Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A trip down memory lane – Hulugalle - In memory of those that have departed

Panduwasnuwera as seen today

I went on a day trip today with relatives to visit places where our ancestors lived. It was the first time I had been on one and before my elderly relatives depart this world they wanted us to know where they lived and for that I am thankful to them.

The tank at Hulugalle on a par with the Magalle tank at Nikeweratiya

We left in a bus as that would relieve stress in travelling in a few vehicles and got to Panduwasnuwera by about 9 am. I had not been there and was pleasantly surprised to discover it on the Chilaw Wariyapola road at the quaint and clean village of Hettipola. I understand that King Pandukabaya was the king after Vijaya, but much of the ruins only date to the era of King Parakramabahu the Great from Polonnaruwa. The moated walled city is worth a visit and will show a series of photos in a future blog entry. A stop over is recommended as it is not at all on a tourist trail, but some reading before hand will make more sense in understanding the period in question.

The four siblings represented our father who felt the journey would be too much for him

We then arrived at Hulugalle a few kilometers from Nickeweratiya off the Maho road, and visited the tank, a very large one at that. Then we went to the Temple, which has a very unusual building dating to the 14th Century. A unique specimen of architecture. The temple priest noted that they have advised the Archeological Department to inspect it as it is in danger of falling, but the authorities have not given it the due respect. We do not want to be sorry we did not do something on time do we?

We then walked into the grounds of the Wallauwwa where ancestors lived in the 18th and 19th Century. The original house has been torn down and new owners have replaced it with modern buildings. We were hosted to tea by a local gent who is the caretaker of the property before visiting the local school and enquiring about its student body and facilities. This person had both his sons in the village and who are successful small rice mill owners. The wife updated us on people and my uncle made the connection with one he went to school with known to them, all part of the connections we make in Sri Lanka even when we meet perfect strangers.

The vice principal also named Hulugalle, who is married to a retired Colonel Hulugalle who lives in a modern imposing building in the village, was gracious enough to show us around and even wished to entertain us at her home, but for which we had neither informed them nor had not planned for such, but shows the hospitality of strangers, especially when like named people visit. The details of her family and what her five offspring were up to etc. are fascinating information for my uncle and aunt, who always wish to see anyone from that village doing it proud.

We then drove to Kurunegala for lunch and visited the General Cemetery soon after to see the graves of my Grandfather’s great grandfather who died in 1882. It is interesting to note that the Cemetery has been there since then and is extremely well cared for. His name was John Graham Jayatilleke Hulugalle. There were other family graves including my grandfather’s brother, George Edward Jayatilleke who was a Ryde Gold Meddalist at Trinity and gone to Cambridge, but had died at the early age of 35 of cerebral malaria.

We then drove to Lihinigiriya where a walauuwa once stood, where my grandfather and his family grew up. It has now been torn down, and we had tea at the home of the family who now live on the land that once housed this sprawling home. The graves of My grandfather’s parents, William Jayatilleke and his wife Rekawa Kumarihamy are still there, along with WJ s parents KD Hulugalle and wife. I am detailing some of these obscure names lest I forget, and I forget to tell my nephews and nieces of this, as no one else will have any more knowledge of the whereabouts of these as well as any information on them.

Lihinigiriya was a sprawling coconut and paddy property, which has now no original family members amongst their owners, but the local people who live there who had bought the land when it was parceled and sold by other family members who inherited it. One reaches there by turning left at Pothuhera passing the railway station and proceeding about 7 km up that road. I can only imagine the view of the Paddy fields from the home and also how my grandfather who used to sit on the rocks in the property and read his books.

There was a 90 old gentleman and another lady from an adjoining family who was also of similar vintage and was now blind, who had stories to relate when they grew up and could relate to names my uncle threw at them, such as Rekawa’s Seneviratne, Jayasundera, Maralande in addition to the Hulugalles. I think they were pleased to meet people who were descendants of people they knew when they were mere children in the village.

It was near eight when we got back to Colombo having left before six am, but it was a trip to remember, as we had no idea of what we would do where we would go and just had to stop all over ask directions and generally find our way around to all the places. Even finding the graves was not easy, as the inscriptions had been covered over and we had to scrape some of the moss to get to the names and details usually of life span with date of birth and death and relationship to others in the same or adjoining graves.

The paddy fields in Lihinigiriya


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

who was leading this expedition?

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Does this indicate your mobility has improved?

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Anonymous said...

This brought back many memories. I remember visiting Linigiriya with my father during the 1960's. Regards,
Nilantha Hulugalle, Narrabri, Australia

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Lakshaman Bandaranayake said...

My mother was born in Hulugalle and lived their until she married my father in 1955. She went to that small school you visited. He father had passed away when she was very young and has very little recollection of him. In 60s and 70s, visiting my grandmother and hosts of other relations in Hulugalle during Sinhala new year was something we used to look forward to every year. Bathing in the tank, which was vast and expansive for young me, was one of our favorite past time during the few days we stay in the village. There were no paved roads, no electricity and no busses. we used to hire a car from Nikaweratiya town. In the evening, we used to gather under the moonlight in the large "midula" of my grandmother's garden and play various games and sing. My gradmother's ancestors had been razed to ground by floods, when the bund of the tank was breached during heavy rains. This probably was in 1920s. her father, my mother's garnd father, had died of heartbreak, when his own cousin refused to give shelter, at least that what heard from my mother.
Last time I visited was probably about 20 years ago- I took my mother to the temple, she wanted to make a donation to the temple. By then the village has totally changed from what it was in 60s and 70s. The old village charm has long been vanished and replaced with modern living- no cheina cultivation, no jungles where we roamed searching for berries.

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