Pethungoda Katu Una Pandura(bush of thorn bamboo)

July 5, 2011

It is said that this was a beautiful garden that was at the centre of the Seethawaka kingdom of King
Rajasinghe the 1st. It is also said that the king while relaxing in the garden had been pricked by a
thorn from this unusual type of bamboo which had fatally wounded him and killed him while he was
being hurriedly ferried across the river back home in a copper paruwa(type of boat). Some say that it
was the poison of the thorn while others say the King’s vedha mahaththayas(doctors) had poisoned
him on the pretext of treating him in the boat. There are others that say that he was bitten by a
snake and that it was not a thorn that pricked him fatally. Some say that being bitten by a cobra was
divine retribution for the patricide he had committed and for also having turned his back on
Though to this day it is not apparent how he died due to all the stories being folklore it is a strong
possibility that it was indeed a snake bite. In recent times there have been sightings of poisonous
snakes that have been seen emerging from the thorn bamboo bushes and there are many well
established and reputed snake bite healers who have lived in the area for generations from the
king’s time.
This type of bamboo is considered to have been brought from India and is not endemic to Sri Lanka
as it is not seen anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Some do not even believe that such a variant of bamboo
exists until they see the thorns.
On the bank of the river where the boat came to rest with the dead king it is said that there might
have been some kind of memorial. Owing to the crime of killing his father and drowning 119 priests,
today one can only see a few stones to mark the place the great king died at, which is indicative of
the fact that purposefully he was not remembered as he was disliked. During those times anyone
against Buddhism was seen as an enemy of the people.
Contradictory to the popularity he had or lack thereof, after his death Rajasinghe was worshipped as
Ganegoda Deviyo (God of Ganegoda). In the old days Sri Lankan kings were considered divine while
they lived, being addressed as ‘Deviyanwahanse Budhuwewa’ – ‘may your godship become a
Buddha’. So the transition couldn’t have been too difficult.

Directions and location

Pethangoda is situated on the Anguruwella-Warakapola road, next to a stream known as the
Gurugoda Oya. It is within easy driving distance of the rest houses at Ambepussa, Hanwella and
Kitulgala, and the Ambalama hotel in Hanwella.


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