The second largest town in the Puttalam district is Chilaw. It is one of the few towns in all of Sri Lanka to be known by three names; “Halāvata” in Sinhala, “Cilāpam” in Tamil and of course “Chilaw” in English. Travel Guides introduce Chilaw as the city famous for its three C’s – Coconuts, Crabs and Coreas!
December 26th 2004, a day forever etched in our memories as the day the sea swallowed the coastline. The amount of destruction caused by the rampaging sea was a phenomenon that was beyond comprehension. I remember sitting at home, watching the Boxing Day Cricket match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand when the breaking news interrupted the live telecast; Sri Lanka was hit by a devastating Tsunami.
According to the “Great Chronicle”, popularly referred to as the Mahavamsa, a similar phenomenon had occurred during the reign of King Kelani Tissa. The ancient scripture mentions that King Kelani Tissa sentenced a monk to death by immersing him in a cauldron of oil. This act of cruelty angered the gods who unleashed their wrath by making the sea flow inland submerging Kelaniya. Soothsayers, who advised the king during times of distress, asked his royal highness to sacrifice his daughter to the sea. Thus, the King’s daughter Devi, was cast in to the sea in a beautifully decorated Golden vessel.
The vessel with Princess Devi aboard washed ashore on to the beach near the area which is today known as Pottuvil. The Princess later became the main consort of King Kavan Tissa of Ruhuna, Vihara Mahadevi. She was the mother of King Dutugamunu and Saddhatissa.
Despite being a tiny drop in the Indian Ocean; Sri Lanka is an amazingly diverse country. This diversity has many flavors from life styles to culture to weather and history. Amidst the array of destinations there are certain places that literally make you feel like a tourist. Todays’ piece is on one such location – Negombo.
Fondly referred to as “The Little Rome”, Negombo is sprinkled with decidedly ornate Roman Catholic churches that were built during the Portuguese-era. The Katuwapitiya Church and the Grand Street Church are the two biggest parishes in Negombo, a predominantly Christian area. Located about 37 kilometers North of Colombo, the Negombo town is positioned at the mouth of the Negombo lagoon. A traditional fishing town situated a mere 7 kilometers away from the Bandaranayke International Airport in Katunayaka, the economy in this areas is of course based on fisheries and tourism.
The Mahaweli River is the longest river in Sri Lanka. The river originates from the mountains belonging to the Kirigalpoththa and the Thotupola mountain ranges and pours in to the Indian Ocean near Trincomalee; a journy that spans a length of 335 kilometers.
Water from the Mahaweli is used for two main purposes; agriculture and generation of Electricity. Thus, the river is dammed at six locations to divert water for irrigation and to run power houses. More than 40% of our nation’s electricity requirement is fulfilled by these six dams, namely, Victoria, Randenigala, Rantambe, Polgolla, Kothmale and Bowatenne.
Today, I will share with you some information on two dams that are quite close to our ancestral home in Kandy. Continue reading
Kind Dhatusena was the first King of the Moriyan Dynasty to rule our island nation from 455 AD to 473 AD. He defeated the South Indian invaders who ruled the country for twenty six years and proclaimed Anuradhapura as his Capital. According to the Chronicles of the Chulawansa, Dhatusena was raised by his Uncle, a Buddhist Monk named Mahanama, who ordained him as a Buddhist Monk in order to hide him from the invaders.
Like the many great Kings who ruled Sri Lanka during ancient times, Kind Dhatusena contributed immensely towards agriculture. He constructed 10 irrigation tanks during his reign; the flagship of which is the “Kala Wewa”.Continue reading
Seated at the Fort Station, waiting for the Kelany Valley Train, my attention was drawn to an announcement over the PA system informing that the train to Thalaimannar is scheduled to leave in a few minutes. Ironically, the train of thought that stemmed from what I had just heard led me to the revelation that I’ve never been to that part of the Island. That night I brought up the topic with my wife and we put in to motion the plan to visit Mannar as our next excursion.
Kurunegala is an ancient city in the North Western region of Sri Lanka that was once the capital city used by four different Kings who ruled over our island nation for around 50 years. Today, the city has become the Administrative Capital of the North Western Province. Located about 94 km away from Colombo, 54 km away from Kandy, 54 km away from Puttalam and 121 km away from Anuradhapura; Kurunegala is a transportation hub that connects many roads leading to all parts of the country.
Kataragama is considered to be a sacred place of worship by Buddhists, Hindus and the Vedda people of Sri Lanka. The Kataragama Temple, a shrine dedicated to the God Kataragama, is also visited by pilgrims from South India. Many of the pilgrims who visit Katharagama also visit Kirivehera, Sella Kataragama, and Vedihiti Kanda. Yet, there is an ancient Buddhist monastery that many visitors miss due to its remote location. Thus, during our last visit to Kataragama, we made it a point visit Sithulpawwa.
Growing up as an only child, I was always looking forward to the New Year holidays in April and the Christmas holidays in December. Why? Well, on top of being the only child, I am also the youngest in my generation; my youngest cousin is roughly 15 years older than me! It is only during the New Year and Christmas holidays that all my cousins take leave from work to rendezvous at our ancestral home in Kandy. Weren’t they the best of times! The days flew by while playing cricket, board games, goofing around and sharing stories. However, the most anticipated event was the family trip! What you have to understand is that this was a much simpler time, computers ran on MS-DOS and social media was not even invented, so going on a trip or travelling was somewhat of a luxury and not so mainstream.
Situated in the lower central hills of Sri Lanka, Badulla is the capital city of the Uva Province and the District of Badulla. The scenic route to Badulla is via a ten hour long train ride with “Podi Manike” or “Udarata Manike”. If you’re someone who is travelling for pleasure and wants to soak in the beauty of the hill country, then the train ride is definitely for you! Think the view from Kadugannawa to Peradeniya is amazing? Well then, you‘re in for a treat! The view keeps getting better and better as the engine slowly tugs the ensuing carriages up into the cold misty mountains passing the famous Demodera Station.