25 Feb 20 of Sri Lanka’s Best Hiking Trails – Part 2/4
Imagine incredible adventure coupled with fascinating scenery that looks like they’ve escaped from a gorgeous painting. In short, that’s what Sri Lanka is all about especially for an avid hiker like Nalin. Aged 22, currently a 3rd year undergraduate studying in the University of Colombo, with an undying love for trekking nature’s paths which are marveled at by many, Nalin has already made it to more than 20 hiking destinations in the island. Being the typical lazy potato, I was naturally impressed by this feat and decided to pen his experience along with a wee bit of fact-finding about these breathtakingly beautiful hiking trails nestled in our paradise isle!
Here are the 5 random picks for the 2nd part out of the 4 parts in the series.
Nalin: කොළඹ නුවර පාරේ යනකොට අනිවාර්යයෙන්ම මතක් වෙන කෙනෙක් තමයි සුර සරදියෙල්. කෑගල්ලත් මාවනැල්ලත් අතරෙ තියෙන සරදියෙල් ගල (උතුවන්කන්ද) නිසා ඔහු ගැන අහලා තියෙන ඕනම කෙනෙකුට සරදියෙල් ගේ වික්රම මතක් කරන්න පුලූවන්.
Uthuwankanda, with an elevation of approximately 1400m is located in the Kegalle District and has an interesting piece of history attached to it. It’s believed that it was a hide-out used by “Soora Saradiyel” who’s hailed as a local hero who courageously fought against British colonialism. Amusingly, he’s also known as the “Robin Hood of Sri Lanka”. Exploring the saradiyel caves is one of the most adventurous things to during this hike.
The not – so - exhausting trail through the rubber estate and forest cover ends with a rock at the top of a mountain which calls for a nearly 90 degree climb to reach the top. At first glance, it might seem impossible and useless. However, upon ascending the peak, you shall be greeted with a mesmerising view. To add to it, the sense of awe felt might even end up making you feel like a hero too, for completing the feat! Roughly 8 Km away from Uthuwankanda, you can visit the waterfall named “Bo Ella” too. While this might sound a great idea, to be extremely cautious would be a great piece of advice in this case too.
7. Kondagala (Loolkandura)
Surrounded by endless stretches of beautiful greenery, with an elevation of about 1450 m, the Kondgala rock is located in Loolkandura in the Kandy district. This trail unlike most hiking trails in Sri Lanka, will take you through a tea estate - The Loolkandura Tea Estate.
This is the first tea estate in the island, and was started in 1867 following the failure of coffee plantations, by Englishman - James Taylor at the age of just 21 who considered it to be his first and last love as revealed by records. On your way to the Kondagala peak, you will come across the following attractions nestled amidst the charm of the tea estate.
-Ruins of James Taylor’s Cottage
-James Taylor’s Well
-James Taylor’s Seat
-Field No: 7 – The first tea field
At the top of the mountain, you’ll get to witness fascinating views that’ll make your mind soar and heart sing, especially at the edges of the steep cliff – delightfully quiet and dangerous. In fact this is the picture that comes to the mind of many, the moment one says Kondagala, often forgetting the unique experience across the trail.
8. Nildiya Pokuna
The “Blue Water Pond” exploration is a thrilling yet terrifying expedition offered by the Badulla District and is all about trekking underground unlike with the other destinations. This underwater cave and pond located many feet below is wrapped in myth and mystery revolving around the ancient King Ravana.
While there are two entrances to the unbelievably mysterious underground cave system, the most popular one is the entrance through the “Hulan Kapolla” which looks like a small rabbit hole and has been named so owing to the wind that blows out from it. While scrambling and crawling your way through a couple of narrow spaces, muddy patches and rough rocks in nearly pitch black darkness with flies and bats, a guide, a bunch of friends and headlamps will be your essentials for those few hours.
At one point you will reach the much awaited Nil Diya Pokuna which is a semi-circular pond with crystal clear blue water that is guaranteed to fascinate you. As you move further the pond becomes deeper and to date there remains an uncalculated portion of the cave and pond that is yet to be explored by the experienced of course.
