Serine, Tranquil Nelligala
By Sanuj Hathurusinghe
In terms of things for hikers to do, the Hill Country capital and its immediate vicinity possess a plethora of options with varying difficulties, experiences, temperatures, and views from the top. It could be a leisurely walk through the easy-on-the-eye tea plantations to the top, a thrilling hike as you find your way through grasses taller than you, simultaneously battling to flick off some bloodsucking leaches, a daredevil peep at a vertical drop from the edge of a rock, or a panoramic view from hilltop which on a misty day would give you the sensation of being on cloud nine, literally and figuratively. The latest addition to the endless number of hike-worthy peaks in and around Kandy is Nelligala.
To be fair, Nelligala has been semi-popular among hikers and travellers for quite a while now but what made it an overnight sensation, a must-see destination, and a place of devotion is the establishment of Nelligala International Buddhist Centre on the top of the hill. Perhaps you too may have seen spectacular pictures circulating on social media depicting a unique statue of the local deity Sumana Saman on top of a white tusker on a misty hilltop. While the best attraction of the centre, arguably is this statue of the local god and its location, the centre has much more to offer, in terms of religious clarity.
The Buddhist centre quite expectedly boasts the ability to bring inner peace and tranquillity to all visitors with its Buddha statues, mirror-like ponds, unique architecture, and the surrounding views. The stupas in the centre are said to house sacred relics of Buddha. On a clear day, the golden-glittery hue of the statues and some stupas before the clear blue sky will make you click away your cameras even unknowingly. Since Nelligala International Buddhist Centre is a short drive away from Kandy and consists of a modern facility, even wheelchair access to help the elderly devotees to reach the top is not a problem.
The centre is a much popular religious destination among the Buddhists. Regardless where your faiths lie, Nelligala is a place that anyone can enjoy. The establishment at the top might suggest Buddhist influence but don’t let that deter you from visiting the picturesque hilltop. In fact, the centre is already a popular travel destination among travellers of all faiths, mostly due to the unimaginably beautiful sceneries one can witness from the top during sunrise and sunset. The top of the hill provides a 360-degree clear view of the central highlands and if you are well-versed in the country’s geography, you will easily be able to identify the Hanthana Mountain Range, Alagalla Mountain, Batalegala (Bible Rock), and Sri Pada.
Pictured here are some of the breath-taking views captured on camera during our recent visit to the Nelligala International Buddhist Centre. If the pictures entice the traveller in you, remember this relatively easy access route to Nelligala. Drive down GannoruwaMuruthalawa Road from Kandy until you reach Muruthalawa from where you should turn towards Kuragama Tea Factory Road. Continue on this road until you come across the turn you have to take to get to Nelligala. It is hard to miss.
(Pix by Ashan Gamage)