Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Discovering Kuruwita

Kuruwita is a moderate sized town situated just about 10 km before reaching Ratnapura, if you’re travelling from Colombo. ‘Kuru Ganga’, which is the main tributary of the ‘Kalu Ganga’, with its origins at the Adams peak (Sri-pada) flows through this town; hence its name.

Many people consider Kuruwita as a route to Sri-pada (through Eratna) during the pilgrimage season or for its close proximity to the beautiful ‘Bopath Ella’ falls. It was same even with me until about 1½ years ago when I started discovering what a ‘package’ Kuruwita offers to a visitor.

Batadomba lena cave, Diva guhawa, Delgamuwa temple, Bopath falls and Dodan falls could be identified as main attractions in and around Kuruwita while all these locations could be reached during a days visit.

Let’s start off at Batadombalena which became an important archeological site after evidence related to pre-historic human activities were discovered. To reach the location, you should turn off at Ekneligoda on the Kuruwita - Erathna road and travel along the Siripagama road for about 3 - 4 kms. Get off at the Batadomba-lena junction and climb the hill on the left, trekking through the forest path for about 1 km. It’s worth to note that Siripagama is another route for pilgrims during the Sripada season. Batadomba lena consists of a few caves including a main cave which excavation is carried out from time to time. A visitor may be lucky to witness a little shower of water falling in front of the cave from the top if it’s a wet season. The road through the forest to the cave is a wonderful experience itself since it runs along a stream for a considerable distance.

Next stop is Divaguhawa. Come back to Ekneligoda and continue towards Eratna until you reach the Batathota junction. Take the road to the left for about 1 mile to reach the location which is now a temple known as ‘Batatota len viharaya’. This cave is big and spacious with some ancient constructions & drawings dating back to the Kandyan era. People believe this to be the cave which the Buddha visited on his journey to Sri-pada, although many wouldn’t agree with it. Adam's peak is clearly visible to this cave and it attracts a huge number of devotees during the Sri-pada season. If you are keen enough you may descend a bit further down from this main cave to the ‘Isthripura’ caves as well.

Back to Kuruwita and head towards avissawella for about ½ km. Go down the road in front of the Kuruwita post office for about 1 km to reach the ‘Delgamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya’. This temple is situated on an elevated land in close proximity to the Kuru ganga. The temple is said to have enshrined the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha during the kandyan era. The tooth relic was hidden within a huge quern made out of rock. This quern is to be seen even today.

I then reached the Higgashena bazaar and turned right to reach my next destination, ‘Bopath Ella’ falls. ‘Bopath’ means ‘Bo’ leaf in Sinhalese, which gives the falls its name since it cascades forming a similar shape. This is by far the most popular tourist attraction around Kuruwita and attracts many visitors during the weekend. Special care should be taken when bathing here as many have drowned in the recent past.

One might find it worthwhile to travel for about another 2 kilometers from Bopath Ella towards the Devipahala area, where the much unknown ‘Dodan Ella’ falls is situated. The fall is created by a tributary of the Kuru ganga which joins it near Bopath Ella. The topmost part of the fall descends to a deep pool where the water isn’t spilled over, but instead emerges underneath the rock and continues to cascade through to the second stage. This indeed is a strange and rare formation. A visitor has to descend down the waterfall along its edge to reach the bottom of the falls since no other path is available. Again prompt care should be taken when descending or climbing back up. The vicinity of the falls isn’t spacious as Bopath Ella but one could have a nice cool bath if interested.

Kuruwita offers more scenic and interesting places to visit apart from what I’ve mentioned here. Once the tour has completed, it’s just a maximum 2 hour drive back if you’re a visitor from Colombo.

Note: It’s very important that visitors behave responsibly while not causing damage to the environment at these places of visit.

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