Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ECO-V at Ambuluwawa

By Madhubahsani Jayawardena
Eco-V team went to Ambuluwawa Mountain on 4th July 2010. Since it was planned as a one day field excursion, the day commenced at 4.45 a.m.
Ambuluwawa Mountain is located right in the middle of Gampola town which is a four hour drive from Colombo. It is at 1065 metres from mean sea level.We stopped for a way side breakfast at Kadugannawa. But the smell of decaying garbage that came along with the cool breeze made us to re-pack our breakfast packets and we decided to go straight to Gampola, to home of Harsha’s aunt. Our breakfast was Imbul-kiribath (Milk rice balls with hot and spicy fried onions in the middle) wrapped up in Kenda leaves and Harsha’s aunt served us coffee.
Over the coffee Harsha briefed the day’s programme. As there is so little information, we have to be more observant he said. His uncle provided us with some interesting facts on history of Ambuluwawa. Gampola was once an ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka. King Buvanekabahu’s castle was on this mountain and many secrets about his wealth are buried there. This is a treasure mountain abused by robbers over the years.
Although Ambuluwawa is declared as a Bio diversity park, very little amount of information on flora and fauna was available. Browsing through cyber space one can find only one scientific paper which is on lichens.
We send our vehicle forward and walked from the entrance. Along the circular road, at each bend the summit appeared closer and closer. There was a flowering Binara (Exacum trinervium) among many introduced flowering plants that were in abundance. Sporadic small forest patches on either side of the road are greatly disturbed. Three wheeler taxis were going up and down the circular road creating an uninterrupted flow of traffic. We witnessed the impact of traffic, when we came across a dead Le madilla or common rough-sided snake (Aspidura trachyprocta). Green forest lizards (Calotes calote) were not bothered by the cool clime. A peculiar insect was crossing the road. It forms in to a ball by curling its body and rolls away from its enemy if touched. When the sun shinned through intermittent drizzle, birds came out of vegetation to feed. We managed to list out 18 bird species and the day’s treat was the sighting of a Wood pigeon.
We had our lunch at a small restaurant that was very close to the top and walked to the top of the mountain. The summit is maintained as a universal dharma centre. A small mosque, a Christian church and a Buddhist pagoda were there. Pagoda is dedicated to farmers and named as ‘Govi Jana seya’. Through the mist, Mother Sri Lanka appeared as a masterpiece of a great artist. But, inappropriate concrete structures reduced the scenic beauty. It is said that on clear days one can see even the Airport at Katunayake.
From my point of view, Ambuluwawa can be develop and utilize as a good location to relax and to feel the nature. It also lacks proper information of its fauna.
you can see the photos at slide show on "Ambuluwawa ECO-V 2010"

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