Although Sri Lanka is only a small island our biodiversity is so immense that we could rub shoulders with any eco system anywhere in the world. The Waulpane Cave is a marvel with a large waterfall and a lake in the heart of a cave. It’s located in the Sabaragamuwa Province close to its capital Ratnapura. The cave complex could be reached via the Pelmadulla – Ambilipitiya road, turning off at Thuntota, Pallebadda junction and then on along Bulutota road for a distance of 10kms up to Waulpane School. The cave with its Stalagmite and Stalactites looks like a museum with its natural sculptures. A rough estimate of the age of the cave places it at around 500 million years. The cave mainly comprises limestone. The complex looks like a cathedral with the stalactite drippings that have solidified in shapes of columns and pillars, balconies and chandeliers. A passing stream coming in through a hole in the wall forms a waterfall and the water ends up in a lake. The waterfall within the cave is about 135ft high. There are two entrances to the cave and they are each 7.5meters high and 5.6 meters wide. The large cave has different compartments and most of them are infested with huge populations of bats. The carbonic earth layer over the limestone cave extends to an area of about 20 square acres and it’s covered with many plants and trees. About 100 of the plant species are endemic. There are also many rare herbal plants which grow on the surface. There is a fountain from which yellow water pours out at about 26 litres per second. The yellow color is produced by the calcium carbonate, iron hydroxide and magnesium that is present in the water. It’s this fountain that enters the cavern forming a waterfall and it is believed that this water has curative properties. These unique features make a trip up to the Waulpane caves a unique experience.
Just beyond the busy town of Kegalle on the Colombo – Kandy highway, turning off on the Rambukkana road at Karandupotha junction, is a major travel destination in the island. It’s the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage where travelers get the opportunity to mingle with the gentle giants.
The small village of Attanagalla dealt with here came into the global limelight as such when out of it issued two successive prime Ministers and a President, a daughter of those two Premiers. The name Bandaranaike has ever since been inextricably linked to Attanagalla. Be that as it may what we are here dealing with is Attanagalla per se, the village itself. One needs to walk through the Raja Maha Viharaya [ The Great Temple of the King] to absorb some essence of its past history. The legend behind this now renovated temple is that three youths named Sangathissa, Sirisangabo and Gotabaya, from Mahiyangana, crossed over to Anuradhapura, raised a mutiny, and, having killed the king, took over the capital. Gotabaya, the youngest, who was crafty, manipulated affairs in such a way that Sangatissa became king. But he was soon to be poisoned with Sirisangabo ascending the throne. But from the moment that his reign began the land erupted in a spate of violence and the king abandoned his throne in deep disappointment and went down to Attanagalla and lived the life of an ascetic there. But fearing that the former king might return to claim his throne now, Gotabaya announced a reward for his head. A beggar who was passing by noticed the ascetic Sangatissa and offered a part of his meager meal to him. The hermit inquired about the situation in the country and the beggar informed him that many were being put to death by bounty hunters in the wrong belief that each was a potential Srisangabo. Hearing this, the hermit himself claimed that he was Sirisangabo, severed his head from the neck and handed it over to the surprised beggar. Afterwards, Gotabaya built a temple in homage to the selfless sacrifice made by Srisangabo. Attnagalla is not just another temple. It’s deeply immersed in culture, legend and history. It’s an important stop on the tourist’s itinerary that tends to stir speculative discussions among those interested in history and folklore.
Years back, Pinnawela Elephant orphanage started as a refugee center for injured and stranded elephants found in the jungles. Soon it developed into a center where domestic and foreign travellers go to watch elephants at close range. Its located at Kegalle on the Colombo- Kandy road and the turn off is at Karandupotha junction. Not only watching, but fruit and milk feeding to the animals is possible at a price. Many watch them when they have their siesta while bathing in Mahaoya. An interesting experience.