Meemure – Paradise hamlet in Central Highlands
By Arundathie Abeysinghe
Located about 324 meters above sea level among verdant vistas, cascading waterfalls, terraced paddy fields, misty spectacular mountains, Meemure is an isolated paradise hamlet in the *Central Province with a population of about 400 people, away from modern day civilization.
With exceptional natural beauty, magnificent fragrant wild flowers, arecanut (Areca catechu) and kithul trees (Caryota urens), reed bushes and cattle grazing in home gardens, eco friendly houses made of clay and spear grass, boundaries of houses as well as lands demarcated by stone-ridges with stones piled neatly, wooden fences leading to large home-gardens with rock stones as steps to reach the houses, this highland hamlet is a serene paradise nestled among breathtaking mountains. One boundary of Meemure is marked by the gently flowing Karambaganga Ela (Ela meaning stream in Sinhala).
The hamlet is encompassed by scenic pyramid shaped *Lakegala Mountain from the east, picturesque *Knuckles Mountain Range from the west, Heen Ganga (ganga meaning River in Sinhala) to south and to north a forest spreading towards *Pitawala Pathana grassland.
According to folklore, Meemure received its name from the abundant Mee trees (Madhuca longifolia) in the village.
Located near the border of *Kandy and *Matale Districts and situated approximately 50 kilometers from Kandy City and about 175 kilometers from Colombo, the only access to Meemure is via a 14 kilometer trail from Loolwatte in the *Hunnasgiriya Mountain Range, a part of Knuckles Mountain Range. This picturesque village became a popular tourist destination after the screening of the Sinhala movie “Sooriya Arana” which was filmed in breathtaking Meemure.
As there is no direct mail delivery to Meemure, a villager travels daily to Thepal Junction or Mail Junction situated on a hill (Thepal meaning mail in Sinhala), to exchange incoming and outgoing postal mail with a postman from the nearby Post Office. As there are no telecommunication or cellular facilities, postal service is the only mode of communication for villagers in the remote hamlet.
According to folklore, the village dates to over 5000 years.
There are many streams flowing through Meemure originating from the Knuckles Mountain Range, catchment areas of water supply to the village.
Meemure is a breathtaking nature paradise with endemic fauna and flora; home to over 130 species of birds with 10 migrant species and 20 endangered species, 25 species of freshwater fish with 8 endemic and 7 endangered and 20 species of amphibians with over 12 endemic.
Vegetation of Meemure is similar to Knuckles Mountain Range with lowland semi-evergreen forests to Montana forests.
There is only one tiny shop in Meemure, similar to shops known as “Game Kade” (meaning Village Shop, located in many remote villages in Sri Lanka) for villagers to buy essentials such as salt and sugar.
Residents of Meemure are farmers and they cultivate paddy, a major livelihood. As the staple diet of residents is rice, paddy cultivation is essential for villagers. In addition to paddy cultivation, villagers are engaged in *chena cultivation as well as pepper and ginger cultivation. The crops planted by villagers are sold to bargain-hunters from *Hunnasigiriya, the nearest village to Meemure.
Until 2004, the only mode of transport to Meemure was pack-bulls. Earlier, the road leading to Meemure was a footpath. At present, it has been widened, but not yet carpeted with certain places in a rugged condition. With the advent of new transport methods, trishaws, jeeps and trailers are used to transport goods to the hamlet.
Meemure is a fine example of sustainable tourism.
As villagers of Meemure lead a simple unsophisticated lifestyle, it is necessary for tourists to respect their lifestyle while touring the village.
- Central Province – The central mountainous terrain of Sri Lanka encompassing Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Matale Districts and one of the nine provinces of Sri Lanka.
- Chena cultivation – This is a traditional form of cultivation which extends as far as 5000 years, the oldest form of faming in Sri Lanka. In the past, each village had a chena. Vegetables, cereals as well as green leaves are cultivated in a chena.
- Hunnasgiriya Mountain Range – HunnasgiriyaMountain is a 1,184 meter peak situated near *Wattegama in Kandy at the edge of the beautiful Knuckles Mountain Range. It is famous for amazing views and its lower slopes are covered by tea plantation and there are sub-montane forest with bamboos, wild strawberries, moss, ferns and waterfalls up to the peak. Hunnasgiriya Mountain is the highest mountain in the area and is a biodiversity location.
- Hunnasigiriya – Hunnasgiriya is a village in the Central Province. At Hunnasgiriya, a 29 kilometer cul-de-sac branches off to Meemure with breathtaking views of endemic fauna and flora.
- Lakegala Mountain – Situated in Meemure, Lakegala is a 1310 meter high rock famous due to its unique triangular pyramidal shape and colossal size. Spectacular Lakegala Mountain is one of the highest bare rock outcrops in the world.
- Kandy – Capital of Central Province, Kandy was the last kingdom (Kandyan Kingdom) in Sri Lanka. Kandy is the hill capital of Sri Lanka as well as the cultural capital.
- Knuckles Mountain Range – Situated in Kandy and Matale Districts, at a height of about 914 meters above sea level with a land area of around 21 hectares, Knuckles Mountain Range has a total of 35 peaks which rise above 900 meters. British Surveyors called this Mountain Range “Knuckles Mountain Range” as it is similar to a clenched fist. There are 35 peaks in the Mountain Range and it is the highest aggregation of such peaks in a single mountain range in Sri Lanka.
- Matale – Located at the heart of the Central Hills, Matale is situated at an elevation around 365 meters above sea level. Matale is the administrative capital and largest town of Matale District of Central Province.
- Mee tree – A native tree in Sri Lanka grows well in wet, intermediate and dry zones in moist areas near waterways. Mee tree grows up to a height of 20 – 30 meters. Considered as a source of organic fertilizer, this tree has water retention ability as well as provides a good shade. The oil of the seeds of the Tree is used for medicine, cooking as well as to light oil lamps.
- Pitawala Pathana – A unique grassland with great ecological value spread over an area of around 10 hectares.
- Wattegama – Located about 12 kilometers from Kandy, Wattegama can be reached when traveling via Katugastota, Madawala, Bambarella Road.
Directions to Meemure: Kandy – Hunnasgiriya – Loolwatte – Meemure
As Meemure is a spectacular and pristine hamlet, it is essential to keep the terrain immaculate.
Take only photos… Leave only footprints…