Hawagala ; A hike to remember…

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Hawagala ; as seen from a point on the road while we were approaching the ridge from a flank side.

As usual, the members of Mora Hiking club gathered in front of the University main gate at about 3:30 a.m. and took off to Hawagala on the bus we had hired. We reached Balangoda, had the breakfast there and headed to the University of Sabaragamuwa to collect our lunch packets. Then we came back towards Balangoda and took the road towards Udagalagama to reach the mountain. It was about 10 O’clock when we reached Udagalagama as we had to wait until the breakfast was prepared and wait some time to collect the lunch packets as well.

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Udagalagama co-operative shop; The place where we left the bus and took the road on foot. (photo is from google street view)

We had to leave the bus near Udagalagama co-operative and started trekking on the road under a little shower of rain. After trekking about three kilometers along the tar treated road, we took a left turn to a concrete road as directed by villagers who were very friendly. The concrete road had a dead end and then on, there was a foot path along the edges of the paddy fields with two concrete ‘A-dandu’ over small waterways. Then, the foot path went along the tea plots and at a point, it turned towards the wilderness.

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A creative notice…

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The beginning of the concrete road ; it is a left turn when coming from Udagalagama. Neglect the angle of the click. (photo is from Google street view)

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End of the tea cultivations… (photo credit goes to Nilanka Chathura.)

Then on, the trail went through several types of vegetation (Thick forests, short grass lands; mainly Kalanduru, isolated Pines and small shrubs and bushes) towards the peak. At some areas, the trail was not so clear and made us to go straight towards the direction of the peak off the trails via short grasslands until we catch a glimpse of the trails again.

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Ascend through the forest. (photo credit goes to Nilanka Chathura.)

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Short shrubs and bushes.

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Short grass areas with distorted pine trees.

Halfway to the peak, we encountered another group of hikers (there were about 150 people) whom were a batch of undergraduates of a private educational institute. We took the lead overtaking them and reached the peak in about two and a half hours since we left our bus. At the peak, eight members of our club who were camping there for two days joined us. Along the way, it rained several times. But we were lucky enough it to be sunny by the time we reached the peak.

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The orange dotted line show the roads we went on, red ones are for the route we ascended and the purple dotted line is for the descend. Other than them, the summit, the waterfall and the place where we left the bus are also shown in the map. (Map is from google earth.)

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Hawagala summit as seen from half way along the trail which is now in parallel to the ridge.

While we were on the peak, we got the news that one of the members of the other group of hikers from the private uni have been attacked by wasps. So we gave some piriton, which was the simplest first aid possible at the time.

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A comb of wasps.

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Some of the people from the other group of hikers…

Then we had our lunch at the top and rested there for some time, appreciating the glamorous view around us. From the top of Hawagala, which is a relatively flat peak, a person can clearly observe the southern end of the central highlands, Nonperial states, World’s end, Aadara kanda, Pareiyangala, Haputhale range and Bandarawela south side, Samanala wewa, Udawalawe area, Balangoda area and Dethanagala. And I think that even the coastal line off the Hambanthota area would be visible in a clear day.

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Belihul oya basin coming down the southern edge of the central highlands, Pareiyangala, Aadara kanda and the Udagalgama village as seen from the peak.

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Enjoying the glamorous view…

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And some landscape photography too…

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Terrace paddy fields in the Belihul oya basin.

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A rainbow popped up just before we leave… You may see the play ground of the University of Sabaragamuwa towards the left edge of the photo.

Then we took the group photo. By that time the other group of hikers had started descending via another route as they had brought a guide with them. Considering the consequence of fevered wasps by the large group of people,  we also took the other route to descend. But as they were no hikers, their descend was to slow to tolerate. So we overtook them and made our own way towards the village.

