May 2018


Conquering Galaudakanda
May 2018




A breathtaking panorama of Kalupahana and beyond from Galaudakanda

We gasped at the panorama before us, a picturesque 360-degree view of golden paddy fields, verdant pasturelands, forestry sheathed hills and shadows of mountains extending to the horizon. Our arduous trek through ferns and rocky paths was rewarded by the most enthralling of views.


Words: Keshini de Silva
Photography: Menaka Aravinda and Vishwathan Tharmakulasingham


It was a thirst for adventure that prompted our sojourn to Kalupahana in Kalutara. Leaving the slumbering cities of the Western province, we turned on to charming green-fringed roads of Kuda Kalupahana. When the rustic foliage on either side of the road cleared, the landscape opened to golden paddy fields bountiful with crop.

Top Tip
Always hike in the area with a person from the village, and do not attempt to swim in the natural waters without checking first.


Workers were on the fields already, harvesting the paddy. It was the Yala Kanna harvest; their scythes moved swiftly, slicing through the paddy stems. They rarely broke the rhythm and only paused for a mere moment to point us in the right direction towards the Galaudakanda, the hill we sought to hike. A resident from the Kuda Kalupahana village volunteered to show us the way through to the top.


We started our hike with great enthusiasm. Despite the hot and humid climate, the tall trees and bushy ferns around us tried their best to cool the atmosphere. The initial few metres of the track was paved, but from there onwards the paths were truly rustic. The soil was slightly damp after the previous night rain, yet the stones jutted out helping us find a grip. While we huffed and panted, for the villagers of Kalupahana the climb to the top of the mountain was a weekly journey and one of great ease, as atop it is the village temple - Wanasenasuma Aranyaya.


From spiders to bugs, insects crawled in the ferns around us. Monkeys flung from tall trees. The path to the top took various forms, at times it was a steep climb, or the path sloped or the journey provided our legs a break by being a short flat walk. With only the sounds of our breath and sounds of nature around us, we were truly alone. It was important to keep to the main track and not be misled by the clearings that led into the woodlands. Towards the middle of our journey we encountered a rock surface, around which trees leaned and vines dangled. In the thick of the forestry we spotted ruins of what is believed to the be the very first temple building on the hill. The trees seemed familiar yet also unfamiliar. Looking up, we saw the rays of the sun peak through pretty and delicate leaves. Next, we reached another old temple building wedged into a rock,with a well, where the natural spring rises from within the rock, and we stopped here to wash our hands and faces, and refresh.

We started our hike with great enthusiasm. Despite the hot and humid climate, the trees and ferns around us tried their best to cool the atmosphere.


After a few more steps and rustic paths, we were at the temple grounds, with many images and statues, been built under a cave formation. Here nature was serene. We ventured farther upwards to what resident called the "gala" (rock). It was a flat rock surface, a platform with a breathtaking view of the Kalupahana area and the hills extending towards Deniyaya and Morawaka. We were on the eye-level with eagles that soared in the air. Below us were the paddy fields and village life that we had passed on our way to Galaudakanda. Beyond were silhouettes upon silhouettes of mountains. Just below the cliff-edge that we stood on was a crevice into the stone, a cave of sorts. Time passed us as we stood enthralled by the beautiful view.


Soon, our stomachs began to grumble, and it was time to head back. The journey down was swifter, yet was also one that needed to be taken with great care. Maintaining balance and good footing was essential. Just before we left Kalupahana, we were shown the "storuwa"; it was a shed where the tool and stocks of the surrounding tea and rubber estates were placed. It was a serene location, yet the real treat lay just beyond the shed - a waterfall called "storuwe diya". It was calming to watch the water gush down with a milky froth and land into a pool of still water, which ran 18-ft deep. We sat away from the pool, on the rocks and dipped our feet into the shallow waters that flowed by. Our mission to conquer Galaudakanda was complete, the adventure in Kalupahana was at its end; it was now time to head home.

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    Storuwe Diya gushes with a milky white froth

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    A bird's eye view of the verdant paddy fields of Kalupahana

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    Devotees carrying alms (dana) to the Buddhist monk's abode

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    A tropical chameleon

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    A toque macaque with her baby

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    A spider weaves a masterpiece

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    An eagle soars at our eye-level

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    The soothing still waters of Storuwe Diya run 18 feet deep

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