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Notes on the Geography of Sri Lanka: Atabage

A few miles upstream from Gampola, the Atabage Oya flows into the Mahaweli.  There's nothing immediately striking about the Atabage Oya, but a few miles upstream along its course the narrow valley suddenly widens into a broad and fertile basin that's been cultivated for centuries.

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Sri Lanka: Atabage picture 1

We're looking southwesterly and downstream.  This is approximately the view seen by Robert Knox, the shipwrecked sailor who was held prisoner on Sri Lanka for over 20 years in the 17th century.  The white temple at the edge of the cultivated tract is new, however. 

Sri Lanka: Atabage picture 2

And here's the view from approximately the same spot but looking southeasterly.

Sri Lanka: Atabage picture 3

The valley was once the source of enough prosperity that the local farmers themselves paid for the construction of this temple, set off in the forest on the south side of the basin.

Sri Lanka: Atabage picture 4

In the past, farmers walked from here to Kandy; now they're more likely to take a bus.  Still, the infrastructure is poor--in this case, a nearly collapsed footbridge, weakened because villagers mined sand from the nearby streambed.

Sri Lanka: Atabage picture 5

Rice is still the dominant crop here, although you'll find vegetables where farmers have enough labor to grow them.


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