Ultimate Travel Guide To Your Holiday In Rathnapura
Administrative city of Sabaragamuwa province is Rathnapura and it has about half a million population. Bring the centre of gem industry in Sri Lanka; it is the home for the most number of gem pits in the country. Most people in the region are involved in the gem and jewellery industry. Most of the precious and semi-precious stones sold in the island are cut and polished here and it has been a major boost for the economy of the city. Even though Rathnapura is the leading gem producer of Sri Lanka, this beautiful city is second to none when it comes to natural beauty. Being a city in the wet zone of Sri Lanka, Rathnapura gets very high annual rainfall and Rathnapura harbours some of the most important rainforest patches such as Sinharaja rainforest.
Rathnapura is endowed with tropical weather, and the impact of monsoon felt here more than anywhere else in the country. It is highly possible to see here heavy rainfall during the monsoon making flooding some areas. Even though Rathnapura has a tropical climate, the temperature in the city, the high temperature is subdued by the thick green environment. Therefore the oppressive heat is not felt here as other major cities in the country and temperature is very conducive for holidays throughout the year.
There is a large number of attractions in Rathnapura such as waterfalls, mountains, forests and historical places. Rathnapura Saman Devala is a sacred place in Rathnapura, where there is a temple dedicated to God Saman. It is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka and visited by devotees from far away destinations. Esala ceremony is an annual ceremony held here in the month of Esala (July). It is the most common attraction in the city but visited by very few tourists. Saman Devala has a unique architectural design and a large number of religious paintings. This massive temple is built on the elevated platform, which is about 10 meters high from the surrounding area.
Bopath Ella is the most popular waterfall in Rathnapura and visitors can have an awe-inspiring cascading waterfall during the monsoon. The waterfall takes the shape of a Bo-leaf. Bopath Ella is conveniently located near the city and it about thirty minutes drive to the waterfall from the city centre.
Rathnapura is the gateway to the last remaining rainforest on the island, which is known as Sinharaja. Most nature holiday lovers, who would like to explore Sinharaja, choose Rathnapura as the destination for a holiday in Sri Lanka. From Rathnapura, they visit the rainforest and it only 1-hour drive to the rainforest. Rathnapura is surrounded by the very rugged terrain, mountains, escapements, and rocks are very common here. Therefore Rathnapura is ranked among the best destination for adventure holidays. And Rathnapura is suitable for adventure activities such as trekking, mountain climbing, rock climbing, mountain biking. Rathnapura is also home to Gem museum which showcases an interesting collection of precious and semi-precious stones with many other rare types of stones.
Gems in Rathnapura
Rathnapura is the most popular gem mining city in Sri Lanka. At the National Museum, Geological Museum, the Rathnapura Gem Bureau and Museum or in many other gem workshops in Rathnapura, one can have an opportunity to witness many varieties of precious stones such as sapphires, rubies, cat’s eyes, topaz, alexandrite, garnets, tourmaline, and Zircon etc. same time it is possible to see the traditional method of cutting and polishing of gemstones.
Sri Lanka is a popular as a leading Gem producer in the world for many centuries as per the historical notes King Solomon had procured a Ruby stone from Sri Lanka, which was gifted to his queen Sheba.
The great explorer Marco Polo, who visited the island in 1293 AD had made a written note on Sri Lanka, which indicated that Sri Lanka was a leading gem bearing nations in the world. Further to his note, a ruby stone had been used to grace the Dagoba of Ruwanweli in Anuradhapura.
The four hundred carat sapphire, which is called bluebell and adorns the British crown, was found in Sri Lanka. The beautiful star sapphire that is misnamed as “Star of India” was another valuable gemstone found on the island, today it is displayed in the Natural History Museum of New York. Rathnapura is a beautiful city located in the foothills of the Central mountain region.
Rathnapura is located at the foot of the 4th highest mountain in Sri Lanka, Adams peak which is 2243 meters in height. All four major religions claim Adam’s peak as a holy mountain. Buddhist calls the mountain Sri Pada and believes that Buddha had visited the place and set his sacred footprint. Hindus say it is Lord Shiva who had set the footprint on the summit; Muslims believe that it is the place where Adam first set foot on earth. Catholics say it is of St.Thomas the Christian apostle who preached in South India the pilgrimage season starts in December and lasts till April in the following year (parallel to the Nort-East monsoon).
Looking down from the mountain summit the panoramic view of the mist-covered hilltops and the forest-covered low lying valleys unfold as far as the eye can see. The sunrise seen from the top of Adams peak is an unforgettable sight and journey an exhilarating experience.
Rathnapura means the “City of Gems” in Tamil and Sinhala languages. As the name denotes the city is well known for Gems in Sri Lanka. Rathnapura is the capital of Sabaragamuwa Province and the district. Rathnapura is also the main administrative city in the province. Some people opine that the name of the city was derived from the Portuguese word Rapadura (means Jaggery), the candy, which is made of palm syrup and a typical traditional product of the region. Rathnapura Has located 101 km from the commercial centre of the island, Colombo. Rathnapura is considered as the centre of Gem industry on the island. Other than the gemstones Rathnapura is famous for many varieties of agricultural products.
