YAKDESSAGALA: A VENTURESOME CLIMB

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Kurunegala is a city surrounded with many scenic isolated hills and mountain ranges including the famous Athugala, the rock which has been the reason to call the city as Athugalpura. Yakdessagala which is also introduced as Kuvenigala is another rock in Kurunegala, which is popular among the hikers due to its location and the legends associated with it.

Location

As mentioned, the rock, which is around 540m in height, is situated in Kurunegala, North-Western Province and can be easily reached by public or private transportation. The base of the mountain is near the 7km post on the Gonagama road and there is a small rock-pond with lilies at the bottom.

Legends

There are numerous legends behind this strange-looking rock, which are related to the Princess Kuveni.  According to the most famous tale, the Princess Kuveni, who is said to be a she-devil or related to the tribe of Yakkha, and the wife of Prince Vijaya the first Aryan King of Sri Lanka, had plunged to her demise from this rock after she was deserted by the prince.

Prince Vijaya, who originally came from India, first married Kuveni and took her support to establish his rule over the tribal people who was living in Sri Lanka during that time. Nonetheless, the prince later was convinced by his ministers to hold a proper coronation and become a recognised king and for the coronation he needed to be married to an Aryan princess, which Kuveni wasn’t. Therefore the prince sent away Kuveni and the two children, named Jeewahaththa and Disala, and took down a princess from India and married her.

So, Kuveni, having left the palace, went up the rock and jumped from it. In another tale it says that she cursed Prince Vijaya and his royal linage up there on the rock, which exemplifies the name of the rock, Yakdessagala or Yaka Des Negu Gala meaning ‘The rock where the devil cursed’ in English. The legend says that Prince Vijaya had no children from his second marriage due to this curse. In some tales it says that the curse was passed on even to King Panduvasadeva who followed King Vijaya, giving him a rare skin disease.

Hiking

The rock provides a perfect venue for amateur hikers as well as for experienced hikers. There are directions marked in red from the bottom to the top, making it easy to navigate the route. The first part of the hike falls through the forest and needs to be done with care since there could be poisonous insects and reptiles under the fallen leaves. Also, there could be roaming wild boars in the evening. However this part of the hike is not that hard to do.

The hard phase comes next once you reach the rocky part. The rock is steep and doesn’t have a proper way up. Usually the local hikers follow free-climbing techniques, but it is advisable to use safety gear if you are not very experienced in mountain-climbing. It is better to start the hike in the morning hours because the rock heats up in the afternoon, making it extra hard to reach the summit.

Altogether it is a hike of two-three hours under normal conditions. The climb could be exhausting but believe me it’s worth the view from the summit. You can view most part of Kurunegala, which is indeed a breathtaking landscape.

If you are planning to climb Yakdessagala, it is advisable to carry a light back pack with few edibles and at least a 1 litre water bottle each since the hike could be tiring than you imagine. And never forget essential first-aid.

A kind request

Please try to avoid plastic and polythene as much as you can when you visit Yakdessagala and if you take any plastic, never litter them there. Your small actions can help in large to protect nature and wildlife.

By Induwara Athapattu