Horagolla National Park – හොරගොල්ල ජාතික වනෝද්යානය
|Main attraction||Flora and Fauna|
The latest National Park in the country, “Horagolla” is the smallest under the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The preilimenary works were completed for openning the Horagolla National Park officially to the public.This 13.362-hectare National Park is located in the Nambadaluwa village in Udagampattuwa of the Siyane Korale in the Gampaha District.In the seventies’ decade the land belonged to the state, but on October 05, 1973 it was declared as a sanctuary considering the rich bio diversity prevalent in the area under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. Under the same Ordinance, this natural sanctuary was later upgraded as the Horagolla National Park on July 28, 2004.
Horalgolla National Park is a low country evergreen forest with a humus soil structure and has a hot temperature throughout the year. Growing in abundance in this National Park are a variety of tree species locally known as Hora, Kekuna, Godapara, Diyapara, Kithul Cane, Nandun, Etamba, Bo, Ruk, Ankenda, Milla, Munamal, Del and Velang. A wide variety of Puswel are also found in large numbers. A variety of plant species and grass are found covering the landscape throughout the park. The diverse flora in the park provide the food for birds, animals and reptiles in this habitat where ample water resources are also available.
A large variety of Fauna generally found in evergreen forest are also found which include the Fishing Cat, Mouse Deer, Fox, Giant Squirrel etc. and bird life include species such as Parakeets, Black Headed Bulbuls, Barbets, Asian Koels etc. A large number of reptiles species found in the park including different species Pythons and Cobras.
The Horagolla National Park could be reach by traveling 35km on the Colombo Kandy road. Turning in at Nittambuwa and travelling one kilometers towards Veyangoda is the Pinnagolla junction. The Park office is found 6 kilometers from this junction.
Map of Horagolla National Park
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.
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Travel Directions to Horagolla National Park
Route from Colombo to Horagolla National Park
|Through : Kadawatha – Yakkala|
Distance : 42 km
Travel time : 1.5 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Secrets of Horagolla National Park
Horagolla is a well known place in Sri Lanka due to it being the ancestral home of the famous Bandaranaike family, which produced three Sri Lankan Prime Ministers. The Horagolla Estate was once a vast extent of land which in 1973 former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike donated 33 acres under the land Acquisition Act to the State.
The rich Bio-diversity of the donated land led to the Wildlife Department to converting it into a sanctuary which on July 28, 2004 was named as the Horagolla National Park.
The area is called Horagolla due to the abundance of Hora trees found in the vicinity. If you travel about one kilometre from Nittambuwa to Veyangoda, you will arrive at the Pinnagolla junction. About 600 m on the left turn at the junction is the entrance to the park. This is the smallest National park in Sri Lanka. It is situated about 40 km from Colombo.
A magnificent lake by the entrance unfolds before your eyes. Its spectacular scenery, such as the green forest cover and pristine water area treat for the eyes. The temperature at Horagolla which belongs to the low-country wet zone, ranges between 27 to 29 C and the South West monsoon brings the rain. The roads inside the park are attractively paved with stones and numbered with arrows to enable visitors to find their way with ease. The full length of this path runs through the forest about one and a half kilometers.
The tall trees are well covered overhead with their thick spread of leaves providing a canopy and the desired effect of darkness in the forest. At every cross road in the interior, stone benches provide seating accommodation for tired visitors.
The mammals include the Fishing cat, Sri Lankan Spotted Chevrotain, Golden Jackal and Grizzled giant squirrel which have been recognized as perment residents in the Horagolla National Park. Visitors are advised to keep to the path in this revere. Silence and patience is a must. Otherwise you will not be able to see the animals.
Horagolla National Park is very rich with flora and fauna which include Hora (Dipterocavpus zeylanicus), Kekuna (Canrium zeylanicus), Godapara (Dillenia rrtusa), Kithul (Caryota urens), Nedun (Pericopsis mooniana), Atamba (Mangifera zeylanica), Ruk Attana, Ankenda, Milla (Vitex pinnata) and moonamal. Invasive species such as Indian del are also common.
A giant Puss Wela (Liana rheedii) which is more than 250 years old also can be seen. Among the vine creepers are Korasawel, Garadia wel, Suduwel and Bambara wel found in this park. Also Wenivel, which is in the herbal category and Watessa plant that covers most of the wet ground.
About 64 bird species are found in the Horagolla National Park. The most common of them are the Parakeet, Black-crested bul bul, Barbet asian koel and Asian brown flycatcher.
