Pinnewela Elephant orphanage
Sri lanka is the only country in the world where we have an orphanage for abandoned elephants despite the fact that we have a population of wild elephants counting up to 5000 in numbers, spread all over the tropical jungles. Certain circumstances and the 30 year old combat with terrorists made not only man but beast too to fall victims and in cases where sometimes cow elephants died the calves were helpless and in 1975 a project was started to save the abandoned elephants . Pinnewela about 12 km from Uthuwankanda was a vast plot of private property allocated to install a refuge for abandoned and wounded elephants by a great philanthropist. Today there are close upon 60 animals living there peacefully. The most interesting feature is to see a whole herd of pachyderms playing in the stream twice a day and to see the feeding of baby elephants.
The jewel in the crown of sri lanka! Acclaimed as the most beautiful city in the island. Blessesed by nature with the cool climate, sourounded by jungle covered mountains and the longest river in the island: The Mahaweli more than all these the sacred city, venerated by all buddishit the world over for here,in the heart of the town is the beautiful temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha placed in a relic chamber in side seven gilded gems studded caskets. A vast sixteen century temple with beautiful paintings and carvings in silver, bronze ivory and gold.
Historically it is very important as the last Sinhala kingdom where we have preserved all our cultures traditions and arts and crafts. Actually this is our cultural centre where the greatest pageant takes place in the month of July|August with the procession that parades the streets of Kandy for ten days with all the pomp and glory; a ceremony with hundreds of dancers ,drummers , torch barares, flag bareares , and the Kandian chief in the ceremonial out fits with a hundred elephants beautifully caparisoned ; to crown it all the great tusker of the scared temple carries the relic casket accompanied by the lay custodian who reperesnts the Sinhala King in old his regalia
Peradinya botanical gardens
All this splendor it is only 20 km from Uthuwankanda . Any visitor could assist the religious ceremony at the temple each day. Visit the beautiful botanical gardens the best in Asia at leisure; perhaps picnic in the garden! Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of 62 hectare a blessing of nature.
Not far way from Kandy on the road to Colombo there is a cluster 3 famous Buddhist temples dating 14th century of the Gampola period . Gadaladeniya the first to accede is small temple built on a rock completely out of stones,with clear south Indian architecture with paintings and sculptures dating the period and an imposing Buddha statue in seated (Samadhi) position painted in gold. Temple is morels a vault with a roof but covered with stones slabs above.
One proceed to Lankathilaka known as the glory of Sri lanka .This again is the in the 14th century. A very impressive temple built on a rock out of rock but painted in lime with lot washing blue powder added to enhance the white. From a distant there for It seems to shine brightly and since it is on a promontory one can get a beautiful panoramic view from all sides. Climbing a few steep steps one enters the temple where there is a massive wooden door painted beautifully. At the entrance on either sides one sees the carvings of armed guardians in a temple for the first time; With a huge traditional brass lamp hanging on to the left at the entrance. Here again there is a massive Buddha statue painted in gold , to the left of the entrance there is an inscription in Sinhala and Tamil as that was the state launage during that period. Also there are two temples for Hindu deities Vishnu and Skanda showing the harmony of Buddhism and Hinduism.
One proceed on narrow road passing the region where traditional crafts men continue to work on brass and copper objects ornamental and decorative as used for centuries in the palaces the homes of nobles and the upper society of that time. Even today one could buy these traditional crafts the marvel is that they turn out only traditional objects with its ancient value and nothing modern. One passes along a root that penetrates in to the interior of villages to see how people live peacefully and happily in their rustic surroundings and see the true typical village life. Everyone is cordially friendly and hospitable.
Finally one comes to Embekke famous for the audience hall where there are 32 wooden pillars that support the tiled roof whose beams are in extra ordinary form architecture. Each pillar is carved on four sides with different carvings which are wonders even today there are crafts men who produce replicas of he carvings on the pillars, they are true decedents of our ancient crafts men.
From Uthuwankanda one could do bicycle rides several of these places mentioned in this article. All these facilities are available at Sunil’s cottage.
Also the village temple is just close by to Sunil’s and visitors could go leisurely to meet the monks relax in the religious atmosphere and have a discussion with the chief monk. From Sunil’s one could make all these visits and more and till relax for a couple of days. Each place is easily accessible without any hazel and each place has its different significant value and beauty.
Biso Bandara Temple
Another very interesting expedition on trekking about 8km towards Kandy will lead a visitor to Henakanda Biso Bandara temple at Pahala Kadugannawa.Steep incline to descend on worn out stone steps, stone bridges on pillars to cross and the temple almost like famous Dambulla temple with frescoes and statues inside the great grottos. Right throughout one would also see the breathtaking view of flora and fauna. No living being to disturb, one could meditate in a world of isolation and peace.
People from far and wide have implicit faith in these deity that they never fail to make an annual pilgrimage to get their blessings and annually there is a famous procession to honor and revere these gods and invoke their blessings .Dedimunda is a god so much venerated that rich and poor who pass this village never fail to stop and make an offering at a small shrine installed by the side of the main road.A visit to this famous ancient temple enables the visitor to see for themselves the belief of the people and also awe and their piousness to venerate with gratitude the deity who blesses them and protect them the aura of peace, faith and veneration could be felt by all. The atmosphere is so peaceful and awe inspiring.
Every country has its own story of it’s Robin Hood, likewise Uthuwankanda is the birthplace of our hero Saradiel, a very docile and a studious young boy, who hated injustice and fought for fairplay. However wicked people in society and also his hatred to the English made him become a notorious
bandit who robbed the rich and helped the poor. Finally betrayed by his best friend he was caught and sent to gallows. To this day we see his cave in a steep mountain rock. Adventurers scale this rock and there is his village re-established by an organization enabling adventurers to get a full insight to the life there.
Within the vicinity of Uthuwankanada, there is an ancient cave temple that bears history of how king Walagamba of the 1st century B.C took refuge in these caves after being defeated by his enemies in order to organize the way to prepare for success. To this day these caves bear evidence of a great king’s military strategy. The spectacular view from this temple known as Dhanakirigala. The beautiful paintings that date the Kandyan period, i.e. the 17th or 18th centuries and the serene Buddha statues speak of marvels of our ancestors’ art and architecture.
Those who prefer the beauty of nature could select otherwise with trekking or hiking ,those interested in ornithology could spend an entire day with a picnic pack or even getting a snack (fully local) a little spicy with a hot cup of delicious Sri Lankan tea at a wayside boutique, where the local youth relax playing a game of draughts or carom. They would venture to accompany you to guide you voluntarily .This type of trip would lead you to Alagalla or Belumgala were the Kandyan monarchs set their troops to survey the extensive plains below for traces of enemy intruders.
Cascading waterfalls, beauty of nature is prevalent close at hand. 10km will lead you to Ahupine ella snuggled in the jungles with typical villages around. Not far from Uthuwankanda is Bowe ella another beautiful and serene place. There is also the ancient Mawanella bridge of Colonial days with gigantic trees on whose branches one could see thousands of bats hanging during the daytime and typical bathers who make use of the stream ; one could have a dip in the stream if one likes. A little far away there is a Bible Rock exactly like a great bible rising above the mountains misty and cool. An expedition to the summit is worth a thousand trips and the famous Devenagala temple with its steep height of steps and astonishing form of architecture which draws the interest of modern student of architecture.