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Navigating midst, the Dumbara hills for a journey back in time to Heel Oya

Navigating midst, the Dumbara hills for a journey back in time to Heel Oya

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For a land blessed with peaceful and serene countryside, not much is written about the provincial life of Sri Lanka.

Set against the scenic outlines of the Dumbara hills range in Central highlands, stepping into the ancient village of Heel Oya is almost like stepping into the ancient provincial life of this tear-drop shaped island.

Trekking through a pine forest, the journey to Heel Oya is one filled with resplendent vista. The coldness locked in these central highlands takes away one’s tiredness to prepare for a replenishing village experience.

Heel Oya is a small and rare community that still practices ancient Sri Lankan customs. One such notable practice is the “Variga Sabhawa”- the traditional justice system, headed by the village headman. The villagers gather around the headman and air out their troubles in hope of solutions and peace of mind.

Another custom practised through generations in Heel Oya is paddy cultivation. Sri Lanka in its early days was a land self-sufficient through agriculture. For the people in Heel Oya, this remains their main livelihood even today. The paddy cultivation practised here is called Kamatha, where farmers temporarily store the harvested paddy on the ground in an area located close to the paddy field. In ancient times, the farmers dedicated their paddy crop to Lord Buddha as a sign of gratitude and respect for their yielding. Because of this, the Kamatha is a sacred place for villagers and farmers, practising respectful behaviour including wholesome speech and refraining from consuming and bringing flesh related food near or inside the kamatha.

When the sun peaks and the heat boils, the tourists may take a dip in the Heel Oya waterfall to cool themselves down. And if the cold water sparks the sudden hunger, treat your taste buds to a ravishingly authentic Sri Lankan Rice and Curry cooked with love by the women of the village, loaded with flavour and natural goodness.

Here in Heel Oya, experience the life lived simply as you journey across the village through elevated paddy fields, breathing in the fresh air breezing inwards through the mountains. Discover the authentic rural charm of Sri Lankan village life; embracing earthen living, away from the city rush.


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