November 2017

A Journey to Mahiyanganaya
November 2017

A panoramic view from the topmost point of Daha Ata Wanguwa

Rich in history and culture, Mahiyanganaya is a quaint town that has much to offer the traveller. Situated in the Badulla district, Mahiyanganaya can be reached via Kandy through the 18-hair pin bend road (Daha Ata Wanguwa). The drive itself is picturesque with beautiful views. From the topmost point the scenery is endless with green mountains merging with the cloud laden blue sky. Our journey had just begun.

Words: Udeshi Amarasinghe | Photography: Menaka Aravinda and Anuradha Perera

A hiding place of a princess

In Gurulupotha, Hasalaka we walked through a forest, finding our grip on stone foot-holds and roots. The sounds of the jungle alerted our senses. We were looking for the place where pre-historic Sri Lankan King Ravana had hidden the Indian Princess Sita. Having walked for a while we reached a small clearing that had remnants of ancient buildings, this site is said to be known as Sita Kotuwa (Fort of Sita). The large trees provided shade from the glaring sun and created an almost surreal atmosphere. It was definitely an ideal place for an adventure and the climb back was equally tiring.

The site of the first visit of Gautama Buddha

Back on the road, we drove across the bridge over the Mahaweli river. While the clouds were heavy with impending rain, the water of the river had receded significantly. Our next stop was at the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya, one of the Solosmasthana important to Buddhists in the country.

The temple is said to be located at the site that the Supreme Gautama Buddha first visited the island. The Buddha had arrived in Sri Lanka to mediate a dispute between the Yaksha and Naga tribes. God Sumana Saman who had listened to the sermon of the Buddha, requested an object for worship, for which the Buddha had provided a lock of hair. It is these sacred hair relics that are enshrined in the pristine white stupa at Mahiyanganaya. Furthermore, 45 years after the passing of the Supreme Buddha, Arahant Sarabhu Maha Thero brought down the left collar bone relic of Lord Buddha and this too was enshrined in the Stupa together with the hair relic. The Mahiyanganaya Temple reflects the spiritual importance of the site.

Indigenous people of Sri Lanka

In Dambana, the remaining vedda community preserve their culture and lifestyle. The indigenous people of the country, the wanniya-laetto or veddas are believed to be descendants of the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka. Initially hunter-gatherers, as society evolved they too adapted to the changing world.

The veddas of Dambana, display their simple lifestyle to visitors. Their art, crafts, rituals, and herbal medicines are today a remnant of the past that has been preserved for posterity.

There is much to see and do in Mahiyanganaya in the Uva province...why not head to Mahiyanganaya for an unusual experience during your stay in Sri Lanka.

Sorabora Wewa
Passing the massive white Buddha statue in the centre of Mahiyanganaya town, we proceeded towards Sorobora Wewa. Glistening in the evening light, the beautiful aquamarine reservoir was picture-perfect. There are many folklore, in relation to the Sorabora Wewa, one being that it was built during the reign of King Dutugemunu for his large army. The giant by the name Bulatha is said to have built the tank. Yet, what is unique about this reservoir is that the sluice gates were constructed using natural rock from the nearby boulder. These gates function even today.

There is much to see and do in Mahiyanganaya in the Uva province. After visiting the better known places, why not head to Mahiyanganaya for an unusual experience during your stay in Sri Lanka.