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|Year and Month||21-23 Mar, 2015|
|Number of Days||3|
|Crew||Ana, Athula, Tony & Me|
|Accommodation||Deanston Forest Department Bungalow|
|Activities||Relaxing, Photography, Hiking, etc…|
|Route||Koswatte->Kaduwela->Kandy Road->Ambepussa->Kurunegala->Katugasthota->Hunnasgiriya->Corbet’s Gap->Thangappuwa->Corbet’s Gap->Deanston Bungalow and return on the same route.|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
“Knuckles”, is a name that is known all over the world because everyone has got them. Well I’m not gonna talk about those knuckles. I’m trying to pave the way for another fairy tale. There are five peaks hidden deep in a forest bordered by Kandy and Matale districts. They are shaped in such a way that whoever saw them felt as if looking at an enlarged set of knuckles created by the Mother Nature. Thus the name “Knuckles” not only for the mountain range but also for the whole forest. Now this is a world heritage site and a dream for many hikers.
Now that I have managed to get the first thoughts in black and white, lemme take you through this beautiful mountains. Don’t get left behind. Here, hold my hand and we’ll go and savor the greenery mixed with blue skies. After our monthly outing of February to the breathtaking yet exorbitant Nagrak, we decided to make have a go at this exquisite mountain range. Initially Ana had misgivings about the place as leeches are very common, especially when raining. However, we managed to convince him that there won’t be many as March is known for ideal weather conditions. I’ve been to Knuckles many times but this is a place where you can keep going back again and again, year after year yet couldn’t get enough of. Meemure was the center of my hikes and this time I wanted to try something different. I wanted to climb the Knuckles Mountains and visit the historic Alugallena which is somewhat similar to those pre-historical caves scattered throughout the country in places such as Beli Lena off Kitulgala, Batadomba Lena off Kuruwita, Alawala off Attanagalla and Pahiyangala off Bulathsinhala. However, there haven’t been any excavations by the archeological department at Alugallena like at those places. This time it’s gonna be centered on Thangappuwa.
So we fixed the dates and Atha went to book the Forest Department Bungalow at Deanston from the head office in Battaramulla. Had he been 5 mins late, you wouldn’t have got the chance to read this. But he didn’t and we got the bungalow ahead of couple of guys who were dying of jealousy and you are gonna be rewarded with the story as a result. As usual Ana took on the planning (he believes in the Japanese way, 90% planning and 10% execution) and we waited patiently for the day to arrive. I checked with Hari about the bungalow and what we had to take as he’d been there and given invaluable details on it.
I was debating whether to get a guide or not as many have done this on their own. Atha had even been there before with Hari and others couple of years ago but then from Bambarella. After a long and hard thought, I being myself, decided to have professional input and put in a call to Shiva Kumar. He’s an experienced guide too but couldn’t make it on the days we were going. However he fixed Rajah to accompany us. What a good fellow he turned out to be in the end. He is very calm and quiet, not an overenthusiastic chatterbox. Unfortunately his knowledge of Knuckles is limited probably due to lack of exposure to this vast jungle. On the other hand, I might be a bit unkind as I tend to compare guides with Nava mama who’s a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Knuckles.
This time it was special coz old Tony finally managed to come out of his shell and join us after a long time. Unfortunately Prasa couldn’t make it so it left Ana and Atha with Tony and me.
We as usual left the stifling and humid Colombo in the wee hours of 21 March heading to Deanston via Hunnasgiriya.
- Knuckles Mountain Range (Peaks 1 & 2).
- Mini World’s End in the dark and Sunrise, Deanston.
We arrived at Hunnasgiriya around 7am and stopped where Meemure van parks. There’s a shop just there and we had our breakfast of string hoppers, bread, hoppers and dhal wadei with few curries including a very hot but surprisingly good Lunu Miris, very much similar to the Kohonawala one. It simply made our mouths salivating. I managed to put a call through to Shiva and told him that we were on our way. Turning into the Meemure road brought back many happy memories. The morning was chilly but crisp. Surrounding mountains looked greener than ever. We drove on and found many places where there had been earth slips during the heavy rains late last year. The road is still under construction but the stretch between Hunnasgiriya and Loolwatte is around 75% complete with carpet. However there are areas where the road is terrible and one would have to be very careful driving especially in a car.
