Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve (හක්ගල දැඩි ස්වභාවික රක්ෂිතය)

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The purple-faced langur (Semnopithecus vetulus), also known as the purple-faced leaf monkey
The purple-faced langur (Semnopithecus vetulus), also known as the purple-faced leaf monkey
Semnopithèque blanchâtre mâle” by BluesyPeteOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Sizeextent 1,141 hectares
Main attractionFlora

Sri Lanka stands out as one of the smallest yet remarkably diverse countries in Asia in terms of its biological richness. This distinction has earned it recognition as a biodiversity hotspot of significant global importance. Its exceptional biological diversity, surpassing that of many other tropical Asian nations when considering per unit area, is attributed to its diverse topography and tropical climate. The country boasts an extensive array of flora, with over 3350 species of flowering plants and 300 species of pteridophytes documented thus far.

Hakgala, which is adjacent to the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, is the only Srict Nature Reserve (SNR) in the wet zone and was declared in 1938. It occupies the upper montane rainforest. It lies 6 km south-east of Nuwara Eliya, in the Central and Uva Provinces. Its altitude ranges from about 1650 m to 2178 m at the top of Hakgala Peak. It contains three prominent peaks that are among the highest in the country.

In Sinhala Hakgala means a special sea shell that is used as a blow horn by local ceremonial bands. The rock which encompasses the SNR has the shape of this sea shell.

Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve. which belongs to the category of upper montane rainforest. extends upwards from 1500 m. The forests are single-storeyed. The regrowth of young trees is sparse, under a dense canopy. The trees are stunted, about 3-4 III high, which is an adaptation to protect them against strong winds in the region. The tree tops are umbrella shaped with twisted branches. Pigmy forest (within the upper montane rain forest) is found very close to the summit of Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve (Punyalal et al.,1996).

This is the home of the Bear Monkey or Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus Vetulus) and the Blue Magpie (Cissa Oranata) both of which are endemic.

Despite being the only Strict Nature Reserve in Wet Zone out the the SNRs in Sri Lanka, this reserve is being encroached by large-scale industries such as Ambewela Farm ( a 50-acre encroachment) to individuals. A recent survey has found that as much as 25% of the land belonging to the Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve has been encroached.

Legend says that the Hakgala was the royal pleasure garden of the King Rawana of the Ramayana.  Connected to the same legend is Seetha Eliya a nearby village, where Princess Seetha was hidden away by Ravana


  • Punyalal, M. G., & Ranasinghe, D. M. S. H. K. (1996). FLORISTIC DIVERSITY OF WOODY PERENNIALS IN THE HAKGALA STRICT NATURE RESERVE. In Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium.

Also See

Map of  Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve and Other Places of Interest

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

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 Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve

Route from Colombo to Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve Route from Nuwara Eliya to Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve
Through: Awissawella – Ratnapura – Hatton
Distance: 170 km
Travel time: 4.5 hours.
Driving directions: see on Google map
Through: Awissawella – Ratnapura – Hatton
Distance: 170 km
Travel time: 4.5 hours.
Driving directions: see on Google map

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