07 April 2010
Yala National Park
Yala is a small area in the south east coast of Sri Lanka . The name ‘Yala’ is well-known as Sri Lanka’s most famous and the second largest national park (Ruhunu National Park) is given the same name. In fact Yala is a part of the park itself.
Yala is situated about 300 km from Colombo . The park is about 1000 square kilometers and it spreads in three districts (Hambanthota, Monaragala and Ampara) belong to three provinces.
The southern part is known as Block 1 and it is the more popular section. The entry point to this section is situated at Palatupana. Nimalawa sanctuary is situated adjacent to this entry point. Western and Northern Parts, belong to Uva Province, are comprised of Yala Blocks 3, 4 and 5. Kataragama and Katagamuwa sanctuaries are situated in the west, adjacent to the park. The eastern part of Yala, belongs to Eastern Province is now known as Kumana National Park. This was recently opened to the public after many years of isolation due to security reasons.
Yala is more famous for its fauna than flora. Elephant, leopard and bear sightings are regarded as prized ones while deer, crocodiles, wild boar and wild buffalos are quite common sights. It is also a paradise for birders.
Yala is situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The jungle is mostly made of dry monsoon forests, thorny forests and grasslands. Among the larger varieties, Palu trees are quite common. This area gets water from two main rivers (Kumbukkan Oya and Menik Ganga), but those also run dry during dry seasons. A few tanks in the park keep all the animals alive during dry periods. One prominent tank is Butawa Wewa, which is known as the last water resource that remains even during heavy draughts.
Yala is famous for its historical significance as well. Quite a few ancient ruins are scattered in these areas and some are yet to be discovered. There are a few prominent temples situated within this park. Sithul Pahuwa is the most famous temple which is situated on top of a rocky outcrop. There are a few more rocky outcrops in the park and some of the more prominent ones are Akasa Chethiya (Elephant Rock), Jamburagala and Pimburagala.
The Indian Ocean is the southern boundary of Yala and it has some of the most beautiful and unique beaches in Sri Lanka like, Patanangala, Kumana and Minihagalkanda.
Yala is one of the must-go-places in Sri Lanka and I shall bring more about this place soon.
This post was selected for Kottu Section of week end news paper, The Sunday Leader.