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|Year and Month||March, 2013 (24th to 25th)|
|Number of Days||Two Day Trip|
|Crew||3 (between 29-31 years of age)|
|Accommodation||Kanneliya Forest Resort, Koralegama (091-5671867, 060-2906315). Highly recommended; Excellent food; Comfortable and clean rooms; Great views|
|Activities||Wildlife, Photography, Waterfall Hunting|
|Weather||Excellent – It rained heavily but didn’t interrupt our plans one bit|
|Route||Colombo Fort -> Galle -> Rumassala -> Koggala -> Galle -> Udugama -> Galle -> Maharagama|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Once upon a time, I came across this very unusual name “Kanneliya Forest Reserve” and since then, I couldn’t stop myself being told over and over again, “must go see, must go see”…
Well, that mantra has reaped its benefits coz I managed to visit this beautiful lady on 24 & 25 March. By the time I write this report, my legs are screaming coz they are still cramped up by lots of walking. On the other hand, my soul is at a very peaceful and content stage, which I won’t trade for a million dollars.
I got my friends Lasantha, who had a change of heart first but managed to rejoin at the eleventh hour and Dimuthu to join me. So here goes another Sri’s fairytale and hope it, unlike many other fairytales, won’t put you to sleep.
So we left Colombo Fort by 6.10 am train which is available only on weekends (other days, it’s at 6.55 am) and reached, after a very fast ride, Galle around 8.05 am (5 minutes late ).
It was very difficult to carry our bags, so I wanted to leave it somewhere in Galle but my friends wouldn’t hear any of it. We then took a Galle-Matara bus and asked the conductor to drop us off at Rumassla Road. He completely forgot about it and dropped us instead about 2 km further up. (You have to get off at Holcim Cement Factory, former Ruhunu Cement)
I immediately got the jitters as I felt it might be a very bad sign. However, after lot of huffing, we got into a tuk-tuk which asked for 200/- (400/- right up to the Peace Pagoda, but I chose to walk from the main road) to take us up to the Road leading to Rumassala. We managed to leave our baggage with a very good show owner who’s selling Bulath Wita at the Rumassala bus stop.
There’s about 2-3 km up to the Peace Pagoda and world famous Buona Vista (pronounced Bona vista) Coral Reef (locally known as Jungle Beach). The whole Rumassal area is about 3 square km and the coral reef has about 60% live corals. It was heavily damaged in the 2004 Tsunami and they now have started a project to plant corals along the beach.
There’s a lot of talk on Rama-Ravana-Sita-Hanuman in Rumassala and it’s said to be a mythical mountain in Galle. I’ve put a pic of the legend in the picture story. However, according to Sir Arthur C. Clarke, this is formed as a result of an asteroid and he claims the nearby Unawatuna beach to be one of the 12 most popular beaches in the world.
The peace pagoda was a very soothing place, looking grand. You can see the Galle harbor and the fort clearly from there. Below the Pagoda, the road leads to the Jungle beach where lots of locals as well as foreigners come for snorkeling, coral-seeing and relaxing. We too had a walk around and saw many remains of buildings which must have been destroyed by the Tsunami.
We then met a few couples hanging around and one of them said that it’s really dangerous to hang around the cliff path as they believe every year few people lose their lives around that area. However, I felt It must’ve been a tailor-made big-fat lie to chase us away and get some privacy.
Along the path we came across a very tasty fruit called “Eraminiya” and hungrily munched. Afterwards we came back towards the peace pagoda and at a hotel called Hanumangira had some tea and bun. (after about 17 years I tasted the then very popular cream buns that come in pairs wrapped in polythene)
There’s a temple named “Sri Vevekaramaya” and the chief monk is Sasanathilaka Thero and we decided to visit it as well. The temple was such a beautiful place and in a very small piece of land, it has everything, nice Buddha statues, Hanuman Statue and a Bodhisathwa Statue as well. On a board, they had put up the legend of Rumassala which I managed to capture. (Given below)
Then on the way back to the main road, there was a board saying “Historical Burton Tower” and thought of giving it a go. To our amazement, there was no board or anything saying what it was so couldn’t find about it more. It’s just light house type tower about 80 feet high.
We came back to the main road, and got into a Matara bus and asked the conductor to drop us off at Martin Wickremasinghe folk museum. Having experienced the conductors’ loss of memory, I too was keeping an eye out for it. As expected, the conductor forgot all about it but for our luck, I spotted and managed to get off about 500m away. This is located right in front of the famous hotel “The Fortress”
It’s open daily from 09.00 – 05.00 and a ticket is 30/- each. It really was another mesmerizing experience as Martin Wickremasinghe is among the greatest of all in our literature especially in the 20th century. Being able to visit his birth place and seeing the things he used in real life is something I would treasure for the rest of my life.
The complex has many highlights:
- The Folk museum which shows many important aspects of the rural life, especially the south along the coast.