By 8am we reached the Deanston bungalow. There was no sign of guests so we drove in. As you know this is right in front of the Knuckles Conservation Center where you have to buy tickets to visit Dothalugala and Mini World’s End. Kumara welcomed us warmly and said we could leave our baggage as nobody was there. There had been guests for the past fifteen days in a row and he’d been terribly busy. We refreshed ourselves and got back in the vehicle declining Kumara’s offer of cuppa tea. Before we go on let me show you around the bungalow coz you must be itching to know what it’s like.
This is one of the better-maintained FD bungalows. Here are some things about it for your information.
- The cost is around Rs. 2250/- per night.
- There are two bedrooms and 9 people can stay. One bedroom has 5 beds (including two bunk beds) and the other 4 (two bunk beds). So you have to plan ahead who’s gonna sleep up. 4 people will have to climb up for the night.
- There is electricity both hydro and generator (kerosene powered). Hydro depends on the water and many other things. So it’s safer to take some kerosene as well in case it’s not available.
- They will charge you for gas. I guess it was Rs. 20/- per person per meal.
- You have to take your own linen. However we were provided with some bed sheets which were clean. However it’s better for you to go prepared.
- There’s enough parking for a couple of vehicles at the bungalow.
- There’s only Kumara, the caretaker in the bungalow. He’s real good and a super cook. Just remember he doesn’t drink, one of the very few.
- There are two separate washrooms for the rooms and they are clean enough.
- There’s cutlery and crockery available.
Well, that’s about it and here are some pictures for you to look at.
“Ok, now let’s make a move coz it’s getting late and I promised to be at Thangappuwa as early as possible. Come on hop in”. Ana took the wheel and away we went. Dothalugala, one of the higher peaks in Knuckles was to our right looking serene. The sun was up and about. This is familiar ground and I enjoyed it very much. We passed Loolwatte, a major town before Kaikawala and Meemure. The noticeable difference was the electricity poles along the road beyond Loolwatte. Nava mama said recently that the villages around Kaikawala and Meemure are going to be powered from the national grid which might mean they would lose control of the hydro power plant as it would get absorbed into the main line. Well, I’ve misgivings about it but will keep them to myself for the time being.
We arrived at the sensational Corbet’s Gap or according to villagers “Aththala Mattuwa aka Aththala Mittuwa” in Sinhala. Do I have to tell you what we did next? Of course you know me by now, don’t you? We kept taking pictures like madmen running around like kids given new toys. Knuckles mountain range could be seen above the foreground hills but looking at them I felt as if the shape of it has changed somewhat. The coppery rays bathed everything on their path. The sky was cloudless and we saw the valley towards Meemure. My heart began to beat faster just thinking of a prospective journey back there. Maybe I’ll get my wish soon enough. After the inevitable photo shoot, we hopped back in and started the 4km-drive to Thangappuwa. The road has deteriorated since the rains but still in fairly good condition except for a couple of places. I hope you can remember me walking along this last year April, after the Lakegala hike. Sweet memories came flooding back to me.
We drove through the forestry road which had certainly seen better days, especially during the cardamom season in the 70s and 80s. Along the way, closer to Thangappuwa we met Rajah, our dedicated guide. He’d been waiting but got tired and decided to come down to meet us. Together we went to Thangappuwa and drove right up to the line houses where Rajah’s house is. This is where our reliable Toyota had to wait until we came back. He must have been dead tired and looking forward to a well-deserved rest. We got our things and started on the journey. Our target for today is Alugallena.
“Ok guys, now you’ve been reading steadily for a long time, haven’t you? There you looked at the time and felt guilty for ignoring the work. Ok, it’s time you got back to work, if you ain’t got any, go take a break, have a cuppa tea or something cool as the sun must be bearing down on you. Don’t you worry, I’ll be right here waiting for you. I’m not gonna desert you having taken you this far. Because when we start the journey, there won’t be any stopping or turning back.”
“Hello, you are back. We’ve been waiting and you took your time coming. We’re ready if you are, so shall we?”