Rice, Tea, Spices, and fruits are some of the well-known products in the region. Large plantations of tea and rubber can be seen in Rathnapura. The tea, which grows in Rathnapura, is known as Low-country tea. The tea which grows up to 4oo meters from the sea level falls under the low country tea category. Rathnapura is also a well known holiday destination among the local and foreign travellers. Some of the popular places among the tourists are located very close to Rathnapura. Udawalawa national park, Sinharaja rain forest, Adam’s peak, kitulgala is the most famous among the tourists. Population in Rathnapura is estimated to be around 46,309 while the population in the district measured more than 1,000,164.
Places to go in Rathnapura
Rathnapura is charming beautiful city located nearly 100 km from Colombo, Rathnapura is most popular as a gem-bearing city on the island. The laid-back city is situated overlooking the central mountain range of Sri Lanka. Rathnapura is surrounded by thick forest vegetation and therefore experience high rainfall every year. Rathnapura has the 2nd highest rainfall in Sri Lanka.
Bopath Ella waterfall
Bopath Ella is a wonderful natural attraction in the western province of Sri Lana. It is situated near the popular city of Rathnapura, about 100 kilometres from Colombo. If you travel from west coast beach resorts, take the Rathnapura-Panadura and from Rathnapura, you have to take a narrow road, which is the bad condition to reach Bopath Ella. The visitors have to take a trek about 10 minutes on a gravel road at the end of the road. The narrow footpath leads you o the waterfall between the villages. There is a large number of stalls flank the footpath, where village folk sell their homegrown vegetable and fruits.
This is a 30 meters high waterfall located near Rathnapura. The waterfall is one of the most scenic waterfalls, which is surrounded by thick vegetations. The waterfall is fed by kuru Ganga, a branch of Kalu Ganga. Bopath-Ella, literally mean the bo-leaf (a leaf of bo-tree-ficus religiosa, the sacred tree of Buddhists) waterfalls. The body of the waterfall is made of three parts giving it a rounded shape resemble the shape of the bo-leaf. The narrow path from Rathnapura-Colombo main road leads to the waterfall.
Bopath Ella is one of the widest waterfalls in the country. The waterfall is surrounded by thick jungle and this cascading waterfall makes an awe-inspiring sight at any given time of the year. It is definitely one of the wonderful waterfalls on the island you would see. Bopath Ella waterfall has crystal clear water that comes from the mountains.
Due to Bopath Ella, this remote village has become very aesthetic. As the name (Bopath) suggest, this cascading waterfall takes the shape of a Bo-leaf, the leaf of Bo-tree (Ficus religiosa), which is the holy tree of the Buddhist community in the world. Bopath Ella is most beautiful during the South-West monsoon, during this period, the waterfall gets the maximum amount of water from the higher elevated areas.
National Museum of Rathnapura
Ehelepola Walawwa (Ehelepola mansion), which was the mansion of famous Ehelpola, who lived in the 19th century, has been turned to the national museum of Rathnapura. A large number of fossils found in Rathnapura and surrounding area is deposited in the museum. Most of them were found during the gem mining by the people. with several pre-historic animal fossils a large number of other objects such as pots, clothes, masks, musical instruments, costumes, etc.
Maha Saman Devala
Saman Dewalaya is the most sacred Buddhist temple in the district of Rathnapura, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka. Saman Dewalaya is a dedicated temple for God Saman, who is considered to be the guardian of Sripada. This beautiful temple supposes to have a very colourful history, it had been an important temple for the whole country during the Portuguese rule in Sri Lanka.
When there was a threat for tooth relic, the tooth relic of Buddha was hidden in Delgamuwa Kuruvita in order to protect it from the Portuguese. Still, with a great threat and danger, the Dalada Perahera was held and the sacred Tooth Relic brought in procession from Delgamuwa Temple to Saman Dewalaya. Despite the threat from the Portuguese ceremony was continued for 11 years till the tooth relic safely removed to the Kandy temple, where it is stored now.
Buddha had been in Sri Lanka three times as per the chronicles such as Mahawamsa, Deepawansa and the Samantapasadika the Vinaya commentary. As per the chronicles, Buddha’s three important journeys to the island were made in the fifth month, the fifth year and the eighth year after his enlightenment. The venue of the first visit of Buddha’s was Mahiyangana.
Buddha visited famous Kelaniya temple on the second visit of the Buddha’s to Sri Lanka in order to solve a dispute between two brothers over Gen studd3ed throne. God Saman paid homage to Buddha and extended an invitation to visit his own area of dwelling in Rathnapura which would be recorded as Buddha’s third visit. Saman earnestly requested Buddha to leave a lasting impression on the Lofty rocks of Adams peak to be incessantly worshipped by the people.
Perhaps seeing the Magnanimity of faith in Saman Buddha left his footprint and the holy mountain remains a pathway to millions who gather in peaceful worship. Through successive ages now a ceaseless pilgrimage.
