When you enter this tranquil forest, a sense of peacefulness will descend upon you. There is stillness everywhere except for rustling of the leaves, the chirping of crickets and the chatter of monkeys. Amidst the serenity, you would feel your mind slowly relaxing, blending into the forests tranquility. The old forest vibrates with a quiet spirituality and regal majesty. This is a place where Buddhist monks once found sanctuary.
Jathika Namal Uyana, is the largest ironwood forest in Sri Lanka. It is about two thousand five hundred acres in extent. Asia’s largest Rose Quartz Mountain is situated within the ‘Jathika Namal Uyana’. The Ironwood Tree (Mesua Ferara) is an extremely rare tree that is endemic to Sri Lanka. It is the national tree of the country. The biodiversity of the ironwood forest is exceptional. There are more than 100 species of tropical plants including some rare herbal plants. About 20 bird species and a number of mammals including elephants, leopards, monkeys and deer are seen in the park and the jungles surrounding it.
Created under the command of King Devanampiyatissa, Namal Uyana had been used as a meditation center by Buddhist monks. Ruins of an ancient Dagaba, huge stone pillars, a Buddha statue and a moonstone confirm its past uniqueness as a place of religious worship and meditation can be seen. The forest had later been used as a human sanctuary and a prison camp where the punishment was to plant ironwood trees.
The forest lies just a few kilometers away from the Madatugama Junction along the main A9 route running from Dambulla to Jaffna.