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Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja or Lion King is a beautiful treasure trove of wild and nature. Comprising of three district islands, Galle, Matara and Ratnapura; it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1989. The Park is home to leopards, sambar, wild boar and barking deer. Other residents here are giant squirrels, purple-faced lagur, spotting cats and fishing cats. The park in totality has more than 45 species of reptiles, 21 of which are endemic; also 160 species of birds. One will also come across some of the deadliest snakes such as the green pit viper (which inhabits trees), the hump-nosed viper and the krait. The best time to visit January to March; August and September.

Sinharaja is a tropical lowland rain forest or tropical wet evergreen forest. It has humid wet evergreen forest type vegetation with a high degree of endemism. Out of 25 genera endemic of Sri Lanka; 13 are found in Sinharaja. Its total vegetation include trees, shrubs, herbs and seedlings alongwith some families of Dipterocarpaceae.

Elephants have a majority in Sinharaja, mostly found in the Eastern Sector. Others include sambhur, mouse-deer and barking deer. Leopards, Brown Mongoose and the golden-palm civet can be occasionally sighted. The most common animal here is the purple-faced leaf monkey. Amid the group of reptiles, Green Garden Lizard is most significance. Hard-shelled terrapin is the only tortoise found in the reserve.  The snakes include the green pit viper and hump- nosed viper.

People of Sinharaja
The reserve is surrounded by 22 villages inhabited by more than 5000 people. Warukandeniya and Kolonthotuwa are the two villages located inside the reserve. Their staple food is rice, sweet potato and Manioc (Cassawa), Breadfruit and Jackfruit. They home grow other plants like vines of betel (Piper betel) passion fruit and also black pepper. In fruits papaya and banana can also be found. Apart from agriculture, the residents here manufacture baskets and mats. Plant products like cardamom, fumigating products and shorea species are also exported.

Things to do in Sinharaja

Safari and Hiking for Wildlife and Bird Watching
A Jeep Safari can be done from Boulder Garden to Sinharaja rain forest entrance. From this point one has do some hiking to explore the evergreen forest.  The reserve is 21 km east to west, 7 km north to south. The vegetation is dense, so wildlife sighting is not easy. One can come across the endemic species, trees, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. Mostly sighted is the Purple faced Langur.

Visit the Kolawenigama Temple
About 6km southwest of Deniyaya, Kolawenigama Temple, has a unique structure that looks like the Sacred Tooth Relic temple of Kandy. King Buwanekabahu VII constructed it during his reign and the temple has awe-inspiring Kandyan-style frescoes.

Trek to Kiruwananaganga Falls
The waterfall inside the reserve is a place to relax and also marvel at the natural beauty of the forest. One of the largest in Sri Lanka, it is 60 m high in stages and rises up to 60m wide.

Visit a 17th Century Rock Temple
Getabaruwa Raja Maha Viharaya, as it is known, this beautiful rock temple is 11km south of Deniyaya. One has to climb a steep access road, to reach the site. The temple can be identified by the gilded Buddha and also a small stupa.

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