Lahugala Kitulana National Park
The Lahugala Park was initially declared a sanctuary on 1 st July 1966 and then upgraded to a national park on 1 st October 1980. Although this is one of the smallest national parks in the country, this is a popular location for elephant enthusiasts and bird watchers.
There are 3 tanks within the park. They are, Lahugala (243ha), Kitulana and Sengamuwa. The water from these tanks flow in to the Heda Oya. These tanks are largely silted up and support an abundance of Beru grass, which is a delicacy for elephants. These lakes also support a large variety of birds, local as well as migratory.
Being in the dry zone, the land is generally flat with occasional boulder formations. In addition to the elephants, the park is home to the endemic toque macaque, common languor, sloth bear, jackal, rusty spotted cat, fishing cat, leopard, wild bear, Indian muntjac, spotted deer, sambar, pangolin and black naped hare. The tanks and the surround area has become nestling places for wetland birds like pelican, purple heron, painted stork, lesser adjutant stork, white bellied sea eagle, grey headed fishing eagle, common kingfisher, stork billed kingfisher and white breasted kingfisher. Endemic comb duck, rare red-faced malkoha and Sri Lankan Spur fowl too can be seen the park.
There is no accommodation in the park it self, but Pothuvil and Monaragala can be used as the base when visiting the park.
On the nor then edge of the park is the Magula Maha Viharaya, an ancient temple built by king Devanmpiyathissa in the second century BC. This is said to be the location the king married princess Vihara Maha Devi. The foundations of the “Magul maduwa” where the wedding ceremony took place can still be seen in the vihara premises. The entire Vihara complex had covered an extent of around 10,000 acres where ruins of a palace, moonstone, monastery, bo-maluwa, stupas, ponds etc. are found scattered all over. The moonstone here is said to be unique in the country as this is the only location where elephants are carved with their mahouts in the moonstone.
Lahugala National park lies in the basin of the Heda Oya, 16km inland from the coastal town of Pottuvil in the Monaragala District. The Pottuvil-Monaragala trunk road runs through the south-eastern sector of the park. It is 2 km off the main Monaragala – Pottuvil road some 5 km from Pottuvil.
February 13, 2007