For the British it inspired the term ‘Knuckles', for it depicted a clenched fist from many view points, but legend goes back to thousands of years, even before the time of King Dutugamunu (161-137 BC). Folklore has many mythical stories as to how this area inherited its original name ‘Dumbara'. Only some have written evidence, the most famous being from the word ‘Gam-wara-dun', that means ‘the area being offered with reverence' later to ‘Dung-wara' and to ‘Dumbara'. There is evidence that the area long ago was also known as ‘Minibe' then changed to ‘Minipe', and finally to what is now known as Dumbara. Whatever the basis of its name, these unique mountains are among places that a traveller must not miss. It's misty cloaked mountains,
lush vegetation due to its varied weather and geographical conditions and above all the extremely remote villages inhabited by people whose smiles are filled with warmth will never be forgotten.
It was only during the British colonial period that this area was called Knuckles, for its obvious landscape feature of five tall mountain peaks, Kirigalpoththa (1642 m), Gombaniya (1900 m), Knuckles
(1852 m), Koboneelagala (1544 m)
and Dotulugala, together forming
‘a clenched fist' from many directions. Situated in the Central Highlands, the Dumbara Mountains of the Kandy and Matale Disctricts, straddles across an area of close to 21,000 ha. One would be amazed at the number of peaks that rise above 900 m.
This Region Earned The Name Knuckles,
For Its Obvious Landscape Feature Of Five
Tall Mountain Peaks.
A count can go up to about 35. Such a large number is unique to Dumbara alone, and can be seen nowhere else in the Island. Just a five to six hour drive from the main city of Colombo, and you will encounter a mesmerising panorama, gushing cool winds, rivers and valleys of breathtaking landscapes.
Dumbara forest region is an important watershed with several streams passing through it and is home to a large number of waterfalls of which Ratna Ella Waterfall, off Hasalaka and the Huluganga Waterfall are ideal for those waterfall freaks. There is no better location than Corbet's Gap to watch the dawning sun generously pour its rays on earth amidst the thick mist and to catch the best panoramic view of the entire landscape. Riverstone, Pitawalapathana to Illukumbura is perhaps the most famous route that many visitors take, where you will find the changing vegetation from upper montane forests to wet patana grasslands to lower montane forests, passing several streams with gushing cool waters.
Dumbara Forest Region Is An Important Watershed And Is Home To A Large Number Of Waterfalls.
Theligamu-oya is an ideal location to take a safe dip in the pristine waters that bubble its way through the mountains. A trek to the ‘Mini World's End' at Pitawalapathana looking over a steep cliff will give you the feeling of being on top of the world, an experience you would not want to miss. For an exciting trek through the jungle, the Nitre Cave or the wedi lunu guhawa in Sinhala, off Kumbukgolla village is another interesting site. The cave is a result of hundreds of years of excavation for naturally occurring potassium nitrate.
The famous Hunnas waterfall is situated in Hunnasgiriya which is located towards the western part of the massif, which harbours a rich biodiversity and scenic beauty.
The high altitudes 1,300m above sea level, are cloaked with typical montane forests, also called ‘mist forests', for its foggy conditions.
It is home to trees, which reach no more than eight metres in height, bearded with mosses, lichens, and a myriad varieties of ferns and orchids most of which are found only here. Trekking to the tops of these mountains you can discover an altogether miniature world with trees no more than 1.5 feet tall, where thousands of years of Nature's nurture has resulted in but miniature forests called 'Pygmy forests'. The tops of these trees have twisted and twirled from the harsh winds to form an uncanny collection of figurines of nature. Specially during rainy seasons the fog persists throughout the day and the visibility reduces greatly making it very unsafe for travelling.
Most of the creatures that dwell in these forests are iconic. The recently discovered Knuckles Pigmy Lizard, scientifically known as Cophotis dumbara, just reaching a maximum length of five inches can only be found on branches with lichens perfectly blending in to the surroundings. Almost all the endemic birds, large mammals such as elephants and leopards are also found here. At night the croaks of the Keerthisinghe's rock frog (Nannophrys marmorata) another species found only here hiding in rock crevices, and the millions of different varieties of colourful moths all flocking into the glowing bulbs at night, are truly mesmerising. Aquatic life too shows great diversity here with four species of fish only found in the streams of Dumbara.
Nowhere Will You Find The Bond Between Man And Nature This Strong.
The history, culture, and wildlife of Dumbara has been conserved for thousands of years simply as these villages have been remote, and highly inaccessible for a very long period of time. Meemure is perhaps the most famous traditional village from close to about 80 surrounding villages, while the smallest village in the island, Walpolamulla is also found here. Rice cultivation along with chena cultivation, can be found here while traditional home gardens include medicinal plants, spices, vegetables, and fruit trees, which are essential for their day to day lifestyle can be seen in almost every home. Nowhere will you find the bond between man and nature this strong. The remoteness has in turn preserved its culture for thousands of years. The hospitality of these villagers, their simple thatched homes and undemanding lifestyles, give Dumbara a distinct aura of charm and relaxed timelessness.
The Newly Described World Heritage Site Knuckles (Dumbara), Is The Home For Many Point Endemic Species Of Fauna And Flora (24 Species) Discovered So Far [Amphibians: Kirtisinghe’s Rock Frog, Knuckles Shrub Frog, Hoffman’s Shrub Frog, Bigfoot Shrub Frog, Moore’s Shrub Frog, Steiner’s Shrub Frog, Stuart’s Shrub Frog; Fish: Garra Phillipsii, Laubuca Insularis, Puntius Srilankensis; Reptiles: Lizard: Leafnose Lizard, Knuckles Pygmy Lizard; Geckos: Gammaduwa Day Gecko, Dotted Day Gecko, Phillip’s Day Gecko, Knuckles Forest Gecko; Skink: Fourtoe Snakeskink; Snake: Phillips’s Shield Tail; Flora: Keena, Damba Sp. (Syzygium Congylos, Syzygium Madugodensis), Eugenia Apica, Ilex Knucalensis, Brachystelma Lankana), And Many More Species That Remain To Be Discovered.