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MORA HIKERS

On the way, we took a long rest until all our members are gathered as some of our members were stuck behind the other hikers, unable of overtaking. After all the members were gathered together, we took off again and we encountered a set of other hikers who have been left behind with no clue of the guide they brought. So we let them follow us and descended rapidly towards the Belihul oya basin. On the way, we encountered a tea plot and then the rest was easy as it was just to follow a foot path.

Following it, we came to a beautiful waterfall and it had several natural  stone pools on top of it, which were deep just about six feet. So the members took a bath there in the shivery cool water and refreshed ourselves. Then we left that glamorous place and took the way to the bus along the foot paths, then a concrete road, the tar treated road and finally to the bus.

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The water pool with shivery cold water. But still, we had a bath and refreshed ourselves. (Photo credit to Ayesha Ekanayake.)

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The water fall…

Then we left the Udagalagama area with a mind full of memories and happiness. We had the dinner at Balangoda and were able to reach University by 1:00 a.m. safely.

p.s. : I made some personal observations and deductions on this hike;

  • Hikers need to have a good physical fitness so that it will give you time to enjoy the hike without wasting it for panting.
  • Seeing the other hikers re-filling their water bottles from slow moving water stream; first, a person must be we aware of some simple facts like not to drink water from water ways with low flow rates and secondly, hikers must have a good discipline in water consumption as it is a critically limited but an essential resources in the wild.
  • A kit of first aid is a must to be carrying with a hiker and a hiker must be well aware of what first aid to be given in relevant situations considering the members who faced minor injuries and the wasp attack.
  • Other essentials ; a knife is a good friend when going via wilderness with no trails. A torch won’t be useful on a one day hike if the hike goes on good timing as expected. But it is good to be ready for the odds I suppose and it turned out to be correct on this hike where we were off the trails and was about 6:30 p.m. when we returned to the road and had to trek about 3 k.m back to the bus in the dark.
  • Finally; bring only memories, leave only footsteps. If you cannot comply with those simple guidelines, do NOT visit these places.

If you really like it, don’t try to click it.

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Today, spending my vacation, watched the movie ‘The secret life of Walter Mitty’. A fantasy / drama movie which describes the end of the career of a 16 year dedicated employee under the job title ‘negative assets manager’ in the ‘Life’ magazine which is about to be closed and so on… well, this little note is not to describe the plot of the movie, but to weigh a single line that I saw (and heard) in the movie.

That is ;       ‘If you really like the moment, don’t click it. Just live in it.’

Regardless of who said it to whom and even though whether it is really said, still it was felt by me, because I was already believing it. If you face a specific moment in the life that you really really enjoy, you would not need to take a photograph of it simply because it will surely rest in your heart forever.

So, next time you face such a moment, try not to click it but to embrace it the best you may.

Beetle with the fancy antennas.

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This bugger was sitting on my study desk and I clicked it due to its fancy antennas…


This belongs to the group of Beetles which fall under the order of Coleoptera. The key factor which distinguishes beetles from other insects is its Elytra ; which is a protective cover over the abdominal area formed by hardening of the fore wings.

A sincere thank goes to Mr Tharindu Ranasinghe for making me aware of the facts.

EXMO 2017 ; A post script

 

Civil Engineering Exhibits.JPGThough it is about a month since the function happened and couldn’t note down a word regarding it, thought of putting up a note at least now.

EXMO 2107 happened to be the largest engineering and innovation exhibition held in the country. Held by a prominent technical university of Sri Lanka, university of Moratuwa, I am pretty sure that the people who came to see it were effected by it in several ways.

First, the school children and other bright minds who came to feel the subjects are sure to be inspired. The younger minds would have gotten the inspiration they needed to excel in the academics and the others would have seen the horizons of the technologies in Sri Lanka even as a third world (some call it a still developing) country.

As  well, the general public who came to see the exhibition, with no much technical knowledge, but with common senses must have seen that the government university students are not people that just protest and get chased away by the police as per ordered by the political hierarchy  (well, that is the image the mass media is feeding  the general public with.) but are best in their fields.

