Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Old Bridge of Katugastota.

River Mahaweli flows by the town of Katugastota, separating it from Kandy Town. The bridge over the river at this place connects the two towns. The other importance about this place is that it is the point where the borders of Ruhunu, Maya and Pihiti (the three ancient political divisions of Lanka) meet.

The old bridge of Katugastota was commissioned for the transportation of Sri Lanka on 1st of March 1860, during British colonial rule by Governor Henry Ward. It is said that the Governor had organized a dinner dance on the bridge that day.
On the right bank of Mahaweli. The old bridge (right) and the new (left).

This bridge was strengthened in its first reconstruction in 1905, and in the second reconstruction in 1939. The plaque erected for the 1939 reconstruction can be seen on the bridge even today.

The plaque on the old bridge.

The plaque says:


The new bridge of Katugastota was declared open by President Mahinda Rajapakse on 26th July 2009.

The old bridge is still used by pedestrians who like to avoid the traffic on the new bridge. The old bridge is a good place to take a leisure walk and have a look at the river because there's no more traffic over it now. St. Antony's College is situated right at the Kandy-end of the old bridge. Therefore sometimes a few vans or three-wheelers that belong to visitors of the College can be seen parked on it.

Evening on the old bridge Katugastota.

The old bridge looks tired and resting, while the new bridge keeps securely holding the heavy traffic over the Mahaweli.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Walk by the Giritale Reservoir.

Morning at Giritale reservoir.

I wonder what was there, 14 centuries ago.

Somewhere between 608 AD and 618 AD, King Agbo II of Anuradhapura Kingdom chose the ideal place at Giritale to build a reservoir. When the reservoir was built, it became the naturally deepest reservoir of Sri Lanka, a record which it still holds.

On the roadside: Giritale-Elahera Road.

The construction of Giritale reservoir could have been a mighty project. King Agbo II mobilized his 5th century engineers to plan the construction. He might have organized massive manpower and animal power such as herds of tamed elephants and bulls to power the construction work as planned. King Agbo II ultimately finished the reservoir with a 550 meter long, 23 meter high dam, covering 24 square kilometers, containing 24 million cubic meters of water to support the agricultural economy of the country.
The road over the bund of Giritale Reservoir runs to Elahera.

The Deer Park hotel garden.

Fourteen centuries ago, the construction site of the Giritale reservoir could have been covered with thick dry-zone jungle rich in wildlife including deer, elephant, wild boar, squirrels etc. The workers might have taken meal breaks with chats and jokes to relax a bit while the work was going on. During the nights fireflies might have lit the jungle around the site.

Today, the scenario has changed a bit. Walk along the bund of Giritale reservoir, starting from Giritale junction towards Elahera. In the morning it is cool and a breeze blows. Fisher folk is out there rowing the canoes on Giritale reservoir, spreading the nets and bringing their catch.

Walking about a few hundred meters more you come to a centre of hospitality. The white letters on the brown wooden board reads, “The Deer Park”. The Deer Park has been built under the shades of huge dry-zone trees where tropical wildlife and vegetation is found abundant in an ancient Polonnaruwa kingdom setting. The environment is set to look like an epic palace garden in the history.

The Deer Park Hotel at night.