For a travel enthusiast, nothing beats a breathtaking view, and the Knuckles range is an ideal resort for that matter. These evergreen montane forests and its vast plains stretching towards Mahiyangana fabricate one of the most scenic and soothing mountainous views Sri Lanka has to offer. Also, it is known as ‘Dumbara’, which translates to the region with dense mist, in the local dialect. Being a core region of the central highlands, the Knuckles range is a world heritage site famed for its rich biodiversity which shelters diverse varieties of life that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. (Deanston Knuckles is approx. 6km from the Hunnasgiriya — Meemuré road)
I am no stranger to Knuckles, yet in every visit, I’ve witnessed something sensational. Personally its one of the few places where I find bliss, due to its tranquil atmosphere and chilly winds. This time, my stay was at a hilly cottage known as the Eagle’s Crest. Undoubtedly it’s an excellent destination for a traveler, surrounded by breathtaking sceneries of Knuckles all around the cottage itself.
Paddy cultivation in the eastern foothills of Knuckles is clearly visible from the Eagle’s Crest. These paddy fields bear a history of a thousand years, from the days of ancient Sinhala kings and their journeys in search of Buddhist monks. Views from Deanston Knuckles stretches towards the east, as far as Mahaveli river and Mahiyangana, making it an iconic destination for a travel photographer.
Vast windy plains
A hiker has many options around in Deanston and out of many, Dothalugala is recommended. This hike starts right after passing the Knuckles information center in Deanston and the hike takes about 40 minutes, which presents a stunning view at its end. Further, a couple of campsites are also established by the Forest Department on the Dothalugala trail for the convenience of campers, which have to be booked in advance via Sri Lanka Forest Department.
River Mahaveli at a distance
Bovitiya is more than a montane flower with glamorous looks, it is used as an invaluable medicine for liver poisoning in Ayurvedic treatment. We came across this delighting crown of Bovitiya at the summit of the Dothalugala hike, which takes about 15 minutes from Dothalugala campsite.
A Bovitiya crown (Osbeckia lanata)
A canopy of ‘Calophyllum walkerie’ and other montane trees shade the slopes of Dothalugala with a vivid glimpse. These jazzy and scenic trees cover the majority in montane regions such as the Knuckles and Horton Plains.
Scenic montane shades
For a person with a troubled mind, a day or two in a cottage in these mountains can do much more than heal. Strong winds which howl as the sun sets opens another quaint realm of these mountains. Sambar, Muntjac, occasionally even Leopards are spotted after dusk. Sunsets are faster here, as thick clouds cover the summits and block the last rays of sunlight sooner. A soothing cold beer and a guitar would be ideal for this hour at a place like this.
Dawn of dusk
This is the morning view a visitor of Eagle’s Crest wakes up to. Dazzling view of cloud-capped Knuckles early in the morning is nothing short of breathtaking. This evergreen paradise is one of the key organs that breathes life into many rivers which nourishes multiple regions of Sri Lanka.