Kaudulla National Park
Situated about 190 km from Colombo, Kaudulla National Park is dominated by the Kaudulla Tank built by the sister of the famous King Mahasena who was the creator of the Minneriya Tank. The folklore of the creation of this tank is very interesting.
After the sister of the king Mahasena married a person disapproved by the king, she was banned from the palace and the newly married couple went off and established a small farming village around Kaudulla. Meanwhile King Mahasena while building and developing the irrigation systems around the country planned a massive tank at Minneriya to support the agriculture of the area. To carry this enormous amount of water, he had to build an extra long dam. To protect this dam from breaking up by the force of the water the king was asked to make a human sacrifice to the demons/gods who protected dam. The king hearing that his sister has given birth to a son, ordered the chief minister to sacrifice this infant on the gods. But the minister sacrificed a goat instead of the baby and informed the king that the sacrification is complete. The king satisfied, built and completed one of the largest man made tanks in that time.
On the day he was to ceremonially open the floodgates, he started regretting his decision to sacrifice his own nephew. The chief minister then informed the king that indeed infant prince is still alive. The king thrilled at the news ordered his ministers to bring his sister to the tank to show his marvelous creation and to share the joy. The sister was then escorted and was shown this gigantic tank by his brother. Then sister laughed and told the king that she too has been busy and requested the king to follow her to show what she has been up to. The princess took her brother to a new tank, which she had built with the villagers, which was even larger than the Minneriya. This tank is what we now know as Kaudulla Tank.
Kaudulla was declared a National park in April 1, 2002 by the Sri Lankan government. This is a unique national park in the sense that the two thirds of the park is under water during several months of the year. In addition to the Kaudulla Tank, which dominates the landscape, Kaudulla National Park includes Relapanawa Tank, Olumadu Wewa, Puliyan Kalla wewa, Mineriya-Kanthale Yoda Ela, Aluth Oya and Hatharas Kotuwa Oya.
The park is also situated on an elephant migratory path (an Elephant corridor) , which makes this park even more interesting. The park sits in between the Somawathi National Park and the Minneriya National Park. The road network of the park is about 16 km, but lack basic visitor facilities. Trackers have to obtain from either Girithale or from Habarana.
Kaudulla Park can be reached from either Habarana - Trinco road or Habarana - Minneriya Road. Best time to see Elephants in park is the early morning and late evening. Herds of elephants become a common site on the dried lakebed during this time of the day. You can hire a safari jeep from Habarana or from Polonnaruwa. They cost around Rs 1500/- per half day and Rs 3000/- for full day. Vans are also allowed in to the park. They can travel on almost all the tracks. Unlike other parks including Minneriya there is no entrance procedure.
There are no bungalows inside the park. You will have stay either in Habarana, Girithale or in Polonnaruwa. Some good star class hotels can be found all these locations
You can also see elephants on the Habarana Road (Road connecting Habarana and Polonnaruwa) itself if you travel along this road after 6.30. Herds of elephants oftten come to the road after dark. They are quite used to vehicles but sometimes get annoyed by the headlights. Once my vehicle was chased for some good meters by a herd probably because we stopped to vehicle (with head lights on) too close to them. Obviously had other things in my mind than taking few photos. I did take few photos another day on this road. This herd had come to the road at about 4.30 pm. They are a little blurred as I took them from inside the vehicle. I have posted them in the photo section of Minneriya National Park.
The park can be reached through Ratnapura and is approximately 190 Km from Colombo. If you are traveling from Colombo You will have to take the Kandy Road and turn off from Ambepussa towards Kurunegala. From Kurunegala take the Dambulla - Habarana Road. From the Habarana junction turn right towards Minneriya go straight towards Trincomalee.
February 13, 2007