Meemure, the new paradise for tourists
The people of Meemure are carefree. They go about their work
chaffing, chuckling and grumbling. No malice or hatred in their minds as
they are a contented lot living on hard-earned rupees. Poverty has cast
its spell on them.
Such is their precious lot. Surrounded by the virgin Knuckles,
Meemure lies in the backwoods of Dumbara. Legend has it that prior to
the advent of Vijaya, the first king in the island, Meemure had been the
abode of the aborigines such as Yakkas. The South West and North East
monsoons feed the luxuriant Dumbara valley generously. The satellite
villages such as Kaikawela, Kumbukgolla, Dandenikumbura, Udagaldebokka,
Alugallena, Vedilunuguhawa and Comet Pass encircle Meemure.
Legend has it that Ravana, the potentate abducted Sita to
Totupolakanda in the Knuckles range of mountains leaving Lakay Gala as a
prime land mark of his adventurous feat.
Nature has been kind, the Dumbara Valley with a salubrious climate
typical for the spice cultivation. King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe and his
queen while escaping the invading Britishers sought refuge in Meemure.
The daub and wattle house known as Rajasinghe Walauwa where the king is
said to have stayed is still fresh in the minds of the villagers.
‘Katupandure linda’, the bathing well surrounded by the thicket where
Rajasinghe’s queens are believed to have bathed remains a relic of a
Four Gravets, Uda Vannimana ruppe, Kadawata ruppe, Orthalahane ruppe
and Kaluwagala Kosdande ruppe guard the entrance to Meemure.
One could access Meemure only after obtaining clearance from the
Jane Nona alias Lasanda Menike, the matriarch reminised: We were
budding lasses then. While walking more than 15 kilometres we recited
kavi to avoid drudgery and loneliness. We had our stopover at Loolwatte,
prior to reaching the destination. Fear was uppermost supreme in our
minds while traversing the thick jungle. Those affected with fatigue and
exchaution were shoulder borne. Thavalankarayas (Caravans) carried the
goods. Sadly they are no longer amongst us today. Lasanda Menike in her
twilight years lives an easy-going life. Udapola Gedara Banda lives
closer to the Rajasinghe Walauwa. He narrated his past in graphic
Farming is the sole means of our subsistence. The chena cultivation
with maize, brinjals, chillies and kurakkan is more profitable than
paddy. Pepper has become the principal crop after the area was declared
a government reservation. ‘We are now constrained to give up the
traditional chena cultivation as it was found to be detrimental to
nature since it would have reduced the region to a mere desert.
Punchi Banda’s reminicenses bring to bear as to how the village
‘Peace Officer’ or ‘Opisara Mahattaya’ in common parlance dispensed
justice to the aggrieved parties.
He was also regarded as ‘local’ ombudsman, or ‘dukganna rala’. He was
the good Samaritan to help the poor to tide over their difficulties, he
said cheerfully.The new road to Meemure has changed its landscape and
revolutionised the lives of its inhabitants, ‘no more thavalamas. Vans
transport the village produce to the local market. The youth in the
village have gone in search of greenerpastures.
The age-old values and morals are on the decline in this ancient
village. Unity among the people has banished, Banda lamented. The
benefits of the new ‘change’ have outweighed its disadvantages. Meemure
has become the new paradise for tourists.
(Translated by K. D. Michael Kittanpahuwa)