By Mahesh Kirthiratne
The historic Wariyapolawatta rock cave at Kohombiliwela in Matale, the hideout of the national hero, Veera Puran Appu who gave leadership to the 1848 rebellion against the British rule has escaped the attention of the authorities. Scholars expressed concern about the neglect of a monument that is related to the country’s fight for freedom. The land where the cave is situated had been privately owned until it was vested with the Kohombiliwela Buddhist Centre in 2008. It has been recorded in history that the rock cave served as the meeting place of Veera Puran Appu and other leaders of the rebellion and also their arms and ammunition store.
The Head of the Kohombiliwela Buddhist Centre, Ven. Ampitiye Dhammakirthi Thera said: “The historic site was handed over to our temple in 2008. However, we are not in a position to maintain it as an archaeological site. The Department of Archaeology should conserve it as a national monument. It is disappointing to see that those who boast about national heroes from public platforms have failed to protect the monuments that bear evidence to the valour of national heroes who laid down their lives for freedom. I clear the site once in a way with the help of the public but it is not adequate. We request the authorities to protect the rock cave and the surrounding area as an archaeological site. It would also be a tourist attraction if properly maintained.”
The Cultural Officer of the Ukuwela Divisional Secretariat, Upul Nandana has sounded the Archaeological Department on the need to conserve the historic site. In response a team of archaeological officers have carried out an inspection of Veera Puran Appu’s rock cave already.