NORTH WESTERN PROVINCE

Madhu Church

Madhu Church

 

About 300kms away from the capital city of Colombo, in the North Western district of Mannar, lies the Madhu Church. It’s a church consecrated to the Virgin Mary and is venerated especially by the Catholics of the land. It’s a jungle shrine, less visited when it’s not festival time. Every year, there are three festival seasons observed by this church. They are held in the months of July, September and October. Mannar, the arid land where the Madhu church is located, is very rich in folk-lore and legend. Prince Vijaya called this land “Thambapanni” when he saw the copper coating on his palms where he touched the shore when he landed here. According to Ramayanam, the monkey ally, Hanuman and Prince Ram landed in Lanka at this spot when he came in search of Sita. A Muslim shrine exists at a spot at which it is believed that Adam and Eve are buried. Mannar is also considered one of the oldest sea ports in the island. In past eras it was known as Mahathittha. The Portuguese too built a fort here. The presence of the Hindu temple Thiruketheswarm, the Muslim shrine where Adam and Eve rest, and the Madhu church make this area well worth visiting. Thousands of devotees camp out in the nearby jungle during the festival seasons. It’s an important point to interact with the local population. After a period of about 30 years of war, the area is once more open to tourists. The legendary Adam’s bridge on which hanuman’s army is said to have crossed over to Lanka and on which Adam and Eve who were banished from paradise also crossed over to Lanka, lies according to legend somewhere close to the Second Eden. To the west of the south point is a chain of reefs with an abandoned light house.

 

 

 

Panduwasnuwara

Panduwasnuwara

 

Panduwasnuwara is an ancient city in the Kurunegala area which once used to be the capital of Sri Lanka for a very brief period when it was known as ‘Parakramapura’ and was used by Sri Lanka’s great medieval king Parakramabahu (one) as a stepping stone to his great capital – Polonnaruwa.
It was here that the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha was housed after it was forcibly removed from Yapahuwa by invaders from India. The stories tell us that King Parakramabahu retrieved the relic from India and brought it back and placed it here. Panduwasnuwara is spread over an area of about 20ha and archaeologists have yet to uncover it all. Some locations still await excavation. Among the many impressive ruins are the citadel walls and moat, the royal palace with carved pillars and guard stones, and a beautiful Bodhigara, the edifice round the bo-tree, sacred to Buddhists, also elegantly carved stone work, quaint pagoda and other beautiful structures including a monastic complex, bathing pools and an audience hall in the main palace area.
Panduwasnuwara also presents a fascinating insight into the layout and ground plan of a medieval Sinhalese royal palace, complete with inner courtyard and fortifications.

 

Ridee Gama

Rideegama The name “Ridee gama” means “silver village” which is a small village located by a lake 18km northeast of Kurunegala , atop a hill, atop of which is the interesting cave temple named Ridee Vihara [ silver temple]. It is a place where a delightful treasure trove of Sinhala, Buddhist, Tamil, Hindu and Christian art are showcased cheek by jowl. The caves are divided into chambers and cannot be seen from the road but access is easy.
Ridee Viharaya has a long history that dates back to the Anuradhapura Kingdom era. This temple was done by King Dutugemunu, who ruled Sri Lanka from 161 BC to 137 BC. This temple is very small, a very small room indeed, made of stone and located on top of a small hillock. Inside it is a Buddha statue and many paintings belonging to the Kandyan era can be seen. The most distinguished feature here is an exquisite medieval ivory-inlaid doorway with intricate carvings.

 

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

 

Located at the intersection of the Puttalam road and 85km south of Anuradhapura, the Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya has a wealth of fascinating medieval relics and is of special interest due to its 28 magnificently carved wooden pillars and stunning elaborate door to the main shrine.
The main attraction in this temple is its brilliantly coloured frieze of lions which are somewhat similar to those found in Chinese Temples in the 15th century, The seated lions with wide opened mouths baring fierce teeth and tails curled up on their backs are definitely not fierce to behold but are quite cheerful and entertaining in character. It also has a library housed in an ancient clay building and a slate of teachings to children and preaching hall with unusual carved pulpit are the treasures of this place.

 

Udappuwa (Udappu)

Udappuwa (Udappu)Udappuwa is a traditional Tamil fishing hamlet situated close to the Puttalam District, 65 miles and two hours north of Colombo. The people of the village are from the caste known as Hindu Karawa of South Indian origin, whose culture and lifestyle are altogether different from other people engaged in deep-sea fishing living along the coast of the Chilaw District.
The most famous attraction in Udappu is the 18 day festival which commences with the flag-hoisting ceremony and comes to a spectacular conclusion on the final evening when the entire male population of Udappu walk barefoot over a bed of red hot coals without injury, to the astonishment of all present in front of Udappu’s Draupati Amman Temple. Thousands of devotees gather to witness this rare event. The fire walking ceremony goes on into the late hours of the night and is considered the largest in the Island.