Located adjacent to the world famous tourist attraction Sigiriya in the Mathale District, is the Pidurangala rock standing at a height of approximately 200m.
The relatively short trek begins at the Pidurangala Sigiri Raja Maha Viharaya where a nominal entrance fee will have to be paid. Till you reach the remnants of an ancient rock cave temple which includes a reclining Buddha statue, the trek is fairly easy and convenient. (On a side note, this Buddha statue is believed to have once been the largest brick reclining Buddha statue in the past.) However after this point, boulders will greet you one after the other. Is it worth it? YES, the bit of acrobatics is all worth it.
As you stare in to wilderness surrounding you at the summit you’ll feel your soul being carried away by the panoramic views of the gorgeous landscape obstructed only by the Sigiriya Rock which is what makes it truly spellbinding. In other words the view definitely matches the historical significance of Sigiriya in terms of how impressive it is.
Besides, if you’ve been thinking of which time of the day you should go, the answer of the popular majority would be “during, Sunrise!” Well this holds true for in the middle of a seemingly endless savannah, witnessing a sleeping majestic rock waking up with the rising sun is just stunning and tranquil.
10. Thotupola Kanda
Situated in the Nuwara Eliya district within the Horton Plains National Park at an elevation of 2,357 m above sea level, Thotupola Kanda is the 3rd highest peak in Sri Lanka and is surrounded by extremely dense forest cover.
Nalin: ලංකාවේ තුන්වෙනියට උසම කන්ද වන තොටුපොළ කන්ද තරණය කරන්න අපට හැකි වුණා. තොටුපොළ කන්ද පිහිටා තිබෙන්නේ පට්ටිපොළ සිට හෝර්ටන් තැන්නට පිවිසෙන මාර්ගයේ. හෝර්ටන් තැන්නේ පට්ටිපොළ අන්තයේ ප්රවේශපත්ර කවුළුව පසුකර මීටර් කීපයක් ඉදිරියට යනවිට මාර්ගයේ වම් අත පැත්තේ තොටුපොළ කන්දට පිවිසෙන මංපෙත මුණගැහෙනවා. මුහුදු මට්ටමේ සිට මීටර් 2357ක් පමණ උසින් පිහිටා ඇති තොටුපොළ කන්ද ඊටම ආවේණික ජෛවීය හා භූගෝලීය ලක්ෂණ වලින් හෙබි ඉතාම අපූර්ව පාරිසරික පද්ධතියක්.
මා සමග මේ ගමන යන්නට මගේ විශ්ව විද්යාලයේ මිතුරන් කිහිප දෙනෙකුත් එකතු වුණා. රාත්රී 8ට කොළඹ කොටුවෙන් පිටත් වන තැපැල් දුම්රියේ පසුවදා උදේ පාන්දර 4.30ට පමණ ලේ කැටි ගැස්වෙන තරම් සීතලකුත් තුරුළු කරගෙන පට්ටිපොළට ගොඩ බැස්සා. ඉන්පසු රත්නසිරි හෝටලයෙන් උදේ ආහාරය ගත් අපි පයින්ම වර්ෂාව මැද්දේ තොටුපල කන්ද තරණය කර ඉන්පසු නුවර එළියේ අපි වෙන්කරගෙන තිබූ නවාතැම්පලේ රැය පහන් කලා.
The post card worthy view and rich biodiversity are not the only things special about this peak and the hike. It has a story yet again related to King Ravana. Thotupola Kanda-which means landing site-was is claimed to be the legendary landing site for the mythical plane of King Ravana in which he flew to India, kidnapped Princess Sita and returned to Sri Lanka.
Want to know the first 5 hiking trails covered? Click on the link: https://rcuocfmf.com/2020/01/20-of-sri-lankas-best-hiking-trails-part-1-4.html
Stay tuned to find out the next 5 hiking trails that will be featured!
Rtr. Aloka Weerawardane
( Co-Editor – 2019/20 )