Welcome to the Knuckles Nature Centre - Sri Lanka

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The Knuckles Range ( Dumbara Hills )

The Knuckles Mountain Range covers parts of Kandy and Matale districts and is separated from the Central Hills by the Mahaveli Valley to the South and East and the Matale Valley to the West. Its name derived from its shape of a clenched fist, which forms a scenic wonderland. What makes the Knuckles Forest/Mountain Range unique is the geographical character of its location. Perpendicular to the mountain range that runs from Laggala to Urugala runs three distinct but lesser ranges while there are other minor ranges running parallel to it. There are a total of 34 clearly identified such ranges with in the 62 square miles that makes up 3000-6500feet in height.


Knuckles Mountain Range is important due to the historical value it carries and therefore it can be categorized as one of the valuable heritages in Sri Lanka. The story of Knuckles (Dumbara Hill) goes back into prehistoric periods. It is said that in ancient times it was referred to as ‘Giri Divaina’ and as ‘Malaya Rata’ and there is archaeological evidence that speaks of ancient Yaksha settlement in the area. People believe that the name ‘Lanka’ is derived which much folklore has gathered over the centuries. The Knuckles Mountain Range is an invariable referent in any salutary appreciation of the last kingdom of the Sinhala Kanda Udarata.


The importance of the Knuckles Mountain Range is obtained from several factors. It has a parasitical quality to it because of the mountain peaks, the crystal clear and perennial waterways, cloud forests and exquisite fauna and flora. Pregnant with history running into several millennia and a veritable treasure house of cultural heritage, the Knuckles Mountain Range can be considered a as a mirror to the past.



A remarkable feature of this area is that most of the climatic conditions of Sri Lanka can be found with in the extent of a mountain range. All these hanging climatic conditions can be experienced within half and hour walk through this valley. The location of the hills, the particular effect of the monsoons and the wind factor generate a certain climatic diversity to the area. In fact in these hills one can find characteristics of all the key ecological zones found in the country.

Average annual rainfall lies between 3000-5000ml, and temperature of the region ranges between 5.5 degrees and 35 degrees Celsius. It is through a gap in the mountain that the winds of Southwest Monsoon enter to the Dry Zone. The average wind speed has been measured to be approximately 7.2km/hour and humidity in the range lies between 57%-90%.


Water Resources

Since the main risen in opposition to both the Southwest and Northwest Monsoons, the area enjoys bountiful rainfalls. For this and other reasons, the Knuckles Mountain Range is counted among the richer of the upper watersheds in the country. In fact from these hills flow the richer of the tributaries to the Mahaweli River.

There are three main rivers called the Hulu Ganga, the Heen Ganga and the Kalu Ganga, which begin from Knuckles Mountain Range. And there are a number of breathtaking waterfalls and small rivers, which can be found in this area. Even to day as was in the ancient days water from Knuckles Mountain Range feeds the ancient irrigation works such as Parakrama Samudraya


Mountains / Peaks

Nowhere else in Sri Lanka, in area of comparable size, does one find such a collection of magnificent peaks. The peaks over 3000 feet are listed below.



 Over 6000Ft




Gombaniya 6248 1906  
Knuckles 6112 1864  


 5000 - 6000Ft




Kirigalpotta 5403 1648 The milky rock
Aliyawetunaela 5400 1647 The place where the elephant fell
Dumbanagala 5389 1644 The rock of flowing mist
Kalupahana 5300 1617 The black rock
Selvakanda 5300 1617  
Yakungegala 5200 1586 The devils' rock
Dotulugala 5164 1575 Dotulu (Loxococcus p.)palmrock
Wamarapugala 5110 1559  
Kobonilagala 5098 1555 Kobonila tree rock
Kehelpothdoruwegala 5016 1530 Rock shaped like a plantain sheath gutter
Rilagala 5000 1525 Monkey rock


