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In Search of the Malwatu Oya

A Journey in Search of an Ancient Civilization.

Starting from the holy mountain of Ritigala, Malwatu River, the second longest river (102 miles) in Sri Lanka, flows across the face of the Raja Rata (Land of the Kings) to enter the Bay of Mannar of the Indian Ocean. The most historic river basin in Sri Lanka, called Malwatu Oya in the native language, the River of Flower Gardens, lies at the very heart of the beginning of Sri Lanka’s ancient civilization.

It is believed that the Malwatu Oya provided a direct water route from the ancient port of Mantai, the largest and the most important port in the Indian Ocean, to the historic capital of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura. Situated near the mouth of the Malwatu Oya, this great port drew traders from Greece, Rome, Persia, Egypt, China and East Asia as regular visitors to Mantai, which was then the hub of the trade between the East and the West.

Despite its enormous significance and importance, today, very little is known about this historic river. The last person to explore the Malwatu Oya was the Englishman Robert Knox in 1679, who followed its path to escape the power of King of Kandy, Rajasimha II (1629 – 1687 CE).

Starting where Knox’s journey ended, at Arippu where the river flows into the sea, a group of artists, historians, and explorers took on a Journey to row up the Malwatu Oya in canoes while documenting its course, its scenery, beginnings, environment, the legendary irrigation systems, and its surrounding village life.

This is a Journey which has never been attempted in the modern era. The Malwatu Oya has never been explored or studied in its own right. Without Malwatu Oya, the civilization of Sri Lanka may never have come into being.

A Journey in Search of the Malwatu Oya is a Journey to the Heart of an Ancient Civilization.

  • Dr. SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda
  • Hiranya Malwatta
    (Assistant Director)
  • Dr. SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda
  • Nandana Sitinamaluwe (Producer)
  • Shanika Weerasundara
    (Executive Producer)
  • TeqLaa Solutions Inc.
    (Production Sponsor)
  • Hiranya Malwatta
    Key Cast
    "(Photographer & crew member)"
  • Tharindu Amunugama
    Key Cast
    "(Photographer & crew member)"
  • Dr. SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda
    Key Cast
    "(Storyteller & crew member)"
  • Eduard Hempel
    Key Cast
    "(Logistics & crew member)"
  • Thilini Wickramasinghe
    Key Cast
  • Pradeep Ratnayake
    (Acclaimed Sitarist and Musician) Background Music
  • Thorana Music
    (Music Production)
  • Malani Bulathsinghala
    (Singer & vocalist) Opening Song
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Web / New Media
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 49 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 31, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    9,850 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Sri Lanka
  • Country of Filming:
    Sri Lanka
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Rome International Movie Awards
    Best Short Documentary
    Best Short Documentary Film
  • Tokyo International Monthly Film Festival
    Honorable Mention
Distribution Information
  • TeqLaa Solutions Inc.
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: Theatrical, Video / Disc
Director Biography - Dr. SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda, Hiranya Malwatta

Dr. SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda

B.A Hons History (Wales), M.A Medieval Studies (York), Ph. D History (Kings College, London), Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (UK & Sri Lanka)

A Film Director, Artist, & Historian, SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda is a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the University of Peradeniya History of Sri Lanka (Vol. II). His 1st book, A Travellers History of India (UK, USA, 1994), is now in its 4th edition worldwide. He is the Author of several major works on Sri Lanka’s artistic and cultural heritage, The World of Stanley Kirinde (2005), Ridi Vihare, The Flowering of Kandyan Art (2007) and Eloquence in Stone. The Lithic Saga of Sri Lanka (2008) in collaboration with Sri Lanka’s most famous photographer Nihal Fernando and Studio Times. He has taught and lectured in the USA, UK, India and Sri Lanka and 2006 he conducted the 1st ever course on Sri Lanka’s Art and Architecture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA (2006).

Hiranya Malwatta, Assistant Director
Educated at Visakha Vidyalaya, Hiranya Malwatta studied Physical Sciences at Colombo University, Sri Lanka and then obtained a Master’s degree in Computer Science from University of Colombo School of Computing. In the early days of her career, she worked as a software engineer. She then changed careers and is now a full-time photographer and a film director. Her photographs of Sri Lanka about landscape and places of cultural and historical significance are admired by many.

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Director Statement

Civilizations are born along rivers. The greatest civilizations of the ancient world, Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China all have their roots on the banks of rivers. The use of water played a vital part in nurturing them and enabling them to grow. Of the ancient cultures, only a few are still alive and living.

In Sri Lanka too, there is an ancient civilization with river at the core of its story. Here too, the culture that this river sustained is old and living. It is now more than two thousand five hundred (2500) years old. This culture however is mostly unknown in the modern times. The foundation of this culture too was water - the source of its wealth, its vitality and its art.

A Journey in Search of the Malwatu Oya is a Journey to the Heart of an Ancient Civilization. It is also an exploration of ourselves. We invite you to come join us in that exploration!

(The team members who joined this journey with me: Hiranya Malwatta, Tharindu Amunugamuwa, Eduard Hempel, Thilini Wickramasinghe, Nandana Sitinamaluwe, and Shanika Weerasundara.)

(Our journey is adorned by the glorious music of the internationally acclaimed sitarist Pradeep Rathnayaka and the beautiful opening and closing songs of the oriental vocalist and singer Malani Bulathsinhala. Thank you for allowing us to use your creations.)