Dewalaya had only few devotees. We got refreshed from Kumbukkan Oya (කුඹුක්කන් ඔය) and had our lunch there. Most of the time devotees will rest here for the first day but we decided to cross Kumbukkan Oya. After having a rest under shadows of trees, we went ahead to cross the river. It was easy to cross Kumbukkan Oya as water level was low.
We started the journey beyond Kumbukkan Oya around 2pm and it was so hot and dry. Tree covering in this area was minimal. Sometimes it was difficult to pass the area due to dust and wind.
Land marks we passed were: Madame Thota-මඩමේ තොට, Keulawela Eliya (කෙවුලවෙල එලිය), Halpangoda Eliya (හල්පාන්ගොඩ එලිය), Ettarake Eliya and Maha Gajabawa Eliya (මහ ගජබාව එළිය).
Army friends were preparing to fill water tanks and we have finished almost all the water we had. Our plan was to reach Lin Thuna-ලින් තුන at Navalady before getting dark but we were unable to reach there. We were informed there is a camp site made by Army people at Lin Thuna.
By 6.30pm we were passing Uda Gajabawa Eliya (උඩ ගජබාව එළිය)and decided to camp there as there was further about 10km to Lin Thuna.
Beginning of the second day was not bad due to thanks for the pain killers and on/off sleep. We started the day with first rays of sun light. We passed Etheliwala Eliya (ඇතිලිවෙල එළිය), Pahala Potana Eliya (පහල පොතාන එළිය) and reached Lin Thuna at Navalady. On our way suddenly encountered a wild buffalo who was targeting us with it’s herd. The Buffalo was coming to us and we covered to a tree. This game was lasted around 30minutes and then we moved away while it was looking at us.
It was around 8am when we reached Lin Thuna.
We were warmly welcome at Lin Thuna (ළිo තුන) by a team of Medical camp. We had our breakfast and got plastered our heat blisters. It was 9.30am when we left Lin Thuna. Lin Thuna is situated about 500m away from main trek. Later I knew Army friends have started a canteen there.
The stretch following Lin Thuna up to Menik Ganga (මැණික් ගග)was almost dry. There were no water sources till Menik Ganga and water tanks were still empty. We had Samaposha for our lunch and rest under a tree in mid afternoon. First time we met three devotees who passed us in this stretch. Later they also walked with us and separated at the initial point of Menik Ganga. We walked further 1-2 km parallel to MenikGanga. Land marks we passed up to Menik Ganga were, Uda Potana Eliya (උඩ පොතාන එලිය), Murungayaya (මුරුoගයාය), Pilinnawa Eliya (පිළින්නව එළිය) and Yalewala (යාලේවල).
There were enough spaces for camping at the bank of Menik Ganga. I can remember in my previous visit all these places were full of devotees but this time we had so many selections.
We had a dip in Menik Ganga and made our fire at the bank. After having noodles for dinner we slept. So we have completed about 54kms for two days.
Ruhunu National Park (Yala)
Ruhunu National Park is commonly called as Yala has five blocks and a strictly natural reserve section. Katagamuwa and Katharagama sanctuaries are adjacent to Yala Park.
Yala became a national park on 1938. Yala Park is the most visited park in Sri Lanka and second largest national park. Block-1 is the main area of visit.
This was the last day we rushed towards Katharagama (කතරගම). We woke up in early morning and prepared our breakfast and left the place around 6am. First stretch of walking was parallel to Menik Ganga was beautiful as always it was under tree canopy. We reached Warahana (වරහන) wild life office after 8kms walk. It was occupied by troops for the season. Then we crossed the bridge and entered Yala block-1.
Next session of walking was towards Katagamuwa (කටගමුව) entrance. This was again through a dry zone and we came across number of safari jeeps roaming in Yala block-1. Around 11am we reached Katagamuwa entrance. It was happy to see water tanks were filled with water for the first time in this side (beyond Kumbukkan Oya).
Last stretch was about 6Kms. We passed Katagamuwa and Katharagama sanctuaries. On the way we had a Dansala of herbal drinks. By 1.30pm we reached Katharagama as the first group for 2015 Pada Yathra season.
After reaching Katharagama Amila and myself said good bye to Nirosh and Werner. We had a dip at Menik Ganga and worshiped God Katharagama to windup the sacred walking.
කතරගම දෙවියන්ගේ පිහිටයි