Complete with lush tea estates, the region of Matale, Sri Lanka is a picturesque delight for travellers. Situated a little over four hours from Colombo, the Hill Country district is an escape from the humidity of the commercial capital. Today, Matale is known for being a strong contributor to the domestic production of tea in Sri Lanka.
Matale boasts of a rich heritage. According to chronicles, it was known as Mahathala or Mahatila. During the ancient Anuradhapura era King Walagamba had recorded the Buddhist Thripitakaya at the Aluwihara Temple in Matale. Afterwards, the prominence of the area grew with the rise of the Kandyan Kingdom.
When King Sena Samaththa Wickramabahu established his reign, he formed the kingdom of Kandy by annexing Matale and its neighbouring regions.
Subsequently, due to internal squabbles between competing kingdoms, the reigning control of Matale transferred between the kingdoms. However by the time the Portuguese invaded Sri Lanka, Matale belonged to the Kandyan Kingdom. During Colonial invasions it is said Matale suffered much destruction.
In 1848 during the British colonial government, Matale was a breeding ground for a landmark rebellion. Noted by scholars as the Matale rebellion, the upheaval was caused by the ordinary people as they were taxed mercilessly by the Queens Government. A rebel who lead the insurgence, Veera Puran Appu in fact took control of Matale for short period of time, before he was captured by the British force.
Attractions in Matale
The enigmatic region of Matale has many delightful features indulges the culture thirsty traveller.
A fort constructed by the British Colonists, Fort MacDowell is one of the few and early inland forts built by them. During the 1848 rebellion, the fort came under attack by the rebellions. The British force successfully thwarted the attack. However, there is only a skeletal remnant of the fort today.
Matale Spice Gardens
Get up close and personal with spices! Sri Lanka is the land of spices and has a solid history of supplying the rest of the world with some of the finest condiments. To really savour the flavour of your visit, indulge in a traditional spice infused rice and curry lunch.
Constructed during the 8th and 10th century, the Nalanda Gedige is a popular site for travellers. Resembling a Hindu temple, the Nalanda Gedige bears Dravidian influence. There is however no apparent dedication to any Hindu deity, and the temple is used by Buddhists.
Aluvihara Rock Temple
Tracing its lineage to ancient Anuradhapura, the Aluvihara Rock Temple is to have been built during King Dutugemunu’s reigns. However, it was King Walagamba’s reign that the Tripitakaya was recorded. One of the many significant features here is the ancient inscriptions on the wall.
Sri Muthumariamman Temple
Dedicated to the Goddess Muthumari Amman, the kovil is a significant structure in Matale. A sacrosanct site for the Hindu devotees, it is an important site for those on the Ramayana tour. Devotee believe in the mystical healing powers of the Goddess and her protection against febrile diseases.