Bible rock, known as “Bathalegala” is a 798 meters high mountain to be seen from Kadugannawa Pass, which is located in Hathgampala turning from Gewilipitya in Aranayaka road from Mawanella which is about 25 – 30 kilometers away from Kandy, Sri Lanka. There were some hikes in Mawanella area previously, but not to Bible Rock, which was one of the best hikes to be involved with.
It is actually one of the best hikes to be experienced in Sri Lanka. We came to Mawanella in the last day and stayed there overnight in a friend’s house, who has had a hike to Bible Rock on a previous occasion. We reached Mawanella town at about 7.00 in the morning and having had breakfast from the town, started to travel to Gewilipitiya on Aranayaka road and then to Hathgampala which is about 4.5 – 5 kilometers from Mawanella. Our entrance was at Hathgampala junction where there is a board saying 2.5 kilometers to “Bathalagela”.
The route is lying from the middle of Hathgampala village it was one of the access roads to the village. We started our hike from there and though road was good for a travel by a vehicle there was no room for two vehicles to pass. After about 500 meters travel we came across a concreted road which was about 1.5 kilometers long. The road was steep in some parts. After a 1 kilometer hike we had the first glimpse of the Bible Rock.
It was about 10.30 when we came to the end of the concreted road where we found a small shop, which was closed at that time. There was a wooden bench there and we had a rest. We had brought water and food with us and had a snack there. It is a must to bring water and food if you plan to stay for a bit long with you as you won’t find a place to buy them in between since the Hathgampala junction.
Turning right from there where the road was in very bad condition and we went about 600 meters to the bottom of the Bible Rock. This was where the climbing began. There was a trail through middle of rubber trees to about middle of the rock. Almost seeing the top, we came across some concreted steps on the rock with a cable fence. From there on the climbing is a little bit difficult that it was becoming steeper where on some parts we had to grab the bushes and stones around. There was a water stream flawing down the rock and the rocky path was slippery at some parts. But it was the best part of the hike. As climbing high and high the view around was getting more and more spectacular. We came to a hedge and saw the trail we followed thus far.
We reached the top in few minutes and it was one of the most beautiful views to be seen, a perfect 360 degree view of misty lushness. The sun was out and some of the views were absolutely picturesque. First we took a left turn and walked along a foot trail towards the Northern part of the rock through thick “mana” bushes. We went along to the end of the trail and had a rest on the edge of rock. This part of the rock is more exposed that everywhere you can see the beauty, where there are no disturbed views. There was some shade formed as there were few rocks were on top each other. We sat on the rock and saw “Ura Kanda”, “Ala Galla”, “Uthuwan Kanda” (Saradiyel Gala) where “Uthuwan Kande Saradiyel”, the Sri Lankan Robin Hood used to trek around and attack British troops during 1840s and “Engilipitiya Kanda” which is also known as “Dewana Gala”, where there is a temple on top of it. We could also see the “Kadugannawa Pass” and the Colombo – Kandy road as a silver line in the distance.
After an hour or so we walked to the Southern part of the rock where we came across “Bathalegala Temple”. There were no priests or people to be seen in the temple on that day. There were some buildings in the temple to the left of the Dagoba and the “Ghanthara Kuluna”. We went beyond there and went to the South Eastern part of the rock where there were more trees and we found a foot path on the edge and we moved forward and came across some caves there and a place with few small rocks stacked up with and a water stream. We had lunch there and the water from that stream was cool and pure, the friend who lives in Mawanella said.
After lunch, we walked towards the Southern edge of the rock beyond the temple where we found a small fence. It was also covered with “mana” bushes and we could see around from there. This part is shorter than the Northern part of the rock. We could see “Ahupini Alla” waterfall from there. We spent another hour or so there and we started to climb down the rock. We took the same route and the rocky part was a bit difficult as it was steep, but it was quite safe as you could grab bushes and trees and also the cable which was there with the concreted steps on the rock.
We walked through the wood and came to the end of the concreted road where there was a small shop. This time the shop was open and we had plain tea there, where he only had plain tea at the time. We were tired and the tea he offered was absolutely tasty. After sipping tea we decided to take the other route which was easily descending where a vehicle cannot go on it, to return to the main road from there, not the Hathgampala junction, but about 1 kilometer beyond from the junction towards Aranayaka, where we started the hike. This narrow route lied on a rock almost to the main road within the other part of the village which was not picturesque like the other where it was among the houses of the village. The distance was almost same but this was more straight route, but it seems hard to climb up as there was more resistance to the feet as it was rocky.
It was an easy hike and one of the most beautiful ones we were involved with. It was advised by the villagers not to be on the top of the rock during rain, specially with thundering as the Bible Rock is hit by thunders quite often. Easy access, easy conditions unless there is rain and not having much leeches to deal with makes the hike remarkably easy.
Hiking party :
Akila Rathnayake, Anas Fahumy, Jeewana Madushan Witharana, Nadeera Dhanushaka Senevirathna, VIdula Wijesirinarayana and Yasiru Randima
Photo credits to Nadeera Dhanushka Senevirathne, Akila Rathnayake and Anas Fahumy