We walked through the line houses, a Kovil and a playground and came to the estate road. It led to the edge of the estate but last km or so is a steep hike to reach the border of the forest. We started just after 9.30am, so much later than we’d have liked. It’s crucial to start as early as possible because the early morning hours will give you that boost to achieve most of the targets set for the day. We took on the challenge and tackled the first few hundred meters along the estate road huffing and puffing. The engines started to boil while the suspensions were at the breaking point. Then crossing a small stream we started to go uphill through the tea plants. It was backbreaking work and we were all bushed even before starting the hike properly.
We were all out of practice and hadn’t done any serious hiking recently and we felt the knees creaking loud enough to be heard a mile away. We were like Sherpas climbing the Everest. One step and one breath, another step and another breath. I know you are now laughing from every organ in your body, especially those who have already done this. I may sound very childish to make this such a dramatic hike but to be honest; it was real tough for us. Rajah meanwhile looked as if going to buy a loaf of bread around the corner while we like a pack of dogs that had run 100 miles. Finally, after so much struggling, we reached the forest department erected poles marking the boundary. It took us closer to an hour and a half (yeah you heard right, 1.5hrs) to get there. Worse than a snail, you’re bound to retort. We drank one third of our Jeewani quota to give us some strength.
The view towards Thangappuwa was grand. We could see the Alikanda (given the name as it looks similar to an elephant head) and tea estates running all the way to the hills afar. The road to Rangala and part of Rangala were also visible. The path mercifully was shaded by the towering trees and bushes keeping the harmful rays at bay. The trail turned into more flat terrain compared to what we came before. We all breathed a sigh of relief and continued on. For the next couple of kms it was more like a wavy track which was uneven. You would need a solid pair of shoes to tackle this path full of lose rocks, potholes and tree branches fallen across. The path bordered by typical bamboo trees and mainly Nelu plants which were on their last legs. Nevertheless we saw a substantial amount of flowers especially the purple and greenish white ones. We crossed couple of water streams flowing beautifully carrying that crystal clear water to feed areas such as Digana, Theldeniya, etc.
We saw a strange kinda frog thanks to Tony’s sharp eyes. The fella almost looked like a dead leaf camouflaging itself. Further couple of unique orchids was there too. We came across a fairly large stream and saw the remains of a bridge across it. Rajah said it’d been washed away due to the water flow. After a long leg of hiking, it brought us to the first view of Knuckles mountain range. She was standing high and we could see her over the tree tops. At the end of the range is another towering rocky mountain whose base lies the Alugallena. We kept up and soon came to the turn off to the Kota Ganga Ella. Passing that we came out into a large opening the size of a football field. This would’ve been an ideal landing site for the Ravana the Great. Well you never know what actually happened during his era in this mysterious forest. We were tired and behind schedule but the sun kept bearing down on us further slowing the journey.
We crossed the open terrain and entered the forest once again. The path steadily went downhill crossing a couple more streams. Another half hour or so hiking brought us to a key point in the trail. It’s the forked junction where the trail divides into two paths similar to the arms of letter “Y”. The left goes towards the Knuckles Peaks while the right goes to Alugallena. We felt very happy coz we thought our target was nearby. Atha, who had been there before, kept quiet not giving away anything. We started happily hoping to get there soon and after a short while we saw a complete skeleton of a Sambar Deer that had been fallen victim to a leopard. It was right by the trail and the hairs of the Sambar’s coat along with rotten meat were lying underneath the scattered bones.
It’s the law in the wild and we carried on. Every passing minute added fuel to our anxiety and we kept wondering if we’d have enough time to get back. None of us had any torch but even with a torch or a few of them would have made very little difference. I’d estimated 8hrs for the whole journey, 5 to go and 3 to get back. We should get back by 5.30pm according to that. The trail was so uneven and wet. The leeches came out of their homes sensing a juicy meal. We crossed two fairly big streams that had caused landslides during the rains. Alugallena is about half a km from the second one. The towering rock I told you about was now very close. The wall towards the base had that grey-ash color. A tiny flow of water was falling from the top but it was nothing more than a few drops. We finally came to the target just before 2pm having toiled so hard for some four and half hours. Despite all the delaying we were still within my estimation but I was worried about the return journey coz unlike other times, this was going to be real tough.
