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Lahugala Kithulana National Park

Pottuvil, East Coast, Sri Lanka.
Location : Pottuvil
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Overview
LahugalaKithulana national park is one of the most cherished habitats of elephants and endemic birds, though it is categorized as one of the smallest national parks in Sri Lanka. The park stretches over 1554 hectares in the basin of Hedaoya(river), 16 km inland from the coastal city of Pothuvil in the Eastern province. It was initially declared a sanctuary in 1966 and then promoted to a national park in 1980.

There are three tanks found in this park, namely Lahugala, Kitulana and Sengamuwa which eventually unite in Hedaoya. The land here is flat with occasional rocky outcrops. Since the park lies in the dry zone of the island, it receives rain mainly from north east monsoon during the months November to December and its vegetation represents dry mixed evergreen forests. The grass species called Beru(Sacciolepisinterrupta) dominates the land, being a main food source for elephants.

Elephants are the major attraction of this place. Large herds of elephants draw here to graze the beru grass found in abundance around the tanks. Apart from the elephants, the park is home to the endemic toque macaque, common languor, sloth bear, jackal, rusty spotted cat, fishing cat, leopard, wild bear, Indian muntjac, spotted deer, sambhur, pangolin and black naped hare.  Birds such as Great White Pelican, Purple Heron, Painted Stork, Lesser Adjutant, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Common Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Spot-billed Pelican, Asian Openbill and Woolly-necked Stork are found in the wetlands of Lahugala.
Lahugala adjoins an ancient temple called MagulMahaViharaya which was built by king Devanmpiyathissa in the second century BC. It is believed to be built up for the occasion of the marriage of King KavanTissa to Prince Viharamahadevi. The foundations of the “Magulmaduwa” where the wedding ceremony took place can still be seen in vihara premises. In addition, NeelagiriChetiya and other ruins found in this place enhance the cultural value of Lahugala. The moonstone that exists in MagulMahaViharaya is regarded as unique archeological asset in the country as it is the only location where elephants are carved with their mahouts in the moonstone.
 
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