architecture, history and travel of Sri Lanka
Piduruthalagala- Sri Lanka's Highest Mountain and the Forest Reserve of the topmost Elevation
Piduruthalagala Mountain and the Forest Reserve is situated almost next to the heart of Nuwara Eliya Town.
Nuwara Eliya being
a mountain valley consists of a plateau that is shaped elliptically. The mountains
situated on this plateau rises upto 2000 feet making some ridges. The plateau
itself being 6240 feet above sea level makes the highest mountain peak, that is
Pidurutalagala to attain a
height of 8292 feet (2527 mts) above sea level
height of 8292 feet (2527 mts) above sea level. During 1897, there had been a path made to climb Pidurutalagala mountain. The four mile track to the top could have been made by walking for two and half hours or could be made on horse back. The Ladies of that time also had the choice of being carried on a chair which was tied to two Bamboo poles and carried by four bearers all the way up and back! The British preferred to call this mountain “Pedro” as pronouncing the mountain as “Pidurutalagala” was not an easy task for them.
The meaning of word Pidurutalagala can be likened as “ Straw laden rock “.
Pidurutalagala mountain seen from Nuwara Eliya town
Unlike most mountain peaks found in the world around that has a rocky surface, Pidurutalagala has a flattened mountain peak with pale green patna covering the whole surface as per eyewitness description of 1940. During dry season, this grass may dries up and looks like a mountain top capped with a spread of straw to the distant. There had been only a single man made path to the summit and elsewhere the untouched forest , only with roads that elephants frequented for thousands of years. The trees of mountain sides were looked like dwarfs as nearing the mountain top due to high winds prevailed and the tree tops near summit all had a flattened effect like being a well trimmed off hedge by a gardener. There is a noticeable difference between the character of Pidurutalagala forest and the lowland forests. The trees here appear to be that of gnarled trunks with many forked branches with lichens and moss clinging to them showing cloud forest characteristics. The man made path to the top had been marked at regular intervals throughout the ascent on stone posts such as 7500 feet, 8000 feet. Earlier in 1940s, on the mountain summit there had been a “Toposcope” or a type of a Map which had a circle of pointed arrows that showed the directions of certain important places with distances of ‘ line of sight’ from Pidurutalagala or “Mt. Pedro” , such as Colombo, Adam’s Peak, Dondra Head, Horton’s Plains, etc. One could clearly see and identify faraway places such as Yala, Hambantota, Bintenna, Namunukula, Horabora Wewa and Bay of Trincomalee which were marked on the Toposcope.
During specific times of the year one may be fortunate enough to travel upto Pidurutalagala peak after obtaining permission ( no trekking allowed) without stopping the vehicle on the way, or getting out of the vehicle, from the Entrance Security Point at the mountain base upto the Upper Security Point at the peak.
Pidurutalagala mountain seen from Golf Club , Nuwara Eliya
Following is an excerpt from
P.G.Cooray-" An Introduction to The Geology of Sri Lanka"-
The details appearing would be of immense value to anyone interested in Geographical features of Sri Lanka, specially on Mountain ranges of Sri Lanka, which Prof.P.G.Cooray, had been the authority on the subject.
The Highest Peneplain
Unlike the lowest and middle peneplains, the so-called highest peneplain is least like a peneplain and is more a complex of plateaus, mountain chains, massifs, and basins, within each of which a general erosion level can be recognized (Fig. 4 — 7).
The southern margin of the highest peneplain is the magnificent Southern Wall of the Hill Country, stretching for more than 50 miles from Adam's Peak or Sri Pada (7,360') on the west to the ' nine peaked mountain ' Namunukula ( 6,360') on the east, and rising from a little over 1,000 feet to more than 5,000 feet in some places, as at World's End (see Fig. 4 — 6B).
This almost impenetrable barrier, up which the motorable road from Balangoda to Bandarawela climbs, is one of the most imposing natural features in Sri Lanka and is made up largely of resistant charnockitic gneisses. A number of fine waterfalls like Diyaluma, Bambarakanda, and Galagama Falls drop over its edges and two tremendous clefts cut it, namely Haputale Gap and Ella Gap (Fig. 4 — 4A); the latter has resulted from the strong erosive action of the headwaters of the Kirindi Oya.
Running northwards from the centre of the Southern Wall is the highest of the plateau regions, the High Plains, stretching from Kirigalpotta (7,857') to Pidurutalagala (8,292'), the. island's highest mountain (Fig. 4 — 7). This bare, gently undulating grassland includes the picturesque Horton Plains, Elk Plains, Moon Plains, and Kandepola-Sita Eliya Plains, all at a general elevation of 6,000 to 7,000 feet.
