Central Highlands of Sri Lanka - UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Central Highlands covers a land mass that extends including the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest on a elevation of about 2,500 metres above sea-level. The area is home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, with many endangered species such as the western-purple-faced langur, the Horton Plains slender loris and the Sri Lankan leopard finding refuge in the dense jungle cover. The region is considered a super biodiversity hotspot.
Knuckles Mountain Range is important due to the historical value it carries and therefore it can be categorized as one of the valuable heritages in Sri Lanka. The story of Knuckles known as Dumbara Hills goes back into prehistoric periods. It is said that in ancient times it was referred to as 'Giri Divaina' and as 'Malaya Rata' and there is archaeological evidence that speaks of ancient settlement in the area. The importance of the land area is obtained from several factors. The Knuckles range has a parasitical quality to it because of the mountain peaks, the crystal clear and perennial waterways. From the other side secluded in the mountains blanketed by the mist, Horton Plains is a unique eco system with cool climate on a elevation of 2300 meters above sea level. The reserve is home to many endemic flora of the country and for fauna the Sri Lankan Sambar deer herds and rare sighting of the mountain leopard is recorded. Horton Plains marks the beginning of 3 large rivers in Sri Lanka – Mahaweli, Kalani and Walawe that feeds water for some of the main agricultural regions in the country. The worlds end, a sheer fall of land mass of about 1000 meters giving the place its name, and Backers Falls located deep in the jungle are 2 of the major attractions of the park. The third area is the Samanala Adawiya or the Adam's Peak range. One of the key attractions here is the Adam's Peak itself. The 2243 metre peak has a great significance for various different religions.
Buddhists believe the footprint on the summit is that of Buddha, Hindus hold it to be the mark of Shiva, Muslims are convinced it is that of Adam who wept after the loss of Eden. Some Christians believe the indentations were caused when St. Thomas, Christ's Apostle who came East, prayed at the peak. As a result, the mountain peak has been a pilgrimage centre for over 1000 years.
Whatever its religious significance, this famous landmark offers some breathtaking views of the hill country and an enchanting wilderness sanctuary. The majority of climbers begin their ascent at night in order to arrive at the top in time for a magical sunrise when the mystical shadow of the peak is perfectly cast across the clouds.