Somawathiya National Park

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Somawathiya national park

Somawathiya National Park is located in the eastern part of Sri Lanka, just south of Trincomalee. Due to its remoteness and being tucked away from most tourist areas, the park is not visited by many tourists. Like many other national parks, such as Minneriya and Yala, Somawathiya is not included in most Sri Lanka safari trips.

Somawathiya is not popular for wildlife tours in Sri Lanka despite the national park, Somawathiya is popular as a destination for Sri Lanka Buddhist tours due to the presence of one of the most scared and one of the oldest temples in Sri Lanka, which is known as Somawathiya Raja Maha Viharaya. Somawathiya national park was established as the 4th national park in Sri Lanka to accommodate the wild animals that lost their living habitat due to the expansion of the Mahaweli multi-development project. The other three national parks being established along with the Somawathiya wildlife reserve are Maduru Oya, Wasgamuwa and Flood plains. Somawathiya is contiguous with Flood Plains National Park and Trikonamadu Nature Reserve. Hurulu Forest Reserve, a part of which is a biosphere reserve is linked by the western arm of the park.

Location of Somawathiya national park

If you spend your Sri Lanka Beach holiday on the east coast beaches like Nilaveli beach, Trincomalee, Kalkudah or Pasikudah, Somawathiya national park is within easy reach of your hotel. It just takes a few hours of drive from your hotel to reach the national park. Somawathiya national park is sandwiched between two districts namely Trincomalee and Polonnaruwa districts. Somawathiya national park can easily beach reached not only from the east coast but also from many cultural and historical places in Sri Lanka such as Sigiriya rock fortress, Polonnaruwa, Yapahuwa etc.

The park spreads over 36500 acres. Somawathiya national park harbours many types of forests such as evergreen dry-zone forests, riverine forests, Villus and grasslands and dry zone forests dominated by thorn bushes. There are two distinct tree canopies (upper canopy and lower canopy) discovered in the national park.

Wildlife tour of Somawathiya national park

Somawathiya National Park is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. According to the park authorities, 400-500 wild elephants are residing in the park. The availability of huge grasslands and Villus (the water-filled basins around the grassy plains) is the biggest draw for wild elephants. The national park gets a huge rainfall from November to February and a large part of the national park comes under water during this period. However, the park remains dry during the rest of the year while providing plenty of food and water to the wild animals.  

Other than wild elephants, Somawathiya national park also harbours many other animal species such as wild buffaloes, deer, jackals, monkeys, crocodiles, wild boars and a large number of bird species. A large number of villus can be seen throughout the park, these water resources are a common breeding ground for many species of avian fauna species such as herons.  

Somawathiya Buddhist Temple

Somawathiya Buddhist temple Somawathiya temple attracts thousands of thousands Buddhist devotees every year and it is one of the most visited temples in Sri Lanka. Somawathiya temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples on the island and dates back to the 3rd century BC. According to historical information the temple was built by Prince Abhaya of Anuradhapura and named after his wife Somawathi, who was also the sister of King Kawantissa. The Stupa or dagoba of Somawathiya stupa was built to enshrine a relic of the tooth of the Buddha, which was brought to the island by Arahat Mahinda.