Fishing in southern sri lanka
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Tissamaharama Sri Lanka

Tissamaharama Sri Lanka

Tissamaharama had been the capital of Ruhunu kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka. Even though it has lost the importance as the capital of the island during the last several centuries, Tissamaharama is important to the island in many ways and offers a large number of activities for holidaymakers. This remote city is located near the southernmost tip of the country. Today it is important for the tourism industry and a place, which visited by thousands of tourists every year. Tissamaharama is packed with natural as well as historical attractions such as ancient Buddhist. The city is located near the national park of Yala.

Leopard at yala national park

The history of Tissamaharama is going back to the pre-Christian era. The foundation of the city is attributed to the king Mahanaga, the younger brother of King Devanampiyatissa (260 BC – 210 BC).  According to the historical information King Mahanaga had to flee the capital of the country (Anuradhapura), due to an unlawful affair with the queen. As he arrived in Tissamaharama the region was under the control of a south Indian king. Mahanaga and the Indian king fought many times for the supremacy of the region, but later they became relatives through the marriages ending the fighting between two parties.

Tissamaharama, the once great ancient southern capital of Ruhuna is renowned as the birthplace of the warrior-hero King Dutugemunu (circa 200 B.C), who united the island for the first time after having conquered the Tamil ruler Elara entrenched in Anuradhapura. The city dates back to his ancestor, Mahanaga (circa 300 B.C) who is believed to have founded a settlement there but tradition traces its founding to the even earlier days of the Aryan colonization of Sri Lanka; at least five centuries earlier.

The most popular king, who ruled the Ruhunu kingdom from Tissamaharama, is King Kavantissa.  He was the father of great king Dutugemunu. King Kavantissa is a relative of king Mahanaga. King Kavantissa married the queen Viharamahadevi, daughter of the king, who ruled the country from Kelaniya and had two sons. King Kavantissa ruled entire southern region but Anuradhapura, the capital of the country was governed by a south Indian invader (204 BC-161 BC). The son of king Kavantissa organized an army and fought against the south Indian king Elara. King Elara was killed in a decisive battle in Anuradhapura and King Dutugemunu was consecrated as the king of the island.

buddha statue

According to the historical information Sri Lanka had become a very prosperous country under the rule of King Dutugemunu. In the latter period, Ruhuna had been the place, where the local kings anchored during the trouble periods in Anuradhapura, due to the South Indian invasions. For instance, King Vijayabahu 1 was lived in Ruhunu kingdom before he comes to proper age to combat against the South Indian invaders.

Ruhunu kingdom had been a breeding ground for Sri Lankan warriors and brave kings. Some of the gigantic constructions achieved in the centuries past (still in very good condition) show the magnitude force they were having in the past. Sometimes the kings of Ruhunu kingdom had been a challenge for the sovereignty of the Sinhalese kingdom in the northern region. Tissamaharama had been an important city on the island during the last 2000 years and continues to be important for the history, religion and economy of Sri Lanka.

Modern Tissamaharama is named for its famous Stupa and attendant monastic complex, the Maharama, a seat of learning and sanctity for over two thousand years.

What to see in Tissamaharama

Irrigation Network

A remarkable irrigation system that inherits advanced trigonometry and hydraulic principals was a great achievement of the kings in the past. The irrigation network was crisscrossing the entire Ruhunu kingdom and consists of a large number of natural and man-made tanks, reservoirs and canals. They were mainly fed by Kirindi Oya and Menik Ganga, the leading rivers in southern Sri Lanka. The system is well functioning even today. The rich soil of Ruhunu kingdom was somewhat useless due to the dry weather in the region.

The canal system was introduced, In order to avert the limitations due to the dry weather. With the construction of irrigation network, the agricultural productivity of entire region was dramatically increased and had become a very prosperous region of the island by 2nd century BC. The irrigation system enabled the rice cultivation throughout the year covering the entire region. Later the kingdom was neglected under the administration of Portuguese, Dutch and British. With resettlement of farmers in the region at the beginning of 20th century, it was back to normal its grandeur and has increased the contribution of the region again for the development of Sri Lanka.

The King’s Palace

The old king’s palace is situated on a hillock eastward from the city of Tissamaharama.  There are several other ancient constructions at the site with the palace. The number of monolithic granite stone pillars at the site believed to be the rest of a storied building. Upper stories of the building believed to be supported by wooden pillars. The constructions of the building believed to be dating back to the 2nd century AD.

Yatala Dagoba

Yatala dagoba is one of the most historical constructions of the city and originated in the 2nd century BC. At the site, archaeologists had been able to discover several stone inscriptions that provide valuable information about the site. The stone inscriptions are dating back to the pre-Christian era, 7th century and 8th century. Dagoba is named after a son of King Mahanaga. Several important artefacts have been discovered, during the excavations at the site. Ahead of a Buddha statue, standing Buddha statue, and a figure of a king believed to be of King Kawantissa.

Chandragiri Vihara

The ruins of Chandragiri vihara is to be found at the southern borders of Tissamaharama. The stone inscription in the rectangular shape that discovered at the site provides the information about its antiquity. It is believed to be originated between 1st century BC and 1st century AD.

