Mahiyangana Sri Lanka
Mahiyangana is one of the most beautiful regions in Sri Lanka with varied landscaping and thick vegetation. Mahiyangana is not only rich in its natural forest cover but also from history. The history of Mahiyangana goes back to a pre-Christian era with the arrival of Buddha. According to the historical information sources such as Mahawamsa, Mahiyangana was visited by Buddha in 6th Century BC. It is believed that Mahiyangana was inhabited by two ethnic groups called Yaksas and Nagas during that time. It had been the first visit of Buddha to the island.
Mahiyangana was the capital of the island during the reign of King Senarath (1627-1634), who ruled the country from Kandy. It had been a good hideout for the king Senarath against the invading Portuguese army and keeps the control over the state affairs. During the Dutch period, the Hollanders identified the city as a well-built city with wide streets, big houses and palaces. The city was badly damaged by British during the Uva rebellion in 1817-1818. The rebellion against British rulers was suppressed with the military power, executing thousands of rebels.
Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara
Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is a Buddhist temple with historical importance. The temple had been built on the same place, where Buddha appeared on his first visit to Sri Lanka. Thirty meters tall Dagoba marks the exact place where Buddha appeared. Dagoba which is seen today is the last layer of the dagoba that hides number layers beneath it. It is believed that the very first dagoba was built to enshrine the Buddha’s hair. God Saman had received hair from Buddha as he was here for the third time. God Saman had brought the Buddha’s hair to Mahiyangana as it was a safe place for it. Later on, after passing away of Buddha, the follower of Buddha’s doctrine had constructed a dagoba enshrining the hair relic. Dagoba was enlarged by Uddhachulabhaya or young brother of King Devanampiyatissa in 3rd century BC while King Dutugemunu had also contributed to the temple by enlarging the Dagoba in 2nd century BC. Dagoba and the rest of the temple were renovated for several times by kings who ruled the country afterwards. The temple is located about two kilometres from the city centre and it is surrounded by a beautiful environment.
Mahiyangana used to be inhabited by a large number of Vedda community. Vedda community considered being the ancestors of Stone Age inhabitants of the island. The community still has the old lifestyle and they are mainly living on hunting while some people are engaged in agriculture. Today most of them are living in Dambana, which is located about 19 kilometres eastward from Mahiyangana.
Ingenious irrigation work of Sora Bora wewa
Sora Bora wewa is a classic example of the advanced engineering knowledge of ancient engineers. Especially the sluice of the lake considered to be followed the advanced engineering principals. The base of the sluice is made of a natural rock. This gigantic man-made lake is situated in the district of Mahiyangana. The lake was constructed under the reign of King Dutugemunu in the 1st Century BC. It is believed that the lake was constructed, while the young king was organizing his army in Mahiyangana. According to the historical information the waters of Loggal Oya, Ma Oya, Diyaban Oya and Dambaruwa Wewa was directed to the Sora Bora wewa.
The lake is situated around 1.5 kilometres from the city of Mahiyangana. It is located on the Mahiyangana-Batalayaya main road. According to the folk tales the lake was constructed by the soldier, who provided the betel leaves to the king. Since the betel leaves are called “Bulath”, the soldier was named as “Bulatha” denoting one who delivered Bulath.
The amount of water that can be stored in the lake is 16.89 Sq. miles and it is located well over 300 meters above the sea level. The water surface of the tank exceeds 14400 acres at the maximum capacity; its dam is 1590 feet long and 20 feet wide while the height of the dam measured to be 27.6 feet. Even today 3000 acres of lands are irrigated using the waters of Sora Bora Wewa.
Bisokotuwas was an important part of the ancient tanks, which served as the sluice. Even though Sora Bora Wewa is also an ancient tank, Sora Bora wewa is not constructed with a Bisokotuwa. A construction similar to bisokotuwa is constructed using granite, to control the outward water flow. The engineers opine that the ancient engineers had been able to simplify the control of outward water flow, compared to the sluice, with the invention at Sora Bora Wewa.
According to the folk stories a giant called Bulatha used to visit Mahiyangana in order to collect the Betel left required by the king. In such occasion, he had come across the region called Gonagala, where he decided to build a lake to store water. It is believed he has dislodged a mountain and large rocks to construct the lake. Today Sora Bora Wewa serves as important water storage for the people in the region. Recently the dam of the lake was reconstructed at the cost of 4.9 million rupees.