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 Post subject: Buttala - A prime eco tourism destination
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:06 am 
Buttala - A prime eco tourism destination

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Buttala, a location of considerable cultural and historical importance, is also a prime eco tourism destination. The landscape is tremendously varied with abandoned chena fields, irrigation tanks, dense tall dry zone forests, thorny scrub jungle, and many flowering trees and rare tropical woods.

@ LL/17 Dec 2008

The area surrounding Buttala is part of the Monaragala district in south-eastern Sri Lanka . According to the 5th century Buddhist chronicle “Mahavamsa”, Buttala was situated on the northern border of King Dutugemunu's Ruhunu Kingdom as a defence base to be used on his way to Anuradapura, making it a location of considerable cultural and historical importance.

Buttala is also a prime eco tourism destination. The landscape is tremendously varied with abandoned chena fields, irrigation tanks, dense tall dry zone forests, thorny scrub jungle, and many flowering trees and rare tropical woods (such as the protected ebony tree).

The region also provides an ideal base from which to explore the famous Yala National park. The park was originally a reserve for hunters, but it was declared a protected area in 1900, a sanctuary in 1909, and a national park in 1938. It is a fascinating agglomeration of protected areas and consists of a variety of different ecosystems, essential for the diverse wildlife that inhabits it.

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More than two millenniums ago this area became the domain of famous Buddhist kings like the hero king Dutugemunu (2nd century B.C.) and his brother, King Saddha Tissa. Around Buttala there are many indications of the Buddhist civilization existing here at least 2200 years back in history.

The mysterious ring of hills called "Arahat Kanda" meaning 'Hills of Enlightenment' is nine km awayButtala town. In the era of the Ruhunu Kingdom, the top of these hills was the abode of Buddhists monks and it is believed that several monks reached the state of Nirvana at this place; hence the name Arahat Kanda (Kanda: hill; Arahat: an enlightened person having reached Nirvana). From the hills there is a superb view over the area. The hills are dotted with caves of different kinds; upon closer inspection signs of ancient habitation could be seen.

As part of Sri Lankas ancient large scale irrigation system, King Saddha Tissa - Dutugemunu's brother and successor on the Royal Throne in the 2nd century B.C. - constructed Weli- Aara Wewa, the large tank ('wewa': artificial lake) is located between Tree Tops Lodge and Yala National Park. King Saddha Tissa was a great engineer and an agriculturist.

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The south-east district - Ruhuna - is actually in the dry zone but with the highly developed art of irrigation system, Buthala ('buth': rice, 'hala': mound) was known as the 'rice bowl' of the country. The ancient irrigation system is still used today, especially for the irrigation of paddy fields.

The 35 km Buttala-Kataragama road used to be - and still is - one of the main pilgrim routes to the important religious shrines of Kataragama. Captain John Davy of the British Army went this way on his journey to Kataragama, as described in his book 'Travels across Ceylon' (1821). Captain John Davy and his men had spent the nights at a place called 'Galgewal' (stone houses), which is now known as 'Galge'.

The two ancient Buddhist rock monuments, Buduruvagala and Maligawila, are famous archeological monuments in the area. The seven gigantic rock figures of Buduruvagala, dating back to the 10th century A.D., are carved out of a large rock wall. These figures are quite unique being of the Mahayana Buddhism, as the Theravada school of Buddhism historically has been all-dominant in Sri Lanka. One of the beautiful figures is thought to be the mythological Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara.

The huge crystalline limestone rock statues of Maligawila dates back to the 6th century A.D. For centuries they laid fallen and covered by thick jungle until they were rediscovered in the 1950s and restored during 1989-91. The 11m high Buddha is regarded to be the largest freestanding Buddha rock statue in the world.

Buttala echo area the ring of rocks in the wilderness just outside the northern border of Yala National Park, share flora and fauna with the large protected park. Buttala is in the real wilds, the jungle around is home to many species of wild animals and a unique bird life. A colony of wild parakeets live in a tall tree, best seen around tanks (wewa).

Among common animals lurking around are elephants (Elephas Maximus), wild boar, sambur, spotted deer, jungle cat, rusty spotted cat. Sloth bear and Leopard inhabits the hills nearby.

Buttala is situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka with semi-arid climate due to the scarcity of rain. The rainy season is the northeast monsoon from October to January. Mean annual rainfall is about 1300mm, and the annual mean temperature is 27 degrees. After the rainy season the area is lush and green.

Yala National Park, also known as Ruhunu National Park is an agglomeration of protected areas and consists of a variety of different ecosystems, and is essential for the diverse wildlife that inhabits this jungle. This vast area of wild nature stretches from Buttala area to the south coast, 50 km away, and to the east coast, 60 km away - which means 1300 km2. Yala and bordering forests hosts more than 1,500 elephants, making this area Sri Lanka's most important elephant habitat.

Up to 130 species of birds has been recorded at Yala, among them several endemic dry zone species. Peacock is a common sight. The forest around Buttala consists - like Yala - primarily of centuries old secondary forests; there is thorn scrub and dense forest where you will see many flowering trees and rare tropical woods.

The jungle around the farm has many plants of great medicinal value, for example neeramulliya (Hygrophilla spinosa), polpala (Aerva lantana), nilaveriya (Indigofera tinctoria) and vishnukranthi (Evolvulus alsinoides) and many more.

Hotels, Villas and Boutique Hotels in Buttala:


@ Source: Article by Lars Sorensen / Aku Esufali of Tree Tops


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