The Bogoda Wooden Bridge is a remarkable landmark in Sri Lanka. Located in the Badulla District, this bridge is not just a functional structure but also a historical and architectural marvel that stands as a tribute to traditional Sri Lankan engineering. This travel guide aims to provide you with detailed information about the bridge, from its history to practical tips for visitors.
History of the Bogoda Wooden Bridge
The Bogoda Wooden Bridge traces its origins to the 16th century, specifically the Dambadeniya era, making it the oldest known wooden bridge still in existence in Sri Lanka. This historical marker places it in the context of significant ancient Sri Lankan architectural achievements.
Built over the Gallanda Oya River, the bridge was significant as it linked the cities of Badulla and Kandy. This route was crucial in ancient times, connecting two vital regions and serving as a key passageway for both people and goods.
The choice of construction material is noteworthy, as it speaks to the bridge's durability. Every part, including the nails used for joining pieces, is made of wood. Furthermore, the roofing tiles bear designs that reflect the influence of the Kingdom of Kandy.
In May 2011, the Sri Lanka Post commemorated the bridge by issuing a Rs. 15 stamp as part of a series highlighting Sri Lanka's bridges and culverts. This stamp issuance underscores the bridge's historical and architectural significance, making it an important landmark in the country's heritage.
Architectural Features of the Bogoda Bridge
The Bogoda Wooden Bridge is an extraordinary structure that commands attention for its intricate details and functionality. Its dimensions alone make it stand out: a length of nearly 15 meters, a breadth of 1.5 meters, and a tiled roof that stretches to a height of 2.4 meters across the entire span. This roof is a rare feature among bridges and adds both aesthetic and functional value to the structure.
The fences on both sides of the bridge are also eye-catching, decorated with various designs that harken back to ancient aesthetics. These designs serve a dual purpose of safeguarding people while enhancing the bridge's visual appeal.
One unique aspect of the bridge is its foundation. Instead of relying on stone or cement pillars commonly used in bridge construction, the Bogoda Wooden Bridge rests on an 11-meter tall tree trunk. This detail adds to its uniqueness and showcases an innovative approach to construction.
Multiple types of wood were used in building this masterpiece. Jackfruit logs and Kumbuk logs form the primary structural elements. For the decorations, craftsmen employed Kaluwara timber and Milla timber. Each type of wood was chosen for specific characteristics like strength, durability, and resistance to environmental factors.
Moreover, the joinery techniques are exemplary. All the wooden elements are held together using wooden pegs, an impressive feat given the absence of metal nails or screws. This method of construction has not only stood the test of time but also offers insights into the joinery skills of the 16th-century builders.
The Bogoda Temple
Adjacent to the Bogoda Wooden Bridge is the Bogoda Temple, an ancient religious site with a history that predates the bridge. Built in the 1st century BC during the Anuradhapura era, the temple was erected under the instructions of King Valagamba. A Brahmi-script stone inscription at the temple reveals it was a gift from a provincial leader named Tissa to a priest called Brahmadatta. The temple walls, uniquely constructed from a paste of cotton wool, bee honey, and white clay, are adorned with paintings resembling the Kandyan era style. A visit to the Bogoda Wooden Bridge is enriched by also exploring this nearby temple.
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit the Bogoda Wooden Bridge is between December and April. During these months, the weather is generally dry, making it more comfortable to explore the outdoor site. The absence of rain also ensures that the river below is calm, allowing for safe crossings.
Tips and Advice
When visiting the Bogoda Wooden Bridge, it's crucial to remember that it is a historical landmark. Therefore, it's important to treat the site with respect.
- Treating the Landmark with Respect: The Bogoda Wooden Bridge is a historical and cultural treasure. Ensure that you treat it with the respect it deserves to help maintain its integrity for future generations.
- Do Not Litter: Preserving the natural beauty of the area is every visitor's responsibility. Please utilize designated bins for any trash to keep the site clean.
- Safety Precautions: While the bridge is built to be sturdy, leaning heavily on the railings or making abrupt movements can be risky. Exercise caution when crossing to ensure both your safety and the bridge's preservation.
- Appropriate Footwear: Wear comfortable flat shoes for visiting the bridge.
- Photography Guidelines: Capturing the beauty of the bridge is a popular activity, but be considerate of other visitors. Avoid blocking pathways, and always be mindful of your surroundings when taking photos.
- Local Customs and Etiquette: As the bridge is located near a temple, it's important to be aware of local religious customs. Dress modestly and act respectfully to honor the sacred nature of the adjacent Bogoda Temple.
How to Get There
The Bogoda Wooden Bridge is accessible from several major cities in Sri Lanka. The nearest town is Badulla, which is about 17 kilometers away.
If you're driving from Badulla, head towards Hali-ela and follow the signs to the Bogoda Temple. The journey usually takes around 40 minutes.
Buses are also available from Badulla to the nearby town of Hali-ela. From there, you can hire a tuk-tuk to take you to the bridge.
1. Badulla Town: The capital city of the Uva Province, Badulla is popular for its beautiful scenery and tea plantations and serves as a hub for exploring the surrounding areas. Visiting Badulla provides an opportunity to explore Sri Lankan culture, enjoy local cuisine, and participate in outdoor activities like hiking.
2. Dunhinda Falls: Dunhinda Falls is one of Sri Lanka's most famous waterfalls, located close to Badulla. The falls are known for their impressive height and the misty spray that creates a smoky effect, earning them the name "Dunhinda," which means "smoky mist" in Sinhala. The trek to the waterfall through forested areas adds an element of adventure to the experience.
3. Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara: Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the heart of Badulla. It is one of the Solosmasthana, the 16 sacred places in Sri Lanka believed to have been visited by Buddha.
4. Narangala: Narangala is the second tallest mountain in the Uva Province and is renowned for its diverse flora and fauna. The hike to the summit offers unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape, including tea plantations, forests, and distant mountains. The mountain is popular among nature enthusiasts and offers a challenging yet rewarding hiking experience.
The Bogoda Wooden Bridge stands as an example of skilled craftsmanship and innovative engineering from centuries ago. By visiting this historical site, you get the chance to step back in time and admire the skills of ancient Sri Lankan architects and builders.