Horton_Plains_2

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park

The Horton Plains National Park is a beautiful highland plateau located in central highlands of Sri Lanka. It is a protected area with an elevation of 2100 – 2300m above sea level which is 6900 – 7500 feet. In 2006, along with Knuckles Conservation Forest was declared as a World Heritage site. National Park is accessible via Ginigathena or via A5 road which connects Peradeniya with Chenkalay in the east via Gampola and Nuwara Eliya. This was declared as a National Park in 1988 and it is one of the popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka.

Weather at National Park

It receives an annual rainfall of greater than 2000 millimeters (79 in). Amount of sunlight received by the plants is limits by the frequent cloud cover. Annual temperature is 13 C (55 F), but the temperature differs noticeably during the course of the day. It reaches as high as 27 C during the day time and drops as low as 5 C at night. Although rain falls throughout the year, a dry season can be seen from January to March. During the South-West monsoon season, the wind speed can be very high. Horton Plains is considered as one of the most important watershed in the Island.

Horton plains are the headwaters for few important rivers such as Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe. It also feeds Belihul Oya, Agra Oya, Kiriketi Oya, Uma Oya and Bogawanthalawa Oya. Slow moving streams, waterfalls and swamps are few wetland habitats can be seen in the park.

Tourist Attractions

Horton Plains National park has become a popular tourist destination due to World’s End being the utmost popular. It is a 700 m vertical drop, which gives a marvelous view of the valley below.

Bird watching is another popular routine for a tourist. National Park consists of 21 endemic bird species such as Sri Lanka Superfowl, Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Yellow-fronted barbet, Orange-billed babler, Sri Lanka bush warbler and Sri Lanka Whistling thrush. Also four species namely the Sri Lanka Magpie, Dull-blue flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-eye and Sri Lanka Wood pigeon can only be seen at the National park. There also are a variety of migrant birds such as Crested serpent eagle, Mountain hawk and Black-winged kite.

               Most frequently seen mammal is the Sambar deer, a population of 2000 is estimated.

Sri Lankan Monkey

Horton Plains National Park is a beautiful and picturesque place in Sri Lanka, where a tourist needs to visit when in the island of Sri Lanka. Others include Toque macaques, Purple faced langur, Kelaart’s long-clawed shrews, Sri Lankan leopard, Wild boar, striped necked mongoose and Spotted chevrotain. And one of the world’s most endangered primate, the Red slender loris can be seen here.

Knuckles Mountain Range

Knuckles Mountain Range

The Knuckles Mountain Range is one of the loveliest nature attractions and it lies in the central parts of Sri Lanka. And to be exact in the districts of Kandy and Matale. The mountain range is also known as Knuckles Massif. It gets its name due to a series of recumbent folds and peaks into the west of the chain, which looks a lot like the knuckles of a clenched fist of a man. It is located over 3000 feet’s above sea level and consists of five peaks, namely Kirigalpottha, Gombaniya, Knuckles, Koboneelagala and Dotulugala.

The area was declared as a climatic reserve in 1873 and as a conservation forest in the year 2000. The mountain range can be considered as one of the South Asia’s most important sites for the conservation of mountain tropical forest habitats.

This mountain range is a bio-diversity hotspot, where you can watch, learn and study.  This can be seen from certain locations in the Kandy Disctrict. Among locals the mountain range is known as Dumbara Kaduvetiya, meaning mist-laden mountain range.

Knuckles Mountain Range
Knuckles Mountain Range

Rainfall, Temperature and Humidity

The average rainfall of Knuckles mountain range is between 30005000 ml while the temperature ranges between 5.5 to 35 degrees Celsius. The wind speed is 7.2 km/hour and humidity range between 5790%.

Plants, Mammals and Birds

The Knuckles mountain range has more than 1033 plant species belonging to 141 families, 15% them of are endemic. There are 17 endemic bird species out of 128 bird species that lives. Some of them are the Black eagle, Pale billed flower pecker, Barbets, Egrets, Lorikeets, Babbler, etc., Also 20 species of amphibians can be seen such as Kirthisingha’s Rock frog and the Leaf nosed Lizard. There are nearly 60 species of Butterflies, with two endemic species, the Birdwing and Blue Mormon and furthermore 17 species of mollusks and 53 species of reptiles.

Black Eagle (© eBird.org)

Hiking and Trekking in Knuckles Mountain Range

The Knuckles mountain range is one of the best places to do trekking and hiking since there are several different trails leading to the mountain range. A good period to do trekking is between December and February since possibility of rain is moderate. March to May too is a good time to go trekking with possibility of rain is low. It is an ideal place for waterfall hunting, bird watching. Ahnd surely a great place for nature photography for travelers and photographers alike. Hikers or travelers are able to travel on three routes from Kandy via Rattota, via Wattegama and via Teldeniya.

Sigirya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya rock commonly known by locals as the eighth wonder. It is an ancient palace and a fortress complex with major archaeological significance. Rock attracts hundreds and thousands of tourists each year. It is possibly one of the most visited tourist destination of the Island.

The rock fortress is located 15 Km away from Dambulla, one of the cities of cultural triangular of Sri Lanka. It is above 370 meters of sea level. Sigiriya Rock is a massive column rock standing alone nearly 100 meters (330 ft.) high.

The Sigiriya rock is believed that this place has served as a monastery according to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle, the Chulvamsa The rock was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) to build a royal palace. After the death of king, it yet again became a Buddhist monastery until 14th century, when it was deserted.

Sigirya Rock Fortress
Sigirya Rock Fortress

UNESCO has listed Sigiriya as a World Heritage site and one of the best examples of ancient urban planning. Sigiriya gained international recognition due to the engineering capabilities displayed in its construction, the palace layout, frescoes and the mirror wall.

Ancient ruins at top of Sigiriya
Ancient ruins at top of Sigiriya

The fortress complex includes remnants of an ancient palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals and fountains.

The main entrance to the rock is located to the Northern side. It was designed in the form of a huge lion, and its feet can be seen today but unfortunately other parts have been destroyed. The name Sigiriya has originated due to this lion. The term has originated from the Sinhala word, ‘Sihagiri’.

Frescoes

Entire western wall is covered by frescoes, created during the time of King Kasyapa. Eighteen out of them have survived to this day.

They portray nude females and are considered to be either portraits of wives of King Kasyapa or priestess performing religious rituals. Even though the identity is unknown, paintings are unique and celebrating the beauty of females. Frescoes are of incredible historical significance.

Paintings at Sigiriya
Paintings at Sigiriya
Sigiriya Mirror Wall
Sigiriya Mirror Wall

Mirror Wall

Most remarkable part of Sigiriya is the Mirror wall. It is believed that during king’s reign it was polished comprehensively so that king could witness his reflection. Currently wall is strictly prohibited for public since the wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors to Rock Fortress. The writings of the wall are clear evidence that the Sigiriya have been a popular tourist destination more than a thousand years ago.

Places near Sigiriya Rock

Dambulla cave temples are located close to the Sigiriya rock. Minneriya national park, Kaudulla National park, Namal uyana and Pidurangala rock few interesting places located close.