Seldom visited by tourists, Jathika Namal Uyana, in Ulpathgama, is worth a visit for those who enjoy walking and wildlife-watching. Covering an area of over 105 ha, it is said to be the largest Na tree, or ironwood, forest in Asia. The forest is home to diverse flora as well as a wide range of birds, butterflies, lizards and mammals, such as monkeys and giant squirrels. It is believed that the forest was planted by King Devanampiya Tissa in the 3rd century BC. But another legend states that the forest was a sanctuary for Buddhist monks in the 8th century. These monks offered refuge to people in need, and all those who took shelter here had to plant a tree and tend to it, which eventually resulted in the large forest that can today. The area is dotted with various monastic remains, and there are also the ruins of a stupa near the entrance.
Besides Na trees, Jathika Namal Uyana is also famous for a range of pink quartz hills, which are made of seven peaks and are thought to date back more than 550 million years. A small, pink Buddha statue stands on the summit of the lowest hill, which can be reached by following gently rising forest trail, crisscrossed with streams. There are great views of the surrounding countryside from the top. more