Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jathika Namal Uyana

The Jathika Namal Uyana is a lush and exotic wonder in our paradise island, located in a small village called Ulpathgama or ‘Village of Springs’, in the Kekirawa District, in the North Central Province.
Namal Uyana is a spectacular man-made forest, with hundreds of acres of Na or Iron Wood trees- the national tree of Sri Lanka. 

The forest also serves as the gateway to a range of seven hills, among which lies, the world famous pink quartz ridge, shimmering and sparking in the sunlight. Its breathtaking beauty is a true site to behold!

The quartz deposit, spread over 105 hectares, is the largest to be found in South Asia, and is estimated to be 550 million-years-old. This quartz belongs to a superior stone category, and according to research, the mineral known as silicon dioxide is the main component of the pink quartz. Another archaeological investigation revealed it to contain, 250 million-year-old plant fossils. 

Namal Uyana has a history filled with legend and romance that dates back to the Mogul period of India. Legend has it, that Emperor Shah Jehan built the 'Taj Mahal', with the pink quarts mined from this unique mountain range. The Taj Mahal was built by the Emperor in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal as a symbol of eternal love and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. 

Namal Uyana is a place where history and nature’s marvels merge in harmony. It was initially built as a sanctuary for Buddhist monks, during King Devanampiyatissa‘s era, in the 8th century A.D., but was later used as an open prison camp, where the punishment meted out to the prisoners, was to plant Na trees, from which the forest derives its name.

There is archaeological evidence to prove, that the forest was also a meditation center for Buddhist monks. There are remains of a small ancient chaitya, the ruins of an ancient viharaya, huge stone pillars, a square Buddha statue, a moonstone and the imprint of the sacred foot-print. 

Another unique feature to be found here is an ancient water receptacle, into which pure water has been flowing down from the quartz  mountains for over a thousand years. The overflow from the receptacle diverts into three different directions within the forest and to the paddy fields in the adjoining villages.

Rich in biodiversity, Namal Uyana is home to over 72 different varieties of medicinal plants, 18 species of birds- making it a Birders paradise, and even one of the 14 rare species of lizards, have been found within this forest. Declared an archaeological reserve in 2001, Namal Uyana is undoubtedly a valuable site, not only for archaeological, botanical and biological research, but also for the curious tourist like you and I.
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