Rose quartz mountain range – largest in Asia – By Arundathie Abeysinghe
Nestled in the vast ironwood forest (popularly known as “Na Uyana” or “Jaathika Namal Uyana” due to its vast range of Na trees – Mesua ferrea), the oldest and largest man-made forest in Asia and situated in close proximity to *Dambulla, the rose quartz mountain range also known as “pink quartz mountain” (known as rosa thiruwana kanda in Sinhala) comprises seven mountains.
According to scholars, the rose quartz mountain range enclosed in Namal Uyana is over 500 million years old.
The rose quartz mountain is the most well-known and unique attraction of the heritage site. Vistas of the breathtaking splendor of the pink quartz mountain range is a unique experience. There is no presence of common black rock in the entire area.
Although, quartz crystals are common in many parts of the world, this deposit is renowned as the largest rose quartz deposit in Asia. Hence, mining the crystals in the location is illegal.
The color and the hue of the crystals vary from a pale pink to a much deeper and richer tone. Yet, the surface of the mountain range is more of a dusty gray and according to geologists, the crystal range is of a deep hue, a few feet underneath the top layer. According to geologists, “the discolorations are natural, given the minerals’ exposure to direct sunlight, rains and other elements”.
Although, the mountain range is huge, it is easy to hike it. Surrounded by trees, there are many lakes in the region with breathtaking vistas as far as the eye can see…
According to legends, these ironwood trees have been planted under the guidance of Sinhalese Kings who reigned in *Ceylon from the era of *King Devanampiyatissa in the 8th Century AD up to King Dappula IV’s era (reign 939 – 940). According to legends, the forest has served as a sanctuary for criminals. Although, they had been untouchable by law when they sought refuge there, their penalty had been to plant ironwood trees during their stay in the forest. Hence, the trees that are in existence at present are over 2000 years, an enormous virginal forest. The protected area of the Ironwood Forest covers approximately 1011 hectares (2500 acres) and is under the purview of the Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Namal Uyana had also been a sanctuary for Buddhist monks during King Devanampiyatissa’s reign in the 8th century. This unique Ironwood Forest and the rose quartz mountain range received global recognition due to a Buddhist monk, Venerable Wanawasi Rahula Thero when the location was accidentally discovered by the Thero, the Chief Incumbent of the Namal Uyana, in 1991.
In addition to ironwood trees, there are over 100 species of tropical plants, including 82 herbal species. The location is also home to endemic birds, some unique to Dambulla area.
Na tree is the national tree of Sri Lanka. In 2005, Jaathika Namal Uyana was declared as a National Heritage Site.
Image courtesy – attractionssrilanka.com & travelwithdearsrilanka.com
- Anuradhapura – A major city in Sri Lanka, the capital of Anuradhapura District.
- Anuradhapura Period – This was a period in the history of Sri Lanka from 377 BC -1017 AD when the Anuradhapura Kingdom was established as the first kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka. King Pandukabaya (474 BC – 367 BC) was the first monarch to rule Sri Lanka from Anuradhapura from 377 BC. Buddhism played a major role during the Anuradhapura Period.
- Ceylon – Sri Lanka gained Independence from British Colonials in 1948. In 1972, Ceylon became a republic within the Commonwealth and Ceylon was thereafter known as Sri Lanka.
- Dambulla – Situated in Matale District, Dambulla is the second largest town. Located about 43 kilometers from Matale, 72 kilometers from Kandy and 148 kilometers from Colombo, Dambulla is a popular tourist destination.
- King Devanampiyatissa – A monarch in Sri Lanka between 250 and 210 BC, his reign was notable for the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka under the patronage of Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka the Great. Considered as one of the most notable monarchs in the history of Sri Lanka, several temples and stupas (dagobas) were constructed under his guidance, the most notable being Vessagiriya (located in *Anuradhapura) and Isinbassagala Ruwangiri Rajamaha Viharaya (located in close proximity to *Medawachchiya).
- Medavachchiya – Situated 27 kilometers from Anuradhapura, on A9 Jaffna – Kandy main road, Medawachchiya is a town in Anuradhapura District of North Central Province of Sri Lanka.