 4000 - 5000Ft




Pathanagala 4970 1516  
Nawangala 4877 1487  
Ratmetiya 4832 1474 Red clay rock


 3000 - 4000Ft




Maratuwegala 3900 1190  
Ketaptalagala 3900 1190  
Velangala 3871 1180  
Dumbanagala 3784 1154  
Balalgiriya 3765 1148 Auspicious rock
Galtuna 3700 1129 The three rocks
Lahumanagala 3654 1114  
Rambukkoluwa 3604 1101  
Kinhirigala 3500 1068 Anvil-shaped rock
Lunumadalla 3475 1060 Lunumadalla tree
Vellangolapatana 3367 1026  
Lahumanapatana 3273 998  
Kehelpotamana 3245 990  
Vellangala 3071 936  


Native Communtity

The villagers together with about more than 2500 years old indigenous community of Knuckles Mountain Range form a unique bio–cultural landscape. Meemure, Kaikawala, and Galamuduna are few villages out of 37, which can be found in this area. Indigenous community in this area has always interacted with and depended upon the Knuckles Frosts and this association goes as for back as prehistoric times. The day-to-day lifestyle of this community are very simple and their main income generating sources are farming, cultivation of Paddy, and Hena, and Cardamom. These villagers relay on cattle for transporting good between villages and sub-urban areas and this is referred as Pack Ox (Thawalam). The traditional villagers in this area maintain the rich cultural diversity associated with unique natural landscape of Knuckles.

The cultural heritage which has been passed down through generations have been well preserves in these remote villages and being isolated from the rest of the world is one of the main reasons for this.


Educational Value

The Knuckles Mountain Range is an ideal natural laboratory for the study of biodiversity, ecological zones, natural processes, botany and biology. Also it plays a key role in the study/research areas such as history, archeology, indigenous community and their traditions.



Cultivation of cardamom under the forest canopy has become one of the major contributors for the degradation of forest habitats in Knuckles Mountain Range. This involves clearing of the shrubs and undergrowth canopy trees.
Further Cardamom cultivation is done over 3500 feet elevation in the strict forest reserve, which covers about 2721 hectares. This cultivation has resulted in 21% heavily degraded sites and 11% open canopy. 88 Barns are found with in the Knuckles Range, which are used to dry the Cardamom seeds before they have been send to the market. The fuel wood for these barns are taken from illegal felling of trees which is another contributory factor for degradation of knuckles vegetation. According to a survey conducted by Socio Environment Foundation about 5000-6000 hectares in Knuckles Forests have been damaged as a result of Cardamom cultivation and barns used to dry the cardamom seeds.

Over grazing which is occurred by large herds of domestic/feral cattle and buffalo. This can clearly be seen in Pitawala patana plains in Knuckles range.

Over use of agricultural chemicals by farmers for paddy cultivation also a one of the major threats, which can be seen. An interview conducted with farmers showed that the over usage of these chemicals occurs due to lack of awareness.

Further those who visit Knuckles Mountain Range tend to litter the non-biodegradable materials such as glass bottles, plastic, and polythene into the environment carelessly.

Illegal gem mining can be seen in certain areas of Knuckles Range and this course for degradation of habitats in these areas.

Hena cultivation and man-induced fires in hena land have resulted in destruction of forest especially in the buffer zone of the Knuckles.

Spread of invasive alien species is also a threat to the natural ecosystems, native wild plants and animals of Knuckles Mountain Range. The common invasive alien plants in the area include lantana (Lantana Camara), koster’s curse (Clidemia Hirta) and wild sunflower (Tithonia Diversifolia).

Direct exploitation of Species is also a major problem in this area. Human activities such as illegal felling of timber and fuel wood species and illegal hunting of animals can be seen in this area. Further shooting animals or set traps guns and noose traps to kill animals, collection of fish species from streams for the ornamental fish trade and collecting of herbaceous plants for ornamental plant trade are threats to the natural resources in this area. Over collection of plants and animal species for commercial purposes and research. /study purposes, course a major thread, mainly to the endemic and threaded species in the area.












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