It was not like what I had seen in many pictures. What I saw took me back to those pre-historical caves I’d visited before. It’s something I didn’t feel looking at the pictures. Rajah said this was used by the cardamom farmers to stay while collecting the crops. They would sundry them before taking them to sell. The cave is about 40-50ft in length and at the widest point about 15ft in width. There are signs of foundations and leveled floor. Most of the rudimentarily built walls have fallen but to the right was where nowadays travelers stay for the night. There is a partial three-sided covered room rather spot about 10X10. The toilet next to it and the water stream at the furthest corner. There was lot of water in it but we heard it can get very dry leaving precious little for drinking. There were signs of recent camping, around two dozen cans and bottles (mainly pre-cooked meals) were there. Wish whoever visited had taken the trouble to take them back. There was an orange tree and a jack tree as well. However the most prominent thing was the cluster of banana plants. There must be around a few dozen either planted by the cardamom seekers or generally grown on their own with the help of animals. However they are there only near the cave.
We rested our battered feet and drank the cool knuckles water greedily. It ran down our parched throats bringing some energy back into our bodies. The vegetable roties and wadei we took with us evaporated in no time reminding us how hungry we were. It was time for a break but we had to cut it short due to time constraints. So this is a very good learning curve for you guys. It’s not a good idea to do the whole journey in one day, if so you would have to start as early as possible, preferably before 6.30am. However most of you would try to do both, Alugallena and Knuckles Peaks in one go. So stop overnight either in Alugallena or at a camping site which would make it not so strenuous. There is something I have to tell you about the camping site located on the way to the peaks. But, not right now. I’ll tell you that tomorrow when we’re going to climb the mountain range. You will come with us, won’t you? But right now, we gotta get back to Thangappuwa and then to our bungalow.
We rested for about half hour and decided to get back around 2.15pm. The thought of having to back sent shuddering down our brains but we were determined to make it happen before the dark. We all got going this time mostly climbing up. The evening sun was trying in vain to penetrate the top layer of the forest but he kept resisting in a big way. We passed the land slid areas and entered into the somewhat even terrain. When we came into the view of the skeletal remains of the Sambar, we knew that the turn off was nearby.
Couple of times we stopped to massage our thigh and calf muscles. Out in the open, the view was spectacular. The sun was setting to the right of us and looking back the mountain range looked absolutely irresistible. Those pointed knucle-shaped peaks were something out of a dream. Now that the sun was setting, there was an orange glow along the crest of the peaks. We had to stop to admire this sensational picture unfolding before us. Crossing the open terrain we entered the forest patch to do the last bit of the hike. We were still within the schedule, don’t ask me how but miraculously, until we out of the forest to the edge of the estate, just where we had to climb steeply, we were within the time table.
When we came to the edge of the estate with a panoramic view of Thangappuwa and the surrounding in the dusk, we heaved a sigh of relief. The final episode of the hike took longer and coming down to the flat terrain felt like winning a million dollar lottery. When we reached our vehicle, it was 6pm which meant we had been hiking for some 8.5hrs. We exceeded the planned schedule only by half hour despite all the drawbacks. We went to a shop and had a sugary boost before saying goodnight to Rajah and promising to be back early on the following morning.
The drive was not so bad thanks to the build quality of Toyota. We passed Loolwatte in the dark and around 7.30 reached the bungalow to the dismay of Kumara who’d been worried sick of our delay. Thankfully and very sensibly Ana had given him the menu for dinner which was nice and ready.
We all had a quick wash in the cold water giving an ice treatment for the overworked tendons and muscles. The dinner was delicious and Kumara can definitely cook. We tucked up in our cozy beds by 9.30, so much late for us as we hit the sack normally around 8pm. The temperature was a mild 20 degrees but dropped another few degrees in the night.
Well, I guess it’s time you too get some sleep coz we got a long day ahead and I can hear Ana cursing me for taking him on such a strenuous hike. Go sleep now but remember, you have to get up by 4.30am. Well I wish I could look at your face now. “So early, and after such a tiring journey?”. I can almost hear your groans. All I can tell you is, “be ready or get left behind”. Sounds like the army, doesn’t it? Well, so long for now. Sleep tight and get up early.
