Kithulgala Belilena, one of the most attractive and famous prehistoric caves in the country, holds the secret of a lost generation some 12,000 years ago. One can reach the cave by driving nearly 80 km through the Colombo-Hatton highway via AwissawFalls and KarawanFalls. There are significant evidences to prove the opinion of Dr. P.E.P Deraniyagala that the human settlements in Sri Lanka might have started as early as the Pleistocene Age. The information about Homo Sapiens who live 624 m above sea level belonging to Pleistocene Age gathered from Kithulgala Belilena that had been a foremost human settlement adjacent to Kelani River was a great help to enhance the knowledge about aborigine.


Two fossilized skeletons of anthropoid lived 3,000 years back and 22,000 years ago that directly have relations with 12,000 B.C. time period have been discovered through excavations done in Belilena. Inoya Tamil Collage, Kegalle is met in 6 km distance from Inoya estate which is just one mile away from Kithulgala Hostelry in Hatton route. Belilena can be found by proceeding 1 km to the right direction from the Collage.


Since Belilena is located 624 m higher from sea-level as mentioned above, the vicinity has a cool temperature. Today, there is a rich rubber plantation in either side of the road. Together with rubber, tea estate that extents over 15 acres can also be located when proceeding after Yatiyanthota towards Kithulgala. A difficult gorge will lead you to a long stair case which seeks one to the cavern in a 200 m distance.


Three attendant caverns encompass the main cave. The one in front and the cave at the right side have few doors that open up to some small tunnels. Walls of the cave are made of lime stones. The largest cave out of them would measure 18.7 m wide and 12.5 m high. The archaeological excavations have also been done in this cavern. Above the right corner of the cave is beautified by a waterfall that would count 78-94 m tall. The waterfall draws a thick flash of water throughout the rainy season of a year that is 8 months out of 12. The block of land that belongs to Belilena extends over 8 acres and the land above the cave is consisting of 4 acres. Belilena is also referred as “Girilena”. The ruins state about a temple which was there in about 1878. Villagers declare that a thero named Ven. Sumanasara resided in the cave until 1970. The whole land is currently denominated as a treasure land that belongs to the Department of Archaeology.


The archaeological researches were started in Belilena in 1978 A.D. and the excavations conducted by the Department of Archaeology in Sri Lanka continued until 1983. Especially the entire course of excavations was done with the intention of untwisting the buried particulars about the aborigines in Sri Lanka. The former Director of Archaeology (excavation) Mr. W.H. Wijepala and the Former Director General of Archaeology Dr. S.U. Deraniyagala have shouldered the excavation program.


Various tools including stone sword, flint weapons and also a cranium which is 28,000 years old have been discovered from this cave. When excavating a particular area some oyster shells that had been eaten by aborigines were also found out. As a large number of oyster shells were discovered from this place, the cave was denominated as “Belilena”. There is a citation that reads ‘2,504 B.C.’ where a small image of Lord Buddha is placed in the cave. A skeleton, which is 22,000 years old, of an aborigine and a 13,000 years old cranium of a child about 3 years old have been discovered in the excavation pit right in front of the Buddha image. Later it was declared that these human skeletons belong to Balangoda man.


The jaw bone of the first female in the generation of Balangoda prehistoric man “Kalu Menika” was also found from this cavern. Her jaw bone which was fossilized under the ash of the fire place at Kithulgala Belilena as well as few fossilized remains of her meal has been unearthed. Dr. Kajale has uncovered through the carbon 14 experiment done in India that she had eaten baked or burned seeds of wild breadfruit. After the chemical experiment done by the Faculty of Archaeology in Cornell University in America, it is uncovered that Kalu Menika has lived in Kithulgala Belilena cave 12,500 years ago.


When excavating around Belilena, at the invitation of Dr. S.U. Deraniyagala, a group of foreign archaeologists also came to the site signifying the intentional attention on the historical weight that Kithulgala Belilena holds.

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