23rd January 2000

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News 100 years ago

Opium selling and light for Kandy

An article in the Ceylon Observer titled 'A Round of Kandy by a Newcomer' begins thus:

Our round carried us to the old Audience Hall, the Pavilion, the Library - then to the Buddhist Temple.

At the temple, it was a surprise and not altogether a pleasant one to find how very unreserved they were to us over one of their treasures, shutting the door to worshippers of their own in order to show us this valuable, which was well worth seeing, being the very massive gold betel pan inlaid with jewels.

Opium licences

The purchase of licences by a Chetty for Rs 6200/- for the retail sale of opium during the year at four places within the Galle Municipality and at Ambalangoda is reported. The figure is below that of the previous year.

Opium licences have been issued under the provisions of Section 8 of Ordinance No 5 of 1899.

A school for the poor

A notice under the head ing 'Colombo Industrial School' says, "Instructions are given in Elementary, English and Industries, taught to poor children besides breakfast, clothes and books to the needy. Funds greatly receded."

The Committee of Management comprises E. Human (President), T. Cockhill (Vice President), Mrs. Human (Secretary) and J. H. Nathanielsz (Treasurer and Manager).

The Committee meets once a month to examine accounts and progress of school.

Under new management

Queen's Hotel, Kandy established in 1849, is under a new management. There is accommodation for 150 persons.

Announcing the change, a notice states:

"This first class hotel occupies the best site in the mountain capital, overlooking the lovely lake, Mountains, Esplanade and the Ancient Temple of the Buddhist Religion, the Shrine of the Buddha's Tooth.

"Within 3 minutes drive from the railway station. Four trains daily to and from Colombo.

"The charge for conveyance including luggage from or to the station is 25 cents for each person; all the trains are met by Hotel porters and carriages."

Guest night

Galle Face Hotel an nounces a guest night every Saturday. A special dinner is served during which the band plays a select of music. After dinner there is either dancing in the private dancing hall or a concert by the band on the lawn in front of the sea.

Send off dinner

A special send off dinner for the Ceylon Contingent to South Africa is to be held at the Galle Face Hotel on January 30 under the presidency of His Excellency the Governor. Tickets are priced at Rs 25.

Meanwhile, Manager, W. Henke, on behalf of the proprietors of the Railway Refreshment Car Company announces "with much pleasure" that breakfast is provided free of charge to the members of the Ceylon Contingent travelling on duty to Colombo. Wines etc. must be paid for.

Interest rate

W C Macready, Secretary of the Ceylon Savings Bank announces that the rate of interest to be paid to depositors for the year 1900 will be 4% (under Rs 1000/))- and 3% (Rs 1000/- upwards).


The Ceylon Observer of January 30 reports "the successful installation of the electric light in Kandy on 29th". J. W. Wardrop, Manager of Commercial Company & MD of Colombo Gas & Water Company were "At Home" to the public of Kandy.

-Media Man

Sri Pada's glorious shadow and its parallels

By Gamini G.Punchihewa

The annual pilgrims' progress to Sri Pada, the holiest of the holy hills has already begun.

Apart from the sanctity of this revered peak, its fascination lies in the exquisite shadow it casts at Sri Padasunrise.

Many are the enthralling and awe-inspiring accounts that have been written by past foreign travellers and British administrators, engineers etc, of this phenomenon.

Among them is one by Major Skinner who spent 50 long years here as a skilled and proficient road engineer. Major Skinner pitched his frail talipot camp tent atop the sacred peak to take engineering surveys. His leafy camp comprised a camp bed, a folding chair and a table. This maiden engineering survey atop the holy peak of Sri Pada laid the 'foundation stone' for the making of the first map of Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was then called.

'Fifty Years Of Ceylon'

Major Skinner in his 'Fifty Years Of Ceylon'. published in 1890 gives an eyewitness account of the shadow at sunrise. Whilst doing his engineering survey in 1853 he wrote, "I used to often see the most wonderful effects when thus camping out. On one such occasion, my sojourn on Adam's Peak lasted for a fortnight on the top of the cone, when I waited for clear weather, which I did not get to admit of completing my observations. One morning as the sun was rising the shadow of the mountain was thrown across the whole land and sea and to the horizon and for a few minutes, the apex was doubled and so clearly marked that the little shed over the impression of the Buddha's feet was perfectly distinct in the shadow. Another most curious effect was that the mist had laden deep in the valley below, between the great peak's range and the opposite range of Rakwannie. It was an exact representation of the sea: the clouds rolling against the base of the mountain resembling the surf beating against the cliffs which seemed to project into the sea, the points of the hills peeping through the mist appearing like beautiful islands."

But the phenomenon of the shadow is not unique. Parallels of such phenomena have been recorded in Asia, Europe and the U.S.A.

From Germany to Tibet and U.S.A.

In Germany, such a phenomenon does arise in the range of mountains called the Harz massif, popularly named as the 'Broken-Brow'. Here the shadow that is cast consists of colourful bands when the sun lies low over the drifting clouds.

Another occurs over the roof of the world - the Tibetan mountain frontier. Its shadow is cast over the summit of the mountain range called Omeish Peak in Tibet. It is also called the 'Buddha's Glory'. Here too, the shadow is cast soon after sunrise.

Coming to the United States of America, we come across a mountain range called 'Pikes Peak' down the slopes of the picturesque mountain frontier of Colorado. Here the shadow manifestation occurs not at sunrise, but at sundown, when its shadow could be seen crawling over the horizon and beginning to ascend into the sky.

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