The Tomb of Rajasinghe 1 of Sitawake
- A Fateful Bamboo Grove and a Lone Tomb -
“King Rajasinghe who had brought this beautiful Lanka under one canopy breathed his last on Thursday, the 7th day of the lunar month, under the asterism Hata”
This is the farewell tribute made in the chronicle Rajavaliya on the death of King Rajasinghe 1 of Sitawaka fame and the “King of Lions” whose death occurred in 1591 AD.
It is related that when the king suffered defeat at the hands of Konappu Bandara who later ascended the Kandyan throne as Vimala Dharmasuriya 1, the king retreated to the royal park at Pethangoda. And here a fatal bamboo splinter ran into the kings foot.
This story however is subject to debate. And some say it was the bite of a cobra that inhabited the bamboo grove that killed the king.
Apart from the debate and mystery regarding the ill fated bamboo groves, today we are treated to two giant bamboo groves growing close to each other and protected by barbed wire fences. The bamboo shoots are dark greenish in colour and not of the usual yellow. But more peculiar is the grove of thorns that spike from the shoots Some thorns are as much as 3 feet long and from them branch more smaller and sharper thorns The setting couldn’t be more idyllic. On one side of the bamboo groves stretches an uncultivated paddy field and a range of scenic hills. On all other sides there seemed to be rubber estates. Take time to sit for awhile and enjoy the environs. Look up at the bamboo groves and you will be treated to the sight its exquisite leaves making lacy designs against a clear blue sky. Our next stop was to visit the burial ground of the mighty Rajasinghe. But before that an inviting little tea shop made us stop for a tea, a plantain and a vadai.
The Pethangoda Bamboo grove can be reached along the Avissavella Ruwanwella Kegalle road.
Back on route; we made our way along the Avissawella - Amithrigala road till a familiar Archaeological Department board made us stop. A few granite stones surrounded by an iron railing marked the grave of a king. This site like most of the stories related of King Rajasinghe is subject to debate. Almost overlooking the grave a huge Kamaranga tree invited us to share in its abundance . The star fruit, so rare in the cities, were strewn on the ground, ripe gold and tempting.
by Kishanie S. Fernando
February 13, 2007