We got up as usual to find Ana up and about. Kumara was boiling grams and making roti simultaneously. A cup of coffee woke me properly. We rushed through the morning rituals and sat for a hearty breakfast. Kumara, in the meantime, packed our lunch of roti, pre-cooked sprats with onions and boiled eggs in their shells. Everything was ready by 6am and we left once again for Thangappuwa. The morning breeze came in through the lowered windows refreshing everything on its way. Dothalugala rose majestically against a royal blue sky showing off her greenery. All of a sudden, we saw this red hot plate to our right through the trees. It was the sun, coming up still in his sleep looking like a plateful of lava. We met the Loolwatte bus followed by Kaikawala and Meemure vans going to Hunnasgiriya.
The drive did us well and we stopped for a quick break at Corbet’s Gap. The mighty Knuckles mountain range looked higher than ever now that we were gonna climb her. She looked calm yet very much dominating. The drive along the jeep track to Thangappuwa was now familiar and we reached the parking lot closer to Rajah’s house just after 7am. Everything was in time but Ana and Atha decided to take it easy for the day asking Tony and me to go ahead while they tagged along behind at a more bearable rate. The strenuousness of the previous day’s hike had taken their toll on all of us. The prospect of having to maneuver up the steep path through the tea estate sent shivers down the spine.
Knuckles Mountain Range
Ok lads, I won’t bore you with all the agony of climbing up the first part coz you too had a tough time and I’m sure your limbs are complaining as much as ours. So I’ll save my breath for the first part and let you enjoy it through the pictures. The forest however looked greener and more beautiful. We arrived at the open area having made good ground and on time. However Atha and Ana were not too far behind. We sat down on the rocky ground in the shade to enjoy a biscuit but found we were already hungry. A couple of boiled eggs went down with a packet of lemon puff. We felt better and let’s now take a long jump straight to the turn off where the path divides. “Ok, ready for the jump? Right hold Tony’s and my hands tight and here we go”.
Unfortunately Ana and Atha were too heavy to carry with us. So having let them come in their own pace, we took the left path this time that goes steadily up. Unlike the Alugallena trail, there is plenty of open places on this trail making you feel a lot better. It also helps to get your bearings and check how much you have to go. It’s a lot worse when you have to walk through the thick forest without seeing much and knowing where you are. It can make you claustrophobic. Knuckles kept with us all the way waving her hands urging us to make it snappy. Old Tony kept with me and Rajah who said this was the first time any group had done these hikes like this as far as he knew. Well looking at how strenuous it is even I’m surprised how we managed it.
We walked through a path that pretty much resembled Thotupola Trail. I hope you remember that journey but if you don’t, a simple click on the link will take you. We stumbled upon the campsite with two camp beds. However the toilet had been broken down (yeah, you heard me right. It looked broken by someone) probably by the forest officials. The tin roof was lying on the path and the main structure had been destroyed in almost half making it unusable. We were wondering what was happening. Are they gonna discourage people camping here? Well, that is what I wanted to show you. However we saw the remains of burned wooden sticks signaling some group had camped there recently. All the sign postings inside the forest had been either taken away or destroyed as well. Atha said in his last journey there were some signs but we saw nothing like that.
Knuckles looked appealing from the path and we arrived at a rocky slab and a clear area just before the climb up. This reminded us of Kirigalpoththa Trail where on the way we found a similar spot with Agra Bopath looking at us from the distance. We stopped for the first of the documentaries of the journey. Unfortunately we couldn’t do one at Alugallena. We were dead tired and it went clean out of my mind. Afterwards we crossed the open ground and entered the forest to find another set of Sambar bones nearby the trail. These leopards only seem to hunt along the footpath. This looked older than the set we saw yesterday. Hurrying on, Rajah showed us the last stream before our hike where we topped our water bottles. Hopefully Atha would remember to do the same.
This was so much like the Kirigalpoththa as only the final stretch has that steep climb with no water sources. So, if you’re not tired, shall we go on and start the climb. I don’t mind taking a break but looking up, seeing those inviting peaks is something I can’t bear much longer. So if you want to take a break, make it quick.
The sun was up and shining when we came out to the final push. Rajah showed no sign of feeling tired but we on the other hand we were bushed. We kept pushing beyond the limits topping ourselves with Jeewani and cool water. The higher we went the spectacular the view became. So we took numerous breaks to enjoy and capture them on our cameras. Tony had got a new smart phone and kept shooting away. I guess it’s just a matter of time before he loses it coz he’d lost so many before and the odds are this won’t probably see the end of the year.