- Martin Wickremasinghe’s house (Inside you can see the things he used, special occasions of his life, a pic of him receiving the M.B.E. medal from Queen Elizabeth II, and many more) and his Samadhi
- Remains of his grand uncle’s house
- Display of old vehicles such as carts, boats, etc.
- Book shop where they give 20% discount on all his books
It really is a must-see place and we left around 12.30pm to go see the famous Madol Duwa. I knew from the morning that something bad was going to happen and my gut feeling proved right. Along the main road towards Matara, we went about 800m and saw a notice saying “Madol Duwa” and felt very happy. As soon as we turned to that side, someone asked if we going to the Madol Duwa and for our sins, we said yes.
He then asked whether we want to go the island or take a tour around it too. We said a tour around would be nice and he asked for 1500/- and we felt (as we had no idea the distance and the time it takes) it was reasonable. We then had to walk towards the Koggala railway and beyond the bridge and near it lies the jetty. The boy asked one of the boatman to take us and asked to charge 1500/-.
We were surprised to see it was a very short distance to the island, about 1km, took us about 5mins and around the island we went in about 5 more minutes. Then we landed and the boatman simply asked us to walk around the island. There were numerous paths and we had no idea where we were going (just like in the story how Upali and Jinna were doing) and passed the same place a few times.
We then came to probably the other side of the island and I suddenly remembered the flame-ghost (Gini Avathare) of Madol duwa book. There was a nice cashew tree with cashew and Lasantha managed to pick one with the juicy flesh. It was after a long time I had one of them and we then managed to find the way back to the jetty. Madol Duwa has a well, a stone foundation of a former Sekkuwa, and remains of a structure.
We then asked if we are going any further but the boatman said it was the end of the journey. Would you believe it? However, we paid as agreed and he showed us a short cut to the main road and then only we realized that we were victims of a very bad scam going around. There was a board saying the “Tours in Madol Duwa and the Main road to the Madol Duwa” (pic given below). So the one we took was a very bad choice and paid heavily for it. I even saw a notice saying further up, passing the bridge it’s only 20/- to Madol Duwa.
So guys, if you ever go to Madol Duwa, go straight to the Jetty and check the prices directly from the boats.
After that we came back to Galle around 2.30 pm and had lunch. Then took a Udugama bus from the stand and took us nearly 2 hours to reach Udugama which is only 33km from Galle. It was raining really hard by the time we reached Udugama and took a tuk-tuk to the Kanneliya Forest Resort (250/-) about 4km away.
The place was excellent, very spacious rooms, comfortable beds, very clean washrooms, and exceptional views of the Nannikiththa Ela which later joins the Gin Ganga. The food was delicious too.
We had a hearty meal and bunked down for the night.
The following morning when we got up, the sky was very gloomy and it was drizzling too. Gosh, I didn’t like it one bit and was mumbling to myself what we are to do. The view below our room was gorgeous as the river was flowing freely.
When we went to B’fast around 7.00 am I asked Wilbet, very helpful staff member, if it will continue to rain but he confidently said it’s gonna be ok in a little while. It really was a blessing and his prediction proved right at the end.
We walked up to the Kanneliya ticket office which is another 1 km away from the hotel and it was around 8.00am by then. There was only one group waiting to do the Kabbale Mountain trail which is the longest and most strenuous. However, we got Ajith, a very helpful guide in Kanneliya, and paid for the tickets which was 884/- for all three of us (28/- each and 800/- guide fees) for Narangas Ella trail.
Highlights of Kanneliya:
- Cave Trail – 1.5km
- Anagimala Ella Trail – 2.5km
- Giant Nawada Tree Trail – 5.2km
- Giant Puss Creeper Trail – 2.3km
- Narangas Ella Trail – 5.2km
- Kabbale Mountain Trail – 5.5km
Do add a few extra kms to the given numbers as they certainly are more than what’s on the board.
We immediately set off and the angry clouds slowly started to dissipate. On our way we came across a Bodhilima very close to the Anagimala Ella. It was a female one, Ajith pointed the brown one is the female and the green one is the male. Both have very distinctive and colorful wattles.
Talking of wattles, when Ajith said the “Karamala” in Sinhala, I was trying to figure out the English word for it and immediately came up with the word “Chicken Flower” and how to match it to the Bodilima. However, I managed to get the correct word thanks to Google and online dictionary.
Back to the Bodilima, when they are angry they open their mouths and given half a chance will bite you. We then came across a “Pinum Katussa” that is a very small fellow and jumps around, thus the name.
Then we reached the Anagimala Ella which is rich with lots of water due to the rains in the last few days. It’s created by Nannikiththa Ela and later joins the Gin Ganga which meets the Indian Ocean at Ginthota.
Ajith told us there’s a tragic story behind the name Anagimala Ella. There was a Tamil family with two children, boy and a girl. The girl’s name was Anagi, and her brother had apparently got her pregnant. To keep it a secret, he had taken Anagi to the fall and pushed her to the fall killing her. So the name came about, Anagi mala Ella (The fall where Anagi died), Anagimala Ella.
