A valley of mist | Sunday Observer

A valley of mist

30 August, 2020

Every year from January to April, the Sabaragamuwa region is a mesmerizing picture for visitors who find time to enjoy nature’s beauty. This August, we experienced the hottest season in Sabaragamuwa.

At the crack of dawn each day, the eastern sky is beautiful, the smudgy orange glow of the rising sun piercing through the shimmering veil of mist over the vast landscape of Amutagoda, a charming village in Ratnapura. After the mist is cleared the shadow of the Sri Pada mountain range comes into sight, an enchanting view to be etched in memory.

The bountiful paddy plant bending down with the weight of the mist, and nestling in the valley, is a vista of golden colour; with the tiny birds that dot the paddy fields at daybreak to breakfast and bask in the warmth of the sun.

Armed with my Nikon camera, I explored the village in the misty dawn during dry weather in August. Streaks of warm light paint the canvas on the eastern sky as I start off from my home. I steer myself to a niyara, a narrow foot-path, interconnecting the paddy fields.

The interior of the village is laced with narrow channels, some flanked by houses and paddy fields and other places connected by narrow bridges.

The veil of mist in the valley carpeted with paddy fields portray the shadow image of a farmer heading towards his field. The sun peeks out for a moment, giving the mountains a touch of warmth. This is a perfect picture postcard shot.

Perfect venue

The dawn is a perfect venue for landscape shutterbugs as mist laden mountains and paddy fields give a true composition to insightful frame. Farmers and gem miners start their work early in the morning in the misty fields.

Mist settles on the foliage and mountains of the village and on the rooftops of houses built on the foothill of the mountains. In the distant hilltop is a cluster of houses.

The village temple lies in the mist laden valley. The upper part of the towering 80-foot high seated Buddha statue visible at a distance through the mist-laden valley gives a serene and spiritual setting to the village.

This village is part of an ancient heritage of elderly villagers’ recollections of the ruins of a structure in the middle of the paddy field, now covered with rank growth.

The interesting tales also relate to the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha when it was hidden in the Delgamuwa Raja Maha Vihara in Kuruwita.

The Sacred Tooth Relic after being taken to many temples was enshrined at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. A famous legend relates how the Sacred Tooth Relic was provided sanctuary against the Portuguese invaders, in a grinding stone in the thick of the jungle of Delgamuwa, in Kuruwita, a village close to Amutagoda.

The Vihara, known as Sabaragamuwa Vihara at the time, was part of the Kingdom of Seethawaka and was thus under the protection of King Mayadunne. Despite his constant struggle with the Portuguese, the King ensured the protection of the Tooth Relic and donated land to build the Delgamuwa Dalada Vihara.

His son, Rajasingha I of Seethawaka is credited with initiating the Esala Dalada Perahera at the Sabaragamuwa Saman Devala which was conducted for 11 years during his reign.

The Sacred Relic had been taken from Delgamuwa Vihara to Sabaragamuwa Saman Vihara to hold the Dalada Perahera.

The nine-kilometre long route from Delgamuwa to Sabaragamuwa Saman Vihara lies through Amutagoda, and a small hill called Dalada Godella had been built amidst the paddy fields at Amutadoda to enshrine the Sacred Relic during its journey to Saman Vihara.

The entourage that carried the Sacred Tooth Relic had taken a break and refreshments at this place. Even today, elderly people refer to the place as Dalada Godella, although it is not visible any more.

Sanctified area

“When we were young boys, we used to go to Dalada Godella to venerate the Sacred Tooth Relic. Now the place has been erased from visibility. In the past it was a sanctified area where the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha had been kept for a while for veneration on its way to the Dalada Perahera at the Sabaragamuwa Vihara,” said Ven. Amutagoda Indrarathana Thera, the chief incumbent of Sakyamuni Sri Maha Vihara, Amutagoda.

Even today, the villagers perform ancient rituals, offering the first paddy harvest to the Maha Saman Devala in Ratnapura as baraya (vow) since all these paddy lands had belonged to the Saman Devala as Nindagama.

Amutagoda has changed for the better now. Most of the houses are built of bricks and roofed with tiles with modern facilities.