Beli Lena Kitulgala
Exploring the Obscure
A Journey to Beli Lena Kitulgala
To explore is to widen the horizons of one’s imagination.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been intrigued by the Beli Lena Caves at Kitulgala; a vast archeological treasure trove that has yielded immense insight to the early civilizations of Sri Lanka. Finally, getting a much-needed break, I decided to travel to the caves with a group of friends. If you want to go to Beli Lena Caves as well, it’s probably a good idea to start off as early as possible in the morning because there is quite a bit of exploring to do when you actually get to the site.
How and when can you go?
If you are travelling from Colombo, the Beli Lena Caves is at a distance of 85.1km. If you are starting from Kandy the distance is 65.2km. Both routes are pretty straightforward and easy to find out. You may have to get a tuk-tuk or cab to get to the actual cave because there is no public transport available from the main road all the way to the attraction. December to February, March to May and July to September are the best times to visit the caves.
What can you enjoy there?
Beli Lena and the Kitulgala area is home to a plethora of wildlife and verdant vistas which means you get to put your camera to good use (tip; the time lapses here are to die for). Hiking and cave exploring are also activities that you really need to try out here. After exploring the caves, you can explore the bridge of River Kwai and the Sandun Ella or go on a white-water rafting adventure in Kitulgala.
So what is Beli Lena?
As we walked up a steep hill that looked over a fabulous rubber plantation on the Kitulagala Estate we got our first glimpse of the prehistoric Beli Lena Caves 2000 feet above sea level. The caves themselves looked wise and majestic and the vibe is something that makes you come close to fully comprehending the power of nature. The caves are renowned because the ‘Balangoda Man’ or the prehistoric Homo sapiens balangodensis inhabited the area and their skeletal remains that are almost 16,000 years old have been discovered in the recent past.
Other prehistoric artifacts such as the tools that have been discovered from the site, date back to 30,000 BP. The finding was one of massive importance to the entire region of Asia because the tools discovered here were thought of first having originated in Europe in 12,000 BP. The finding of the tools was a rather controversial one because it produced irrefutable proof that the Balangoda Man has been at the same stage of development 19,000 years before the Europeans.
There is a part of the caves that go beyond the lakes which remains unexplored to date. If you are to visit this area, you would need the help of a rope or a rope ladder along with an expert who can guide you.
From the years of 1978 – 1983 the caves have produced artifacts of massive archeological value such as various cultural pieces, human remains, bone tools, evidence of fire use and geometric and microlithic stone tools. In addition to this, animal remains, the likes of the Sambar deer, wild boar, several different monkey species, Indian muntjac and massive squirrels along with reptiles and fish that may have formed the diet of the Balangoda Man have been discovered. The area is still rich in fauna and flora and you will most certainly see a few wild animals feeding or walking nearby.
Because the Beli Lena Caves is an important milestone in the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka the site has been named as an Archeological Reserve of the Archeological Department in the country.
We spent a good few hours walking through the caves that are accessible and just watching out over the scenery that was just breath-taking. If you can, carry a mini, portable tripod and just set it up looking at the sky behind the caves. You will not regret the time lapse.
There are no immediate spots for food and drinks in the immediate surroundings of the caves, but there are enough and smaller shops and the likes once you get to Mahabage road and Kitulgala. Carry some water with you though, you will need it!
Who Are We?
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