The Knuckles mountain range
The Knuckles Mountain Range
'The Knuckles Hill range is named a World Heritage'
The Knuckles range derives its name from the similarity of its ridges to the knuckles of a closed fist. This mountain range lies in the Kandy and Matale districts of Central Sri Lanka. It is separated from the main central highlands by the deeply incised valley of the Mahaweli River, commonly referred to as the “Dumbara Valley” (Dumbara means veiled with mist). The general landscape of the area is extremely rugged, with at least 35 peaks rising above 900m. The aggregation of spectacular peaks is a unique feature of the knuckles forest range. The highest peak is Gombiyawa (1900m)
The Knuckles Mountains have been designated a forest reserve in recognition of its natural habitats that harbor some unique plants and animals, and in view of its importance as a water shed area, with several streams draining into the Mahawli River basin through Ambang ganga, Sudu Ganga & Kalu Ganga in the Eastern slope and to Huluganga in the Western slope.
The location of the Knuckles forest range in the intermediate climatic zone has resulted in wide and varied records of rainfall and temperature in different parts of the range. The highlands are extremely wet throughout the year, with an average annual rainfall of over 4000 mm, and temperature that ranges between 18 - 20 oC. The area is also exposed to strong winds during monsoon periods. The wide array of climate and landscape features in the Knuckles forest range has resulted in a rich composition of animals and plants, some of which are unique to Sri Lanka.
1. Alugallena Mountainous Nature Trail
The Alugallena Mountainous forest trail, provides a challenging trekking experience in the hilly terrain of the Western part of the Knuckles range. The trail starts at Thangappuwa, in the Kaldooriya division of the Rangala Group Tea Estate ( altitude 1400 m ) and ends at Alugallena cave ( altitude 1324 m ) covering a distance of approximately 7 km.
Trail at a glance
Distance - 7 km of mountainous track Minimum travel time - Approximately 5 hours walk
Adventurous mountainous track, panoramic views of misty hills, virgin pigmy forests, valleys and grasslands, streams, wild flowers, birds, butterflies and the Alugallena rock and cave. One could camp out and trekk upto Knuckles mountain peak (6112 elevation)
2. From Lebanon Estate to Kalupahana 1 Mountain Top - 4km walk
3. From Bambarella at the dead end of B205 to Gombiyawa (6248 elevation) and Kalupahana 2 - 7km walk to each peak
Habitats and vegetation encountered along the trail
Habitats and vegetation along the Alugallena trail include virgin forests, grasslands, streams and rock-outcrops. The lush forest is about 10 m in height, with thick undergrowth of shrubs. The trees are rounded and finely branched making the trees able to withstand strong winds. The epiphytes are always moist..
The forest has become stunted and are referred to as 'pigmy forest'. Towards the eastern slope of the Alugallena trail, the mountainous forest gradually merge into a drier type of forest, referred to as semi-evergreen forest you rarely come across.
Plant life along the trail
Along the trail you go through a semi evergreen vegetation. An excellent patch of revering forest is located on the banks of the Dekinda river. You will have an opportunity to view a variety of trees and plants along this trail.
Animal life along the trail
Amphibians and reptiles
Several species of tree frogs can be heard and observed along the trail. The corrugated water frog (Limnonectes corrugatus) can be encountered in streams. Reptiles that may be seen along the trail includes the Leaf-nosed Lizard (Ceratophora tennentii) and the Green Pit Viper (Trimeresurus trigonocephalus.)
At least 20 species of birds could be encountered along the trail, including flocks of mixed species. A single flock may consist of about 5-8 different bird species.
Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys (Trachypithecus vetulus) are found in small troops of 5-10.Other elusive mammals that may be observed include the Sambar (cervus unicolor), Black-naped Hare (Lepus nigricollis), Porcupine (Hystrix indica), Mouse Deer (Tragulus meminna) and Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura)
A few species of colorful butterflies can also be observed along the trail. These include the large Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor), Common Crow (Euploeacore), Common Sailor (Neptis hylas), Tree Nymph (Idea iasonia) and the Common Evening Brown (Melanitis leda).
Water falls in the area
The 10 km radius areas around ArbourVilla is enriched by many picturesque water falls. The largest Water fall is at Huluganga, Down Stream of the bridge named "Huluganga Water Fall". Other water falls such as Jodu Ella, Osari Ella etc are scattered in the said area accentuating the glamour of the unique landscape of the area.