The busy lifestyle in the city, makes us desire for solace. It was with this desire that I set off with two of my friends Ravi and Sathiesh to the salubrious hills a few weeks ago. This would be perhaps my fifteenth visit to the solitary town of Tawalanthenne, located within the Kotmale Division. We set off by about mid morning. En route, our mobility was halted as a fat porcupine was making slow progress on the main road just pass Pussellawa. This defiant creature took its own time to make way.
The town of Pussellawa is quite a happening place, in terms of a vibrant market. We were wondering if we should buy a nattu koli (rooster from the village) but then decided that taking the live rooster would be challenging- as the bird would not sit still in the back of the jeep!! I know one of my Editors back in Colombo really likes the curry from this rooster!
Shortly, we could catch a glimpse of the Kotmale Reservoir, through the dense foliage on the side of the winding road. I observed that the water levels were somewhat low. The heat was a bit too much in comparison to my other visits. Within a few minutes we make a right turn that leads us to the cozy Tearamb Bungalow, nestled amid a lovely garden. The colonial home has been beautifully restored. An antique car parked on a side adds to the charm of this residence. The faithful bungalow keeper Logeshwaran greets us with his trademark wide grin. As I gaze around, the mountains majestically rise as if to challenge the clear blue sky. Ravi has observed a jungle fowl meandering nearby. It is a beautiful bird with a colourful set of feathers. It scoots off before I can even take my camera out. Sathiesh is already sipping tea infused with mint- this is the local custom in the hills. The sound of birds is refreshing. A spotted pigeon has perched nearby and eyes us. Shortly, Logeshwaran sets off on his bike to buy a rooster, much to our delight. Dinner is a local “set menu” consisting of pol rotti ( the aroma of the mildly burnt coconut is a relish), a fiery hot sambol loaded with “nai miris’ (chillies) more suited for a gladiator, dhal and of course the signature dish, the legendary rooster. Ah, it is the simple things in life that make a real difference. We stayed awake at night hoping to spot an intruding wild boar- these bold animals wander into plantations in search of food, at times ending up as food themselves. There are a few skillful men in the mountains who would bravely encounter a boar and kill it with a spear, as shot guns would draw much attention.
The next morning being rejuvenated we set out to visit the hallowed landmark of this village, the massive Hindu kovil of Anjaniyar. The kovil is administered by the Chinmaya Mission. It attracts pilgrims from India as well. The view from the top of the kovil is amazing. The pulsating rhythm from the drum can be a bit disturbing. The pathway to this kovil is lined with a few shops that sell incense and garlands.
From here the famous waterfall of Ramboda is a short drive. However, the flow of water was not that captivating- perhaps the absence of consistent rain had restricted the otherwise mesmerizing cascade. It was a bit annoying to see small shops all around the falls. This disturbs the natural serenity of the area. While driving back we stop to buy a bottle of bees’ honey. The honest youth tells us that the honey is not the ‘original’, his character in contrast to the vendors in Colombo! Ramboda is a quiet town that has a captivating allure. It is supplemented by the beautiful smiles of her hardworking citizens.