Then there is this third party, which have been hurt by seeing it. A fraction of this party degrade this effort to trend Science and Technology within the country just because it is done by the University of Moratuwa and the other fraction does so because it is done by a government university into which they couldn’t get in even though they were privileged to get educated in a state college funded by the government.

Well, I don’t intend to answer that third party via this article. But I intend to speak up about another party, which didn’t come and put up their reasons why they didn’t come.

Summarizing what they said to me ;

‘We are not eligible to comprehend an engineering exhibition’ (an undergraduate in Science in a state university.) ,

‘Didn’t have time bro.’ (some fellow engineering students in a state university.) ,

‘I have no reason to come.’ (an undergraduate of IT in a private university)

and the list goes on as I invited almost all my whatsapp contacts with a message.

 

Addressing the above three parties ;

engineering is the application of sciences in practical world… being a science student, how couldn’t he/she not understand the content of an engineering exhibition..? a pure LOL there.

For my fellow engineering colleague, I am disappointed.

For that no reason person, well, it is even disgusting to have a person with such attitudes in my contact list.

Winding up the article, it is a must to state that the reason for this country still to be an undeveloped / still developing (or whatever you call it) is nothing else, but the attitude the citizens of the country bear.

Commander | Moduza procris 

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This is a medium sized migratory species which belong to the family of Nymphalidae. Note that it has a broad white median band, a red postal band and a red distal band ( not clearly visible in the underside.)

It feeds on a range of sources from flower nectar to mud sipping (which it is doing in the picture) as it has a good range of flight altitude. As well, note that it is sitting only on four legs, which is a key characteristic of the family of Nymphalidae.

The picture was clicked in a Kandyan home garden though this species is known to be found mainly in forest areas of the wet zone of the country.

(Source of info : A pocket guide to the Butterflies of Sri Lanka, 2nd Edition by BCSSL)

Sri Lankan Whipping Frog ; Endemic

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Though most of the Sri Lankans boast about the beauty of the nature of this paradise island, they just explain it literally but not with facts.

Sri Lanka has a massive diversity in tree frogs, a kind of frogs that have adapted themselves to live and complete its life cycle being arboreal.

This bugger is a Sri Lankan whipping from or is also known as Common Hourglass frog and has the binomial name polypedates cruciger. It is endemic to Sri Lanka and is categorized under least concern in IUCN red list – 2004 as it has shown a stable population and due to its adaptation skill to human interference. (The frog is on a steel bar even in the picture… So yes, it comes near the human habitats.)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out the location  of this sighting and related data as this was not clicked by me.

The photo credit goes to my Father while the identification credit goes to Mr. David Buttle.

May day; the greatest illusion of our times…

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The Red may day, the laborers’ day, May first or what ever you call it; the day which the laborers must celebrate their rights, is no more used to do so. But to celebrate the illusive fantasy world promised by the politicians, towards which the laborers will work but would never come true.

Said that in short, I won’t go for a long description as I am not a laborer or still a member of the working force of the country. But hope that the people of the so called working class would realize their real situation (which is obvious for everyone I suppose) and fight for justice.

(Image is from web.)

Balumgala ; an ancient observation point

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The rock face in the middle of the image is the Balumgala. (Image from G maps)

When you drive up the Kadugannawa pass, or are coming by rail it is possible to see a big rock standing just in right of the road ; which is the Balumgala rock which was used by the ancient Kandyans to keep an eye on any enemies approaching the kingdom by west. It has a glamorous view and even the Mawanella area is visible.

In ancient times, if any threat was detected, a signal from Balumgala was sent to Balana fort (which I hope to visit in near future) and the signal was further conveyed from there onward from peak to peak.

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Kadugannawa pass down below (Both highway and rail road are visible) , Mawanella valley, Uthuwankanda (not so clear in the picture) and the Balana peak in right.

