Samanala Kanda (Sri Pada) (Sinhala: ශ්රී පාද) (Butterfly Mountain) is a major mountain range in the central hills of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). The highest point is 2,243 meters (7,360 feet). The land area of the Siripa site is about 22380 hectares. The Siripa site was declared a sanctuary on October 25, 1940. It is the third highest mountain in Sri Lanka. Located between Ratnapura and Nuwara Eliya districts. This sacred place is well mentioned in the written history stories of over 2500 years of Sinhala Buddhists.
Climate and Weather
Rainfall at the Samanala site is 5000 mm
The average annual rainfall at the Samanala site is 5000 mm. There is very good rainfall throughout the six months of the year. The butterfly sanctuary receives the highest rainfall during the months of May – June – July when the southwest monsoon prevails. The northeast monsoon, which lasts from December to January and February, receives very little rainfall. Therefore, as the weather disturbances are minimal during this season, the Sri Pada pilgrimage season begins with the Unduwap Poya and continues until the Vesak Poya. During the southwest monsoon season, the butterfly sanctuary also experiences heavy snowfall. Therefore, a very cold climate is reported from the Samanala site and the Sri Pada courtyard during this season. The average annual temperature is 15 degrees Celsius. But in May – June – July the temperature can drop to 5-10 degrees.
Ecology and Wildlife
Endemic species including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
Sri Lanka’s unripe mountain rainforest has been protected from commercialization due to its inaccessibility. Another reason for this was the naming of it as a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.
Home to a number of mountain ranges
The Samanala site is home to a number of mountain ranges belonging to the Sabaragamuwa range. Bena, Samanala, Kunudiya Parvathaya, Gonmolliya, Dethanagala, Dotalugala, and Saptakanya are the main mountains. Many waterfalls are born and flow through this. The Kalu, Kelani, and Walawe rivers, which also cause many waterfalls along the steep slopes, originate directly from the Samanala ridge at the Siripa site.
295 streams associated Samanala Kanda (Sri Pada)
Samanala site ranges in height from 457 m to 2243 m.
It has been confirmed that there are 295 streams associated with these rivers and due to this, the researchers believe that the Samanala giraffe is one of the top 246 forests in Sri Lanka in terms of water fed. The research report further states that this forest is one of the 269 forests in Sri Lanka in terms of flood control, soil protection, and mitigation.
Samanala range extends in a belt-like west-east direction. The length of this strip of land is 45 km and the average width is 18 km. The narrowest point is Marathenna, a narrow plateau of 106 km. Samanala site ranges in height from 457 m to 2243 m. The highest point is the Sri Pada courtyard which is the fourth tallest in Sri Lanka.
Plant species and Endemic species
Reserve is a safe haven for them
The reserve is a safe haven for plant species as well as endemic species including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Due to the dense vegetation, wildlife such as in Yala is not easily seen here. Elephants can be seen here. The largest common mammal is the Sri Lankan gray monkey (Tufted gray langur – Semnopithecus priam).
One of the most striking phenomena is that birds often tend to act as collective herds in search of food. Such a swarm is often composed of species of birds such as the Red-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica). The Maha Kawda (Dicrurus lophorinus), which takes the lead in such a flock, is known as a violent bird and the Rathu Demalichcha (Argya rufescens) as a noisy bird. Also, with the dawn of the Sri Pa season, a variety of butterflies can be seen and many people say that the butterflies worship Sripa.
Forest zones and plant diversity
Samanala Adaviya is composed of highland and sub-montane forests. In addition, aquatic ecosystems. Grass, savannah, fall, and reef-bearing plants are also found. There are three main plant communities in the forests of this region which are covered with wet rainforests. That forest population is epiphytes and undergrowth.
Plant community that grows up to 15 m tall
Successful plant and animal information exploration of the Samanala Adaviya has not yet taken place. The canopy of the forest is home to a variety of plants such as Daba (Syzygium cumini), Keena/Kina (Calophyllum walkeri), Madol (Garcinia echinocarpa), Weralu (Elaeocarpus serratus), Davul Kurudu (Neolitsea cassia), Dorana (Dipterocarpus glandulosus), Rathdun, Rathmihiri, Kitul (Caryota urens), and in the undergrowth, there are Nelu (Strobilanthes lupulina), Bowitiya (Osbeckia octandra), Maharatmal (Rododendron Zeylanicus), Kokamota (Eriocaulon ceylanicum), Ginihota (Cyathea crinita), Beru (Acrotrema uniflorum), Liyan, Katukithul, Ranabata, and Randotalu. It has a plant community that grows up to 15 m tall.
