Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pilgrimage to Somawathiya

Trip Name: Pilgrimage to Somawathiya

Year and Month: May 2012

Number of Days : Two Days

Crew : More than 50

Accommodation : Somawathiya Temple Rest Houses

Transport : 2 Vans, 1 Bus and a Car

Activities : Religious Activity (Kapruk Pujawa), Sight Seeing

Weather : Sunny, Clear Sky, Parching Hot

Route :
Avissawella > Hingurakgoda > Somwathiya Sanctuary > Somawathi Temple

Special remarks :
  • Behave accordingly in Religious Places.
  • Do not harm archeological sites.
  • Do not approach or provoke wild animals ( Elephants and wild boar can be extremely dangerous)
  • Don't wonder beyond Temple premises. (specially during night)
Resources :
  • Expect rough road conditions from Hingurakgoda Town to Somawathi Sthupa.
  • Road becomes extremely dusty after entering Somawathi Sanctuary.
  • You can stay either at free rest rooms or rent small cottage like houses for a very cheap price.
  • All the rest rooms are available on first come first serve basis.
  • Somawathiya Temple Tel No : 027 32 79285
 

View Larger Map


While I was on a small vacation in Polonnaruwa few months ago, I had the chance to tag along on a pilgrimage to Somawathiya with some relatives of mine. Even though this was a privately organized event many of the villager were very eager to participate or contribute some offering (offertory) in this because they consider it to be a very rare and one of the greatest offerings can be done to Gauthama Buddha. According to stone inscriptions(litho)  found in the area Somwathi Pagoda houses relic of the right tooth of Gauthama Buddha. The pagoda was built by Prince Ghiri Aba (Abhaya) with the help of Mihindu Maharahathan Vahanse and named after princess Somwathi (sister of the King Kavanthissa and wife of Giri Aba). Pagoda has been inaccessible for almost 30 years to Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims due to the war with LTTE terrorists. But the downfall of LTTE terrorists in the year of 2009 opened this sacred place to the public again. And this place has been getting torrents of pilgrims ever since.

It too us almost two hours to get to Somawathiya from Medirigiriya Town. While everybody was getting ready for the evening offering we took a tour around the area.

Somwathi Pagoda Seen From Car Park













On our way back to rest rooms we encountered a wild elephant enjoying his evening meal.


Then we changed our cloths appropriately for the evening offering. There were three other local groups of pilgrims and one foreign group who were at Somawathiya at that time to do Kapruk Pujawa (Kapruk Offering) on the same day we deiced to do ours. Therefor we had to to perform a combined evening offering with them. It was a lovely and soothing experience.








During the night wild animals like wild boars and deers wonder around restrooms. While deers are peaceful and fun to watch wild boar can cause you serious damage. There are few deers who live by Pagoda premises and they depend on pilgrims to provide them with foo. Unlike other deers this herd seemed to had no fear of humans.

Looking for Food
Good Morning Dear Human!!!
On the next morning we took part in the main offering which is called " Kapruk Pujawa". Basically pilgrims who intend to perform this have to sew a long robe like cloth which should be enough to cover the upper base (periphery) of the pagoda. Only men will be allowed to climb on to the pagoda and perform this. On this day, for the first time in my life I had the chance to get on to a upper base of a pagoda and perform a Kapruk Pujawa.



Kapruk Pujawa
When we came back we had the chance to see an elephant taking a bath in the river which flows just by the rest rooms. He played in the water for more than 15 minutes and took off to the jungle.






Then we went to see Mahaweli River. Mahaweli river becomes less deep and more wide in these parts of the country. On the time we were there we were able to see a bridge being constructed across the river (Kaduruwela - Seruwawila Road)




After returning to temple premises we said good buy to Somwathiya and went back home.



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