Yahangala, nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka's central highlands, is a captivating hiking destination with natural beauty and historical significance. Legend has it that this rocky outcrop served as the final resting place of the formidable King Ravana, a prominent figure in Sri Lankan folklore who met his fate in a battle against Lord Rama. "Yahangala" translates to "bedrock" in Sinhala, a nod to its solemn role in housing the king's remains. The journey to Yahangala is not for the faint-hearted, presenting challenges that add to its mystique. The rock is also believed to be protected by the local deity "Galē Bandāra," further enshrouding it in an aura of reverence.
Hiking to Yahangala
Embarking on the hike to Yahangala is an adventure that begins from the right side of the mountain along the Velangolla Pathana trail. This path, though longer, provides a relatively smoother ascent compared to the alternative route, which is shorter but more treacherous due to the numerous boulders that litter the way. One must remain vigilant of elephants that are often spotted along the trail, adding an element of wild beauty to the journey. Hikers are advised to carry ample water, as the trail can be demanding, and dehydration is a common concern. The lack of water has caused many to conclude their hike prematurely.
At the Summit of Yahangala
Upon reaching the summit of Yahangala, hikers are greeted by a sprawling flat expanse that holds its wonder. Local villagers regard the absence of substantial trees in this area as a miraculous phenomenon attributed to Yahangala. The summit is an ideal camping site and offers panoramic 360-degree views of the encompassing landscapes. From this vantage point, the sweeping views encompass landmarks like Velangolla Pathana, Kehelpathdoruwa, and the majestic Mahaweli River. Yahangala's elevation stands at an impressive 1,220 meters above sea level, contributing to its breathtaking views.
Location and Legends
Yahangala finds its home in Kaluga, Ududumbara, situated within the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Positioned along the eastern fringes of the Knuckles Mountain Range, it is a place steeped in both geographical and mythological significance. Local lore paints Yahangala as the site where King Ravana slumbers, awaiting his eventual awakening. The protective embrace of the deity "Galē Bandāra" further layers the stories and beliefs tied to this location. Travellers are urged to approach Yahangala with good intentions, as tales of retribution against those with ill motives are interwoven into its history.
Getting to Yahangala
The gateway to Yahangala is Kandy, the starting point for the journey to Ududumbara and Kaluga. As the region experiences light rain year-round, visitors should be prepared for variable weather conditions. The Kaluga track connects multiple routes that converge at Yahangala. The first sign indicating the path to Yahangala can be spotted on the left side of the Dumbara-Kalugala road. While only a few buses operate between Dumbara and Kaluga, alternate routes are often recommended, especially when starting early in the day.
Camping at Yahangala
Camping at Yahangala requires some planning. While no designated camping sites exist, arriving before dark allows hikers to select suitable spots for an overnight stay. Given the region's windy, cloudy, and wet climate, hikers should be prepared for these conditions.
Preparation and Tips
For a successful journey to Yahangala, early departures are advisable to avoid the challenges posed by later hours. Those unfamiliar with aspects like pilot trekking and rope climbing should seek assistance from local guides. Leech protection measures are recommended due to the environment's natural attributes.
Hikers intending to camp must ensure ample water, as sources are scarce atop Kehelpathdoruwa and Yahangala. The peaks can be pretty windy and cloudy, underscoring the importance of being prepared for changing weather patterns.
Essential gear includes a robust climbing rope, a machete knife, a GPS tracker, and a map scaled to 1:50000.
In the spirit of conservation, leaving only footprints and appreciating flora and fauna are essential principles for those venturing to Yahangala.
Yahangala is a testament to the intersection of history, nature, and spirituality. The arduous journey to its summit rewards hikers with unparalleled views and a connection to the legends of King Ravana. As travellers tread its paths, they enter a realm where myths and reality intertwine, leaving an indelible mark on those who dare to explore its mysteries.