We were climbing up the first peak and about one third up met the path which comes from Bambarella. This is what Atha, Hari and the group had taken when they climbed some time ago. The Nelu, Bamboo and many other plants are so close to the path on either side making it possible only one person at a time. If Hariya were there, he would’ve made bigger. We after a while came to an observation point which gave us a grand view from Corbet’s Gap to the edge of Riverston side. The heat getting on our nerves and we had to keep drinking water and Jeewani to keep them under control. Some more hiking brought us to a stone’s-throw from the top. We were so tired and if thrown, the stone wouldn’t have made it 100ft. Then we were on the summit of the first peak where it forks like a camel back.
There was an area which was kinda marked with a thin rope (probably by a group of hikers) making it look like a camping site. It really looked ideal coz the place nearly 12X12 was completely covered all around and over by the trees giving it shelter from gusty winds and to a certain extent from rain as well. The only concern is the water coz there didn’t seem to have any water source anywhere near. So one would have to carry plenty with them should you do camping which is not a pleasant climb with the added weight. However I feel it’s worth the trouble if you can manage. We decided to have our lunch on the way back and pushed on towards the second and highest peak. Unlike the first, the last bit of climb to her and on top are bare save for plenty of itchy Mana bushes. You would be completely at the mercy of the sun and the winds. We carried on the final stretch and arrived at the top of Knuckles Mountain Range.
We felt very proud of ourselves and Tony even danced around feeling the joy. Here it gives you a near 360-degree view. I said near coz the towering rock that has Alugallena at the base blocked the view somewhat. The third peak was right next to us and we could make out a path running on top of her but to reach there one would have to climb down the second peak to some extent before start climbing once again. However the path from the summit was not so clear so we decided not to venture further. Well you could see the road to Meemure, Corbet’s Gap, Dumbanagala, Sphinx Rock, Thangappuwa, Alikanda, Rangala, Bambarella, Panwila and the surrounding areas. Moving further I guess we could see up to Matale and Riverston as well. This was some place. We took loads and loads of pictures as souvenirs. Finally the sun asked us to leave before getting sunburned.
We turned around and started the downhill journey. It was a relief to get back into the forest patch on the first peak where we decided to have our lunch. We also met a foreigner coming up panting like a Morris Minor, with a local guide. We settled near the campsite and enjoyed our lunch of Kurakkan mixed Roti, tempered Sprats, boiled eggs and for dessert, lemon puff biscuits. It was so good and all I wanted was a hammock to take a nap. Unfortunately we had neither a hammock nor time. The atmosphere inside this forest patch was simply amazing. Feeling sad to leave the comforting shade, we got back onto business.
We made some good progress and found ourselves soon on the rocky open area. Looking up to the tall peaks and knowing we managed to climb up was a great feeling. We continued passing the campsite, then the turn off to Alugallena and arrived at the huge open area. We gave our feet and bodies a 10-minute break before doing the final push. Seeing Thangappuwa below was a great feeling but climbing down along the tea patch was a killing blow. It was 4.30 when we arrived at Thangappuwa. Our faithful Toyota was waiting ever so patiently.
After a cup of tea at the shop we drove on towards our bungalow. The drive became more pleasant as there was plenty of daylight left. Finally we arrived at the bungalow around 6am. Kumara had been waiting with the kettle boiling and we had delicious coffee, a cold bath and a chat in that order.
Well, I’m hungry and you must be too. So let’s go see what Kumara has got for us. The dinner was delicious and we kept shoveling until there was no more space. With a difficulty down went a chunk of cashew nut choco as well. What else can a man ask for after a backbreaking hike? We’ve done our quota for this journey but I had an ace up my sleeve. Don’t worry; you’re going to come with us for that as well. It’s gonna be something not so common. There’s my bed calling for me. Will see you tomorrow. Oh forgot to tell you, if you wanna join us, get up at 4am. I know you hate to do that but there’s no other choice. Good night folks!
