Hollombuwa Ancient Cave Temple
Have you ever felt like you have been immersed in the green comfort of a countryside? You may think that I am talking of Knuckles or the Sinharaja forest But strangely sometimes these luxories come very close to home and the city of Colombo.
Just turn off at the Nelundeniya junction on the Kandy road and keep travelling till you come to the Thuntota junction --actually a small village --and ask directions to the Hollombuwa Ancient Cave Temple, you can not miss it.
We travelled passing freshly prepared paddy fields and were fortunate to see groups of local women planting the paddy. Immersed calf deep in the mud, they worked assiduously, with a simple cloth artfully tied on their heads to protect them from the sun.
The men lounged on the side with their mammoties at hand. They had obviously dug and prepared the fields and now it was the turn of the women to complete the finer work of planting. It was an inspiring picture of harmonization, co-ordination and organisation. The wide flat paddy fields with coconut groves making islands in between formed the backdrop for a stunning picture of serene village living. A scene I felt sad to leave. Yet we had to leave and travel on even greener roads – narrow roads thickly fenced on both sides and overhung with foliage, to reach our destination: A climax in its setting - as we made our way uphill and reached the temple premises.
A few minutes walk from where we had parked our vehicle and then up a short steep flight of steps and we reached the sacred precincts. The rocky complex sheltering the ancient temple of Holombuwa.
We were fascinatd by the wonder that greeted us. The rock loomed tall (yet not too high) and wide, with a charming tree scape framing its imposing profile. An absolute treat to the city weary eyes. But what stood out as unique - outstanding and one of a kind - was the magnificent rock arch that rose distinctively and majestically in front of the cave, very much a part of the main rock and framing the entrance to the cave shrine. A natural formation of exceptional artistic design.
Fortunately for us the shrine door was open. Little did we expect the wonders that awaited us inside.
The cave went in deep, and an underground rock tunnel from here is believed to have existed linking Yatahalena with Dedigama - several kilometres away. Now the tunnel has been sealed off with concrete and can be seen to that extent.
The cave also houses a natural rock pool. The water is crystal clear and the bottom of it can be clearly seen. Outside the cave, in front and to a side of it, is a similar rock pool but it is narrower and deeper and its bottom cannot be seen.
The history of this cave goes back to the days of King Walagamba in the Anuradhapura period. The cave is said to have provided shelter to 500 queens. Hence its alternative name: Sthreepura.
According to local tradition, the perennial water pond was the water source used by the queens for bathing and drinking.
The temple shrine room which is housed in the fore part of the cave has some interesting scuptures and paintings done in 1935.
This remarkable site situated in Galigamuwa can also be reached by traveling three kilometers from Pitagaldeniya junction-situated six kilommetres along the Galigamuwa – Avissawella road.
by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror, june 27, 2005
February 3, 2007
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