17 October 2009
This magnificent nature trail is situated in the Knuckles Range. Maningala is a flat, long, rocky outcrop somewhat shaped like a reclining elephant. It is situated just behind Etanwela village and the ledge spread North East towards Illukkumbura. Usually you can see this mountain clearly on your right hand side while you descend towards Illukkumbura passing Riverston along Pallegama Road.
You can either start the hike from Illukkumbura or you may do the reverse from Etanwela. The actual path is starting from the Forestry Department Office of Illukkukmbura, but Etanwela path is easier to climb. The reason is Etanwela situated about 500 feet above Illukkumbura. The entire trail is about 6km long and the total climb is less than 1500 feet.
A traveler has to turn from the Pallegama Road and travel towards Rathninda village. Then you have to start walking at the boundary of Rathninda and Etanwela village. First you have to cross the beautiful Thelgamu Oya over a foot bridge and then enter Etanwela village.
The trail is not a difficult one. Although the rocky outcrop looks absolutely sheer and imposing, the trail takes you via a less steep path. In fact this is the foot path used by the villagers to reach Illukkumbura area. There are not many steep hills and the path is quite clear with no under growth and also there are arrows marked at all uncertain places. But you may need to ask the path from the villagers during the first stage as there are many similar paths leading to a few other places. (E.g. Meemure, Kalupahana, Rambukoluwa, Walpolamulla etc.)
At the top of Maningala you will see one of the most spectacular sights of Sri Lanka. There is a flat surface before the summit point (the head of the elephant) and it is at least about the size of a football ground. From there you can see most of the prominent places in the Knuckles Range like Thunhisgala or Kalupahana, Pitawalapathana, Karagahathenna, Riverston, Gammaduwa etc. The top of Maningala is quite windy. The descend towards Illukkumbura is equally pleasant as you can see the vast land up to Batticaloa, Trincomalee and even the North Western area. When you descend further down you will see the beautiful Illukkumbura village.
To learn more about this nature trail, you can visit this wonderful site, Lakdasun.
The above photo was taken from Etanwela village. You can view photos taken from top of Maningala in my next two posts, here and here.