May 2017


Sandathenna: A Scenic Drive
May 2017




Vast expanses of land used in potato farming

The natural beauty, above everything else, transforms Nuwara Eliya in to a bustling beehive during this time of the year. With much activity taking place within the boundaries of the town, Nuwara Eliya does not fail to satisfy the needs of those that seek to connect with pristine nature. For this is, one splendid destination that fulfills the needs of anyone that happens to be here. Even the nature enthusiast who will find themselves enchanted by the beauty of Moon Plains.


Words: Nethu Wickramasinghe | Photography: L. J. Mendis Wickramasighe


It's all about taking a vacation in the hilly terrains of the higher altitudes in Sri Lanka. As for nature lovers and hikers, Galways Land, Piduruthalagala and although a little distant even the Horton Plains National Park could be that ideal getaway. Yet to anyone who needs to connect with and feel the spectacular sceneries or to capture the magical beauty of the hilly countryside on camera without much hassle, then a visit to ‘Sandathenna' is a must.


Sandathenna, which translates to Moon Plains, is just about 9 kilometres from the main city and can be reached within a 30 min drive (approximately) by vehicle. Heading on the Badulla road, turning left from the Magasthota junction, the entrance to Moon Plain is located at the Seethaeliya Seed Potato Farm.


From this point transport through a four-wheel jeep is preferred. It can be arranged quite conveniently, after purchasing tickets at the counter.


The best times to visit the summit of Moon Plains is either early morning or before sunset. But it all depends on the misty conditions, which tend to be unpredictable. Since we didn't want to risk missing the spectacle at the summit we geared up to be there when the gates opened. The journey from here on winds through a fairly rugged terrain. One travels across a huge expanses of potato field, bordered by the pristine Kandapola- Seethaeliya forest reserve for at least 2.5 kilometres. The summit was visible from a fair distance thanks to the construction of a wonderful platform at the view point.


We were fortunate as the thick mist, which covered the Plains slowly faded away when we reached the summit. The view that appeared in front of us was simply awe-inspiring. We were essentially on top of the world gazing at a mystical spectacle of the earth's fluctuating surface textures draped in mist. The view included regions of both the Central and Uva province. Where we stood was a unique Moon Plain, which was bound by mountain ranges from all ends. It was very unique that of the 11 tallest mountains in Sri Lanka nine peaks were visible from here: Piduruthalagala, Kirigalpotta, Thotupala kanda, Kikiliyamanna, Great Western, Single Tree, Conical Hills, Hakgala, and Namunukula. The only mountaintops not visible from here where Sri Pada and the Waterfall hills.

Moon Plains can only be reached through the Government Seed Potato Farm, of the Department of Agriculture, therefore travellers can only visit the site from 7.30am till 6pm.


Beneath the Kikiliyamanna peak we observed a clearing. Here lies the village "Mudungama" (Shanthipura), the village situated at the highest elevation in Sri Lanka. Namunukula mountain range of the Uva province too was clearly visible from the east as the wet winds from the west end is shielded from the massifs of the Central province. The eastern slopes towards the Uva province were drier and its vegetation too were evidently changing along with geographical variations.


The vast expanses that we saw from Moon Plains does not hold as much wildlife, although calls of the jungle fowl were heard from within the forest covers, and a few grazing sambars were seen from a distant. Sightings of herds of buffaloes were more frequent. The wind was not unbearable during our visit, however on windy days the conditions may not be the same and visibility may also drop due to foggy weather. Although visiting hours are now restricted, the distant horizon is a picturesque sight when the sun rises at dawn or sets at dusk.


The magnificence of Moon Plains on a full moon day is an enchanting experience. Once the Plain lights up under the moonlight it creates an aura of magical splendour like nowhere else on earth!

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    Spectacular view of Pahala Uwa with Namunukula and Bandarawela, Boralanda, Nayabadda, Kappetipola, Rendapola, Boragas, Beragala and Kalupahana

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    Moon plain view point at the summit, as seen from a far distance

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    Typical landscape of Government Seed Potato Farm

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    Conical Hills

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    Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve

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    Namunukula massif

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