Meemure is an isolated and unspoilt village is located in the Hill Country, Central Province of Sri Lanka. East of the village prevails the pyramid-shaped Lakegala Mountain, while the scenic Knuckles range borders the west. The northern boundary of Meemure is a forest that lies to the ‘Pita Wala Pathana’ grassland, and the Heen River surrounds the south. This beautiful near-isolated village has impressive natural pools and waterfalls, glittering mountain views and green paddy fields.
The only access to Meemure is from the ‘Hunnasgiriya’ mountain, part of the Knuckles range, approximately 50km from Kandy. It’s a challenging trail with amazing views.
Existence in a village
Meemure's architecture is one of its defining characteristics. The villagers construct over three-decade-long eco-friendly houses using clay and illuk (spear grass). However, the most distinctive feature of their buildings is their quartz boundary walls.
Before 1982, when the Forest Preservation Act prohibited cardamom cultivation, Meemure villagers supported themselves by harvesting the spice. Following this, they began cultivating chena, maize, and pepper. In addition, some peasants earn their livelihood today by tending to jaggery palms, which yield toddy and treacle.
The village has approximately 400 inhabitants and 125 households. There is only one minuscule store in the village where residents can purchase necessities such as sugar and salt, and there is no cable telephone or mobile network signal.
Mythology and Stories
Meemure has a diverse history dating back nearly 5,000 years. Lakegala, which lies to the east of the village, was once the property of the legendary King Ravana from the Indian literary epic Ramayana, according to local legend. Ravana is said to have used Lakegala as a power source. A tunnel through Lakegala during the Ramayana era was sealed after the Ramayana battle with Ravana's cadaver inside.
Another legend dates back to 700 B.C. when King Vijaya and his retainers arrived on the island from India and spotted the beautiful primitive lady Kuweni. He chose Kuweni as his unofficial wife; the couple had two children together. However, Vijaya expelled her from his castle when he married an Indian regal princess. As a result, Kuweni was compelled to take her children into the forest, where Meemure is located, and it is believed that Sri Lanka's indigenous people are descended from her two children.
Meemure supplied saltpetre (potassium nitrate) for the gunpowder used by the Kandyan kingdom in their resistance efforts during the 16th century A.D. The cave from which saltpetre was extracted still exists today.
Meemure is abundant in biological diversity. The Heen River flows through a 700-acre section of the village. The Knuckles feed the network of tributaries that flow through Meemure and are home to more than 25 species of freshwater fish, of which eight are endemic, and seven are nationally threatened. The typical vegetation of the Knuckles region includes lowland semi-evergreen forests and Montana forests.
Over 130 species of birds have been recorded in the region, including ten migratory and 20 endangered species. Twelve of the twenty species of amphibians observed in the open are endemic and considered nationally endangered.