Thursday, July 26, 2012

Loitering Around Seethawaka Kingdom

Trip Name: Loitering around Seethawaka Kingdom.

Year and Month: July 2012

Number of Days : Single Day

Crew : 2 ( Samith, Suren)

Accommodation : None

Transport : Hired Three-wheeler, Bus

Activities : Sight Seeing

Weather : Gloomy

Route :

Avissawella > Seethawaka Junction > Pansala Handiya > Maniyamgama Keerthi Sri Rajamaha Viharaya > Kanamadiriyan Wala > King Rajasinghe’s Palace > Seethawaka Handiya > Barandi Kovila > Thalduwa > King Rajasinghe’s Tomb > Avissawella

Special remarks :
  • Behave accordingly in Religious Places.
  • Do not harm archeological sites.

Resources :
Click to Enlarge

This is not a journey that I planed. I and a friend of mine were in Avissawella town to get some stuff done and we had little bit of free time on our hands(maybe more than little bit). So we decided to visit places of interest in the area. We decided to visit Maniyamgama Keerthi Sri Rajamaha Viharaya first since both of us haven't been to that place before. We went to lower bus halt (A7) in Avissawella and got on to a Avissawella - Panawala bus. Three out of five places we visited on this day are in this bus route but since we wanted to visit Rajamaha Viharaya first we took tickets to " Vihara Handiya". Ticket for one person costs 16 rupees and it will take little bit more than 15 minutes for the bus to arrive at "Vihara Handiya".

From Vihara Handiya we took the concrete road to the left. Don't deviate from this road until you reach the temple. This road goes through the village and there are houses on the both sides of it. While a van or a car can manage to drive up to the temple, three-Wheels are not able to do so because of the steepness of the road. So keep that in mind if you plan to get there by a three-wheel. A three wheeler would ask somewhere around 400 to take you here from Avissawella town but I would recommend taking the bus (if you intend to travel by public transport method) and then walking the road up to the temple. ( Bus comes every twenty minutes)

Panawala Bus

Take the road to the left from here

On the way

On the way

It took us fifteen minutes to reach Viharaya. Once you enter the Vihara premises you can see both pre-historic Len Viharaya to the right and recently renovated Avasageya to the left.

Avasageya & Len Viharaya
According to historical findings, this was one of the places where King Walagamba (Anuradhapura Era) tactically stayed hidden from his enemies during the war and gathered Sinhalese army to fight back. While his time here he made this place into a temporary safe house. He made escape tunnels and small pond for his personal use. Pond is remains pretty much intact but escape tunnels has collapsed over time and only the entrance is visible today. Its said that these tunnels run through Seethawaka mountain range and emerge from near Seethawaka Central College, but no archaeological evidence to support this theory has come out yet.

New Dharmashalawa
Escape Tunnel Entrance
Kings Personal Pool
Kings Personal Pool

Since we wanted to get a clearer panoramic view of the surrounding area we traveled bit uphill until we saw a large rock edge. It was on a privet property so we had to get permission to enter and enjoy the view.From here you can see the mountain range which surround Seethawaka Kingdom. To the left of the below picture you can see a small hilltop. Its called " Veherakadagala" which roughly  translate in to "the place where pagoda was destroyed". The name was given to this place after foreign invaders destroyed the temple which once stood on the hill.. There is an intriguing folklore related to this place. In ancient times there was a some sort of large bird living on this rock. It was so majestic that it was given kings guard and protection. But one day it engaged in battle with a horse and horse killed it by ripping its body in  two. Later that bird was given the name "Bherunda" and the insignia of Thunkoralaya (kingdom) was formed portraying its body ( torn in two pieces)

Seethawaka Kingdom
Ghantara Kuluna 
A Friend I made
Insignia of Thunkoralaya (source- internet)

During King Walagamba's time here he made a  vow to a deity that if he wins the war against Tamil invaders (Seven Tamil invaders from India) he would build a Grand Temple in the name of Buddhism ( A Raja Maha Viharaya). After gaining a glorious victory against Tamil invaders King returned to Maniyangama and ordered the construction of Maniyangama Raja Maha Viharaya. After that there are no evidence of any important incident related to Viharaya until Polonnaruwa Era. According to findings about that era Maniyangama was formerly known as "Maniyamu Rata" which became "Maniyangama" overtime. In that era Maniyangama served as a storage facility for Polonnaruwa Kingdom. Then this place goes without notice until the former stages of Kotte Kingdom's downfall. After the three sons (Buwanekabahu, Pararajasinghe and Mayadunne) of Wijabahu the seventh killed their father, (Wijayaba Kollaya) they split the Kingdom in to three separate kingdoms known as Raigama, Sithawaka and Kotte. Prince Mayadunna took up the control in Seethawaka and renovates Maniyamgama Raja Maha Viharaya.

