Kaludiya Pokuna

Kaludiya Pokuna in Kandalama is not to be confused with its name-sake in Mihinthale . It dates back to the period, 853 – 857 A.D., during the reign of King Sena the 2nd. The sacred precincts of this ancient site served as a meditating center for the Buddhist monks who resided there. The approach to this ancient historical site is very pleasant, winding its way through paddy fields and vegetable cultivations – typical rural Sri Lanka, which gives way to beautiful stands of tall, dry monsoon forest. You even find peacocks crossing the road at intervals.

Kaludiya Pokuna lies at the base of a long rocky ridge on the northern periphery of the Knuckles range. As a result, the forest is more intermediate in character than dry zone. It is also home to a wide variety of birds and butterflies, as it is at the junction of different climatic zones with some species being at an extremity of their range. Clearly, it is an exciting place for birders and butterfly watchers.

The avian diversity is much higher than all other faunal categories at Kaludiya Pokuna. It is about 120 species of birds’ paradise. Most common birds are Indian Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-headed Ibis and Common Peafowl. Endemic birds like Sri Lanka Spur fowl, Sri Lanka Jungle fowl, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Brown-capped babbler, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Greater Flame back, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-capped bulbul can be seen without disturbances. It means out of 33 endemic species, 80% of endemic birds are found in Kaludiya Pokuna. Both types of monitor lizards - Bengal monitor and Water monitor, can be seen in Kaludiya Pokuna.

Butterflies and moths are also frequent in Kaludiya Pokuna. Species like Crimson rose, Common Mormon, Ceylon rose, Common rose, Common cerulean, Common Indian Crow, Lemon emigrant are common.

Kaludiya Pokuna is also rich with numerous biodiversity, both flora and fauna. The forest is home for many endemic and non-endemic species of flora and fauna that prevail much more secure than other forests in Sri Lanka. Forest is composed of many endemic and highly valuable trees and shrubs. The majority of flora is in the family Euphorbiaceae. Plants like Hydnocarpus venenata, Mischodon zeylanicus, Lepisanthes senegalensis, Grewia rothii, Ficus microcarpa, Mussaenda frondosa, Drypetes sepiaria, Mallotus eriocarpus, Manilkara hexandra, Dimocarpus longan, and Tetrameles nudiflora are abundant. Plants of family Ebenaceae, such as Diospyros ebenum, Diospyros malabarica, Diospyros oocarpa, and Diospyros ovalifolia, which has large timber value, are enormous without any human conflict.

Kaludiya Pokuna is rich with its populations of primate species mainly, where many researches on primates based on this site, especially on tufted gray langur and Purple-faced langur. Besides them, forest is also home for the other primates in Sri Lanka, such as Toque macaque and Red slender loris and other herbivorous mammals, such as Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), spotted deer (Axis axis), sambar (Rusa unicolor), and wild boar (Sus scrofa). The area is also home to a full complement of potential predators such as black eagles (Ictinaetus malayensis), crested serpent eagles (Spilornis cheela), brahminy kites (Haliastur indus), white-bellied sea eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster), leopards (Panthera pardus), fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) and Indian rock pythons (Python molurus).

Endemic snakes such as Sri Lanka Flying Snake, Boiga barnesii, Dendrelaphis bifrenalis, Dendrelaphis oliveri, Oligodon sublineatus are frequently seen. Venomous snakes like Indian cobra, Russell's viper and Hypnale hypnale. Numerous types of skinks and lizards are also found.

The archeological site at Kaludiya Pokuna has a few ruins including a stupa, and it is very obvious to the visitor, that this ancient site screams of neglect. Like at Pidurangala , there are numerous meditating centers or ‘kutis’ used by the monks to meditate, but totally neglected and left to rot. There are also two pokunas or ponds from which the name Kaludiya Pokuna has been derived. One is completely dry and overgrown with weeds, while the other looks more like a huge muddy stagnant puddle of water, and a haven for mosquitoes.

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