|Sunday, 27 January 2002|
On the summit of Batalegala
by PRADEEP KUMARA DHARMARATNE
Batalegala Kanda, situated in Kandy, and visible as you reach Kadugannawa Pass is shrouded in thick jungle from time immemorial. Today it is being transformed into a Buddhist place of worship.
To the traveller proceeding from Metropolitan Colombo to Kandy, the magnificent spectacle of the rock stands as a collosurs dwarfing the surrounding landscape.
Batalegala Kanda rising to a height of more than 1688 feet is surrounded by its satellites such as Devanagala Kanda hallowed by the visit of legendary God Alutnuwara deiyo in the north east, Kaithankadagale and Urakanda hillocks and Montane Kanda, Wakirigala Kanda and Uthuwankanda from the north.
Nature has gifted Batalegala Kanda with the panorama of cascading water-falls, luxuriant meadows and intriguing scenery. It is popularly referred to as the 'Bible Rock' by the westerners because it resembles an open book.
It was during the 1956 cultural and religious renaissance that Sri Lanka's first Cultural Minister, the late Jayaweera Kuruppu planted a bo-sapling on the top of Batalegala, followed by the opening of Aloka Viharaya. Thanks to Ven. Pandit Hungampola Sirirathana thera, Chief Sanghanayake of Kegalle district, a program was launched to develop the rock into a popular place of worship.
In the proposed program for provision of infrastructure facilities, road access to the rock was given top priority.
A new phase of development was triggered in the mid nineties. A new shrine room was built and it became a source of inspiration to the simple village folk in the area.
Government ministers who visited the historic place assured their patronage for its future development. Their pledges began to bear fruit when the mount top began to be illuminated with new electricity lines drawn to the top of the rock.
Meanwhile, Ven. Sirirathana thero was deeply committed to making Batalegala a mini-Sigiriya as a tourist attraction as well.
The laying of foundation stone for the new Chaitiya by the former Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake at the auspicious moment on June 17 last year marked the beginning of the future development program.
Legendary Caves, old devalaya dedicated to god Suniyam and a drought-proof water spring in the mount seem to be god-given treasures.
The flora and fauna in the vicinity forms part and parcel of Batalegala. The blueprint is ready for the construction of a complex consisting of dagoba, monastery and pilgrims rest at a total cost of Rs. 20 million under state patronage.
The proposed dagobo is to be modelled on the famous Kalutara Chaitiya.The access to Batalegala is from Mawanella. A right turn before the narrow Mawanella Bridge brings visitors to the rock.
Produced by Lake House