Good morning, it’s just gone four and I’m as lazy as anyone to get up. However one must do things like these if they are to achieve greater things. Ana as usual was up and having coffee. He always beats us in the morning to get up and we haven’t a chance of getting up before him. After three cups of coffee I was reasonably awake and started the morning chores. By 5am, we were fully dressed and ready. The chill was a mild 18-degree and we started our hike. Oh, I forgot to tell you about it, didn’t I? Well we’re going for a kind of a night safari to the Mini World’s End. It’s about a 3km walk through the pine forest with a steep and deep ravine at one end. Check out my first ever trip to Meemure when I visited this. Many people do it during the day but I thought of adding a bit of adventure into it and walk in the dark in the hope of witnessing the sunrise.
Mini World’s End
As usual my team backed my decision and with them three dogs joined in the morning stroll. We carried torches which helped walk without tumbling down in the uneven path. Previous night, Kumara narrated one of the horror stories of him and two other foreigners had come across a hunting leopard on the way to the Mini World’s End. It was during the daytime when he accompanied those foreigners. Suddenly a barking deer had run across the trail passing them. After a second or two another huge animal had come bounding through the forest and braked hard about 10ft before Kumara. You know who it is, don’t you? According to Kumara, the leopard was about 8ft in size and had stood still staring at him. He said when turned around to check on the foreigners, there was no sign of them. The leopard and Kumara had been eying each other for some time before he bent down and pretended to pick something. Afterwards the leopard had turned around and walked slowly but not before giving him another of his vicious looks. When he came back to the office, those two foreigners had been in their vehicle all locked up. Apparently even they had had no clue as to how they managed to get there.
We were not scared by the tale, rather got very excited. We had Tony should a leopard happen to come across. We started the hike while those faithful dogs went in front of us stopping every now and then to listen to any danger. They acted like our warning signals, like scouts in military operations. We arrived at the tiny pond and carefully avoided falling into the ice cold water. Passing that we entered the forestry path where the leopard roams around. We walked carefully and soon arrived at the turn off where the path separates into two. This is the beginning of the circular trail and we took the right climbing up.
It was pitch dark and our torches did very little to pierce the inky blackness. Only the crunch of our shoes making on the gravel was audible. There was no wind and the air was so still you could lean on it. After a while we saw a change of color through the trees in the sky. The bluish tinge was more visible and it kept spread out. When we arrived out of the forest to the edge where the path runs for about half a km along the edge, the sky was getting very colorful. Towards the top of the sky was the blue tinge, and it got lighter in color and met a dull yellow. It went further down meeting bright yellow, orange and red just above the mountains. This was a picture no artist could replicate, be them Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Van Gogh or Picasso. The needles of pine leaves looked sensational in the foreground.
We went along the edge looking for the observation point while the thick clouds delayed sun’s arrival. The endless mountains bordered the villages below. From the left we could see Dothalugala, Sphinx Rock, behind it the Knuckles Peaks, then the Corbet’s Gap. Moving further to the right is Dumbanagala. Between Corbet’s Gap and Dumbanagala, we could see the Meemure road. Then came Gerandi Ella to the right of Dumbanagala with a tiny streak of white. Thelambugala, Kehelpathdoruwa and square shaped Yahangala followed after. Behind the mountains in Kalugala, we could very faintly see the reservoirs of Hasalaka, Sorabora Wewa, Rathkinda and Ulhitiya. A26, Kandy-Mahiyangana road ran just below the mountain range. Famous 18 bends were a little beyond. Further to the right, was the Uda Dumbara town. This is the picture we saw and I don’t have to say how mesmerizing it was.
The sun finally arrived showing a tiny bit of himself looking like a blood red pearl. He rose steadily and became a full plate of glowing lava. A thin layer of mist hung on to the trees below and the steps like lush green paddy fields glowed in the morning rays. Well you could have spent a lifetime admiring this but we had so much more to do in this lifetime so sadly went back bidding farewell. The lighted pine bordered path was so good and the smell of the pine trees was refreshing. We arrived at the bungalow for a hearty breakfast.
Afterwards, it was time to say goodbye. We paid our dues and gave some money for Kumara. He is a great host, one of best we’ve met so far. We arrived at Hunnasgiriya and headed straight to Colombo.
Well folks, if I don’t show you some of the Panos, it’d be a real pity.
So, it’s time I left you to get on with your work.
Hope you guys enjoyed it as much as me and my team. Keep traveling but be safe.
This is Sri signing off for now.