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Horton Plains

Horton Plains National Park surrounds montane grassland and cloud forest. It is affluent in biodiversity, and many species are endemic to the region. It is situated 8 kilometers from Ohiya, 6 kilometers from the world-famous Ohiya Gap/Dondra Watch, and 32 kilometers from Nuwara Eliya.

The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three main Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe

The plains’ vegetation is grasslands interspersed with hilly forests and contains many endemic woody plants. The park is also an Important Bird site with many species endemic to Sri Lanka and restricted to the Horton Plains.

The park boasts more than 150 species of wild animals. The plains are home to a gamut of wildlife, including leopards, sambar deer grazing in the long grass, rhino horn lizards and gigantic squirrels, and a few notable animal species.

 Forest dieback is one of the significant threats to the park, and some studies suggest that a natural phenomenon causes it.

Horton Plains locate on the southern plateau of the central highlands of Sri Lanka. The peaks of Kirigalpoththa and Thotupola Kanda, the second and the third highest in Sri Lanka, are located to the west and north, respectively. The park’s elevation ranges from 1,200–2,300 meters.

The mean annual rainfall is more significant than 2,000 millimeters. Frequent cloud cover limits the total of sunlight that is available to plants. The implied yearly temperature is 13 °C, but the temperature varies considerably during the day, reaching as high as 27 °C during the daytime and dipping as low as 05 °C at night. During the southwest Motion season, the wind speed sometimes gets gale force. However, some rain falls throughout the year, and a dry season occurs from January–March. Ground frost has expected in February. Mist can persist for a high of the day during the wet season. 

It is considered the most critical watershed in Sri Lanka. The plains feed Bogawantalawa Oya, Agra Oya, Kiriketi Oya, Uma Oya, and Belihul Oya. Due to its high altitude, fog and cloud deposit considerable moisture on the land. Swamps, slow-moving streams, and waterfalls are the important wetland habitats of the park.

The Original name of the site was Maha Eliya Thanna.

Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture can find here. The territorial population who resided in the lowlands ascended the mountains to mine gems, construct an irrigational canal, and extract iron ore and fell trees for timber. 

As Sri Lanka has a long unwritten history, there is an important and rational village story, which also has some deviations from the story of ‘Ramayana,’ where King Ravana landed his plane ‘Daddumonaraya’ on the ferry hill at Horton plains.’

 According to the story, King Rawana kidnaps Sitha, Rama’s wife, as vengeance for cutting King Rawana’s sister, Suparnika’s nose. It spurred Rama in India, and he led an army of monkey-like humans, whose chief was Hanuman. In the story, Hanuman set fire to Horton plains, and that fire lasted for a long time. Even now, the aloft layer of soil can see in a blackish-grey color. Local universities had done some soil tests, revealing that the upper layer contains a high amount of Calcium Carbonate and Potash. For Sri Lankans, Horton Plains is significant in their History and Culture.

Horton Plains was designated as a wildlife preserve on 5 December 1969 and, because of its biodiversity worth, was elevated to a national park on 18 March 1988. The Peak Wilderness preserve lies to the west and is contiguous with the garden. The land site covered by Horton Plains is 3,160 hectares. In July 2010, the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, which incorporates Horton Plains National Park, Peak Wilderness preserve, and the Knuckles Mountain Range, has inscribed on the World Heritage List.

It was part of an extensive plain and forest cover system that contained Agra-Bopats, Elk Plains, and Moon Plains. Between 1831 and 1948, it became a Sambar deer hunting area. They also hunted elephants and Wild boars to a lesser extent. Coffee and tea plantations during this period initially cleared lower slopes. As a result, Horton Plains and Peak Wilderness became secluded from other forest and grassland sites. The grasslands cultivated potatoes, but planting ceased in 1977 after being declared a National Park, reinstated these areas as grasslands. Tourism-related issues such as plant removal, fires, littering, and noise pollution are major conservation issues. Gem mining, logging timber, collecting plants for ornamental and medicinal purposes, encroachment, poaching, and vehicle traffic are the other threats.

According to a contemporary count, there are 16 Leopards in Horton Plains. Owing to the relatively small size of Horton Plains National Park, it predicted that most male leopards have activity centers that were outside the park. Hence, continued assurance of the national park and integrated management of landscapes outside the national park are essential for conserving the species there.

Some sambar deer have died from eating polythene litter blocking their food passages because visitors can’t bring polythene into the park. Sambar has benefited from the introduced Pennisetum grass species.

 Water deficiency has been attributed as the leading cause of dieback as droughts are becoming more frequent. 

World’s end is a sheer precipice within the park and a significant attraction.

Horton Plains is a well-known tourist destination, with World’s End being the key attraction.

The world’s end is a cliff with a drop of 870 meters. It has located on the southern edge of the park. 

Another rock known as Lesser World’s End is 270 meters from the end of the world.

Baker’s Falls, a waterfall formed by Belihul Oya, a tributary of the Walawe River, is named after Sir Samuel Baker, a hunter and explorer who made an efforted to found a European agricultural settlement at Nuwara Eliya. The waterfall is 20 meters high. Slab Rock Falls is another well-known waterfall in the plains. You can arrive at the waterfall by walking on one of the main trails, and the trail is steep at the end.

World’s end is known for its 4000-foot high stone face or cliff precipice, where you get a spectacular view of the surroundings. You will see the nine-km looped path via this picturesque national park with a jaw-dropping view of World’s End. The trek towards World’s End is the best adventure because of the splendid sights. The tour to the World’s End is popular because it is more accessible because of its well-maintained pathways and less tiring hill walking. 


Useful Information

  • The opening hours of the park are 6 am to 6 pm. The most suitable time to visit Horton Plains National Park is around 6:30.

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