The Sri Lankan grey Hornbill, Sri Lankan Hanging parrot and Layard’s parakeet can also be spotted. The park also records various kinds of butterflies such as Ceylon bird wing, Blue mormon, rare clipper.
As in most sanctuaries, Horagolla is a haven for reptiles. Russell’s viper, Green wipe snake, Pythons, Cobra, Cat snake and Kangaroo Lizard (pinum kattussa same name) are also found at Horagolla National park.
Adjoining the Horagolla wewa is a beautiful summer hut built for visitors to rest at the end of their walk through the forest. In the same location is an Animal museum and centre which treats injured animals. At breeding centre is a pair of Stunted Deer (Olu Muwa).
This National park at Horagolla is a place where people can enjoy the beauty of nature. It is indeed a place of value for students of the flora and fauna. No special permission is required for an ordinary visit other than for research of scientific experiment.
The Horagolla National Park is truly worth a visit by both young and old and is certain to etch in-erasable memories.
Special thanks to wildlife officers Sumith and Indika for the guidance through the sanctuary.
Secrets of Horagolla National Park
At 40 km from Colombo, this is the shortest of bike hikes (Negombo was shorter, but it does seem longer now because of the lagoon and meandering roads). Destination – the Horagolla National Park, barely a kilometer away from Nittambuwa junction along Colombo-Kandy road.
A national park at Nittambuwa? I had never heard of it until I read about it in a magazine dedicated to nature and travel, and decided to take a look.
Taking a walk would be a more accurate way of describing the visit, for the park is 40 hectares in extent (the smallest of Sri Lanka’s national parks). I finished my walk in one hour (done at a hurried pace at the request of the staff, as they were busy with an alms-giving that morning).
As a National Park, this pleasant wooded retreat is managed by the Department of Wild Life Conservation. To enjoy it, you have to get the traditional image of a national park out of your mind. It’s not at all Yala or Uda Walawe. It’s a place of trees rather than animals.
The place is known to shelter a few small animal species. Apart from a few aquatic birds, the only animal worth mentioning that I saw was a monkey. But the park is delightfully wooded, so much so that the sky is barely visible, and a walk through it is very refreshing.
Getting there is easy. Approaching from Colombo, turn left at Nittambuwa town and continue towards Gampaha, and you will find the signboard, again on the left. Continue along a paved country road (paved strictly in the rustic sense) and you will find a path leading to the park, which is separated from the road by a stream (the path is wide enough for a motorcycle, but a car will have to be left by the side of the road, from where you can see the entrance to the park).
Both the park and its surroundings are very pleasant. Formerly the property of the Bandaranaike family, it became state property in the 1960s and was later turned into a national park. Walking is very easy as the paths are paved with concrete. You can’t get lost because you will eventually connect to the path which borders the lake, leading up to the gate.
Visitors must be accompanied by a department guide. But I managed to avoid this exigency due to the alms-giving and due to my request as a journalist who preferred to see things for himself. The place was blessedly free of people. Overcrowding (by noisy human visitors, not other species) is the biggest problem faced by the traveler to scenic places in Sri Lanka today.
I wondered if the service charge levied at the entrance (in addition to the ticket fee) is the reason for this. The service charge is the same whether the number of visitors is two or ten. If this is the reason for the absence of necking couples at Horagolla, it’s a blessing in disguise (once, I was nearly assaulted by a highly aroused young man while walking in the Gampaha Botanical Gardens with my wife and children. I was looking intently at a tree and he thought I was looking at him and his girl friend).
The overcast sky cleared and the sun shone, beaming its rays sporadically through the thick canopy, just in time to light up a cobweb stretching across my path. I found similar cobwebs at several places.
Huge termite mounds are another feature. I saw one, built parasitically on a fallen tree, which was easily two meters square. Tiny, noisy insects abound, giving an over-ripe tropical feel to the place. Swarms of buzzing mosquitoes discourage lingering in one place (could be another reason for the absence of necking couples).
Some of the trees are identified with small signboards, giving the common Sinhala name and the scientific name. Sapindus fritoliata (kahapenella), Alstonia senolaris (rukaththana)and Artocarpus nobilis (bendi del) are amongst these. There are some very interesting parasite and ephphyte plants, including species of convoluted lianas.
There is a summer house overlooking the canal where visitors can relax. The water was weed-grown but did not look stagnant. The presence of aquatic birds indicated plenty of aquatic life forms. The biggest advantage of this national park (or large garden) is its accessibility. It’s a place for flora rather than fauna, and ideal for those who enjoy nature and solitude because of its short distance from Colombo.