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National Park

Peak Wilderness Sanctuary

  Province Sabaragamuwa
  District Rathnapura
  Type of the Forest Sanctuary
  Established 1969 (Nature reserve) 16-03-1988 (National park)
  Governing body Department of Wildlife Conservation
  Area 224 km2
  Introduction

Peak Wilderness sanctuary is the third largest by area natural reserve of the 50 that are in Sri Lanka.Peak Wilderness sanctuary is a tropical rain forest that spreads over a land of 224 square kilometers around the Sri Pada (Adam’s peaks) mountain. A huge forest area that belonged to the Peak Wilderness was cut down and cleared during the British colonial rule in Sri Lanka (1815-1948) to gain land for the massive tea estates which are still functioning in Nuwara Eliya district. The remaining portion of the Peak Wilderness was declared a wildlife sanctuary on October 25, 1940.

The contours of Peak Wilderness vary from 1000 to 7360 feet above sea level. Therefore, it possesses unusual geographical formations compared to the other natural reserves of the island. Bena Samanala (6579 ft), Dotalugala, Detanagala, are some of the taller mountains in the Peak Wilderness. It is also the birthplace of Kelani, Kalu, Walave rivers and many tributaries of the river Mahaweli which make waterfalls such as Dotalu falls, Geradi falls, Galagama falls (655 ft), and Mapanana falls (330 ft) inside the sanctuary.

Out of the 3 access routes; Hatton route, Kuruwita route and Palabaddala route, which Buddhist devotees and other tourists use to reach the Adam’s Peak, Kuruwita and Palabaddala routes go right across the Peak Wilderness sanctuary. This forest area is entirely under the control of Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Department. It does not maintain any lodge, bungalow or such type of facility for tourists inside Peak Wilderness sanctuary in order to safeguard the purity of this forest. Yet, there is no restriction for eco-tourists to enter the sanctuary after obtaining permission from Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Department. Entering the sanctuary during the rain season is at the tourist’s own risk because of the unforeseen downpours and instant floods lead to life-risk situations.

It is revered as a holy site by Buddhist. It has specific qualities that cause it to stand out and be noticed; including its dominant and outstanding profile, and the boulder at the peak that contains an indentation resembling a footprint. It is an important pilgrimage site, especially for Hindus and Buddhists. Pilgrims walk up the mountain, following a variety of routes up thousands of steps. The journey takes several hours at least. The peak Pilgrimage season is in April, and the goal is to be on top of the mountain at sunrise, when the distinctive shape of the mountain casts a triangular shadow on the surrounding plain and can be seen to move quickly downward as the sun rises.

Climbing at night can be a remarkable experience, with the lights of the path leading up and into the stars overhead. There are rest stops along the way. This is one of the World Heritage sites of Sri Lanka.

  Physical features

The area is situated in dry zone of Sri Lanka and receives an average rainfall of 1,500–2,000 millimeters (59–79 in). The lowest temperature and highest of the park are 20.6 °C (69.1 °F) and 34.5 °C (94.1 °F) respectively. The main sources of water for the tank are a diversion of Amban River and Elahera canal. The wet season lasts during the north eastern monsoon from October to January and from May to September considered as the dry season. The main habitats of Minneriya are of several types, including low-canopy montane forests, intermediate high-canopy secondary forests, scrublands, abandoned chena lands, grasslands, rocky outcrops, and wetlands

  History

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  Endemic varieties

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Founa

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