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|Year and Month||2016 May 30th and 31st|
|Number of Days||Two|
|Crew||4-Chathuranga, Pasan,Shanaka and Myself|
|Activities||Hiking, Camping and Photography|
|Weather||Excellent and windy|
|Route||Colombo->Haputhale->Dambatenne Road (දඹතැන්න පාර)->Lipton Seat->St.Catherene seat->Nayabedda (නායබැද්ද) ->Punagala (පූනාගල) ->Pilkington Point-> Millennium Point->Punagala->Koslanda (කොස්ලන්ද)- >Beragala (බෙරගල)
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
** SPECIAL THANKS TO ** Dr. Nalinda, Dr.Harijan (MO-Punagala hospital) and Dr.Kamalawarna for providing information.
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Objectives of this trip were to visit at famous view points of Haputhale and Koslanda and camping at Pilkington point of Punagala. I have been at Pilkington point and Millennium point 7 years ago but it was a gloomy day.
These viewpoints are: Lipton seat, St.Catherene seat, Pilkington point and Millennium Point
We started the journey from Haputhale town and drove along Dambatenne road to reach famous view point called Lipton seat. The drive from Haputhale via Dambatenne to Lipton seat was scenic.
Lipton seat (4695 ft)
Lipton seat is a view point of almost 3600 view, situated at the edge of Dambatenne Tea Estate. It was a famous view point for Sir Thomas Lipton who was the pioneer of branded Ceylon tea-Lipton Tea. From Lipton seat you can view Uva, Sabaragamuwa, Central, Eastern and Southern provinces.
After visiting Lipton seat we wanted to drive towards St.Catherene seat where few transmission towers are placed. We asked from villagers and drove according to direction boards. The road condition to St.Catherene seat after main road was terrible and only can be managed with a 4W vehicle. At the end we came to the place of ITN and Swarnawahinee towers are situated. Surrounding view was gloomy and we didn’t need to enter transmission towers premises though can be go through the gate.
Following St.Catherene seat we were rushed to reach Pilkington point as it was late evening. We got directions from locals in few points and road condition was satisfactory up to Punagala junction.
Pilkington point (4600ft)
This view point was named by Late Sir George Pilkington in 1898. It provides about 2000 view. In a clear day you can see Wellawaya, Katharagama Kiri Wehera, Moneragala, Embilipitiya and Udawalawe etc.
We planned to camp there as I expected it a different experience. We followed the road from Nayabedda to Punagala and then towards Koslanda. There was a four way junction soon after Punagala ground and we selected the concrete road upwards to reach the Pilkington point. We stopped the vehicle at last line houses closer to Pilkington point where we noticed an elephant was roaming on top of the mountain. It was our first experience of Punagala elephants and just few meters before the view point we had a punch at tire. It made our arrival to Pilkington point around 6.30pm amid of dark.
Camping at Punagala
This was kind of a different experience of camping as camp site was accessible by vehicle easily. There is a summer hut but can’t be a good shelter in a rain. Next to the summer hut you can attach the tent and can make camp fire. We made the camp fire with the challenge of wind. It was dam difficult to do anything at Pilkington point due to wind. Elephants can roam around but we didn’t see them close by.
Elephants in Punagala/පූනාගල අලි
My first visit to Punagala was in 2010 and we have noticed elephant dung closer to Millennium point. It was my first experience of Elephants roaming on hills. But we didn’t encounter any of them at that time.
This time I was lucky and could see elephants thrice.
This is something I heard from a friend which is situated closer to Pilkington Point. According to his description it is a flat mana filled area similar to Hortain plains. We have walked along the estate road for about 1 km and turned up at the edge of the rocky area. This foot pathway brought us to the top of tea estate where one elephant was roaming that day early morning next to this. Then there was a slope and we could see a fairly flat mana area somewhat far away probably what he mentioned as Makaldeniya Ridge.
Millennium point is situated about 2.5 km away from Pilkington point and direction is mentioned in front of Pilkington point. This distance is along the estate road is 2.5 Km and can be cut down in half if you follow along short cuts via tea bushes.
We encountered 2nd Jumbo at Punagala when we were going to Millennium point. He was about 200m away from us and gave an angry look towards us. With taking the risk we decided to go up to Millennium point.
Millennium point is higher than Pilkington point and provides 360 degree surrounding view towards Wellawaya, Haputhale, Ella etc.
I was lucky enough to have clear view which reminded my first visit to this place in a gloomy day 6-7 years ago. Summer hut has lost its sheets and remained part gave a different appearance. After finishing photo shoot we came back with afraid of the elephant. But he was still at the same place without moving towards foot pathway.
Thanks for reading