The Kanniya hot water springs along the Anuradhapura - Trincomalee road are sought after by people seeking miracles of healing for physical and psychological infirmities that blight their mind and body. Their presence in the country’s history dating back to the time of the Ramayana, the hot water springs are a natural wonder entwined with many local myths and legends.
One tale has it that Lord Vishnu created the wells so that King Ravana could perform the last rites for his mother Kanniya upon hearing of her demise. Another is that King Ravana struck the rock with his sword seven times and thus the springs appeared.
Each spring is enclosed by a stonewall to form seven individual wells, which in turn are covered by a wall to provide privacy to those who bathe. The size of each well varies. The bottom of the well is formed of quartz, sand and gravel and thus the water is clear. The temperature of each well varies and due to its mineral composition the water is said to cure skin ailments and arthritis. Yet many come here to soothe their mind, body and soul, due to the spirituality of the surroundings.
The dawn of peace in the country has naturally made Kanniya a popular and sought after location. The springs are crowded during the day and it is extremely difficult to enjoy the beauty and sanctity of the surroundings and experience the calming touch of the warm water. Hence, the best time to visit the springs is either in the quietness of daybreak and in the waning light of dusk. It is important to use the water sparingly so that the springs will flow for generations to come. The use of soap is avoided in order to maintain the purity of the spring water.
This natural wonder remains a mystery to date. The dominant notion is that the temperature of the wells fluctuate, giving way at times to bubbles rising from the bottom, giving an impression of a pot of water being heated. Scientifically the hot water springs are said to be surface manifestations of hidden energy sources. Their origins may be a mystery, but its link to the country’s history is fascinating.