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Bathalegala (Bible rock) and Aranayaka (landslide) as seen from Balumgala

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Alagalla ; as seen from the road to Balumgala.

Though I usually make a trip/hike report how to visit the places that I have been to, I am not going to make such an article on this just because the villagers in the top part of the mountain and around are not so friendly. The road which had been used to visit the place has been shut down as the communication tower which the road belongs to has sealed off. Even though there were foot paths through tea cultivation (which we found out by ourselves to go to the place) and to cross a little shrub area to approach the place, the villagers said ‘No, there ain’t anyway to go to the place.’; so they clearly don’t want any visitors in the area.

Just for the fact, turn left (when coming from the Kandy side) to the Kadugannawa – Gampola road and follow it until you get to a tar treated road on the right which leads to the Balumgala village. (There was a board referring to a temple in Balumgala.) Follow it until you may go no more along the road and then you have to find your own way to get to the place.

Brandygala (Lower peak) ; our kind of get-together…

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Brandygala (Image is from web; credit goes to the rightful owner.)

Date : 11th April 2017

Crew : 7 Males (17  – 21 years of age)

Route : Kandy > Matale > Etipola road > Asgiriya waththa junction > Madiwela > up the hill and the same way back.

Weather : sunny in the morning, a little gloomy in the noon and heavy rain by afternoon.

Note :

  • Only few leeches were encountered by us as the area was dry… but there may be hundreds of them in the rainy season as I felt. So, better take precautions.
  • Better take a guide (or stick to the foot paths) if you are going to the higher peak as there are traps (Wedi lanu and Madu) made to hunt animals and hunters roam around in the night; potential threat of getting shot at if you couldn’t get down before sunset.
  • Be aware there are wild boars and ‘Debaru’ in the vicinity.
  • Do NOT leave anything behind but footsteps; cannot comply..? stay home watching a file rather than hiking. ‘Thank you’, in advance.

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The journey was started from the Kandy bus stand where we all gathered and took a bus to Matale (Warakamura road Matale |Route No. 593 | Rs.45 – normal). Then we took an Etipola bus up to Asgiriyawaththa junction (Rs. 20) from where the road to Madiwela begins. We could have reduced an extra 5km hike which we took from Asgiriya waththa junction to Madiwela village if we were able to catch the Madiwela bus, which unfortunately we couldn’t. The Etipola bus stand is at a corner of the Matale town where you can’t see when you passes by the town. So, better ask for directions from someone.

At the bus stand we got into a little chit-chat with a bus driver and he advised to stick to the foot paths as there are traps set by people (We found one. so yes, there are traps.) and also there are some un-licensed liquor distillers with guns. As well to get down before sunset as there are hunters by night fall.

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Where you must get down from the Etipola bus and the concrete road is a short cut to the Madiwela road.

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Back to Madiwela road from the shortcut.

After a walk along the road which was partially tar treated, broken and concreted, we came to a junction where a road to a factory begins (Must be a tea factory, but seems like it doesn’t work anymore. )

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Road to the left-up is the Madiwela road. but we diverted and took the right which lead to the factory and took a foot path back to Madiwela road which the shop keeper said to be a shortcut.

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Brandygala ; standing above the tea factory.

The foot path mentioned above begins near the bridge, to the left in the photo. Then it was a long walk again to the foot of the mountain along the Madiwela road.

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There were several water ways along the road.

Then the road continued beyond the Madiwela village. Then we entered the wilderness from a point at the road. Unfortunately I couldn’t take a photograph of the place. Up to the point we were directed by the villagers who were friendly and willing to help. So must thank them very much.

We filled up our water bottles from a stream where there was a ‘pihillak’ built by the villagers and then we made our way into the wilderness. The route was clear in this part and was just a hike in opposite direction to the peak to get onto the ridge. The route went through a little forest and then through a rock face covered with ‘Kalanduru’. Along the way until the ridge top, we went across the stream once.

