Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. Horton Plains is a popular tourist destination, with World’s End being the key attraction. Horton plain, its surroundings forests and the adjoining Peak Wilderness, consolidate Sri Lanka’s most important catchment area of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. . The plains are also of outstanding the habitats and endemic plants and animals’ representatives of the country wet and montage zones.
The original name of the area was Maha Eliya Thenna. But in the British period the plains were renamed after Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, the British governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837, who travelled to the area to meet the Ratemahatmaya of Sabaragamuwa in 1836, in 1834 by Lt William Fisher of the 78th Regiment and Lt. Albert Watson of the 58th Regiment, who ‘discovered’ the plateau.
Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here.
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker had advised the British Government “to leave all Montane Forests above 5000 ft. undisturbed” and an administrative order to this effect had been issued in 1873 that prevented clearing and felling of forests in the region. Horton Plains was designated as a wildlife sanctuary on 5 December 1969, and because of its biodiversity value, was elevated to a national park on 18 March 1988.
How to reach
It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 8 kilometres from Ohiya, 6 kilometres from the world famous Ohiya Gap/Dondra Watch and 32 kilometres from Nuwara Eliya.
The plains vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan sambar deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains
End of the World
After being declared a National Park, these areas were reinstated as grasslands. Tourism-related issues such as plant removal, littering, fires and noise pollution are major conservation issues. Gem mining, timber logging, the collection of plants for ornamental and medicinal purposes, encroachment, poaching and vehicle traffic are the other threats.
Irrespective of all these.. its still a thrilling experience in visiting this park.
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