Jathika Namal Uyana - ජාතික නාමල් උයන
1005 hectares of Na (ironwood) forest and 72 other healing plants; massive pink
quartz mountain, well known for its healing properties; largest plant fossil
deposits in Sri Lanka; archaeological reserve with ruins of ancient monastery
and palace; diverse wild life.
The national Namal Uyana in Galkiriyagama which has the largest Rose Quartz
mountain in South Asia consists of 972 hectares or more. On May 8, 2005 Prime
Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will declare open the forest as a National Forest
Twelve years ago, Venerable Wanawasi Rahula thera, a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk
settled in Namal Uyana, an ironwood forest in Sri Lanka's Dry Zone. He built
for himself a little tree-house 40 ft above ground in the branches of a Mora
tree, to live and to meditate. This was his home for almost a year, after which
he moved into a humble hermitage of cheap wood.
Now firmly established as head monk of the forest hermitage, he acts as guardian
of the forest and its environs, a role played by Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks
for over two millennia in the long history of Namal Uyana. Rahula thera believes
it was a role he had played in a previous lifetime 800 years ago.
When Rahula thera first came to the forest, he did not realize the extent of
its natural and historical treasures. Here you find ruins of an ancient monastery
that received the royal patronage of King Devanampiya Tissa (307-267 B.C) and
granite foundations of very old buildings strewn on a section of the forest
This Sinhala monarch holds an exalted place in Sri Lankan history. It was his
cordial relations with the great Buddhist emperor Asoka of India that led to
the arrival on the island of Arahat Mahinda thera and a retinue of missionaries.
Arahat Mahinda's delivery of a simple but profound discourse to King Tissa
(as he was then known) while he was out hunting deer in Dambulla forest, led
to the king's and later, the entire population's adoption of the precepts of
Mahinda also delivered the following message on the king's obligation to the
environment, "O" great King', the birds of the air and the beasts
on the earth have an equal right to live and move about in any part of this
kingdom as thou. The land belongs to the people and all other living things,
and thou art but the guardian of it."
At the beginning of the 8th Century, a section of the forest became what probably
was the world's oldest recorded human sanctuary. Anyone fleeing their enemies
or on the run from even the king was entitled to sanctuary in this forest, which
was under the sole jurisdiction of Buddhist monks.
The king had no automatic right of arrest. Legend has it that outlaws and
the persecuted seeking
the sanctuary in Namal Uyana were transformed into Na
trees. Closer to fact was that they were obliged by the monks to plant and
care for the trees. Indeed, the semi-orderly formation of the forest strongly
indicates human plantation.
When Rahula thera arrived, the forest was being denuded by chena cultivators
from nearby villages who used to slash and burn sections of the forest to clear
land for seasonal crop cultivation. It had also fallen prey to illegal loggers
and treasure hunters.
At that time, there was little public awareness of the unique place about which
Rahula has worked hard to educate the public. Thanks to these efforts, the government,
in 2001, declared Namal Uyana an archaeological reserve.
Now, chena cultivation and logging have almost ceased. In August 2003, the
Namal Uyana Trust, funded by donations from organizations, philanthropists,
and the proceeds of the very nominal park entrance fees was established.
The trust funds have helped uplift the lives of the people of the surrounding
villages, and to build a Community Environmental and Research Centre. Moves
are afoot to have the forest declared a World Heritage Site.
Rahula thera's efforts to conserve, develop and protect 'his' forest future
generations have been recognized by the Sri Lankan government, which has bestowed
on him the honorific Parisara Vibbushana, Sri Lankan Haritha, and Parisara Vedi
Sasana Jyothy. He also holds the Indian, Seda Salu title. All these honour his
To protect 'his' forest, Rahula has focused much of his efforts on providing
alternative means of livelihood to surrounding villagers.
Galkiriyagama, 158 miles north of Colombo.
(source : Daily News)
Travel Directions to Janthika Namal Uyana
Route from Colombo to Janthika Namal
Route from Dambulla Road to Janthika Namal
Through : Kandy Road - Ambepussa - Kurunegala
Time to Spend : 2 hours
Travel time : 3.5 hours.
Driving directions : see
on google map
Distance :7.5 km
Travel time : 15 minutes.
Driving directions : see
on google map
Created : April 14, 2007
November 3, 2012