Kanneliya doesn’t have the “Kaluwara” tree; instead it has a tree called “Kalu Mediriya” which is very similar. There are a few more very important trees in Kanneliya.
- Yakahalu & Thaniya Dun Tree – They make famous “Dummala” (which is being used at Thovil and all other ceremonies) using the liquid that they get from the trunk of the trees.
- Mandora – they use the roots of this tree to put into the pots of Thelijja to prevent them turning into Raa.
- Katamada – Wal Durian, very similar to Durian with a prickly skin and eaten by Monkeys and Giant Squirrels.
- Kiri Hambiliya – A tree used in Ayurvedic treatments which has reddish leaves
- Thambotu Creepers – Same as famous Ve Wal, found in Sinharaja. They make lots of things using these.
- Dorana – Very remarkable tree. Villagers cut a hole in the trunk of the tree using an axe or a sharp knife about 6 inches deep and burn it. After about 2 days, there’s oil filled in the hole. They collect it and dry it in the sun and make valuable Dorana Oil which is used in polishing statues and paintings. One bottle in Galle is around 1500/- but in Colombo around 3000/-.
We even saw a Trot (100m X 100m area) under research. The forest department measures all the plants and trees inside this area and keep records of them for future use.
We even came across a very rarely seen fight between a Binkunda and a leech that was covered in sand and I guess it finally was killed by the Binkunda.
Plywood corporation had destroyed many land mass and thousands of trees in Kanneliya. According to Ajith, they torched the quarters of the officers inside the forest and some army vehicles and in 1989; making plywood and chopping trees were stopped as a result.
We then went along the path towards Maliga Dola. Up to this the road is very good and very few leeches to bother you. However, you have to cross this to go to the Narangas Ella, another 1.5km from there. that’s a very tiny foot path infested with leeches and I practically ran all the way to the fall coz I had very bad experience in Sinharaja when we did Lion’s Rock trails (in the board it said 14km but more than good 20km). You can read more about that trip here
Narangas Ella wasn’t so rich with water, however there was enough and trying to get to the top is not advisable as it’s extremely dangerous and slipper rocks all along. Below there was a nice pond and when Dimuthu and Lasantha got into it to wash their feet, there were lots of fish mainly Thalkossa with a reddish tail (slightly different from Bulath Hapaya) and even some prawns decided to feast on their feet.
We then headed back to the hotel around 12.30 pm and had a cool dip in the natural pool below our rooms. After a hearty lunch, we left for Galle coz I was planning to visit the Galle fort too. As soon as we got into the bus, it started pouring with rain and inside the bus there were a few streams running across. It must be the most depilated bus of Udugama depot as every socket and most of the windows leaked and we almost had to sit at the edges of our seats.
I was praying for a bit of sun to go see the Dutch fort in Galle and they were immediately answered as it suddenly stopped and the lord Sun appeared around Makuluwa junction. Reach Galle around 3.45pm and went to the Galle fort immediately.
We took the left from the entrance and about 100m up, you can see the national museum of Galle but to our utter disappointment, it was closed. After that, there was the famous Dutch church and it too was closed. Having our hopes shattered, I asked Lasantha to check if the Maritime Archaeological museum was open. For our relief it was and we entered. Ticket price is 50/- each and you have to buy them before 4.15pm and open till 4.45pm.
It was declared open on 04 March 2010. Exhibits of marine artifacts found in underwater explorations are show cased in the Museum. There are maps, naval craft, ropes, earthenware, beer mugs, smoking pipes, barrels, vast amount of articles including artillery guns and sailor shoes. Ship wrecks in the sea off the Southern coast is where these artifacts were recovered from, some of which are nearly 800 years old.
This was built on a former Dutch warehouse which was heavily damaged in the 2004 Tsunami flooding.
Then we went along the outer wall of the fort, we could see the peace pagoda of Rumassala in the distance and reached the Light house. Kenneth De Kretser was the engineer of Government Factory that built this in 1938.
Afterwards, we went further along and came across a funny scene which I captured on my camera. There was a foreigner reading a book on a pillar and a dog was lying around looking at him as if listening to his every word.
We saw the dungeons like prison which is about 30 feet deep. All of a sudden, it started lightening and when we looked at the sea, what we saw brought us the images of “Day after Tomorrow” movie. The whole sky was pitch black and the rain was coming at a ferocious way and we almost ran right up to the clock tower and then to the bus stop, but not before me getting some few shots of the Galle Int. Cricket Stadium and the clock tower.
The moment we entered the bus stand, it started raining Cats and Dogs, and soon intensified to Bulls and Goats too.
It really was another wonderful trip and I managed to see everything I had planned….
So that’s the story of Sri de Galle….. Hope you guys enjoyed my fairy tale.