East of the High Plains is the ' magnificent amphitheatre ' of the Uva Basin, a basin-like depression surrounded on nearly all sides by a rim of mountains which includes Hakgala (7,127'), Totupola (7,741'), Tungoda (6,051'), Beragala (5,832') and Namunukula (6,679') (Fig. 4 — 3B). In the centre of the basin, at a general elevation-of 3,000 feet, are rolling grasslands or patanas which, owing to their resemblance to the Chalk Downs of Southern England, have been called the Uva Downs. The Basin is drained by two rivers, the Badulla Oya and the Uma Oya, the latter flowing northwards in a deep, gorge-like valley which increases in height to about 300 feet as it nears the Mahaweli Ganga. Everywhere in the Uva Basin are signs of violent earth
movements in the form of steep to vertical folds, recumbent folds, faults, and thrusts (see Fig. 6 — 12). Both the High Plains and the Uva Basin are made up predominantly of easily weathered, feldspathic metamorphic rocks and this is the cause of the soft, rounded forms, and the deep, clayey soils found here.
On the west of the High Plains is the Hatton Plateau (see Pl. 8A), a deeply dissected area with strong relief, unlike the plateau regions described above. The remarkable appearance of ' flatness' in the Hatton Plateau is largely due to the nearly horizontal attitude of the rocks within much of the area. The average level of erosion in the Hatton Plateau is between 3,500 and 4,500 feet, but a complexity is introduced by several higher parallel ridges running N.W.-S.E.
Here too are numerous
waterfalls like Aberdeen, Laxapana, St. Clair, and Devon Falls, and the rivers
flow in gorges or steep-sided valleys. The incised meanders of the Kotmale Oya
near Talawakele are a good example of this (P1. 7B).
A number of ridges radiate in all directions from the centre of the highest peneplain, near Pidurutalagala, and these extend into the general level of the middle peneplain. The Ramboda-Hantane range, for example, extends north-westwards into the heart of the Kandy Plateau.
Two massifs, separated from the main part of the Central Highlands, also form part of the highest peneplain. On the southwest is the Rakwana Massif, bounded on the north by an escarpment similar to the Southern Wall of the Hill Country but much smaller in scale and lower in height. The road from Rakwana to Deniyaya climbs this escarpment by way of the Bulutota Pass, crossing it at the only break in it for miles. Several of the peaks on this escarpment are over 3,500 feet high. The highest parts of the massif are a series of high plains such as the Handapan Ella Plains and the Tangamale Plains, at a general elevation of 3,500 to 4,000 feet; they are surrounded by several fine peaks and escarpments such as Beralagala (4,545"), Gongala (4,416'), Suriyakande (4,300') and Abbey Rock (4,268'). The Bulutota escarpment and much of the massif are made up largely of gently dipping, resistant charnocktic gneisses.
North-east of the Kandy Plateau is the Knuckles Massif, with several fine mountains over 5,000 feet (Fig. 4 — 8); its highest peaks are Gombaniya (6,248') and Knuckles (6,112'). Many spectacular escarpments on the eastern margin of the massif overlook the middle peneplain, which here is rather well defined. The Knuckles Massif is really a complex of ranges resulting from a large recumbent fold, and some of Sri Lanka's finest and most rugged mountains are to be found in this comparatively inaccessible and little known region (7). (A new road from Hunasgiriya to Corbet's Gap now brings this fascinating region within the reach of many people).
The main part of the Knuckles Massif extends for over 30 miles from near Rattota to Medamahanuwera and throughout this length there are only three places where the main range can be crossed. One is at Laggala, north-east of Matale, the second is Corbet's Gap, near Rangala which is the head of a tremendous cleft in the massif, and the third is the Hunasgiriya Gap which takes the road from Kandy to Weragantota.
There are, in most of the regions of the highest peneplain just described, several physiographic features which have their origin in geological causes. One of the commonest of these is the long, parallel strike ridges and valleys with their gentle dip slopes and steep scarp slopes well seen in the area around Ratnapura and Rakwana (Pl. 9A). They are the result of erosion along the less-resistant strata in a succession of rocks folded into long continuous folds. The more resistant charnockitic gneisses and quartzites frequently form the vertical escarpments, the less resistant feldspathic rocks providing the intervening valleys and flats. A trellis-like drainage pattern is common in these areas (Fig. 4 — 9), the rivers flowing alternatively along the strike valleys and across the ridges, in the latter instances along major joint planes.
Long escarpments, some rising thousands of feet in sheer rock walls are also common, particularly in the Hatton and Knuckles areas (Pl. 8). These escarpments may be the result
The lowest peneplain surrounds the central Hill Country on all sides and is a flat, sometimes gently undulating. plain stretching down to the coast (Fig. 4 — 2). It has an average height of less than 100 feet but rises inland to 300 or 400 feet above sea level. Rising from this inner edge in a steep step of about 1,000 feet is the middle peneplain (see Figs. 4 — 3, 4 — 4) with a maximum elevation of 2,500 feet above sea level, best seen on the south and east of the island. Within it and rising from it in another steep step of 3,000 to 4,000 feet is the highest peneplain at a general level of 5,000 to 6,000 feet, but rising in places to 7,000 or 8,000 feet.
Pidurutalagala Forest Reserve and the Mountain Peak Tour
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Mt. Pidurutalagala has a Height of 8292 feet according to Survey Dept. Maps and 8281 feet according to Wikipedia ......... ......... ........... ............ .............. .................. .............. .............. ............... ................. ................ .......... .............