It was about 5.15 early in the morning when Nisal was banging the door of Kasthuri’s boarding place. The trip was scheduled to begin at 5.00am, thus the van had reached University of Kelaniya by that time. Shakya and Nisal had to do an immense job to wake up Kasthuri, brush her teeth, make her get dressed and accompany her to the van (well, that’s what we were told by the boys themselves later on that day, and please note that this story has got several points of views :P lol…). Finally the van left the university with the three of them along with Gayan Ayya, and started the journey on the Colombo-Kandy road. Our driving partner was Chanaka, a friend of Gayan Ayya. Darsha and I got in from Mahara and Kadawatha and our final passenger, Sandamali, also known as Miss.Selfie, was awaiting at Miriswaththa. After everybody had got in and was seated and sound, our trip to Mandaramnuwara officially commenced together with the sounds of music and the cool breeze in the morning.
Our first stop was a temple around Ambepussa. With the blessings of the Triple Gem we moved on until the next immediate stop, a kovil. Kasthu gave us a new experience by placing a Bindi (Pottu) on each of our foreheads. Although nobody knew an exact meaning of the three coloured Bindis, everyone was eager to involve in that opportunity. Nisal was so excited that he had accidentally placed a part of that Bindi on his nose as well. With cheers and selfies we started our journey again.
|At the rock tunnel|
We passed towns and villages of Kegalle, Uthuwankanda, Mawanalla and reached Kadugannawa. The rock tunnel is usually a main spot for photography by any traveler. We also didn’t miss that chance. Thus everybody very enthusiastically got out from the vehicle to pose for a set of photographs taken by almost every member of the crew. Our main photographers however were Nisal, Shakya and Gayan Ayya. Our journey continued till Peradeniya and then to Mahakanda, where a mouth-watering breakfast was awaiting to quench our hunger at Gayan Ayya’s place, officially known as Gayya’s Place. His house stood on top of a hill-like area where we had to walk a bit on a steep path. This served as a miniature practice for the upcoming hiking event. The environment was cool, calm and fresh. The delicious milk rice along with Sambal and roast bread paired with the famous Parippu curry felt like a heavenly dish. Thanks to Gayya’s parents, we stuffed ourselves and the hunger was totally terminated.
We bayed adieu to Gayya’s sister and parents and set course to our destination, the misty Mandaramnuwara. On the way we did a one final stop at the View Point in Kandy. The usual photos and selfies were taken at the place and the course continued. From Kandy to Hanguranketha then to Rikillagaskada and through Padiyapalalla, our vehicle drove towards Mandaramnuwara. Every crew member, except Chanaka who drived, was eagerly showing their singing talents on the way. Starting a new song was the most difficult thing to do. Later on we wondered how patience Chanaka must have been, to drive upwards along the winding roads surrounded with the sound of our so called songs. However, it was fun, and having fun was one of the major targets of the trip.
The sun shone brightly above us when we approached to Mandaramnuwara. Either side of the road had a mesmerizing view of mountains and valleys of vegetable plantation and paddy fields. The atmosphere was cool and ideal. Small waterfalls fell from here and there, creating miniature ponds beside the road. Carpets of plantations resembling a variety of green colors covered the mountains. Without even blinking, we tried our best to experience the breath-taking view of the surroundings. The name Mandaramnuwara itself resembled the misty atmosphere of the village. The sky here is usually cloudy and the climate, foggy. Since the village is surrounded by the Piduruthalagala mountain range, usually there is a late sunrise in the morning and the evening sun sets early. As we came to know, mist and cold, shivering and rain is customary in this area.
|Greenish Carpets of fields|
We slowly emerged to our boarding location, Ajith Ayya’s place. It was arranged by our beloved guide, Gayya. The lodge was located in a valley, thus we had to park our vehicle and descend on foot one after another through the narrow pathway. After a warm welcome by Ajith and the crew, we settled our belongings in the rooms reserved for us and set course for the hike to Kolapathana Falls.
