Hiniduma, ‘the village with light mist’ is a scenic hamlet at least 50 kilometres from the township of Galle in the southern province and is nothing like the sun-soaked beaches and tourist hub of the southern shoreline. The name is derived from the picturesque Hiniduma Mountain, which is the site of one of Sri Lanka’s most visited Christian shrines. The Calvary Shrine in Hiniduma comes alive during the season of Lent, where thousands of pilgrims trek the rugged path to the summit of the mountain emulating the Way of the Cross. Steeped in history, the site apart from being a Christian shrine is a wonderful experience for eager hikers, who can mingle with hordes of pilgrims in an arduous upward march.
From an altitude of over 500 metres, the view of the surrounding mountains and the church across the river resembles a beautiful countryside, a diminutive white structure soaring immaculately amidst the vastness of the surrounding greenery. In keeping to its name, the mountainous backdrop of 360º is constantly obliterated from view by a thin layer of smoke, which at one moment conceals the beauty and in the next reveals the mighty wand of the creator.
The most famous mountain range in Kandy is Hantane with seven mountains adding to an exciting adventure of hiking across a terrain rich in biodiversity. Located at a maximum height of 3800ft, the highest peak is Uuru Kanda, trekking of which is a thrilling encounter of wild flowers and hordes of butterflies, not to mention the endless scenic surrounding embracing the mountaineer from all directions.
The final and most treacherous peak is the Katusukonda Mountain, which is, definitely a treat for the hiker ready to dare the odds to experience the pleasure of achieving the insurmountable. The summit is swept with gusty winds and chilly weather, a feature to be expected throughout the year.
Piduruthalagala is Sri Lanka’s highest mountain and forest reserve. It is an impressive mountain that presents splendid views over the surrounding landscape. Scaling the magnificently positioned plateau at 6,240 feet above sea level in the heart of the country in the Central Province, will be a display of grit and prowess of tenacious mountain climbers during a trip to Nuwara Eliya.
Piduruthalagala literally means ‘straw laden rock’. Unlike most mountain peaks in the world that have rocky surfaces, Piduruthalagala has a flattened mountain peak with pale green grassland covering the surface. Be assured that the journey to the peak of Sri Lanka’s highest mountain will be a difficult and action-packed undertaking. However, for those who overcome that difficulty and reach the summit will be rewarded with the view on offer from the peak of Piduruthalagala, which is more than just breathtaking.
Both the forest and the ocean around Rumassala are rich in biodiversity. The walk is steep, but it is a rewarding excursion. The forest is home to many species of birds, reptiles and mammals including several endemic species, as well as rare medicinal plants. Rumassala hill and the surrounding area are steeped in legend. Hanuman, the monkey warrior-god in the Ramayana had required several medicinal herbs to treat the wounded in his army during the battle against Ravana of Sri Lanka.
Unable to find the herbs on the Island, Hanuman returned to India and brought back a piece of the Himalayas with the required plants but accidently dropped it at Rumassala. Villagers attribute this as the source of many rare medicinal plants found in the area to this day. The top of Rumassala hill offers the best coastal view along the southern belt of Sri Lanka.
Driving through the Pattipola entrance of Horton Plains, the Thotupola Kanda nature trail leads to, what is believed to be Sri Lanka’s third highest peak at 2,360 metres above sea level. The small, narrow path belies the adventure awaiting any avid nature traveller.
The two kilometre climb to the top takes less than an hour for any energized hiker. It is a feeling of euphoric splendour at the summit, lost in nature’s abundance while sitting on grassland amidst the clouds, with a view of many mountain peaks at eye level or lower, except Adam Peak’s, tall and majestic from a distance.
Thotupola Kanda, which means landing site or port, is believed to be the legendary landing site of the flight of Ravana, Hanuman and Sita. Taking the mythical plane, Ravana flew to India, kidnapped Sita and escaped to
Sri Lanka, with the aircraft first landing on the peak of Thotupola Kanda.The best times to visit are February to April while July to September is also fairly dry.