Many species of orchids, such as Beduru, Maharawana Rawula, lichens, Macanthia, Kudahadaya, and Mahahadaya, are found as epiphytes. Due to the high water content, igneous plants such as green algae, blue-green algae, Poganetum, Macanthia, and fungi are abundant in rocky wetlands. In the Mahagiridamba area, valuable rare medicinal plants such as Mahasudana, Kuda Sudana, Nagamaru Ala, etc. grow in well-lit places. Many rare medicinal plants such as Mahabotiya, Poobotiya, Mahanuga, Kalanuga, Iruraja, and Sandaraja are recorded in the reserve, and Maharatmal or Asokamal, which adds beauty to the forest, was first recorded in Sri Lanka along the Sri Pada road. It was founded in 1343 by Ibn Battuta, a Greek who was a world-famous explorer. A species of Mandora plant believed to be extinct in Sri Lanka was again reported from the Samanala site in 1981.
21 species of amphibians and 38 species of reptiles are recorded
Wet zone Elephants
A herd of eight members is believed to live here
The largest mammal species recorded from the Samanala Adaviya is the elephant. One part of the last elephant population living in the wet zone lives around the Sinharaja forest and the rest can be seen from the Samanala sanctuary. A herd of eight members is believed to live here. There is evidence that they live in the Suduwella – Haramitipahana – Medainna – Beru Mandiya areas which are connected to the Ratnapura, Kuruwita and Maliboda roads.
About 21 species of amphibians and 38 species of reptiles are recorded
Mammals such as leopards, wild cats, Green leopards, pigs, Weli Muwa, Moose, Hambawa, Monkeys, deer, and Dadulena live in the reserve. Although there are no clear records of amphibians and reptiles, a unique amphibian and reptile diversity of the wetland region can be observed at the Samanala Adaviya. About 21 species of amphibians and 38 species of reptiles are recorded here. Mal karawala (Rhabdophis ceylonensis), Lemedilla (Aspidura brachyorrhos), Dalawa medilla (Aspidura trachyprocta), Ralu Ankatussa (Rough-horn lizard(Ceratophora aspera)), Dumbara Ankatussa (Ceratophora tennentii), Green Garden Lizard or Pala Katussa (Calotes calotes), Gara katussa (Calotes versicolor), Gatahombu Katussa/Bohonda/Karamal Bodilima (Lyriocephalus scutatus), and Sikanala (Ophisops leschenaultii) are the leading reptiles. And endemic fishes can be observed in streams around Samanala Adaviya. Many species of butterflies are reported here. This butterfly density has also given the butterfly site its name.
About 160 species of birds are recorded
Birds are the most unique animal species recorded from the Samanala sanctuary. It shows an important diversity of wild birds, including birds endemic to Sri Lanka, resident birds, and migratory birds. According to research reports, all the endemic birds of Sri Lanka except the Arangaya (Myophonus blighi) are recorded from the Samanala site. The most common of these birds are Peethakan Kondaya (Pycnonotus penicillatus), Sithasiya (Zosterops ceylonensis), Gira Maliththa (Loriculus beryllinus), Alu Girawa (Psittacula calthrapae).
About 160 species of birds are recorded from the Samanala site. There are 17 species of fish found. Among them are endemic species such as Le Tittaya (Puntious titteya), Bulathhapaya (Pethia nigrofasciata, formerly Puntius nigrofasciatus), Halmal Dandiya (Rasboroides nigromarginatus), Malpuluttata (Malpulutta kretseri) , and Depullia.
(Footprint of Lord Buddha)
In the eighth year of Enlightenment, the Buddha visited Ceylon for the third time at the invitation of King Na of Kelaniya. Buddhists believe that the Samanola Gira Siripada (Footprint) may have been erected at the invitation of the god Sumana Saman during that journey. There are several places to pass for the devotees who are going to pay homage to Sambuddha Siripa. Dragon Pantheon, Seetha Gagula, Ahas Gawwa, Hera Miti Pana, Idikatupana, Gethampana, Dharmarajagala, Gona Tenna, Ehetu Kanuwa, Mahagiri Dambaya, Siripa Maluwa, Siripa Padma, and the Dolos Mahe lamp (Oil Lamp lighting 12 months). Devotees who go to the Siripa courtyard are keen to ring the bell according to the number of times they have gone after the Sambuddha Siripa worship. Everyone is also eager to watch the Sun Service.
Samanala Kanda (Sri Pada) is considered to be the pinnacle of Buddhism
In Robert Knox’s book, this sign is mistaken for the footprint of “Adam”. Western nations, therefore, call it “Adam’s Peak”. But Christians around the world do not believe that it is the footprint of Adam. Muslims also use the word ‘Babada Malai / Adam Malai’ in Samanala Sirasa.
Shiva devotees believe that the footprints of Lord Shiva are located there. They call it “Shivan Oli Padam“.
Respected by the people of the world, Samanala Kanda (Sri Pada) is considered to be the pinnacle of Buddhism by the devotees of Sri Lanka. The Samanala Kanda (Sri Pada) surrounded by seven mountains called ‘Sapta Kanya‘ is a unique creation of Mother Nature and has been a blessing to Sri Lanka.