Who says you have to wait till you reach the destination to start enjoying?
If you always take one particular route every weekend to visit your parents in another city, maybe you want to take an alternate route for a change of scenery.
It may take a little bit more time and a few more additional bends, but who knows what you may discover on the way?
If you are taking Low-Level Road to go to Ratnapura or beyond through Avissawella, have you ever thought that the stretch from Kaduwela to Hanwella has beauties waiting for you by the roadside itself?
Kaduwela is a hub although a small one. Entry to the Southern Highway from Low level Road, the town is an intersection segmenting the traffic to the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, and Ratnapura. It has any shop you want, and three film halls!
Ever fancied how a film would feel like without Dolby ATMOS as you are used to?
Then why not catch a movie at New Rekha or Vijayanthi? The management boasts the halls have been functioning for many decades. If you still fancy a movie with digital quality sounds, Kaduwela has it too! It is the New T.P. 3D Cinema you have to walk into.
Kaduwela Sri Rankadu Purana Paththini Devalaya
Just at the Kaduwela junction, on the road to Hanwella, you will find an interesting devalaya to your right. It is a beautiful uphill climb like the old temples that were traditionally built. The bright white wahalkada bears the name “Kaduwela Sri Rankadu Purana Paththini Devalaya”.
This replicates the local reverence towards Goddess Paththini. Starting from Kaduwela, the whole stretch up to Hanwella is superstitiously known as the domain of Paththini, and you will have an engrossed journey counting the number of little shrines either built in her name or dedicated to her.
The Nawagamuwa Devalaya which you will find halfway from Kaduwela to Hanwella is the prime seat of the goddess. It is known as the main Paththini devalaya and is in a patron position to all the other devalayas in her realm.
Goddess Paththini is wildly believed in folklore to be a paragon deity of virtue, symbolising health, fertility, and chastity. The Tamil name for the goddess is Kannaki Amman. She is an intricate mix of the benevolent goddess for the good and the avenging goddess for the unjust. The enticing myth of her being born in a golden mango is mentioned among the rural population more often than not, whenever referred to chastity.
International Cambodian Buddhist Centre
A project by the Sri Bodhiraja Foundation, International Cambodian Buddhist Centre stands massive and impressive on the left side en route Kaduwela to Hanwella.
Do not feel intimidated by the highly decorated golden facade, for a treasure similar to gold lies inside the premises. As you enter this Buddhist centre, you are in for a visual treat admiring the long white edifice intricately embellished primarily with gold and tastefully with red.
The paintings on the shrine ceiling
The shrines have Buddha statues of Cambodian tradition and you will enjoy exploring the Cambodian version of the “jataka” stories in the upper shrine graced with statues and paintings. There are many resident and visiting Cambodian monks who are friendly, kind, and informative.
Pottery is one thing that Low Level Road is famous for and you have many outlets to browse through. If you do not already have the luxury of tasting the cool, overnight mud-pot seasoned water first thing in the morning, it is a must that you buy a water depositor here. It is known as a “guruleththuwa” and the modern version has an inbuilt tap! There are many sizes to fit every household.
How about picking up a little clay vase for that green plant on your office table, or a colourful, mighty lion if you are the adventurous type? You will be using environmentally friendly earthenware products and helping a local industry too.
Sri Mahindarama Maha Viharaya
If you are looking for a quiet, time-honoured temple to escape from the heat of the day and to take a break from the journey, Sri Mahindarama Maha Viharaya is the ideal place. The tall, white Buddha statue in front of the blooming lotus pond will instantly make you forget the heat of the day, and the old shrine room would be what you have been seeking for some quiet repose.
Hanwella is generally a popular lunch spot. Many elders have nostalgic memories at the Hanwella Rest House which is a classical Dutch style structure. It would definitely have struck an imposing impression in the bygone days. Though the rest house is currently not in operation and the old Dutch fort just next to it is currently encroached by the wild, we implore you to pause here for a bit to imagine how this particular spot was a vital trade post along the Kelani River when the Dutch East India Company dominated trade in the East.
Dutch East India Company
Popularly known as the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie in Dutch), the Dutch East India Company was the brain child of Holland (now Netherlands). Originally established in 1602 as a military-commercial enterprise, the VOC is the product of amalgamating several rival Dutch trading companies.
Her success staggeringly grew for one-and-a-half centuries, but the good days were coming to an end with the changes in the Asiatic political and economic environment by the dawn of the 1700s. The Dutch falling out with the English was fatal, and the fourth Anglo-Dutch war that lasted for four gruelling years since 1780 wretched the VOC, which paved way for her dissolution at the end of the 18th Century.
The presence of the VOC in then Ceylon is commonly known in Sri Lanka as the Dutch period or the Dutch regime. The Dutch regime contributed massively to Sri Lankan culture in terms of heritage, architecture, food, and lifestyle, not to forget the Roman-Dutch law which is in operation even today!
Hanwella town is an intersection with one road leading towards Avissawella and the other towards Pugoda.
You might be lucky to spot some traditional offerings on the Hanwella Bridge such as “pideni thatu”. By noon, there will be a seller or two selling the fresh catch from the river.
The Seethawaka Pradeshiya Sabha is just at the start of the bridge. If you would ever be in a mood to read a book in the vernacular while the others in your group romp around discovering the hidden treasures in this little town with much history, do not hesitate to walk into the Philip Gunawardena Memorial Library that is housed in the Pradeshiya Sabha.
Shrine on top of a rockIf you cross over Hanwella Bridge and take the road to Pugoda, right by the bend on the left is the big sign post with directions to Samanabedda temple. Just 2 km up that easily motorable road, you will see the temple on a slightly higher elevation in an otherwise flat ground. The beautiful little shrine on a rock is an oasis of placidity.
Having climbed the few easy steps, on a clear day, you will be treated with a vista of the far away mountains.
Having enjoyed your little tryst at this one-time legacy of the Dutch and the time-immemorial kingdom of goddess Paththini, you still have time to pursue towards your final destination, even if far. On the other hand, this is a great little trip by itself, and if you are contented, you can now head home with a refreshed sense of having explored much history and culture. Do not forget to get some good clicks!