Nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka, Knuckles is a hidden paradise boasting breathtaking landscapes and undiscovered treasures. From misty peaks to lush greenery, Knuckles invites travellers to explore its scenic wonders and experience the untouched beauty of this enchanting region. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene escape, Knuckles promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of Sri Lanka’s natural splendour.
If you’re looking for a moderately challenging hike in Sri Lanka for you and your family, this is the perfect choice. The Manigala journey offers a selection of stunning scenery, adventurous experiences, waterfalls, and serene places. It’s also the perfect destination near the Kandy area, offering stunning views of the Knuckles mountain range.Whether you’re a local or a foreigner, you can create lasting memories from this trip. One of the unique aspects of this tour is that you’ll have numerous options and opportunities to explore the Knuckles mountain range. Make sure not to miss out on this experience when planning your travel itinerary in Sri Lanka.
Ensconced in the picturesque Dumbara Valley, the Manigala Range is a remarkable peak renowned for its biodiversity. Because of that, we added Manigala to our “Knuckles Mountain Hiking List“. With an elevation of 1104 meters, a length of 750 meters, and a width of 250 meters, the Manigala Ridge is a truly awe-inspiring natural wonder. Manigala, nestled in the Knuckles Mountain Range from Atanwala village to Illukumbura village, holds historical significance. You can also see a bunch of peaks and sceneries of Knuckles from the Manigala viewpoint. Lakegala, Riverston Mini World’s Endpoint, Thunhisgala, Sudugala, and Duwili Ella are a few of them from the Knuckles range.
History of Manigala
Around 5,000 years ago, the legendary flight of King Ravana, known as Dandu Monara, is believed to have landed on the peak we now call Manigala, also fondly referred to as ‘Ravanathenna.’ Folklore suggests a square-shaped area represents the entrance to King Ravana’s palace, and it’s believed to be a focal point of universal power.
Local belief intertwines with history, suggesting that this mountain served as the bow of Ravana’s warriors during the battle of Rama Ravana. Hence, it earned the name Manigala, evolving from its earlier moniker, Dunu Mana Gala.
It’s not just a mountain; it’s a tapestry of tales and timeless wonders. Interestingly, during the colonial era, the influx of Indian Tamil migrants, who settled in the central highlands, led to the establishment of villages. Some communities believe that the term “Mani” signifies “Time” in Tamil, adding another layer to the mystique of this ancient mountain. In ancient times, locals called manigala “TimeRock” and used Manigala’s shadow to gauge the time of day(“Mani” means Time (Tamil world)/ “Gala” means Rock ).
Universal Power at Manigala
Many European visitors discover Manigala to mind relaxation and view the sun rising atop Manigala Mountain, drawing the attention of. The summit offers a serene setting, making it an ideal spot for early morning meditation sessions lasting an hour or two. The ability to swiftly focus the mind and the energy permeating the surroundings—akin to a universal force—creates a unique meditative experience.
Testimonials from those who have meditated at Manigala’s Ravanathanna spot share tales of profound tranquillity. As concentration sets in, the surroundings become still, allowing for the distant melodies of birds to be heard. (Note: For guided meditation, contact Knuckles Adventure or Knuckles Travel Coordinator Suranga at +94704001404 to find the proper Meditation conductor.)
Adding a touch of folklore to the mix, legends suggest that Ravana’s spacecraft, Dandu Monara, derived its power from a blend of universal energy and mercury, enhancing the mystique of this enchanting mountain.
How to Get to Manigala
To embark on the adventure to Manigala, an easily accessible haven from both Kandy and Dambulla, take a picturesque journey covering 62 km from Kandy and 69 km from Dambulla. The most enchanting route leads through Matale, Rattota, and Riverston to the awe-inspiring Manigala. A 38 km drive from Matale unfolds a breathtaking landscape. Rattota is the final significant town on your way to Manigala.
For the journey to Atanwala, traverse Matale to Rattota town, passing by the scenic Riverstone viewpoint, Pitawala Pathana and other captivating spots in Riverton. To reach the village of Atanwala, take a southern road while heading towards Illukkumbura for approximately two and a half kilometres.
