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Tree Tops Farm

 

"Living in Harmony with Nature"

 

 

 

 

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History of the Tree Tops Farm area .

We are in the part of Sri Lanka historically known as the Ruhunu (Southern) District. More than two millenniums ago this area became the domain of famous Buddhist kings like the hero king Dutugemunu (2nd century B.C.) and his brother, King Saddha Tissa.

Around Tree Tops Farm there are many indications of the Buddhist civilization existing here at least 2200 years back in history.

We are situated at the base of a mysterious ring of hills called "Arahat Kanda" meaning 'Hills of Enlightenment'. In the era of the Ruhunu Kingdom, the top of these hills was the abode of Buddhists monks and it is believed that several monks reached the state of Nirvana at this place; hence the name Arahat Kanda (Kanda: hill; Arahat: an enlightened person having reached Nirvana).

The closest town to the Tree Tops Farm is Buttala, nine km away. 

According to the Buddhist chronicle, "The Mahavamsa", Buttala was the northern border of Dutugemunus' Ruhunu Kingdom and a defense base was placed in the vicinity of Buttala. 

The Mahavamsa relates that King Dutugemunu - having started his military campaign to unite Sri Lanka under 'one Buddhist umbrella' - came this way with his war elephants going towards Anuradhapura where he finally won the battle against the Tamil king, Elara.

 From this time Anuradhapura was the Buddhist capital for a thousand years.

Arahat Kanda would have been a good spot for King Dutugemunus' scouts; as from these hills there is a superb view over the area. Actually the hills are dotted with caves of different kinds; upon closer inspection signs of ancient habitation could be seen.

As part of Sri Lankas ancient large scale irrigation system, King Saddha Tissa - Dutugemunu's brother and successor on the Royal Throne in the 2nd century B.C. - constructed Weliara Wewa, the large tank ('wewa': artificial lake) is located between Tree Tops Farm and Yala National Park. King Saddha Tissa was a great engineer and agriculturist. 

The south-east district - Ruhunu - is actually in the dry zone but with the highly developed art of tank building, Buthala ('buth': rice, 'hala': mound) was known as the 'rice bowl' of the country. The ancient irrigation system is still used today, especially for the irrigation of paddy fields.

The 35 km Buttala-Kataragama road used to be - and still is - one of the main pilgrim routes to the important religious shrines of Kataragama. Captain John Davy of the British Army went this way on his journey to Kataragama, as described in his book 'Travels across Ceylon' (1821). Captain John Davy and his men had spent the night at a place called 'Galgewal' (stone houses), which is now known as 'Galge'.

Most important of the shrines in Kataragama is the Maha Devala - a temple for the six-faced, 12-armed Hindu war god, Skanda; the same God as the Buddhist God Kataragama - one of four guardian Gods of Sri Lanka. 

According to mythology of this very popular pilgrim center, the shrine of Kataragama Devio (resident God) was build by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century B.C. 

The large white Buddhist Kirivehara Dagoba dates back to the 1st century B.C. This is where "Bhakti" ('emotional') a kind of religious activity is observed; thousands of devotees gather here to make vows, walk on fire, pierce themselves with big needles etc. 

Peak seasons for the pilgrimage to Kataragama are the days around the Full Moon ('Poya'), especially in April, May, and August. 

On Poya days central elements of the Buddha's life and teachings are celebrated.

For those interested in Buddhist rock monuments there are two first class attractions close to Tree Tops Farm - Buduruvagala and Maligawila. 

Both about 45 minutes drive away. Being remote and off the crowded beaten track, these monuments are not objects for mass tourism - and they can be recommended as alternatives to the much more famous archeological monuments of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla.

The seven gigantic rock figures of Buduruvagala, dating back to the 10th century A.D., are carved out of a large rock wall. 

These figures are quite unique being of the Mahayana Buddhism, as the Theravada school of Buddhism historically has been all-dominant in Sri Lanka. One of the beautiful figures is thought to be the mythological Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara. 

The huge crystalline limestone rock statues of Maligawila dates back to the 6th century A.D. For centuries they laid fallen and covered by thick jungle until they were rediscovered in the 1950s and restored during 1989-91. 

The 11m high Buddha is regarded to be the largest freestanding Buddha rock statue in the world.

 

 

 

 

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