Nilgala Conservation Forest Area (නිල්ගල වනාන්තරය)

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Sizeapprox. 26,000 hectares
Main attractionFlora and Fauna

Nilgala 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 into the 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 in archaeological monuments, such as prehistoric and historical Buddhist monasteries.

The Nilgala forest comes under both the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Department of Forest Conservation. About 9000 hectares in the Eastern region come under the Wildlife Department. This area is accessible to the 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 km 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 campsite, Paraviyan Ara campsite and the Makara camping site.

There is also a bungalow which comes under Gal Oya National Park located at Lokgaloya. This bungalow has a capacity of 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 in which the Gal Oya river disappeared 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 consists of 4 main peaks Nilgala, Danigala, Yakunnahela, Kahata Aththa Hela and Makadakanda.  The Nilgala peak stands out from the rest with its odd shape.

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

Andagala is another location where ruins of a possible castle have 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 scattered everywhere. Equally prominent are the works of the treasure hunters who have 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 scattered 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

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