Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kaludiya Pokuna in Kandalama

This is not to be confused with its name-sake in Mihinthale.

Kaludiya Pokuna, dates back to the period between 853 – 857 A.D., during the reign of King Sena the 2nd. The sacred precincts of this ancient site served as a meditating center for the Buddhist monks who resided there.

The approach to this site is very pleasant. The dirt track which passes through paddy and vegetable cultivations is typical rural Sri Lanka. The cultivation gives way to beautiful stands of tall, dry monsoon forest.

Kaludiya Pokuna lies at the base of a long rocky ridge, on the northern periphery of the Knuckles range. As a result, the forest is more intermediate in character than dry zone. It is also home to a wide variety of birds and butterflies, as it is at the junction of different climatic zones with some species being at an extremity of their range. Clearly, it is an exciting place for Birders and Butterfly Watchers.

The archeological site at Kaludiya Pokuna has a few ruins including a stupa, and it is very obvious to the visitor, that this ancient site screams of neglect.

Like at Pidurangala, there are numerous meditating centers or kutis used by the monks to meditate, but totally neglected and left to rot.

There are also two Pokunas or Ponds from which the name Kaludiya Pokuna has been derived. One is completely dry and overgrown with weeds, while the other looks more like a huge muddy stagnant puddle of water, and a heaven for mosquitoes.

My genius cameraman Lal Nishantha used all his skills to capture on camera, the former glory of this once beautiful pond.

I also found two ancient rock inscriptions; one was hardly legible, as the inscription was almost washed away by the ravages of rain, but the 2nd one was mercifully protected by the overhanging rock.

This ancient rock inscription in medieval Sinhala found at Kaludiya Pokuna, dates back to the period between 853 – 857 A.D., during the 8th regnal year of King Sena the 2nd. It states, that during that period, the temple at Kaudiya Pokuna was called Dakinigiri Viharaya and that a person by the name of Dhalatha donated 23 gold coins, to obtain food for the monks residing at the Dakinigiri Viharaya.

Yet another pathetic sight that met my eyes, were the remains of ancient artefacts mostly of clay, belonging to Kaludiya Pokuna, stashed away in a tiny shed, with no door to protect them from thieves.

I left Kaludiya Pokuna with a heavy heart, because it is obviously a place of nobody’s-business. I hope the authorities concerned, would do something about restoring at least some of its glory, and give Kaludiya Pokuna the dignity it rightfully deserves.
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