After leaving Rajamaha Viharaya we went to see Seethawaka Palace. Its in the same route we used to get to Maniyamgama Rajamaha Viharaya. If you travel by bus ask the conductor to drop you near the Seethawaka palace or "Bandarawaththa". This place still haven't excavated by Archaeological Department so there is nothing unique to see. When I asked the department officials they said that they are planning to begin excavations within two months. This place is important for two reasons; one, it being the place where Royal Palace once stood and the second, the small fortress built by the dutch. After Portuguese conquered Seethawaka they destroyed the Royal Palace and built a fortress on it. But today we can only see the crumbled base of this fortress. (Watch the you tube video for a complete explanation about this place)

Entrance to the Fortress


Then we head on to see Kanamadiriyan Wala and Barandi Kovila. But to explain about those places first we need to go back to 1521.Even though Three Brothers worked together to overthrow their father, they had internal conflicts between them. Though Kotte and Seethawaka Kingdoms never went on all out war against each other there were continues battles between boarders.After the death of the third brother Pararajasinghe (also known as Raigam Bandara) King Mayadunne annexed Raigam kingdom to Seethawaka and gained popularity and forces enough to compel Kotte kingdom to seek help from Portuguese. Then little by little rivalry between Kotte and Seethawaka turn in to a rivalry between Seethawaka Kingdom and Portuguese. This is where a key player in Seethawaka Kingdom came to the stage. Tikiri Bandara, the son of Mayadunne, a fierce warrior and a great leader who engaged in battle with Portuguese side by his father. They fought vigorously in Mulleriya battle ground and gave the Portuguese the worst ever defeat suffered by any colonial power in eastern Asia. After this battle Tikiri Bandara was given the name " Rajasingha" ( the great lion) to honor his bravery in battle ground. After many years Prince Rajasingha killed his father and claimed the kingdom and became an excellent King. But shadows of his dark deeds followed him. He wondered about a way to wash his sins. He regretted killing his father and wanted to escape his dark fate. He sought help from Buddhist monks. But he didn't receive comforting word from them since according to Buddhism, its a grave and irreversible  sin to kill ones parents. Therefor he turned to his daughter's husband who was a Hindu Priest (Ariththa Kiwendu Perumal). He said that king could wash away his since by building a shrine to the god "Shiva". In desperation king ordered construction of a shrine. When Buddhist monks in the area heard about this they went to see the king and asked not to believe in falls beliefs and tried to stop Buddhist king becoming a Hindu worshiper. But king had already made his mind. He didn't listen to the monks. But monks continuously attempted to change kings mind. This became a nuisance to the priest and he saw it as a possible threat so he manipulated king in to killing those monks. He did it so easily since he had gained kings trust by helping him in battle strategy and planning. King ordered the killing of 69 monks by drowning. Today this place is known as Kanamadiriyan Wala (firefly pit). You can locate it near Seethawaka Palace (use my GE kmz file to get exact directions). The name Kanamadiri wala was given to this place because this part of the river is so deep that no matter what type of light source you take down to the bottom of this particular place it will only be seen as faint dots(lights of fireflies) from the surface of the river.

Kanamadiriyan Wala

After Kanamadiriyan Wala we went to see Barandi Kovila. Its the shrine that king Rajasinghe odered to build. To get there you have to return to Seethawaka Junction and head on A7 towards Hatton. Few meters after crossing Seethawaka bridge you will notice a name board on the right side of the road saying Barandi Kovila. Travel on that narrow road until you reach the kovila.

Barandi Kovila is a great example of Hindu influence in Sinhalese architecture. Stone pillars, blocks and carvings are so magnificent that they make us forget the dark story behind it. During my previous visits to this place I have seen a odd stone carving resembling a parrot and a snake. Many locals speculate it to be a sign of hidden treasures of King Rajasainghe but its just a false story told by villagers to impress visitors. That stone carving is now moved to a secure place to keep it away from treasure thieves.

Kanamadiriyan Wala From Barandi kovila

After Barandi Kovila we went to see the tomb of King Rajasinghe. To get there you have to take the road to the left from Thalduwa Town.(use my GE kmz file to get exact directions). A three-wheel  would charge 150 rupees to take you there from Thalduwa town (10 min waiting charge included)

This is where you have to park your vehicle

Tomb of a Great Warrior

After this place we ended our short journey and came back home.


  1. Full of very useful information.Thanks for the

  2. Thank you for the information. Planning to go there soon.

  3. thanks for the information it is very valubal for me...

  4. Very interesting. Thank you.

  5. what are the places can we visit n sithawaka

  6. what are the places can we visit n sithawaka

  7. Very Interesting description! Traveled from Kegalle to panawala via bulathkohupitiya-Ruwanwella-Yatiyanthota-. scenic views of old natural environment along road sides. Later searched for the history of Seethawaka. Will visit the places again. Thanks for adding!

  8. Thank you so much Very interesting and appreciate all your efforts and contributions.
    Ananda Premalal Horana May 8,2017