From afar, one can clearly make out the silhouette of giant human knuckles against the glow of the sky. Knuckles Mountain Range, a biodiversity hotspot, extends towards the the Kandy and Matale Districts in central Sri Lanka. It is of both historic and environmental importance and as a result earned the classification as a UNESCO World Heritage as part of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka.
Also called Namunukula and the Dumbara Hills, it is believed to have been referred as ‘Giri Divaina’ and as ‘Malaya Rata’ in ancient times. Archaeological evidence notes the range is said to have hosted a Yaksha settlement. The most unique feature of Knuckles is its microcosms of various climatic conditions found in the Island, ranging from extremely wet to near arid. The upper cloud forests are vibrant, with colourful orchids, ferns and mosses.
Also in addition, the Knucles range consists of montane vegetation, tropical sub-montane humid semi-evergreen forests as well as dry sub-montane evergreen rain forests. Along the river banks verdant riverine forests flourish while savannas expand along the hill slopes.
Home to many endangered and endemic species, the Knuckles Conservation Forest is deemed a UNESCO World Heritage partly as 64 per cent of the amphibians and 51 per cent of the reptiles here are endemic to Sri Lanka. The endemic Sri Lankan leopard as well as endemic purple-faced langur are found in this habitat. According to the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, resident and migrant bird species and mammals including elephants, samburs, wild boar, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer and giant squirrel have found a home here.
While there are 160 endemic flowering plants, the Knuckles Forest Range is also the home to one-third of the Island’s flowering species which includes 25 types of orchids.
There are nature trails to explore this protected and fascinating forest range. One can further experience the wonders of Knuckles and rural life from one of 77 villages bordering the range. The most popular being Meemure, a hamlet protected by a ring of mountains, said to have once been a sanctuary for the last Kandyan King. One of the Island’s important natural heritages, the mesmerising Knuckles Conservation Forest is thus protected for its 'Outstanding Universal Value'.