Sinharaja rain forest can be mentioned as an invaluable bio-diversity hotspot and as a tropical ever-green hilly virgin rain forest that is located in south-west lowland wet-eco region in Sri Lanka. This is the biggest and the only virgin rainforest remain in low-country unto now. The dense vegetation spreads over 11187 ha passing the borders of three Districts namely Ratnapura, Galle and Matara. This biosphere reserve is positioned in between north latitude 6º21´-6º27´ and east longitude 80º21´-80º37´. There are four approaches to pass into this treasure trove. They are Ratnapura – Weddagala route, Ratnapura-Rakwana-Sooriyakanda-Ilumbakanda route, Hiniduma – Neluwa route and Deniyaya-Pallegama route. Although it is significant that the treasures of this rainforest belong to Ratnapura District and the main entrance to Sinharaja also opens at Ratnapura. The reserve is only 21 km long, maximally 7 km and minimally 3 km wide. It stretches in a hilly land in between 10º-35º and situated 100-200 m higher from sea-level. A considerable area of this hilly virgin forest belongs to low-country wet-zone that locates less than 1,000 m high from sea-level and the lock of land that belongs to hill-country is located more than 1,000 m high from sea-level. Sinharaja forest stands apart from central mountains. The eco-region is replete with rolling hills that runs parallel with several villages. The highest peak in this treasure trove is Hinipitigala Mountain, which stands 1,171 m high. 2,723 ha were designated as “Sinharaja Mookalana” according to no. 4046 gazette notification in 8th May, 1875. In 1978, Sinharaja forest was denominated as a “Man and Bio-sphere Reserve” and nominated as a heritage site in 1988. Sinharaja forest, which was designated as a world heritage site in 1989, is the first dense vegetation that was honored by this esteem in Sri Lanka. The annual rainfall would count 3,000- Signature of Sri Lanka 191 6,000 mm and the average temperature is about 23-25 Cº. There are 8 peaks that rise higher than 600 m. Sinharaja forest is encircled by 22 villages and the two villages namely Warukandeniya and Kolonthotuwa are located interior this tropical evergreen forest. There are several bruits that unfold the legend of the title “Sinharaja” among villagers around this natural site.


It is said that this forest was named after a lion-King which held the entire imperium of the forested kingdom. Other animals, neighboring villagers and travellers journey through the forest have been molested by this lion-King, which was inhabited in a giant cave in wilderness locally called “Sinhagala”. Hence most of the people hesitated to go into the darkness of greenery or at least to reside nearby. Folklore reveals that a doughty strongly built young man named “Lanka” has killed the lion by tactfully stoning it anticipating solace to the oppressed from this diabolic lion. It is believed that offspring of that giant called “Lanka” live in the villages around Sinharaja forest even today. The terrain that is locally known as “Yodha Galgoda”, which is said to be filled with rocks used to stone the lion to death, can be seen even today in the forest. The report written by Mr. J.A. Willy in 1943 for “Loris” magazine also documents about the legend mentioned above. Another folktale reveals about a forbidden love between a princess of a regional state and the lion-King lived in Sinharaja forest. The reports of a British named C. Jamsgan written in 1873 further documents that Sinhalese nation was descended from offspring of these two forbidden lovers and as the entire forest was a dominion of a lion-King it was named as “Sinharaja”. The route mostly used by the pilgrims from Morawaka and Galu Korale to approach Sri Pada was also laid through this evergreen rain-forest in the days of yore. Sinharaja was considered to be originated in pre-historic era, when flowering plants were born and when our country was bounded with Gondwanaland in 15 billion years ago. Thus, Sinharaja forest can be mentioned as a live natural-science museum that supplies sources for the researches of animal evolution. Out of the 340 woody trees so far identified within the reserve 192 is endemic. 15 families out of them are endemic only within this humid wet evergreen forest. Out of 25 genera endemic to Sri Lanka, 13 represent in Sinharaja. It is home to 21 species out of 45 reptilian species, 10 genera out of 19 amphibious animals, 25 types among 96 genera of bird-flock and 8 out of 12 mammalian species endemic in Sri Lanka. Hence it is significant nature’s green cathedral for both local and international scientists and nature lovers.

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