A night at mara-vidiya (Deadly path)

2/20/09

Sigiriya is a well-known fortress that is very famous not only in Sri Lanka, but in whole world. Most people don't realize Sri Lanka has yet a similar kind of fortress type historical places still beneath the shades of jungles. Nuwara Gala (Close to Pollebedda off Maha Oya) and Dimbulagala (16 km off Polonnaruwa) are two such places.  

Dimbulagala had been neglected and was hidden within the jungles till Kithalagama Sri Seelalankara Thero explored, started to reconstruct and invited the Buddhist devotees to start pilgrimage. Seelalankara Thero has played a remarkable role in identifying the historical importance of the place and is doing his community service for the poor people in the area. His influence had made some Vadda people to become Buddhist monks. He also gave the moral support for the villagers who were living in the border villages, where LTTE threat was so high. Anyway, Seelalankara Thero was shot dead by LTTE terrorists in May 1995.

The Stamp released by postal department of Sri Lanka to commemorate the Seelalankara Thero and Location of Dimbulagala historical site.

My story starts from some other place! One Mr. S.D. De Lanerolle had written a nice book (i.e. Wana Nadiya) on his expedition from Mahiyanganaya to Trincomalee through the Mahawali River on small boats in 1951. Famous wildlife enthusiast Eric Swan, who was later killed by a wild elephant attack while trying to photograph them, was among his team members. They had stepped in to Dimbulagala & explored some of the historical places even before Seelalankara Thero visited there. This beautiful literature, Wana Nadiya provides very nice article on their experience in Dibulagala and mostly, about the historical value of the site. So this made us go and see the site by ourselves. 

You should not consider Dimbulagala as an isolated temple, but a complex of historical places such as Namal Pokuna complex, frescos at Pulligoda, Aushada Pokuna and a lot more. 
We were amazed by Namal Pokuna site that contained a lot of ruins of historical constructions and also visited Pulligoda which consist of wonderful frescos. We happened to visit Aushada Pokuna in a late evening which made us feel Wow! It was located in a high mountain which is surrounded by thick forest. It is a complex of caves which consist of two crystal clear water ponds in it. Certain areas of the complex had been constructed by men. Archeologically important entities were everywhere including the remains of two Buddha statues. They were like remaining live proves for the rich and wealthy culture we had in the ancient times.  
 
We decided to spend the night in the cave in order to add some more adventurous taste or else to cater our need of spending some significant time away from so called civilized world!
Once we decided to stay there, Channa told; "Now we don't care who the Obama is..!" 
We agreed. When you spend a night in an isolated cave in a jungle, definitely, your priorities get changed at least for a small moment. We knew this kind of a decision has been taken by a group of people in the same place more than half a century ago. 

See what they had told.. hmm.. this is Mr. Lanerolle's words… 







Actually we sat on the cave & read this chapter & could analyze the difference. They have had 9 well-equipped people, while we have only 3 people. We don't have any weapon rather than a jungle knife carried by Devana. A liter, water bottle, three torches, a packet of cream crackers, a pack of dried date fruit were the only remaining stuff we had!

Path to this granite cave is called Mara-Vidiya (i.e. Deadly path) since ancient times. This name is very much appropriate since a very narrow ridge to the cave is very much dangerous; if you slip the feet, you will be fallen down to about 500 meters! If a wild animal encountered, since we don’t have any weapon, you have to run through this narrow passage!

Whatever happened, we didn't have an option to revert the decision since night had already come to the door step. Night was so nice & pleasing. We lit a bonfire as the main security measure.  We forgot nonsense in rate-racing life in Colombo and started talking about life, arts & nature. We just heard the roaring of few wild beasts from a distance. Cold breeze of the dawn was so unbearable since we didn't have bed sheets or sleeping bags!  All those stuff were in the car boot down the hill, miles away!

As Mr. Lanerolle says, sun rise was extra ordinary.. So beautiful and refreshing! Entire range we could see from the cave consisting tanks, rivers, paddy fields and bushes became glittering with the morning sunshine. Whole jungle was awaken with a new life while sun was releasing his very first golden rays of the day… that made us feel, spending the night in the cave was worth indeed!

Now, all are like a dream! We drew back to Colombo. Cars are going too fast to over take another one.. Drivers push horns without any reason. We were passing a lot of boutiques, villages and finally cities. Now we are back with the civilization led by money and power. We were having our inspiration of the unforgettable night we spent in the cave.

"Now we care who the Obama is..!"

Some of the photos captured;




Comparing our information with Villagers..





Narrow Path to the Cave complex called Mara-Vidiya or Deadly path.



Entrance to one of the Caves..


Frescos at Pulligoda..


4 comments:

channa said...

beautiful writeup. Attitudes are more important than the facts.
Waalimbahela should be your next
' mara veediya ' to spend over night.

Channa

sumedha Obeysekera said...

Yep..I agree.. Wanted to keep the memory. Will plan that too. Cheers!

Bassa said...

Just finished the book for third time, and tried to search images and found your blog. This is magnificent. Its very useful to get the complete idea about Mara Weediya by looking at your pictures. Thank you so much for posting them and wish you for many of these kind of adventures.

sumedha Obeysekera said...

Thank you Bassa,
I am glad you liked this. It is an amazing book. We too was in bit of a puzzle till see it.
Sumedha

 
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