Inspired by the Buddha’s doctrine, following the Buddha’s Dharma, listening to his holy preaching’s Saman attained the higher state of Ariya. Later After his demise, Saman becomes a symbol of worship and was acclaimed as God Saman Saman. His saintly appearance remained a symbol of peace and Compassion. God Saman was also connected with no Violence.
Rathnapura Pothgul Vehera
Pothgul Vehera is one of the most historic sites in Rathnapura, which dates back to 1st century BC. Pothgul Vehera temple was built under the instruction of King Walagambahu, the king who ruled the country from Anuradhapura. Many painting dating back to several centuries are to be found in the temple and depicting Buddhist stories. One of the sculpture, in the temple depicting an incident of buddha’s samsara.
Visiting this last remaining primaeval rain forest definitely would be one of the fascinating experiences of the tour to Rathnapura. Sinharaja forest reserve is the most important natural assets of Sri Lanka and it is the rainforest on the island with the highest biodiversity. There are 166 natural world heritage sites in the world declared by UNESCO and Sinharaja is one of them.
Sripada is the mountain with religious importance and attracts a large number of local as well as foreign tourists every year. This is one of the most historic pilgrimage sites on the island of Sri Lanka. The devotees start the climb of Sripada mountain either in Rathnapura or Hatton.
Udawalawa is the ideal location for people who love some adventure on the tour. The Udawalwe national park is one of the most popular wildlife reserves in Sri Lanka to spot wild elephnats. The park is one of the important sites in the Sabaragamuwa province. The park has a mix of the vegetation of dry zone forest and wet zone forest.
Waulapane limestone cave is a famous site among the adventure holidaymakers and being used for caving. Waulapane cave is another important tourist attractions in the Sabaragamuwa province. The cave is situated about 300 meters above sea level. The cave is occupied by bats now.
Maduwanwela warriors are a clan who supported the Kandyan kings to protect the kingdom. The Kandyan royalty starting from Wimaladharma Sooriya had to maintain a sizable fighting force to protect the kingdom against the outside threats. Mainly the foreign forces were the biggest threat to the Kandyan kings. Maduwanwela clan had provided fighting forces, Spy network, reinforcing strategic positions, and guards the entire western boundary of the kingdom.
During the conflict of Kandyan king with the king of Kotte, certain high-rank officers of this clan disguised as civilians and penetrated the security zone. They lived in the security zone, initially, then they settled down in Dedarangamuwa north of the Maduwanwela Walawwa. In the latter part of the 17th Century, they had come to the present location. The clan had received the Maduwanwela Walawwa as a gift for their loyal service for the king. Historical evidence suggests that Maduwanwela Walawwa was a gift for Maduwanwela Wijesundara Ekanayake Abekoon from King Wimaladharma Suriya in 2nd Century AD.
Maduwanwela Walawwa used by three generations and it was renovated many times during that period. It consisted of 121 rooms, 21 centre courts three security walls, and a hall of justice. Internal Walls of the Walawwa are strengthened with cane structure while it is measured to be 25 cm thick.
At present 43 rooms are visible with 7 courtyards and a fountain at the entrance. The Walawwa is still in good condition, which is built with two floors. The entire building can be divided into three parts namely Satin palace, Main complex and Maha Bungalow. Satin Palace considered the guests retreat and it occupies the entire upper floor.
The front portion of the Palace is built to entertain the V.I.P’s and it was adorned with a valuable portrait of Disawe. The main doors supposed to be installed by the father of Disawe and the sizes are the extraordinary magnitude. The doors and the frame are made of Jack wood that recovered from the Dutch fort Matara. The dimension of the door frame is 9’*6’ while it is 1’ and 2” thick.
Mahamaduwa or the great hall was known to be the hall of justice. It is equipped with an elevated platform where the chair of justice to be found. British sovereign emblems were hung by the side of the justice chair. The court hearings were conducted and executed by the Maha Disawe.
The Moonstone of the Walawwa differs from the general concept of average moonstone found on the island. It is depicting the Dutugemunu Elara battle instead of the religious signs. The moonstone is placed at the entrance of the Walawwa.
The style of the Walawwa is predominantly in Kandyan architecture that goes back to the 17th century. The structure consists of heavy doors and windows, huge wooden slats to provide the maximum security. Security walls that built in three stages with security posts are another measure to provide the security to the mansion.
The Walawwa was occupied by generations of the elite and the last of them was the Maduwanwela Maha Disawe who was born in the latter part of 19th century. The Maduwanwela Maha Disawewa was an influence servant of the Kandyan king, he passed away on 1930/09/06. The only daughter of Disawe was known as Dingiri Appo (Maduwanwela little princess) unfortunately she was disabled. The death of Maduwanwela little princess was reported in 1962 marking the end of the Great Maduwanwela generation.
How to go to Maduwanwela Wwalauwwa
Maduwanwela Walauwa (Maduwanwela Mansion) is located in the village of Maduwanwela in the Rathnapura district. Travelling from Colombo to Embilipitiya via Rathnapura is the most used route to reach Maduwanwela. Then one needs to take the road to Rakwana or Suriyakanada from Embilipitiya. Maduwanwela Walawwa has located around 23 km from Embilipitiya.