Ideal duration: 1-2 days
Best Time: January - March Read More
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Located at an elevation of 2,300 metres, Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka’s central highlands encompasses montane grassland and cloudy forests. It is a government protected area which is home to many endemic flora and fauna species, with spectacular jungles and mountains on one side and a plateau on the other. The park is a popular for housing the famed ‘World’s End Cliff’, a long, steep plunge of 880m where the plateau comes to a dramatic stop.
The most popular thing to do in Horton Plains National Park is hiking to the World’s End cliff. Surrounded by tea gardens, World’s End overlooks numerous lakes, waterfalls, rocky hills, and the scintillating ocean. During the hike, a popular stop is the multi-tiered, 20-metre-tall Baker’s Waterfall, where you can swim during monsoon.
Since being converted into a national park around 1988, Horton Plains National Park has been luring a significant number of people. The national park is home to a variety of wildlife species, most notably purple-faced langurs, Sri Lankan leopards, Red Slender Loris, Toque monkeys, magpies and sambar deer. There are also many species of woody plants in this region.
Not to be missed out on is the Farr Inn, a British-colonial style hunting lodge now converted into a trekkers’ meeting point. The lodge houses a coffee shop, souvenir shop and museum showcasing the national park’s rich history.
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Horton Plains National Park was named after the British Governor of Ceylon, Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, when he travelled towards the region to meet the Ratemahatmaya of Sabaragamuwa in 1836.
The original name of the plateau was Maha Eliya Thenna which supposedly means ‘the hugely lightened ground’. This name has a back story to it. Sri Lanka is quite famous for its connected folk tales, which are quite often associated with the Hindu ‘Epic’ Ramayana. It is said that King Ravana kidnapped Sita, the wife of Rama, as revenge for cutting his sister, Suparnika’s nose. This act enraged Rama, and he led an army consisting of monkey-human like creatures. The army’s leader Hanuman then set fire to the Plains, also known as the ‘Lanka’ of Ravana, which lasted for a considerable period. This story explains the Plains’ original name and its meaning.
It is believed that still, an upper layer of soil remains of a greyish black colour. Stone tools dating back to the Balangoda culture have also been discovered in the area. According to the recommendation given by Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker that the British Government left the montane forest, which is elevated above 5000ft. This advice was immediately implemented, and Horton Plains was sanctioned as a wildlife sanctuary on 5 December 1969, and later in the year 1988 was promoted to a National Park. Horton Plains is quite dear to the local population with its deep-rooted biodiversity and vibrant culture
Horton Plains is a protected area and thus requires one to reach before the assigned timings for a magnificent view of the park and its lavish attractions. The climate is humid, and rainfall is almost throughout the year. However, the months from January to March is considered a favoured time to visit the place as those are the drier months within the region.
It is also essential that one should reach and visit the site early morning for two significant reasons. One is to dodge the crowds and enjoy a majestic view of the plains and second being that clouds cover the forests of Horton Plains, especially during the rainy season.
Thus, it is apt to visit the place during the drier months of the year. The annual temperature during the day is usually 20 degree Celsius with regards to its high elevation, which can drop even further during the night.