Bodhinagala Forest Reserve
The hermitage in Dombagaskanda also known as the Bodhinagala Forest Hermitage in Sri Lanka, nestling on the bank of the Kalu Ganga near the Dombagaskanda hill in the outskirts of Ingiriya in the Kalutara district, lies beneath the leafy canopy of a wet zone rain forest reservation of some 347 hectares. The natural rain forest shields the hermitage from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, providing a serene environment for the meditating monks. To reach the Bodhinagala forest hermitage, one has to travel on the Panadura-Ratnapura (A-8) highway, and travel 1.5 km along the minor road which leads to the Kalu Ganga. Before coming to the river, the road branches off to the left and continues for another 1.1 km and comes to an area where it reaches the foot of Dombagaskanda. Although the road up the hill is accessible by vehicle, it’s better to get off one’s vehicle at this point and walk through the forest.
Positioned at the heart of the forest is a hermitage which has been there from way back in time, from the early 1950’s. This is the closest tropical rain forest that can be reached from the main city of Colombo. The Bodhinagala Forest is conserved for this very reason, and was once 407 hectares of pristine jungle.An amazing patch of wilderness complete with gentle slopes, crafting ridges and peaks, with the highest peak rising to 186 metres above mean sea level, the forest reserve is bordered by the Kalu river from the south, Ingiriya Ela from the east, paddy fields from the north and the road leading from the main road to the Bodhinagala Monastery from the west.
The Surrounding Wildlife
Just walking down the main trail gives any visitor an idea of the rich biodiversity that’s trapped in this heaven. An endemic Grey Hornbill or two greeting you at the entrance is but a common encounter here. From the familiar high pitched whistle of the Hill Mynahs, and the Rose Ringed Parakeets, to the chirpy chit chats of the colourful little Hanging Parakeet, to an endless chirping of the crickets, with the company of a leech or two, all become part of an experience in the tropical jungles of Sri Lanka. Activities of the vibrant plumed Black Naped Monarch, Tickles Blue Flycatchers, and the flocks of Scaly Breasted Munias keep the forest alive. Other birds that could be heard included Yellow-browed Bulbul, Green Imperial-pigeon, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, etc. Both the endemic Toque and Purple-faced Leaf Monkeys could also be seen.