is part of a continuing series on the 'Mahavamsa,' the recorded
chronicle of Sri Lankan history
The Cholas began to hate the Sinhala people. They were very angry because the Sinhalese rejoiced at the death of their commander. They found out those who were responsible for organizing all the celebrations. Time was ripe now, to take revenge. The Cholas left their camp, and went to the villages where the celebrations were held. There they destroyed both life and property and caught the leaders, who organized the celebrations. They were inhumanely tortured. The villagers who got wind of these happenings, left their homes.
A lot of them fled to the jungle. Some went to the Ruhuna and Malaya-Rata. The Cholas
continued their attack. They set fire to the deserted villages and destroyed everything. In that same mood, they went in search of Vijayabahu. They got to know that the king was at Villikabana. The Chola commander came to arrest the king. In the meantime however, the king got to know all about the movement of the Cholas from his spies.
King Vijayabahu acted immediately. He left the camp and went to a small rock named Vatagiri. There he put up a fortress. Vatagiri is also called Vakirigala. It is close to Batalekanda. It is interesting to note that the Chola commander, who succeeded the one who died, was much more fierce than the first one. He was bent on taking revenge and seeing that Vijayabahu was no more. All his hopes were shattered as Villikabana was a deserted village when he arrived there.
His fury knew no bounds. He reprimanded his spies and chased them away, asking them to search for Vijayabahu and bring some good news. The spies went all over the country. At this time, Vijayabahu was at Vatagiri, busy fortifying the place. The spies got to know the whereabouts of Vijayabahu and soon informed the Chola commander. He organized a huge army and went there. Climbing the rock Vatagiri was no easy task.
Traps had been laid everywhere. It was a difficult trek. Without losing hopes, the Cholas besieged Vatagiri. No one was allowed to enter. It was prohibited for anyone to enter Vatagiri. This was an attempt to stop the supply of food to the fortress. The Cholas thought that it would make things difficult for the Sinhala soldiers. However, Vijayabahu was much smarter than them. He was intelligent enough to stock enough supplies of essentials, inside the fortress.
The king had stored enough supplies of food, to last even for a year. The fortress was also very strong and well protected. It wasn't easy for the enemy to reach it. Yet, Vijayabahu thought of taking every possible step to attack the enemy. He sent four contingents of soldiers to the four sides of the mountain. They rolled down huge boulders and kept attacking the Cholas. The Cholas retaliated in spite of bearing more losses. The foreigner was not sure of the geography of the place, and as such had to suffer more losses. The Sinhala soldiers who knew every inch of the place, were naturally better placed.
The Cholas were in a dilemma. Yet they decided to continue to fight. The fighting went on non-stop. For full three months, the fighting continued. Yet, the Cholas could not make things difficult for Vijayabahu. Their soldiers were getting killed everyday and when their numbers had reduced greatly, the Chola commander decided to stop the fighting and retreat.
They went back to Polonnaruwa. Many were the Chola soldiers, that were killed in the battle. An equally large number were wounded. King Vijayabahu was victorious. The trust, love and the loyalty that the people had placed in Vijayabahu doubled. The people were ever willing to support him. They realized that he would definitely be their future king.