It was one busy weekend, where we had to rush from Kataragama to Colombo, that early Sunday morning. There was me, with the usual lethargy on preparing to go for University the following day. Nevertheless, we took that extra time advantage to visit the Mirijjawila Botanical Garden Hambantota for the first time.
- Date: 04.10.2020
- Distance from Bandaranaike International Airport: 257 km
Into the Countless Elaborations
Mirijjawila Botanical Garden is the second largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka which was opened in 2013. The Garden stands proud with its 300 acres of magnificent biodiversity providing the perfect getaway amidst the Mattala International airport and the Hambantota Harbour.
The entrance ticket was Rs.100 for local citizens. Adhering to the Health Guidelines we entered the gardens at around 9.00 a.m. We decided to take a tour within the garden in the open electric traveling cart which was Rs.1000 only. This happened to be the best option to relax the 6 km journey within, knowing that it would take around 3 hours to cover the entire garden on foot. The Garden is maintained by the Department of National Botanical Gardens of Sri Lanka.
Since the Garden is located in the dry zone, it didn’t harbor much of the tall trees with the canopy shade as of the botanical gardens in Peradeniya. But it is more than two times bigger than that of Peradeniya. The travel guide was well aware of the scientific background of almost the entire diversity of plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees. This provided great insight into the greenery while enjoying the landscapes.
As the cart traveled with recurring conversations, the amazing green structures made from creepers, resembling Elephants, stone fences were encountered. It showed that the place is worthy of Eco-tourism. It was indeed an eye-catching sight. Next, the cart entered the straight road with tall trees on either side, which is the largest natural wind barrier in Sri Lanka. It was indeed a photogenic sight. As the guide mentioned, a wind barrier is essential to reduce the force of the wind to beautify the landscape and produce travel routes and habitat for wildlife.
The Garden comprises three lakes that provide water for the growth of plants and to sustain the moisture of the landscape. Along the journey, we were allowed to drop by and enter the dome-shaped greenhouses. They were extremely beautiful and well maintained.
The Garden contains a wide variety of cactus species that are not found anywhere else in Sri Lanka. It was really soothing to gaze at the thorny structures, especially when you are a nature enthusiast. As the guide explained, the Garden will open a Desert sector in the near future so as to give the real-life experience of a desert for us Sri Lankans, provided the fact we can’t experience that in Sri Lanka.
Among the vast diversity of flora, there were a few selected faunal species, mainly birds who would never forget to dwell within the premises. Never forget to capture them as well. As we kept on enjoying the countless elaborations of nature, the garden didn’t forget to educate us by promoting medicinal herbs, rare and underutilized plants in the dry zone. If you hold a keen interest in Botany, this Garden will tick out most of your checklist. The staff and the management have taken tremendous measures for the ex-situ conservation of dry zone plants of Sri Lanka.
It took around 1 hour to cover the entire Garden. In the end, there was an outlet, where we bought some selected plant varieties for a very reasonable price. All in all, the garden itself is a stress-releasing site which is equally exciting as all the safaris nearby. So if you visit Kataragama, never forget to pay a visit to the Mirijjawila Botanical Gardens and get away from the ordinary.
- Image Credits: Author