BADULLA
UVA-HEALTH TRIANGLE BANDARAWELA - ELLA & BADULLA 
 
  East of the Central highlands ridge are the picturesque hills of Uva Province. Badulla draws Buddhist pilgrims from across the island during the festivals The climate of the triangle formed by Ella, Haputale & Welimada (in Badulla) is regarded by many Sri Lankans as the most favourable on the island. This is a marvellous walking country, where views, particularly at Ella & Haputale, formed by spectacular "gaps" in its precocious ridges.

This is the market garden area where carrots, beans, including Cabbages, Broccoli, Brussels sprout, Cauliflower, Turnip and many other fresh vegetables are grown, much of it for export to the Middle East. The town is capital of the mountainous Uva Province, but as it is situated at a slightly lower elevation (about 600 metres) it features tropical vegetation (especially palms) rather than the rolling patanas (plains) typical of the region. Badulla, the end of the line for rail travellers from Colombo, Kandy and Nanu Oya (close to Nuwara Eliya) is surrounded by paddy fields along the banks of the river Gallanda Oya & has an old fort against a backdrop of mountains & a small lake. It is one of the oldest towns in Sri Lanka though there are no traces of the earlier settlement. The Portuguese once occupied it but set the town on fire before leaving. In contrast to the comparatively recently populated Highland region, Uva, which stretches across the plains as far south as Katharagama, is sometimes held to be the original home of the Kandyan civilization, whose people would have used the river valleys draining into the River Mahaweli as a natural migration route into the hills. In colonial days Badulla thrived under the British, developing into a vibrant social centre complete with horseracing, golf, tennis, cricket, and croquet. It was here that the local planters, who were known throughout the island as the merry men of Uva, lived up to their reputation. Such long gone days are a dim memory, but there is one place of interest that provides a reminder of the times. St. Mark's Church at Badulla was built to commemorate Major Thomas William Rogers.
 
Major Thomas William Rogers (Rogers the Elephant Slayer) Major Rogers of "1400 & lost count" fame, died from a lightning strike, as if in divine retribution, at Haputale rest house in 1845. Caught in a storm, he stepped out on to the veranda & looked up at the sky. He called his companion, Mrs. Buller, "It's all over now," referring to the storm. A flash of lightening killed him at her feet. Legend has it that his grave too was struck by the lightening. His tomb at old cemetery in Nuwara Eliya in fact has evidence of a repaired crack. It is recorded that the residence of Rogers was filled with ivory of some of the 60 tuskers he had killed. His skill in tracking was such it seemed no elephant could get close to him before he would get close to the elephant. It is curious to note on the same breadth that the elephants are believed have ability to cause lightening strikes. The long memory of the elephant is legendary.  
 
The dishonour gained, by means of savage slaughter of the wild beast of superior intelligence, the ancient bulldog and bulldozer of Lanka, has drowned out the achievements of this famous road builder, fabled pioneer of the crown colony of Ceylon. Major Thomas William Rogers was not only responsible for constructing all the roads in the tough terrain of Uva Province, but also for building most of the rest houses there.

Muthiyangana Vihara - Katharagama Devale - The eighteenth-century Katharagama Devale is located in the town centre between King Street & Lower Street. It's very Kandyan in style: the main shrine consists of a long narrow wooden structure, decorated with a faded, possibly Kandyan-era painting of a perahera pageant & terminated by a little wooden pavilion tower at the far end. Entrance to the shrine is though a colonnaded walk away and two fine carved wooden doors. Inside, the principle image of Katharagama is, as usual, hidden behind a curtain, flanked by status of a pink Maha Sumana Saman holding an axe & flag, & Vishnu, holding a conch shell & bell. The Devale was built in thanksgiving for King Vimaladharmasuriya's victory over the Portuguese.
 
  Dunhinda Falls 3.5 km north of Badulla lie the majestic, 63-metre high Dunhinda Falls, reached via a beautiful drive from town. A huge archway proclaims the existence of the falls. We are into the car park. Now is the pleasant 1.5km scramble along a well worn jungle trek during which we cross a wobbly, Indiana Johnes-style suspension bridge & clamber over jagged rock, past stall selling snakes & herbal teas to reach the viewing platform? The falls are fed by Badulla Oya, a tributary of River Mahaweli. Though the falls are not the highest in the island, in fact are seventh highest, renowned for their sheer volume, spewing out an impressive quantity of water which creates great clouds of spray as it crashes into the pool below spraying us too on the viewing platform. Dunhinda, in Sinhala means spray.
 
Bogoda Bridge 12 km west of Badulla, in the village of Bogoda, in a valley is an extremely unusual roofed bridge. Its roof is supported by elegant wooden columns. The bridge lies on a pilgrimage route which connects with Mahiyangana, the location of famous Mahiyangana Dagoba & the Dowa Temple near Ella. Though the original roofless structure of the bridge of huge logs of wood dates back to 12th century, the existing roofed structure came into being only in the 17th century. The roof is made of Kandyan era red tiles. Wood carving on the pillars too is of Kandyan tradition. Its wooden floorboards side panels though worn are still in very good condition. The bridge was built by a father & son team for the benefit of worshippers to the rock temple on the banks of the small Gallanda Oya.

Bogoda Vihara The ancient rock temple, partly built into the rocks to one side of the bridge has a few old murals, a large reclining Buddha & one in Samadhi position. The rock was converted into a temple by King Valagambahu (104-76 BC). The king found refuge in the rock from the marauding Dravidian invaders from South India as he did in Dambulla caves. Upon regaining his kingdom, he had the rock temple built in gratitude as he built the world renowned (A World heritage Site) Rangiri Dambulu Temple (Golden Dambulla Rock Temple). In one of famous literary works of Lanka named Sandesa Kavya (1612-1624) (Letter of Poems), travellers were encouraged to worship at this temple on their route from Badulla to Kandy. Behind the temple, down some steps is an entrance to a tunnel believed to run through the mountain to the nearby tea estate, Tudumale. It has been used by King Valagambahu during his 2 1/2 years of hiding at Bogoda. In the present era, no human has ventured through it.
 
Namunukula (Mountain of Nine Peaks) Badulla is almost encircled by the river known as the Badulla-Oya as well as by a ring of mountains with Namunukula mountain range towering over the town. As a result, the town experiences a climatic phenomenon called the Badulla Blanket, a lingering humid mist. Namunukula, the 2036 metre high mountain range provides an energetic excursion. Namunukula has been a landmark for ships rounding the south coast of the Island since the early days of navigation. The climb can be made through the Spring Valley tea estate.  
Once at the summit, the view is superb, reaching to coast of Batticaloa in the east to the Great Basses reef in the south.
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