Sunday, December 22, 2013

Yala National Park - Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (block 1) and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. 

The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds.

There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.

The area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilisations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara, are situated within the park. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused severe damage on the Yala National Park and 250 people died in its vicinity. The number of visitors has been on the rise since 2009 after the security situation in the park improved.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kataragama in Sri Lanka

Kataragama in Sri Lanka

Kataragama a popular pilgrimage destination frequented by adherents of all religions in Sri Lanka. The main shrine devoted to Skanda popularly described in eulogies as God having six faces and twelve arms whose assistance is sought for worldly gain. The history of the shrine dates back to 2 century BC. The annual procession held in July or August is the main event of the shrine with fire walkers and Kawadi dancers. Offering to the gate are made at 4.30am 10.30am and 6.30pm daily.

Kataragama has a network of hotels, guest houses as well as free pilgrim rests.

19km inland from Tissamaharama lies the small & remote town of Kataragama. Kataragama is one of most popular & most sacred pilgrimage sites of Sri Lanka

Kataragama Highlights

God Kataragama

Skanda, the Hindu god of war, aka Karthika Kumara, Shuba, Mahasena, Devasena, Kadira, Agnibhuwa, Shanmukha, Kartikama, Murugan & Subramanya. The god is said to have come to the island to fight an enemy of the gods & having defeated the demon Tharaka at Velapura, today's Kalutara, settled down at Kataragama. The Hindu war god in spite of six-faces & 12 arms doesn't look dusky & ferocious at all. If anything, he is fairly & handsome. And he is pleasant to the boot. It is said he is a bit of a Romeo too, a hero to the damsels in distress. Once he got his brother God Ganesh himself to create a distress to the damsel Valli, so that he could emerge at the nick of the time in grand style & save her with great valor & become her one & only hero. But then, to give the devil, sorry, god his due credit, we must hasten to add, the handsome god married both the girls, Walli & Pulli. Since monogamy is nothing but dull monotony (not let her hear!), the god seemed to have opted for bigamy. Polygamy is bound to become a hell of a headache even with a single head, not to mention six heads as of God Kataragama. But then, how would you know of divine endowments & faculties? They say divine ways are behind the means of mortals.

Maha Devale

This is the most important shrine. It contains the lance of the six-faced, 12-armed Hindu war god, Murugan (Skanda), who is seen as identical to the Kataragama Deviyo.

Followers make offerings at daily puja at 4.30am, 10.30am and 6.30pm (no 4.30am offering on Saturday).


Beyond the Maha Devale is a meeting hall on the north side of the square. From the east gate, a Tulip tree avenue leads 500m past further lines of stalls selling lotus flowers to the Kiri Vehera dating from 1 BC.It is a milk white large stupa with a well maintained peaceful courtyard. The temple elephant is often seen shackled to the trees here, being fed a copious diet of palm leaves. Its only unusual feature being the two sets of square walls which enclose it. A modern statue of King Dutugamunu stands behind the dagoba

Sella Kataragama

Situated 5km from Kataragama is the small town of Sella Kataragama. Sella Kataragama is the place where god Kataragama first met his fErnst consort Valli Amma.

A mountain called Vedihitikanda (meaning mountain where the god settled in) situated 5km from the town of Kataragama. Walking up to the top of the mountain is tough yet enjoyable.


Hotel Chamila
Diyakiriththa Chalet  -Yala
Gem River Edge
Kataragama Villa
Mandara Rosen - Kataragama

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Kadupul (Epiphyllum) - queen of the night Flower Blooming

Kadupul (Epiphyllum) - queen of the night Flower Blooming

Kadupul ( කඩුපුල් මල් ) queen of the night Flower Blooming

Kadupul flower is not a flower that you would see everyday. The rareness is due to its time of blossoming and it's unique fragrance. The flower blooms at midnight and dies in the morning.
We got this rare chance of seeing a kadupul flower in our own garden.

" This is the Kadupul - the legendary flower of the Celestial Nagas. It is believed that when these flowers bloom, the Nagas come down from their celestial abodes, to offer them to the Buddha on the Holy Mountain Sri Pada. The strange fragrance, the midnight miracle, and the fact that flowers bloom in the season when people flock to Sri Pada, seem to add authenticity to this belief."