Hidden deep inside the jungles, the name Kolapathana has it’s own wonderful folklore. Legend says that Prince Malsara had come to the foot of this breath-taking waterfall with his beloved princess. For that journey they had brought food wrapped in a Palmyra leaf, in Sinhala known as “Kolapatha”. Probably due to the enchantment of the fall, after eating, they had forgotten to take the wrapping back with them. Thus it remained at that place, and since the Kolapatha was left behind, later on the fall was named as Kolapathana Alla. Evidence exists about Prince Malsara, since there is a village named Malsaranuwara nearby.
|From rock to rock|
|A walk to heaven|
|A walk to heaven|
We climbed from rock to rock, walked along plain grasslands, crossed small streams of cold water, traveled through bushes and plants and finally came face to face with the majestic looking waterfall. The surroundings were covered in mist formed of small water drops which raised when the fall hit the bottom. We embraced the serenity of the view and spent quiet a time for taking photographs and posing for them. Although we could have awaited there for another long time, we had no choice but to return to our boarding place, since we had to get ready for the next adventure – the camping event on top of a mountain.
All of the necessary things were gathered and divided among each crewmember. Then our hike began in search of an ideal spot for our camp, bonfire and the BBQ. Up and up we climbed. Darkness was swallowing us, thus we had to hurry. The wind was cold. It became colder and stronger as we climbed higher up the maontain. Bindu, a friendly dog also came with us for the journey upwards. Finally a spot was selected to build the tent. The boys did a great job by rapidly constructing the tent. Next the bonfire and the BBQ oven was lighted and the party officially began. Gayya leaded the BBQ where the chicken, sausages and bread slices gave a wonderful aroma, which enlightened our taste buds. The pleasure was highlighted by a can of Wild Apple. Shakya struggled with a Manioc since he and Darsha were vegetarian. Little by little the heat enhanced and small giggles turned into loud laughter. Even an incorrect pronunciation or an odd sound was sufficient to start a whole hearty howling. We all agreed later that the effect of the smoke caused by burning barks of tea plants in the bonfire played a major role in reasoning this situation. Gayya and Chanaka sometimes tripped themselves due to heavy laughter. Nisal was meek as a mouse but never gave up laughing for every word we talked. He had only one major question, "Who on earth suggested to build a camp...?". This was because he never got a chance to enter the tent during the whole journey. Darsha’s laughter was automatically available anytime. So was mine. My stomach was hurting due to severe chuckles. Listening to Sandamali’s snorts started a totally new chapter of laughter. Kasthu shivered, but enthusiastically participated in every meaningful and meaningless words we talked. It was obvious that Shakya was affected by cyanide of the Manioc and he was the reason for the sudden rise of flames in the burning bonfire.
The songs we sang mixed with the air and was carried away by the wind, which was becoming colder and stronger by the time. Our dinner was served to the spot by Ajith and the crew. Even though our stomachs didn’t had any space for eating, yet we stuffed ourselves. Bindu had his own share of a delicious BBQ and dinner. Our previous plan was to spend the night in the tent and descend early in the morning. But the rapid increase of cold in the air made us change that plan. At about 1.30 early in the morning, when the world was sleeping soundly, we started climbing down the mountain. Our bodies clenching tighter into our jerseys and ice caps pulled down to cover the ears from the icy wind, one after another, we slowly descended. One or two leaches hook up time by time, but it wasn’t much of a burden. We all reached safe and sound to Ajith Ayya’s place and very soon after having a hot water bath, everybody fell fast asleep, dreaming and reminding about the wonderful unforgettable experiences of the day.
|At the lodge|
It was a wet morning the next day. Rain was pouring continuously. Mountain tops were covered in mist. We had Roti along with a very spicy Katta Sambal, which was the best breakfast for a rainy day. Although we had many plans for this day, the non-stopping pouring changed them all. Bathing in the Kalu Wala seemed impossible due to the freeing climate. Having another hike was also dangerous and difficult in such a rainy day. Thus we sadly made up our minds to say good bye to the misty Mandaramnuwara and head back home. Our van slowly drove past the misty roads, the colourful fields of vegetables into the world of concrete and noise.
Note : photo courtesy goes to Nisal, Gayan and Shakya