Nilgala Conservation Forest Area – නිල්ගල වනාන්තරය

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Nilgala and Bulupitiya hela over the paddy fields at Nilgala Forest

Nilgala and Bulupitiya hela over the paddy fields at Nilgala Forest
Image courtesy of Dr. Ashan Geeganage

Sizeapprox. 26,000 hectares
Main attractionFlora and Fauna

Nilagala Forest lies bordering Gal Oya National Park and covers a catchment area of Senanayake Samudraya. Gal Oya which is one of the main water sources of Senanayake Samudraya falls to reservoir from the Nilgala.

‘Nilgala’ literally means ‘blue rock’. According to Gunatilleke & Gunatilleke (1990) the major vegetation type is lowland tropical dry mixed evergreen forest. The general climatic conditions in the Nilgala area can be described as moderately cool, turning humid during the northeast monsoon season.

Nilgala forest is also important as a major watershed for Gal Oya and Panmedilla Oya throughout the year. There are several peaks within the Nilgala forest area with “Yakun Hela” being the highest (700 m).

Nilgala forest is also rich of archaeological monuments, such as prehistoric and historical Buddhist monasteries.

The Nilgala forest comes under both Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Department of Forest Conservation. About 9000 hectares in the Eastern region comes under the Wildlife Department. This area is accessible  to general public. About 13,000 hectares of the forest belong to the Forest Department and no road network or facilities exists to enter this area. The total area of the Nilagala Forest including the surrounding savanna grasslands is around 26,000 hectares.

The access to the Nilagala Forest is between Bibile – Inginiyagala Road. The turn off is at Bulupitiya which is 42 kms from Inginiyagala and 21 km from Bibile town.

The forest office maintains 4 camping sites. Seenukgala Camping Site which is close to the forest office, Mahadorowwa camp site and Paraviyan Ara camp site and the Makara camping site.

There is also bungalow which comes under Gal Oya National Park located at Lokgaloya. This bunglow has a capacity for 10.

Nilgala has 3 jeep tracks. One from Nilgala to Makara, another to Pothuliyadda through Mullegama, Thumbarenuwa and Kebellabokka and the third to Mahawela through Dimbuldena and Kotabowa.

The place which the Gal Oya river disappear the Senanayake Samudraya is called Makara. That name has its origin in the fact that there is a natural tunnel located at this place. Legend has it that the original name was “Makara Kata” or Dragon’s Mouth, coined because the water goes through the tunnel. The Makara Kata had become simply Makara with time.

There is no Makara Kata to be seen now, since the sand where the Kakara Kata was located  has all been washed away around five years ago. Now all you can see are huge rocks, between 20 and 50 feet tall and the place where the Makara Kata used to be. Makara is also accessible by boat starting from the Senanayake Samudraya dam.

the major vegetation type of the Nigala Forest is lowland tropical dry mixed evergreen forest. Commonly found trees include Aralu (Terminalia chebula), Bulu (Terminalia bellirica) and Nelli (Phyllanthus emblica). Other
trees such as Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna), Kon (Schleichera oleosa) and Kaluwara (Diospyros ebenum) are also present. Savana grassland areas consist of Kudumberiya, Kukurumana, Pangirimana, Mana, Iluk and similar.

The forest consists of its share of larger animals from elephants to dear to Buffaloes, the park is more popular with bird watchers.

This forest consist of 4 main peaks Nilgala, Danigala, Yakunnahela, Kahata Aththa Hela and Makadakanda.  The Nilgala peak stands out of the rest with its odd shape.

No study has been done on the archaeological value of the Nilgala Forest so far. Some of the know remains consist of a part of a ancient structure which stumps of  about 25 stone pillars and the Mukkaru Sohona which can be seen on the Makara Route.

Andagala is another location where ruins of a possible castle  has been located. A bed carved from a rock gives its name and you can see works with massive granite blocks including part of a protective wall is scattered every where. Equally prominent are the works of the treasure hunters who has had a free ride among these ruins.

The ruins of a ancient cave temple at Kahata Aththa Hela known as Kahata Aththa Hela Purana Gal Ge is another archaeological site in the forest. Around this lena you will see more ruins scatted around.

At Andayampola remains of a possible ancient fortress can be also seen. Unfortunately no formal archaeological  study has been carried out on these sites other than by treasure hunters.

Also See

Map of  Nilgala Conservation Forest Area

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites.

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.


Travel Directions to Nilgala Conservation Forest Area

Route from Inginiyagala to Nilgala Conservation Forest Area

Through : Inginiyagala Road
Distance : 51 km
Travel time : 1  hours.
Driving directions : see on google map

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