Mountain of Measurement – Hiker’s Paradise
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
More popularly known as Manigala – Mountain of Measurement, is one of the best, yet least visited mountains for hiking purposes within the Knuckles Mountain Ranges. Located south of Dambulla and northeast of Kandy, Dumbara Hills, or more precisely, Pitawala village is where you must get to as the base for climbing Manigala. Dumbara Hills, translated to “Misty Mountains”, is appropriate considering the way the clouds cover these Mountains at over 1000 meters above sea level. ‘Knuckles Range’ is the name given by the British because when seen from the Kandy region, these mountainous peaks look similar to knuckles of a clenched fist. Most travelers choose to climb Manigala to get a good view of the beautiful Knuckles Range, the Thelgamu Oya (River) and to observe wildlife and natural beauty.
The total hike is about a 10km walk, beginning from the valley, which is about 600 meters above sea level, going up the slopes of Manigala Hill and reaching 1100 meters above sea level and finally climbing back down to Illukumbura from the right side of the mountain.
What you will see
As you make your way up the valley, you will see evidence of irrigation works done to make use of the Thelgamu River water. You will probably even come up to a point where the river will have to be crossed before you make your way further inside. The trekking path comes to a fork at a few locations and you will have to choose which one to take because those are not wilderness trails, they most likely lead to different villages. If you are on an adventure tour of Sri Lanka and like to explore such areas, it is advisable to take an area guide with you to make sure you don’t lose your way.
During your hike, you will be climbing about 500 meters above sea level and this height gain allows for tremendous views of the Knuckles range, how the forest covers the mountains in several shades of green, terraced rice fields in the valleys, water buffalo resting at a few of the many streams found on the Manigala rock, and of course the beautiful and unique types of flora.
On your way back down to the Illukumbura side, you will come across fields that have been cultivated and transformed into grazing grounds. The downwards path is definitely rougher than the climb up because of steep paths and challenging footing. Trekking poles are a helpful tool for the Manigala hike. Also, dry season trekking is a better option than the rainy seasons, particularly for this mountain.
At the end of the day, once you’re done with the climb, you could either take a dip in the water for a cooling relaxation or you could settle into the safari-style camps set up for you on the banks of Thelgamu Oya. A bungalow nearby is where the kitchen has been set up and it also serves as the accommodation for the staff. Outside the bungalow is a tented porch where meals are served.