Imagine life away from the hype of the city, away from concrete buildings and the noise of motorists hurrying to their destinations….. imagine a simple life amidst paddy fields and forest and a quaint town that provides your necessities…imagine life in Welikanda….
Words Udeshi Amarasinghe Photographs Mahesh Prasantha
Situated where Polonnaruwa meets Batticaloa district Welikanda sits along the A11 between Manampitiya and Punani. This unassuming hamlet provides an insight to the simplicity of rural life in Sri Lanka. Passing the village of Maha Wewa and the railway tracks that vanish into the distance the approach to Welikanda builds the momentum on what is yet to come. The surrounding landscape is peppered with majestic peacocks, who at times cross the road or beckon those who pass by, from tops of trees.
A white signboard with black lettering announces that we have entered Welikanda. The sides of the roads are lined with paddy fields, which had recently seen the reaping of the harvest. The land was being prepared again for the next season. Tree houses or pala (watchposts) had been built for farmers to protect their paddy fields from birds and wild animals such as the elephant who are known to enjoy a munch or two of paddy.
Passing the village of Maha Wewa and the railway tracks that vanish into the distance the approach to Welikanda builds the momentum on what is yet to come.
The laid back nature of Welikanda is very much evident in the town, which is well organised with clean, wide paved walkways and permanent separations to demarcate parking slots that characterised a disciplined community. The shops sell goods, ranging from groceries to household utensils and garments.Trees surround the town and the pavement too is planted with trees that provid much needed shade from the burning sun. The Welikanda bus stand is the centre point of the town with buses parked ready to take its next load of passengers. This little town supplies the residents of Welikanda with their day-to-day needs.
Welikanda gives a sense of peace and calm where life seems to be a living painting and the stress of modern life is yet to lay its mark. Tranquillity prevails in every aspect, a turn down a side road took us through, what I would think the simplicity of life should be. The road was lined with trees and the surrounding was forest and shrub. A motorbike or two would disturb the silence but soon the serenity would return. A herd of goats blocked our way and the little ones jumped to and fro enjoying each other’s company. The greenery and the water bodies reflected the untouched countryside. The air felt fresh and the breeze that swept through was pleasantly relaxing.
As the evening light receded, a tree that was surrounded by a waterbody cast an impeccable reflection on the surface thereby mirroring itself perfectly. It is indeed the simple beauty that we would not notice usually that enraptures you in Welikanda. Cooling themselves as night fell, a herd of buffaloes were immersed in a pool of water. As we stopped to observe their relaxation, we could not help but be a little envious of their trouble free attitude.
In the distance a pile of hay was ablaze as the farmers began their work to prepare the fields as the cycle of life continued. The sky was of myriad shades as the sun bade goodbye to another day. We know that mother nature is the greatest artist of all but for those who may have any doubts they only need to visit Welikanda where man and nature co-exist. It would take only a moment to appreciate and acknowledge the beauty of an undisturbed environment where simplicity reigns supreme… it would take only a moment to appreciate Welikanda…