If you are familiar with traveling or hiking, it is for sure that you have heard of the Kondagala peak, which is above the famous Loolkandura estate.
Going through the background facts, Loolkandura is the place where the first tea plants in Sri Lanka were planted by James Tailor. He was a Scottish by birth, arrived at Sri Lanka when he was just 17 years old and lived here till death. At present, the remainings of the cottage he lived in, the well he used for bathing and the famous ‘Tailor’s seat’ can be seen. The ‘Taylor’s seat’ is a granite chair that is situated in an edge of the eastern descend of the Kondagala mountain presenting a glamorous view. It is said that the chair was used by James Taylor to sit and make plans for his industry.
Kondagala, which was our destination for the first hike for the hiking year 2017-18 marks the northern end of the Piduruthalagala range and is situated above the Delthota town. We took off early in the morning from the university premises and reached ‘Maha Paththini Dewalaya’ at Delthota – Hewahata road (B364). It is a place prior to the junction to which you must turn to reach Loolkandura estate. Actually, there is a good road you can follow up to reach the loolkandura estate and a foot path to Kondagala as well, which starts near the remainings of the cottage of James Taylor. But we choose the hard way and proceeded to ascend through the jungle.
I am not going to state the map or directions as this hike is not good to be attempted by individuals or amateurs. But I must say that I enjoyed this hike a lot as it tested so many qualities within the members of the club. The experienced hikers in the club did their best in path finding and making a good trial for other members to follow. As well, the other members helped each other very much as we went through a Pines plot which was a very slippery ascend and through the forest in which there were no trials.
We got onto Kondagala from the northern end in about three hours of hiking. It had a good view of the surroundings as it is about 1480m above the sea level, but didn’t present us the best as the weather was a little gloomy and the distance mountain ranges were covered with mist.
I must mention that despite of the natural beauty that delighted me, I was so worried seeing the pollution that has been done by people. There were beer cans, plastic bags and cups, snack wrappers etc. which were so disturbing to see and made me doubt that should I keep on reporting my visits around the country. Because if anyone who followed my directions destroys the site, I will be responsible for that in first place as I directed them there.
We spent some time on the peak, had the lunch and took the official group photo. Then we proceeded towards the southern end to get to the conventional trail. It was a narrow gap in the rock through which the path was and it had a gigantic wasp comb just above it. So we had to maintain an absolute silence as we didn’t want a wasp attack. The Loolkandura estate is just below the Kondagala peak and we visited the ruins of the cottage of James Taylor and then descended towards the Gurugal Oya natural pool to have a bath. The descend was very easy as it was along a gravel road and took just about an hour.
The Gurugal oya pool was a fascinating place which is situated in Ma-oya just beside the main road. So obviously the vicinity is polluted pretty much by people. But still, the cool flow of water was very refreshing. Though we leisurely enjoyed the bath after a tiresome hike, we were cautious enough not to get injured as the rock faces were very slippery.
After that cool bath, we took off to reach the university concluding the first hike of Mora Hiking Club for the hiking year 2017-18.