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Bogoda wooden bridge and Temple – Badulla

Description

Bogoda wooden bridge is an ancient bridge situated in the Badulla district, close to Hali Ella town. It can also be named the oldest wooden bridge in the country, which belongs to the era of the Dambadeniya kingdom (1220–1345 AD).
The bridge was initially built with wood without using any iron nails.
The bridge is built above the Loggal Oya, next to the Bogoda Temple. According to the myths, the old Badulla – Kandy road was utilised by the early Sinhalese kingdom’s era.
Moreover, there is an old tunnel you can see at the premises of Bogoda Temple. Even though it is not available for more than a few meters today, according to the villages, the other end of that tunnel can be seen about 12 km distant from that point.

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Location and Access

Bogoda is situated near Badulla, making it easily accessible for visitors. One can travel along the Badulla – Bandarawela highway to reach this captivating destination, passing through Hali Ella until reaching Ketawela. From there, a worn-out access road near Jagula leads to the magnificent Bogoda temple and its splendid wooden bridge. The journey along this stretch of road is approximately 2 miles, while the total distance from Badulla is about 12 miles. As you traverse the road, you'll be greeted by groves of coconut and areca palms, gently swaying in the refreshing mountain breeze.

Bogoda Temple

At the heart of Bogoda lies the Bogoda Raja Maha Viharaya, a rock cave hermitage that shelters a treasure trove of ancient artifacts. Visitors can find a reclining Buddha statue, exquisite mural paintings, and a device within its walls. The rock cave's apex features meticulously crafted drip ledges adorned with Brahmi characters, showcasing the temple's historical significance. The captivating mural paintings depict scenes from Buddhist traditions and culture, offering a glimpse into the region's artistic heritage. An ornamental door frame carved with intricate designs also graces the temple's entrance, while two worn-out statues serve as wooden moulds for casting Buddha statues.

Wooden Bridge

Adjacent to the temple premises, Gallanda Oya flows melodiously over rocks and boulders, forming serene rock pools with clear, cold waters. Across this picturesque Gallanda Oya, the Bogoda wooden bridge spans, its roof adorned with flat tiles reminiscent of the renowned Kandyan architecture. From a distance, the wooden bridge resembles a charming cottage, paying homage to the architectural design of the Kandyan era. Remarkably, this timber structure has been built without any nails, showcasing the ingenuity and skill of its creators.

Legends and Myths

Bogoda wooden bridge is steeped in captivating legends passed down through generations. One such code speaks of a time when pilgrims from villages like Nillandahinna, Uda Pusselawa, Godamane, and Kandaketiya would trek through the old trails to Mahiyangane and Kandy, braving the crossing of Gallanda Oya without a bridge or footbridge. In their devotion, these villagers vowed to God Vishnu to have a bridge constructed. Their prayers were answered when a massive tree, felled in the Narangala hill range for this purpose, miraculously found its way to a village called Lunugalla. To everyone's astonishment, the tree trunk appeared near Gallanda Oya the following day. Thus, the construction of the epic wooden bridge with its roof paved with flat tiles began, entwined with this curious and mythical origin story.

Transformation in the Kandyan Period

During the reign of the last King of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, the Bogoda wooden bridge underwent significant enhancements. The original footbridge, believed to date back to the Dambadeniya period (circa 1220-1283 AD), was transformed into its present state. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe's additions included railings, wooden planks, and a roof clad with flat tiles, solidifying its connection to the Kandyan period. The bridge spans approximately 40 feet and stands on concrete abutments, replacing the original wooden pillars resting on rock slabs. Its entrance, carved through a rock outcrop, leads to the bridge, where visitors can admire its wooden floor and railings supported by dwarfed wooden pillars.

Temple Premises and Past Glimpses

Beneath the rock temple and the wooden bridge, the temple premises provide a tranquil haven for the resident priests. Nestled under the arbour of coconut and areca palms, the premises offer a serene atmosphere for contemplation and spiritual practice. The rock temple is believed to trace its origins back to Valagamba's reign in exile in the 1st century B.C. Valagamba sought refuge in the rock caves nestled amidst the forests, and the construction of the temple and the 18-foot reclining Buddha statue are attributed to his meritorious works. Legends surround a tunnel below the temple, believed to extend to the Narangala hill range. One story recounts a Buddhist priest following a dog chasing an animal, only to discover the tunnel's end near Narangala.

Deep within the temple, ancient Brahmi inscriptions grace the walls, revealing glimpses of the past. Although only partially deciphered, these inscriptions refer to "Brammadatta, the son of Tissa, who was entrusted with the temple and its sacredness, gifted to the four corners of Lanka." This historical connection highlights the significance of the Bogoda wooden bridge and temple, symbolizing their importance throughout the ages.

Under the custodianship of the Archaeological Department, the Bogoda wooden bridge is carefully preserved to ensure its legacy for future generations. The bridge is a testament to the past's remarkable craftsmanship and architectural prowess. Its existence today is a tribute to the dedication of those who recognize the value of preserving Sri Lanka's cultural heritage.

The temple's cave ceiling is adorned with mesmerizing frescoes that have withstood the test of time. These captivating mural paintings depict scenes of great beauty, wisdom, and spiritual significance. They have been celebrated in folk poems, passed down through generations, immortalizing the artistic talents of the past and enriching the cultural tapestry of Sri Lanka.

The Bogoda wooden bridge and temple in Badulla stand as a testament to the rich history, architectural brilliance, and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. This unique wooden bridge, with its beautiful canopy of flat Kandyan tiles, offers visitors a glimpse into the past, transporting them to an era of kings, legends, and remarkable craftsmanship. Nestled amidst the scenic beauty of the Badulla district, the Bogoda temple and its iconic wooden bridge inspire awe and reverence, inviting all who visit to step back in time and appreciate the enduring legacy of Sri Lanka's cultural heritage.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Is the Bogoda wooden bridge accessible to the public? Yes, the Bogoda wooden bridge is open to the public. Visitors can explore the temple premises and marvel at the exquisite craftsmanship of the wooden bridge.

2. Are there any restrictions for photography at the Bogoda temple? Photography is generally allowed within the temple premises, but checking with the temple authorities for any specific guidelines or restrictions is recommended.

3. Can I cross the Bogoda wooden bridge on foot? Yes, visitors are permitted to cross the Bogoda wooden bridge on foot. It provides a unique experience and a splendid view of the surrounding natural beauty.

4. Are there any guided tours available for the Bogoda temple? Guided tours may be available at the Bogoda temple, allowing visitors to gain deeper insights into the temple's history, architecture, and cultural significance. It's advisable to inquire in advance or hire a knowledgeable local guide.

5. Are there any nearby attractions along with the Bogoda temple? The Badulla district offers several other attractions, including the Dunhinda Falls, Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya, and scenic tea estates. Planning a day trip to make the most of your visit to the area is worth planning.

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