Bible Rock – landmark in Colombo – Kandy Road: By Arundathie Abeysinghe
Breathtaking views of craggy dense mountains shrouded in early morning mist, panorama of cascading waterfalls, luxuriant meadows … Bible Rock, the magnificent mountain is a colossus dwarfing the entire landscape of Kadugannawa…
Bible Rock is a landmark that has inspired poets, photographers, painters and nature lovers from time immemorial. It was a square lookout point used by Sinhalese ancestors to protect the Kandyan Kingdom.
This fascinating mountain is seen from Kadugannawa Pass on Colombo – Kandy Road, the same route which British took in 1815 to conquer Kandyan Kingdom. Bible Rock is visible to any traveler on the Kandy-Colombo Road but it can be seen clearly to those traveling by train from Colombo to Kandy. The surface of the Rock is mostly covered in *mana grass.
Bible Rock known as Bathalegala by locals is shrouded in thick jungle. The Rock seems to rise up almost vertically making one wonder if it is really climbable. Situated near Aranayaka in the Kegalle District in central Sri Lanka, it rises to a height of 798 meters above sea level.
It was during the British Period that this rock was named Bible Rock as the appearance is quite akin to an open book/Bible when viewed from Kandy Road which the British built. The Rock is also similar to famous Sigiriya Rock.
According to historical records, when the Kandyan Kingdom was surrounded by Portuguese in the 16th and early 17th century, Sinhalese set many watchtowers on prominent peaks and Bathalegala was one of them as the watchers on the summit of the Rock could easily monitor Kadugannawa Pass as well as Kegalle Valley. Their alarm system to signal the arrival of the enemies from the road below was with a bonfire from the next mountain. This chain of bonfires ended at Bahirawakanda Mountain, the hill closest to Kandy City.
Bible Rock is surrounded by many other mountains which are less prominent, Devanagala Kanda (Mountain) hallowed by the visit of legendary God Aluthnuwara deiyo (deiyo meaning God in Sinhala) Kaithankadagala and Urakanda hillocks, Wakirigala Kanda and Uthuwankanda from the north. From the summit of the Rock, breathtaking views of Ambuluwawa Mountain, Kabaragala Mountain and Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) can also be seen on a clear day.
The location of the Rock is an ecologically important area in the central hills as there are endemic flora and fauna.
Many travelers think that Bible Rock cannot be easily reached due to its shape. But there are two trails to reach the Rock. The Rock’s 798 meter height offers a great challenge for hikers interested in seeking an adrenaline hiking experience.
From the summit of the Rock, breathtaking vistas of the valleys below can be seen.
There is a Buddhist Temple in Bible Rock. There are also caves, an old devale (Hindu Temple) dedicated to God Suniyam as well as a water spring in the trail to the Rock.
The trail to the Rock starts with a narrow footpath along a mild slope which gets steeper and it is a continuous climb without flat surfaces through dense jungle. There are steps with stone slabs midway similar to a staircase and the trail ends at the summit of the Rock.
It is better to climb the Rock on a sunny day for spectacular views of the surrounding areas as well as endemic bird watching opportunities. If the weather is good, Knuckles Mountain Range can also be seen from the Rock.
Directions: Bible Rock can be reached from Mawanella Town on Colombo – Kandy Road. There is a signboard to the right of the Road indicating directions to the Rock.
- Mana grass – Commonly known as manna grass or reed sweet-grass is a species of rhizomatous perennial grass which grows in wet areas such as riverbanks and ponds.