 

Buddha statueTissamaharama Vihara

This Buddhist temple believed to be built with the patronage of King Kavantissa in 160 BC. It had been the residential quarters of the monks, who lived southward from Mahaweli Ganga, during the rainy season. There had been facilities for meditation and education for the monks at Tissamaharama Vihara. According to the historical information, there had been 363 chambers for the resident monks in the temple by the 9th century AD.

Kirinda

Kirinda is well known for the historic port city, where many seafarers from other countries frequented. In the direction, Kirinda from Tissamaharama is an archaeological site with several historical monuments. But much of the information about the site is yet to be discovered. A large number of devotees heading to Kirinda, where you find a Buddhist temple believed to be originated in the 2nd century BC.

Serine village Nedigama-Villa

The village of Nedigama-villa is picturesquely located between the Kirindi Oya in its southernmost course to the sea, and the Nedigama-villa or tank, a few miles south of the town of Tissamaharama. The cart road leads through waving green fields of flourishing paddy, fringing the road, flowing up to and over it in places. Naturally, the river and the tank dominate the scene. There is no dearth of water in Nedigama-villa and agriculture is the main occupation of the people. Everywhere you will find fields of grain, fenced off chenas luxuriant with vegetables, green plots of edible leaves, gourds and pulses. There is no season as such for growing and reaping. Where water is available the people sow and harvest all the year round, but as in other parts of the district, it is the north-east monsoon that brings rain and a great burst of agriculture activity.

Nedigama villa

In the sense that agriculture is the mainstay of the village folk, Nedigama-villa is no different from many another rural hamlet in the ancient province of Ruhuna. A superficial glance around the neighborhood, and a casual visitor to the area would perhaps observe that the village people are more industrious than several other communities in the district and reach the conclusion, quite correctly too, that a measure of their prosperity is due to this same whole-hearted toil, season after season, all through the year, in times of drought as much as in times of abundant rainfall. But there is more to the atmosphere of serenity that prevails in Nedigama-villa than the sheer satisfaction and the reward of toil.

It is not easy to define these things without being accused of sentimentality, of trying to romanticize the idea of village life at the expense of down-to-earth reality. But what is not always visible to the casual observer, what is not assimilated at a superficial glance cannot be ignored when one lives among people for several weeks. When one is forced into an awareness of what motives them, what inspires and sustain them and lends a many-splendour hue to their existence.

In Nedigama-villa one can find that men still labour for the sheer love of it. They work with dedication because in their work and from its fruits there is sustenance and reward. And more there is the tangible satisfaction of dedication also to an ideal. For though few among them would voluntarily launch upon a complicated expression, least of all an explanation of their motives; still less-they might not even be able to find words for it. Yet there is that conscious awareness they possess, that assurance that there is more to this life than mere labour for material reasons. Perhaps it is there, this ideal they implicitly believe in and cling to, which is symbolized in the shrine-room they proudly point to as a work undertaken by themselves, with their own funds, with their own hands.

Nedigama-villa

The village folk always depend on the rice and curry as their staple diet. Mounds of steaming-hot rice with slices of fried river fish, fiery coconut sambol and a delicious mixed curry of many different kinds of vegetables – jak and brinjals and tomatoes included though they disclaimed it was the traditional and auspicious hath maluwa  (curry of seven vegetables) prepared at New Year. Nedigama –villa is a village with tranquillity and serene and it could be compared to heaven for the people who are suffering in the major cities that are full of business, stress, hard work, pollution etc.

Yala national park

Most popular natural attraction in Tissamharam is Yala national park and Tissamharama is the starting point of most Yala national park safaris. The entrance of Yala national park is around 25kilometers away from Ttissamaharama and the drive from Tissa to Yala takes around 300 minutes. Most other popular wildlife reserves near Tissamaharama is Kumana bird sanctuary and most tourists take Kumana national park safari when Yala national park is closed during the drought.

Accommodation in Tissamaharama

Tissamaharama is the closest town to Yala national park, hence most tourists, who wish to venture on a safari at Yala national park, opt to stay in Tissamaharama. Tissamahara is the most popular tourist hub in the deep south of Sri Lanka, due to its close proximity to Yala national park as well as to other important historical and natural attractions in the region.
Tissamaharama provides plenty of accommodation options for travellers who wish to explore the southern Sri Lanka. Here you can find accommodation facilities from luxury boutique hotels to very affordable homestay accommodations. Even though you do not find large hotels here, many small, middle-class hotels can be found here and they provide very clean, safe accommodation for local as well as foreign travellers. The prices for accommodation, meal and food are affordable here compared to most other tourist places in the island.
The best time to travel to Tissamahara is from November to April, dry sunny weather dominates in the region during this time. A large number of foreign as well as local tourists are flock into Tissamaharama during this period, and therefore the rates might shoot up. Even though there are many hotels in Tissamaharama, it is highly advisable to book accommodation well in advance in case you plan your Tissamaharama tour from November to April. It will be difficult to get accommodation in a good property at the last moment during this time, while there is a chance of an unreasonable price hike due to the high demand.
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