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Water stream ; almost dries up in this season.

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Over the rock face covered with ‘kalanduru’ towards the top of the ridge, in the direction opposite to the peak.

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Beginning of the ridge and we are redirected toward the peak now.

Then the hike was along the ridge towards the peak.

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Along the ridge, towards the peak through thorny shrubs and bushes. (This is the area where we came across several wild boars on our way back.)

The path was clear for some extent, but we lost the track of it after some time and came to the stream again. Then we hiked up along the stream and took off into the wilderness again in the direction of the higher peak without knowing which peak must be our destination.

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Up along the water stream.

So we hiked for a while and ended up no-where at a place where we couldn’t go any further due to a steep rock face stood in front of us. So we turned around and took the way back to the stream (an upstream point than the place where we took off of it). Then it was a little hike along the stream again until we came to the rock face of the lower peak of the Brandygala mountain; where our destination was.  Then the way was clear. so we hiked over the rock face towards the peak.

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Back on track, towards the peak.

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Brandygala ; Higher peak.

The final climb had a place where the a single slip of step would cause a fall of several hundred feet, and a cave opening so that you have to squeeze yourself to get through and another climb up, where a slip means ending up back in the Madiwela village.

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Just a single miss-footing would do it…

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Squeeze in and out… It is harder, steeper and narrower than it seems.

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A friendly hand ; a slip means you’ll end up in Madiwela village in several seconds.

It took about 3 hours for us to get onto the top even after losing the way and we spent about one and a half hours on the top; taking photographs, making some funny videos and enjoying the glamorous view. The central hills, Brandygala top peak, Etipola peak, Wiltshire range, Mukulussa range, Yakuraga range and also the Dumbara range (knuckles) were visible.

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The final goal of every hiker ; to enjoy the glamorous view.

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Atipola kanda as seen from Brandygala. the town of Matale is in the other side of the Atipola kanda. and can you identify the tea factory from where we got off road near my left toe..? The road you can see as a stripe is the Madiwela road.

We started climbing down at about two thirty and got down within an hour as we decided the way to go from the peak to avoid any loss of track like the climb up. On the way down, we encountered some wild boars and had to wait until they move on and must mention that we saw several individual ‘Debara’s on out way, but fortunate enough not to encounter a comb of them.

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On the way back…

We had about thirty minutes when we go down before the final bus leaves the Madiwela village which is at 4 p.m. So we took a bath at the ‘Pihilla’ and felt so refreshed. Then we waited for the bus at Madiwela for a while, but then again decided to go to the Etipola road on foot so that at least we can get on a Etipola bus. On the way, a tipper from the Madiwela village stopped by for us and we got a  ride to Matale town; the ride was a blessing as else, we would have to walk all the way, wait for a bus and then come to the Matale town and this ride kept all that burden way and saved about two hours of time for us. But still, the driver was so crazy as he went up to 60 kmph in the small and broken road in which a little slip would make the tipper to end up several hundred meters down in the slope with all of us in  the back dead.

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See that white plastic bag..? That was our trash. Leave nothing behind, but footsteps. Do NOT visit these places if you cannot comply with that simple rule.

However we were also lucky to have a Colombo bus in the halt at Matale when we got down from the lorry. So we took it and that’s all about the journey; which I enjoyed a lot.

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That dangerous tipper ride.

 

Relief

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It was peculiar how a simple decision made the emptiness that has been wrapping me vanished; going home on train as suddenly decided, driving for hours leaving the stress behind, enjoying the home made food and doing some photography.

Living under a strict daily routine with none other but twenty four hours academic work is so exasperating. As well the breakdown of the mighty fantasy world made by the teachers, tuition masters and parents also must have affected it a lot.

However, the stress was released and the emptiness was filled with passion of getting educated with what I want and with the inspiration to do the things that I love; a simple decision made it all possible.

(Image is from web.)