Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Covered Bridge of Bogoda.........A Temple in Badulla Sri Lanka

I am in Badulla waiting for a call from my daughter to pick her at the University. I get the call but she says her submissions are getting delayed and we will need to stay overnight instead; I have a day to spend in Badulla. I need to find a way to kill time. I have already visited Dunhinda Falls, Muthiyangana Temple, Dova Temple etc.

I reach for the book in the glove compartment; The Handbook for the Ceylon Traveller – by  Studio Times of Nihal Fernando fame. My  scanning eyes stop at a chapter under Badulla; “Something unusual – unique really – is the wooden bridge by the Bogoda temple. The unusual feature of this ancient bridge which spans the Gallanda Oya is the roof, clad with tiles of the Kandyan period. A beautiful drawing of the bridge can be seen in ‘Vihares and Verandhas’   by Barbara Sansoni.”

I am now on my way to this really unique bridge. At Hali-ela I turn right to Ketawala and on a very rugged road from Ketawala, I come to the temple at Bogoda. A steep flight of steps descend to a rock caved temple of the Kandyan period and opposite the shrine room is the roofed bridge leading to nowhere. I am alone in this serene locality when the lay care taker of the shrine room opens the door for me. I ask him for the priest and he tells me “Hamuduruwo diva viharanaya karanawa”, the most humble and respected way of saying the priest is resting after the mid-day meal. He was so humble and I decide to ask him about the bridge and its roof. He tells me that the bridge severed as a crossing on the ancient route to Kandy from Badulla. I take some good pictures of the bridge and the temple, contribute to the electricity bill of the temple and return to the motel.

I go back memory lane and recall the historic novel by W T Keble – “Son of the Lion.“ Keble proudly narrates about King Senarath [a Buddhist monk before] who marries his brother’s widow Kusumasana Devi (Dona Catherina), marching to Badulla with the Kandyan Sinhala army that routed the Portuguese armies at Randeniwela in Wellawaya. He directed his army from Badulla where he later builds a palace as well.  I now trace this ancient route to Badulla on Google maps. Gallanda Oya falls to Uma Oya, a main tributary of River Mahaveli which meets the latter at Rantembe. Rantembe Gorge was the narrowest point on the Mahaveli River and may have had a  crossover bridge to reach the ancient road to Kandy on the left bank of Mahaveli. This is now a paved road leading to Mahiyangana. The ancient route up to the crossing at Rantambe may have been along the banks of Uma Oya and Gallanda Oya to Badulla via Hali-ela.

The Rantambe gorge has legend related to King Rajasinghe II, son of King Senerath who is said to have cleared the gorge on horseback. It is sad though…….. The Rantambe gorge is no more and my attempt to find an old picture or drawing of it did not bear fruit either. It was blasted to make room for the Rantembe Dam; the last of a series on the Mahaveli for hydro power.

And for the roof cover… of the engineering aspect one could say a roof over a timber bridge would give extra strength to the bridge as it acts as a truss. But in this case it is more a protection from the elements. This cannot be the first bridge at this location. There would have been many such built of timber that perished with time. A roof over it would extend its serviceability.

Covered Bridge at Bogoda

Support needed for preservation

 Really unique

 Aesthetics that pleased the weary foot traveler 

Carved symmetry

Monolith trees that span a Oya [creek] now preserved from elements

Buddhist Shrine Chamber of Kandyan Architecture

A Window that has links to the Dutch Period

Door frame and ironmongery of the Kandyan period

Ancient bell now hung on a roof beam - possibly after the collapse of the belfry

Solid timber sashes hinged to solid timber frame at top and bottom - Typical Kandyan joinery

Humble was he

The back of the door was not painted - it is not visible when closed or opened fully - saving resources

These murals need attention - the use of the key over the years

1 comment:

  1. beautiful captures. nice post uditha ayya. thank you for sharing..