At the door step of the Heaven

By : Viraj Rathnapriya
Contact the Author : viraj_rathnapriya@yahoo.com
Year & Month Number of Days Crew Weather Transport
Jul, 2010 One Day 105 (between 2-60 years of age) Sunny and Misty 3 buses ( 35 seated Tata*)

*Seems to be the largest vehicle able to access the gap.

Trip Route
Colombo / Gampaha -> Matale-> Rattota-> Riverston gap return on the same route.
Accommodation
N/A

Travel Tips, Travel Notes and Special remarks
1.) It’s better to bring a rain coat with a hat when you visit beyond Riverston gap.
2.) It’s wise to be prepared for leach attacks.
3.) It’s wise to carry sufficient amount of water for drinking purpose.
4.) Vehicles could get stuck due to overheat on your way to Riverston gap. Use a moderate speed if you drive yourself.
5.)Don’t try to play with water, especially in waterfalls.

We were lost in a thick mist, the mist was so thick and I couldn’t even see my friends within two meters. The surrounding was freezing & wet but comfortable. It seemed to me that I am at the gate of the heaven. Yes it was; we were in the middle of a cloud forest. It was Knuckles, a world heritage site.

Route through the misty Knuckles
( Rattota – Pallegama route; on our way to the Riverston gap)

We were climbing towards the summit of Riverston, as a part of our journey. This was our annual welfare journey. Hundreds of people having different interests were participated the same. We had left by sharp 6.00 am from Gamapaha and reached the Riverston gap by 12.00 up to the schedule.

Landscaping on our way to the Riverston gap

Riverston gap was located in the middle of Rattota – Pallegama road and it was the summit of the same. Being located in a windy gap on a range of scenic mountains with frequently changing climate, Riverston was highly popular with local travelers.

The gap is in your sight

One of our bus at the Riverston gap :
Seems to be the largest vehicle able to access the gap

Two telecommunication towers were setup on the both summits of the Riverston Mountain. The access road for them was a private one and no vehicles were allowed beyond the Riverston gap, but pedestrians. There was a special typed stepped way to the summit used earlier, but it was abundant at the time we visited. Therefore we started climbing along the narrow but well paved & tarred road.

No vehicles were allowed beyond the Riverston gap

Well paved road towards VHF towers through the vegetation
If I was a bird……

The climate was changed in every minute. Some times it brought little sun rays. Some time a tiny rain with cool wind. But most of the time we were wrapped with a thick mist. Really that was an amazing experience.

The forest was consisted with pigmy trees. “Maha rewla” (Old man’s beard) and many orchids were driven out their loneliness. The mist was gained them a fresh & wet look for ever.

The mist has given them a fresh & wet look for ever.

The communication tower was playing a game of hide and seeks in the mist. We were getting close to the same step by step. When we reached the windy bend, we experienced not a blow but light breeze. In some seasons; it was said the blow was powerful enough to lift a human being.

The communication tower was playing a game of hide and seeks in the mist

At the windy bend, we experienced light breeze

Just after the windy bend, it was an eye-catching view of Pitawala pathana & paddy fields of lonely villages in the Knuckles range. Since the surrounding was covered with a shawl of mist, we continued climbing. In the next few minutes, we were at the gate of the first communication tower.

A photographic moment…

Paddy fields of lonely villages in the Knuckles range

Remaining of the special typed stepped way to the summit used earlier

we were at the gate of the first communication tower

In the mean time, the trail head to the eastern most hilltop was appeared through the mist. No matter what happened, we continued climbing. The trail was laid along an edge of a cliff. But the mist covered the cliff and let our females to go ahead with no fear. When we reached the summit, the tower & the surrounding was completely hidden in the mist. That was the view point let you see up to the horizon of Eastern Sea. Though we were in a thought of wait there till the mist become thin, the special task force of leaches camping there let nobody be smart, and forced our females to repulse.

the trail head to the eastern most hilltop was appeared through the mist

the tower & the surrounding was wrapped in the mist

When we returned the Riverston gap, some “rotee(s)” were been baked at the roadside for satisfying our empty stomachs. Few mobile-merchants were selling some food stuff there.

some “rotee(s)” were been baked at the roadside for satisfying our empty stomachs

When we leave the Riverston gap the God-sun seemed to be completely defeat by the mist. But the climate was completely changed when we reached the Bamarakiriella village, where a tiny waterfall was located.

Tea plantation on our way

With a trail of 100m, we reached the small beauty. The swing bridge allowed us to reach the other bank of the stream, while connecting lives of two villages. This was identified as the only fall in this side of the knuckles range, while many were found in the Pitawala side. The stream was used for providing portable water for villagers. But it was a sad fact that the beauty of the fall was ruined with concrete debris. As per a villager we met, though the fall was small; it had taken more than 20 lives.

As per the information board at the main road, there was another small fall called Kuda Bamabarakiri ella. It could be reached with another 50m but that was lean to small waterway with a sallow pool, when I visited there.

Beauty of the fall was ruined with concrete debris

Bambarakiri ella fall

The swing bridge allowed us to reach the other bank of the stream

Alu viharaya at Matale was our final travel location. We reached there at the dusk. The historic temple was important being the shelter for the process of converting sacred texts preserved by words of mouth to writing in the king Valagambahu (in 89-77BC) era. The Sthupa, bo tree & houses of statues constructed at grooved rock caves were made the temple attractive.

The cave where the sacred texts were written in “Puskola” books.

A house of statues built at a grooved rock cave.

Have a Safe Journey!

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Usually “Ambalam” were built in a chosen spots such as by the side of a paddy field or stream

Commonly “Ambalam” were simple buildings built by villagers on co-operative basis. They were consisted with a hipped type tiled roof on few timber or masonry columns. Perimeter walls were short and formed a seat for resting known as “Pila”.

Few were built totally with timber structures. In such a case, the Ambalama was built on four rock boulders to prevent from termite attacks. Panavitiya (or Panapitiya) was one of the said few.

Directions…

Chamila(My wife) & I visited Panavitiya few months ago. Finding the Panavitiya Ambalama was not difficult although there was no sign board on the main road (Negombo-Kurunegala). The turn-off was nearly 3km before reaching Narammala town, where the road leading to the Matiyagana School. Having traveling another few kilometers we had to turn left again.

we reached the Archeological site passing a temple

“Sri Lanka Thilakaramaya“ the temple @ Panavitiya

With nearly 4km drive from the main road, we reached the Archeological site passing a temple. In the first moment, having seen the outside appearance of the Ambalama, I was also confused as like as most of the previous travelers, whether we had reached the correct place. But once we entered in to the shelter, we could discover the wonder of wood carvings that Panavitiya was so famous for.

The boutique located in front of the Archeological site

Little confused having seen the outside appearance of the Ambalama

wonders of wood carvings

Inside view

Beams, rafters & ridge plate

A dancer??

Column heads & wall plates

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