Knuckles Mountain Range

The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, in the Districts of Matale and Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy District. Whilst this name was assigned by early British surveyors, the Sinhalese residents have traditionally referred to the area as Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning Mist-laden Mountain Range.

Knuckles Mountain Range
A view of the Knuckles mountain range (Spinix 2 and five peaks behind)
Location of the conservation forest
LocationCentral Province, Sri Lanka
Nearest cityMatale
Coordinates7°27′N 80°48′E
Governing bodyDepartment of Forest Conservation
World Heritage site1203-003: "Knuckles Conservation Forest (KCF)" since 2010 (within the site Central Highlands of Sri Lanka)[1]

The higher montane area is often robed in thick layers of cloud. In addition to its aesthetic value, the range is of great scientific interest. It is a climatic microcosm of the rest of Sri Lanka as the conditions of all the climatic zones in the country are exhibited in the massif. At higher elevations there is a series of isolated cloud forests, harbouring a variety of flora and fauna. Although the range constitutes approximately 0.03% of the island's total area, it is home to a significantly higher proportion of the country's biodiversity. The isolated Knuckles range harbours several relict, endemic flora and fauna that are distinct from central massif. More than 34 percent of Sri Lanka's endemic trees, shrubs, and herbs are only found in these forests. Knuckles Conservation Forest was included in UNESCO natural world heritage list in 2010 as part of Central Highlands of Sri Lanka.[2]

Knuckles Peaks

There are nine peaks over 1200 meters (4000 ft) in Knuckles Range. The highest peak, "Gombaniya" is 1906 meters (6248 Ft). Highest of knuckle shaped five peaks is at 1864m while Knuckles-Kirigalpotta 1647m (not to be confused with Horton Plains Kirigalpotta, 2nd highest peak of Sri Lanka), Aliyawetunaela 1647m, Dumbanagala 1644m, Yakungegala 1586m, Dothalugala 1575m, Wamarapugala 1559m, Koboneelagala 1555m, Kalupahana (Thunthisgala) 1628m, Rilagala 1605m, Telambugala 1331m, Nawanagala (1488m), Lakegala 1310m, Maratuwegala 1190m, Balagiriya 1148m, Velangala 1180m, Lahumanagala 1114m, Kinihirigala 1068m, and Lunumadalla 1060m are among the other peaks.[3][4]

Peak Summit
Gombaniya1,906 6,253
Five Peaks1,864 6,115
Knuckles-Kirigalpotta1,647 5,404
Aliyawetunaela1,647 5,404
Dumbanagala1,644 5,394
Yakungegala1,586 5,203
Dothalugala1,575 5,167
Wamarapugala1,559 5,115
Koboneelagala1,555 5,102
Kalupahana (Thunthisgala)1,628 5,341
Rilagala1,605 5,266
Nawanagala 1488 4757
Telambugala1,331 4,367
Lakegala1,310 4,298
Maratuwegala1,190 3,904
Balagiriya1,148 3,766
Velangala1,180 3,871
Lahumanagala1,114 3,655
Kinihirigala1,068 3,504
Lunumadalla1,060 3,478


Cultivation of cardamom at large scale in the montane forests is a major threat to the fragile forest ecosystem.[5][6][7]

Invasive exotic plant species such as Mist Flower (Ageratina riparia) that increasingly spread into montane forest areas and montane grasslands destroy the unique native Sri Lankan flora.[8][9][10]


  1. "World Heritage Committee inscribes two new sites on World Heritage List". UNESCO. July 30, 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  2. Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Central Highlands of Sri Lanka". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  3. "Forest Department Sri Lanka". Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  4. "Survey Department of SriLanka". Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  5. Balram Dhakala et al. “Impacts of cardamom cultivation on montane forest ecosystems in Sri Lanka”, Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 274, 15 June 2012, Pages 151–160.
  6. Wickramage, Florence. "Parasites' Knuckled fist casts long shadow over 'Lanka's Alps'". Daily News. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  7. Kumudini Hettiarachchi “No cardamom trees on Knuckles Range please”, The Sunday Times, July 06, 2014
  8. Lalith Gunasekera “Invaders in Knuckles Mountain Range”, The Island, October 21, 2011. Accessed 12.5.2017.
  9. Milan Lu, ““A growing threat” Archived 2016-08-13 at the Wayback Machine, Ceylon Today, 01.11.2011. Accessed 19.6.2016.
  10. Ranwala S., Marambe B.*, Wijesundara S., Silva P., Weerakoon D., Atapattu N., Gunawardena J., Manawadu L. and Gamage G. “Post-entry risk assessment of invasive alien flora of Sri Lanka - present status, gap analysis, and the most troublesome alien invaders”, Pakistan Journal of Weed Science 10/2012; 18:863-871.

Further reading

  • Goonewardene, S., J. Drake, and A. De Silva. 2006. The Herpetofauna of the Knuckles Range. Project Knuckles 2004 and 2005: University of Edinburgh Research Expedition. Amphibia and Reptile Research Organisation of Sri Lanka (ARROS).
  • Cooray, P.G.,1984. An introduction to the geology of Sri Lanka. Department of Geology. Government printing Press, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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