Jetwing Kaduruketha. Secrets, Surprises and Definitely Worth Seeing

From soft linen to Spa Ceylon toiletries, Jetwing Kaduruketha is much more than I expected. Having travelled 223 kms from Colombo in just about four hours, I am ready to plant my feet on the ground.

Jetwing Kaduruketha is located about 4.3 kms off the main Colombo Batticaloa highway (A4) and 3.5 kms from the bustling Wellawaya town. No one seems to realize this but it is a perfect layover for travelers going on to Arugam Bay or Pasikudah or anywhere in the East coast.

Set in a partial forest, 25 chalets are spread out across 60 acres of land, 35 of which are lush paddy lands. My chalet, #115 overlooks the paddy fields with a stream separating the two. The chalet is absolutely great with a divine en suite bath. But that’s all I’m going to divulge, as I want to keep an element of surprise, should you visit. (I sincerely hope you would). Oh! And every chalet is entitled to a personal butler! And he is always at hand to offer advice, accompany, provide or prompt my every thought just to ensure my stay was super.

What is most unique about this property is the agro-eco tourism concept of giving back to the community. Resident Manager Thashinthan explains that along with a generous stipend, a major portion of the paddy land is given over to the village farmers to cultivate and harvest, after which, they get to keep 50% of the harvest which they can sell back to the hotel or use as they wish.

The restaurant, set apart from the chalets overlooks an infinity pool. In keeping with the influence of ancient architecture in its design, this swimming pool has been constructed in the same style as that in the palace of the Biso Kotuwa archeological complex in Galabadde.

Farther afield, an exasperated gardener tried valiantly to shoo away ravenous peacock trying to snack from his vegetable plots.

The rest of the property is full of indigenous trees that are slowly growing to be a veritable forest. At night, the pathways leading up to each chalet are lit up giving this entire property a dreamlike look.

I get on one of the bikes parked outside my chalet and accompany my roommate, a fishing cat conservationist, to discreetly secure camera traps on surrounding trees hoping to catch a sighting of the elusive cat… or maybe even, an otter.

I have to mention the menu and food…both of which are an interesting selection of western and eastern cuisine that is cooked to perfection. It’s a rare treat when the food is good enough to be enjoyed by us locals and not have to suffer through bland dishes that are prepared for tourists.

The service and each meal, together with the ambiance gets a two thumbs up from me. So, if you want a real rustic holiday, head on over to Jetwing Kaduruketha. You won’t regret the decision!

Things to look out for:

  • The fresh raw mango welcome drink! Or any of the 16 different fresh fruit juices created by Nimal.
  • The in-house Ayurveda Spa.
  • Hornbills and Serpent Eagles right outside your chalet.
  • Fishing cat and otter. It’s worth taking a walk in the night just in case you happen to cross their path.
  • Sunset over the Poonagala mountain range.
  • A chance to work in a paddy field with the village farmers.
  • Lakes, tanks and amazing scenery

Places to visit:

Buduruwagala. Just 40 kms or 20 mins drive from the hotel is this ancient Buddha statue along with seven other statues carved into a rock face. The statues belong to the Mahayana school of thought and date back to the 10th century. The 51’ (16 m) tall statue still bears traces of its original stuccoed robe and a long streak of orange which suggests it was once brightly painted. The central of the three figures to the Buddha’s right is thought to be the Buddhist mythological figure-the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. To the left of this white painted figure is a female figure in the thrice-bent posture, which is thought to be his consort-Tara.

The rock is set in a forested area which in itself is worth visiting and enjoying.

Maligawila. This Buddha statue is carved out of a single limestone rock and stands about 14.5 metres high. This is the tallest free standing Buddha image in the ancient Sri Lanka. According to the ancient chronicle Chulavamsa, the statue was built in the 7th century by a prince named Aggabodhi from Ruhuna.  It mentions that he built a temple named Pathma Vihara, and also constructed a great statue of the Buddha there. The Biso Kotuwa complex of Galabadde, situated on the left of this contains the remains of a palace including its swimming pool which is an architectural masterpiece of its era.

 

Dambegoda Viharaya. About 500 metres away from the Maligawila Buddha statue is another image carved from a single rock. This is thought to be the image of the Maithree Natha Bodhisattva also some times identified as Avalokithswara Bodhisattva or the Dambegoda Bodhisattva statue. This statue is 9.85 meters tall and weighs about 40 tons. Once upon a time, treasure hunters had blown up this statue into fragments using dynamite looking to hidden treasures. It was finally restored by the Department of Archaeology in 1990.

 

Yudaganawa. Steeped in legend, this place is where King Dutugamunu and Sadhathissa warred during BC 161 century. There is always someone around to offer the story leading to this war, so make sure you spend some time here. Considered to be one of the biggest chaithya’s in Sri Lanka, its perimeter is 1038 feet.

 

Yudaganawewa. Constructed by King Mahanaga it achieves the ancient concept of “wewai dagabai gamai pansalai”. The lake and the surrounding area is beautiful and peaceful, so take time to walk along its banks. There is plenty of bird life here too.

 

Dematamal Viharaya. Dating back to the 3rd century BC, this temple’s claim to fame is the time when Prince Tissa hid from his brother Prince Gamini (some times called Gemunu, later King Dutugemunu) after a major battle for power at Yudaganawa.

Rahathangala. According to legend, this mountain was mysteriously created by Arahats as a barrier to the battling Princes’ Dutugemunu and Tissa. Another version of the legend is that the mountain was created by the Arahats to help Prince Tissa flee from his brother. Takes a couple of hours to climb up.

Elle Wala. A secret bathing spot… when you check in, ask your personal butler to take you there. And it’s worth keeping this a secret just to maintain its pristine beauty. It’s only 4 kms from the Hotel.

Diyaluma Falls. Located close to the town of Koslanda on the road to Wellawaya, it is the second highest waterfall in the country, with a sheer drop of 171 meters. The drive to these Falls (from the hotel) is about 45 minutes.

 

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