Living Heritage of Sri Lanka

Ulpotha traditional Puranagama of Sri Lanka

Ulpotha

Ulpotha is situated in Sri Lanka's North Western Province in Galgamuwa Division of Kurunegala District. Ulpotha is situated at the foot of the Galgiriya mountain range. The Galgiriya Mountain Range is full of water resources.

Saman's Great Grandfather

Ulpotha got its name because there is a spring--in Sinhala ulpotha means 'spring'. It is interesting to recollect that this is a place where Royal prince Saliya, son of the great King Dutugemunu, lived with his controversial bride Asokamala. Many others in royal families have rested in this place as a holiday resort.

Ulpotha was in fact originally owned by my own great grandfather. Ulpotha was a tank earlier called Matiganna Wewa which was filled and converted to a village. The tank bund can still be seen.

It was my great grandfather who built the new tank by the side of the hill and developed the paddy land around the tank. He has settled in this area with a group of persons of Tamil origin. There are other people presently living there. They however have now become Sinhala Buddhists.

During my youth Ulpotha was a typical village within a jungle. However that village culture has now vanished. I remember when I was young, there were tigers living in the mountain jungle and they used to come down and kill cattle of the villagers. The villagers in return poisoned the tigers and all were extinguished. I remember my father showed me the corpse of the last tiger so killed. Now there are no tigers in the Galgiriya Mountain Range.

Ulpotha and Galgiriya Mountain Range

In ancient regime the village farmers had no insecticide within the range of farmers. But in modern days the insecticide got in to the farmers hand. Because of that people have the chance of getting in to the jungle freely and cut the trees.

With the introduction of the Open Economy system in Sri Lanka in 1977 the living pattern of the villagers changed rapidly. There by many joint garment sectors are in this area at present. Others went abroad for jobs. These groups earned big money and started building new houses in place of cottages in the past, changed the former village atmosphere. They cut jungle trees to find timber to build up houses, and wild animals have disappeared. To find money to pay for foreign jobs young villagers sold their cattle to butchers, including milking cows and bullocks too. The new machines and insecticides and other chemicals were introduced. To buy these new agricultural items the villagers even sold the remaining cattle.

Under these circumstances, tiled houses replaced in place of old cadjan houses. As no laborers for farming, the machines were introduced. The entire culture and living pattern of the villagers was changed. Most of our young villagers joined to the SL army to fight the battle which caused by the LTTE.

Until this time there were only three families in Ulpotha. After other two families went out of the village in search of comforts. Only my family was there. It was at this time that Manik Sadarasagara came to this village and started a campaign called Cultural Survival. He bought my father's elder brother's share of the property, on which started his new venture. We thought that his new venture was good and genuine. Therefore we favored his venture. Because of this unit it led to great changes in my village. Due to my involvements it was improving.

During this period Manik said that he hoped to convert this to a tourist hotel. Now this project situated on my father's elder brother's land as, mentioned earlier is a tourist hotel. However Manik suddenly left after three years and, at the same time, a person of Burgher origin called Viren Perera and his friend took control over the project and are now running it. They have a commercial website www.ulpotha.com for this project.

Now I have a plan to build tourist hotel, following the good ideals of the Cultural Survival program and utilizing my own experience for which I solicit your resourceful help, guidance, directions and in all other ways. Cultural Survival program is available under www.livingheritage.org. I expect to proceed with this a program in my birth place Ulpotha and the surrounding area.

Contact:
Saman Indunil Kumara Senanayake
Phone: (+94) 77-699-5078
e-mail: saman@ulpotha.org