Like the famous “Duwili Ella hike,” trekkers can start their adventure from the charming Rathinda village, relishing the priceless journey through this hamlet to the trailhead. Another popular hike, the “Nature Trail & Village Trekking,” starts from this point.
Launching on this trek takes you through a diverse landscape, weaving through forests and terrains while being surrounded by cultivated lands and picturesque paddy fields. Witnessing the traditional and systematic cultivation practices known as ‘Helmalu’ adds to the beauty of the journey.
Before reaching Atanwala, explore the oldest communities in the Knuckles Forest – Rathninda and Mahalakotuwa. The views include lush paddy fields, plantations, and the rustic charm of Rathinda village, providing a glimpse into authentic rural life. Thelgamu Oya serves the Atanwala community.
The hike is suitable for even the average hiker, offering a glimpse into the scenic villages of Atanwala, Pitawala Pathana, Thelgamu Valley, Riverston, and captivating waterfalls, including the enchanting Wedda Peni Ella and Rathkinda Ella. Among these, ‘Wadda Pani Alla’ stands out—a small yet magnificent waterfall with a height not exceeding 6 meters, gracefully formed by the Thelgamu Oya. After passing the Wedda Peni Ella, and few Stone steps, you will come across a fork in the road. This is the place to select your way to Manigala or Duwili Ella.
For adventure seekers, Manigala, a nearby mountain peak, awaits a climb of about an hour and a half, depending on your fitness level. The well-defined road to the summit offers panoramic views, but brace yourself for the fierce winds at the peak of the majestic Manigala. But if you are seeking a Manigala complete hike, you should hike with an experienced guide.
Manigala Complete Hike
If you’re passionate about nature or a fan of the Knuckles Range, kickstart your adventure at Manigala. While many hikers opt for the half trek, starting and ending at the same point, completing the full Manigala hike requires starting from Atanwala village and concluding in Illukumbura village. You can embark on a Manigala half-hike, covering a total of 6 km (3 km each way), or opt for the full Manigala hike, which spans a distance of 9 km.
Embark on an exhilarating hiking journey that kicks off in the picturesque village of Atanwala in the morning. As you begin the trek, the first milestone is reaching the Manigala Middle viewpoint, covering a satisfying distance of 3 km. In the rainy season, you can see Carnivorous plants (Watassa & kadulassa) in this area. The second leg of the hike awaits, leading you to the enchanting Ath Oluwa, also known as Kothkarella. Revel in the stunning vistas from the Manigala Kothkarella viewpoint, adding a touch of awe to your adventure.
The trek then continues with a 5 km stretch, guiding you through the captivating landscapes until you reach the final destination of Illukumbura. During this 5 km, you can visit the Ath Oluwa (Kothkarella) viewpoint, another of the most beautiful sceneries, a resting point and a bit of challenging trekking.
After completing this invigorating journey, reward yourself with a natural bath in the refreshing waters of Thelgamu Oya, providing the perfect conclusion to a day filled with exploration and immersion in the beauty of Knuckles.
Navigating the second part of this hike can be a bit challenging, making it advisable to enlist the expertise of an experienced guide to ensure a smooth Manigala hike. We highly recommend securing a guide through Knuckles Adventure or contacting Knuckles Travel Coordinator “Suranga” at +94704001404. This strategic approach enhances your hiking experience and adds a valuable checkmark to your Knuckles hiking list, making it a must-add to your travel bucket list.
Tips for Manigala Hike
- Take 2 L of Water per person.
- Tae the permission and tickets from the Atanwala Forest Department office.
- Wearing shoes is highly recommended.
- Take a local guide to learn more about local stories, history, and surroundings.
- Hike Start Early Morning.
- Use leech shocks or Dettole for leeches.
- Prepare your food.
Learn Before You Go to Manigala
Manigala is situated within the Knuckles Forest Reserve, and camping at its summit is not allowed. However, there are alternative campsites, rest stops, and areas around Rathinda village that provide suitable spots. When selecting a location, ensure it’s sheltered from strong winds to enhance your camping experience.
On clear days, it’s recommended to commence your journey early in the morning, as the weather tends to warm up significantly by midday.
If you’re unfamiliar with the route, opting for a guide is the best choice to navigate the terrain and make the most of your Manigala adventure.
Take only memories, Enjoy your trip, & Leave only footprintsTEL